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Kari Jobe: My Heart of Worship

By Chris Carpenter Program Director NASHVILLE -- This is shaping up to be a big year for Christian musical artist Kari Jobe.  Jobe, whose debut self-titled album was 2009’s biggest selling CD by a new artist, received two Dove Awards last April in Nashville.

This is quite a musical statement for anyone, especially for someone like Jobe, who knew at the age of ten that she was called by God to be a worship leader.  Never straying from her calling, the 29 year old Texas native is emerging as one of contemporary Christian music’s greatest worship vocalists. Program Director Chris Carpenter sat down with Kari the day before the Dove Awards to discuss the impact these nominations might have on her music, why music is so powerful to the worship experience, and when people can expect her next record.

This is turning into a big year for you.  Several Dove Award nominations (Kari won two).  That must truly give you a sense of validation that you are doing the right thing with your music.

I’m excited and I’m really just honored just to be nominated.  To me, right when it first happened I thought how cool it was to be recognized and for others to say, ‘We recognize what God is doing in your life and we like it.  We appreciate that you are doing worship music … the artist side of it and how you write your songs.’  That is just a big honor.”

Win or lose, receiving a nomination will certainly put you on the map in the Christian music world.  Have you considered the impact this could have?

I have seen things change just as far as more doors are opening.  I hate to say it but I feel like I am getting more respect.  When we are living out our calling and running in the Kingdom of God it’s ok if you don’t get recognized because there are so many people who are not being recognized.  These people are definitely living out their calling.  It’s kind of like one of those things that I just want younger kids and girls to know, hey, just in case you don’t get recognized its ok.  Keep running after what God has called you to do.  It’s just a neat accolade but it’s not something to hang your hat on.  I just want to guard my heart but I am excited all at the same time.

With these nominations you have obviously had a lot of praise heaped on you in recent months.  How do you keep everything in perspective?

Thankfully, I just have a lot of great friends in the music business and the ministry of this.  They have told me to not hang my hat here and not to think that I have arrived.  I hope that I never feel like I have arrived because there are so many things that God wants to do, especially in His Kingdom and with Christian music.  Just hearing them say that has been good.  It’s interesting how you dream about something and you would think you would get here and think this is the best thing ever.  This is one of those moments to celebrate but I definitely know there are so many dreams still in my heart.  So, this is just one thing.  Yes, this is exciting but there is so much more to keep dreaming about.

You are known as a worship leader but with the Dove nominations and going forward you are suddenly going to be known as Kari Jobe the musical artist just as much or more so than being a worship leader.  Does that bother you at all?

It’s tricky.  Honestly, that has been my biggest prayer over the last two months while I have been waiting for the Doves to come.  I have been just asking, God, what are you up to?  I told some friends the other day it is ‘New’ artist of the year.  So, that means it can be a new thing.  It doesn’t mean that I all of a sudden step into this glass case of I’m a new artist so I am supposed to fit this thing.  I’m just going to continue on as I usually do and have God guide me.  To me, the artist part of what I do is that I’m a songwriter and that is the arts.   Being a worship leader is not necessarily being an artist.  It is just kind of putting my twist on my music.  It is what I feel called to do.

What is it about music that is so powerful in the worship experience?

We are emotional people.  There is something about music and worship that just evokes something that is deep in our spirits.  It just moves our emotions.  We are emotional and God knows that.  Music is just one form of worship though.  Worship does not have to just be music.  Worship is our lifestyle.  We are worshipping by waking up in the morning and saying, ‘God, I surrender my agenda today.’  That is worship to the Lord because it is acknowledging that God is bigger than me.  You are wiser, You are stronger, You are more powerful, and I want what you have.  I want to follow what you have for my life.  That is worship.  I love being moved by His presence.

You and I worked together last summer on recording some radio commercials.  You mother was with you that day and my sense was that you have a close relationship with her.  If I were to take that one step further my assumption is that family is very important to you.  What role does your family play in your music?

That is a good question.  Every family has broken things.  I have different family members even now that we are crying out to God for their salvation.  I love that my family keeps me grounded and keeps me in reality.  When you are with family everybody is important.  Everybody has a voice.  Everybody is seeking after the Lord together.  But then they do recognize what God is doing and they just want to be a part.  I am a strong believer that God puts us in the families we are supposed to be in.  In some of them it is not as easy as others.  But God knows what He is calling us to and He uses all of that as part of our story.  Growing up in the home I grew up in is part of my story.  But not everybody has that story.  I was talking with some girls a couple of weeks ago at a conference and I said you cannot let other people and circumstances keep you from what the will of God is for your life and what you feel called to.  This is because everyone is going to try to take that from you.  The enemy is going to try and use everything he can to say, ‘You’re not called.  You can’t do this.’  It is just stupid what the enemy tries to do.  He is not the ultimatum.  God is the ultimatum.  God uses everything in our lives to help with the journey we are on to impact other people.

My final question is an obvious one.  Your first album has been out a little more than a year.  Have you begun work on your new record and if so, what can you tell me about it?

I’m really feeling that this next album is going to be more worship-oriented.  The first one was as well but it was more ministry.  I’m feeling in my heart that this one is going to be more congregational worship songs.  I want to write songs where churches can grab a hold of it.  This is because when I go out to minister people know I’m a worship leader, they want me to lead worship, and then they want me to do my songs as well because they are listening to the CD.  It is selling well so people are hearing these songs.  I’m writing in the midst of traveling and being on airplanes.  I carry a journal in my purse as we speak.  And I am always writing.  I’m trying to be a good steward with my time. 

I’ve done some demos and I plan to record at the end of this year and the beginning of 2011.  The album should probably release about a year from now.

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