Between the LIner Notes
Phil Wickham: When Opportunity Comes Knocking… Cut a Record
By Heidi J. Krumenauer
Guest Writer for CBNmusic
When MercyMe’s Bart Millard comes (literally) knocking on your door, you don’t slam the door in his face -- especially when he offers you the chance to sign with his record label.
For Phil Wickham, it was the chance of a lifetime – but not one that he had always seriously considered. “I’ve always seen myself as a performer. It’s been a dream to inspire people to worship God through music, but I never promoted myself in that way. The Lord totally blessed my work and kept opening doors for me, and it just seemed right for me to move in this direction,” Wickham says. “When I was 18, I cut my first independent record. I was hoping people would think I sounded a little above mediocre. I guess it came out a lot better than that, though.”
When Wickham’s independent record landed in the hands of Millard, it was certainly a turning point for the 21-year-old singer/songwriter. “He loved my album. He came to my house with [producer] Pete Kipley. We hung out for the day, and they chatted with me. That struck a chord in my heart, and I wanted to team up with them.”
And they were thrilled he did!
A self-titled debut album with Simple Records, released in 2006.
Wickham’s pleased that his album has touched so many lives. “People always thank me for staying true to worshipping the Lord,” Wickham says. “I love that the songs on my album are the words I’ve always wanted to say to Jesus. They’re love songs to the Lord, really.”
And Wickham explains that he keeps his audience in mind when he’s writing his music. “I feel like the songwriting process is becoming different…maybe it’s because I’m maturing and growing in the Lord. I write my music to help people connect to God. I want people to sing out my songs from their heart to the Lord. And I want my music to help people find a relationship or new level of intimacy with the God. I’m real big on making that romantic connection between us and the Lord.”
Playing to audiences across America mostly comprised of twenty-somethings, Wickham’s deep-seeded spirituality is alive in every word he speaks, and it naturally spills over into his music. “I really hope when people leave my concert that they walk out the doors saying: ‘Wow, I had an experience with God tonight. I want them to say ‘That’s where God met me.’ It’s not about me – it’s about where my music might have led them.”
Wickham doesn’t just doesn’t play to the Christian audience – he enjoys touching the secular listeners as well. “I’ve played in secular environments, and it’s surprising how many people tell me that they’re not Christians, but they listen to my record all the time. That’s really awesome for me. It takes bravery for me to put out something that I’m inspired by and that I’m proud of. To do that, you need to move outside of a normal Christian genre. I’m so appreciative of the many Christian artists and secular artists who’ve allowed me to blend my music to touch lives in both areas,” Wickham says.
While it would be easy for newfound fame to consume Wickham’s head, he instead stands firm on his faith, seeking the Lord’s guidance to lead him in this new adventure.
“It’s so different from where I thought I’d be. I started leading worship in my church when I was 12. A few years ago, people asked me when I was going to make a CD, but that wasn’t something that even crossed my mind back then. And the Lord kept leading me in this direction and totally blessed me.”
So take one guitar, add a captivating voice, include a little pop/rock feeling, mix in loads of innovative melodies and lyrics, blend in a heart for worship and you have Phil Wickham. He’s the new kid on the block, but you’d never know it to listen to him.
Wickham’s delightful insight into his faith and how he intentionally blends that into his music shows wisdom beyond his young years. In fact, it’s almost like listening to old soul – a talented soul that’s going to be around a long, long time.
Phil Wickham (2006)
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