Make vital music and set the world afire!
In last month’s edition, I posed questions related to authenticity – what is it and why is it important? In this edition, I will be exploring authenticity from the perspective of how it specifically applies to the art form of music.
I would argue that all Christian music written and performed unto the Lord is practically vital, as it ultimately seeks to renew or refresh the living. But not all Christian music is full of life and vigor from an artistic standpoint. Art is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as an expression which is “of more than ordinary significance.” And an artist is “one who professes and practices an imaginative art.” So how does an artist create music that is extraordinarily imaginative and significant?
Virtually every one of us can name a song which radically transformed our life in one way or another. Think back and try to determine what it was about that song that touched you so deeply? For some, it was a specific lyric or theme. For others, it was the melody or musical landscape created by the music itself. On rare occasion, it’s the occurrence of a spine-tingling “perfect storm” in which both music and lyrics harmoniously rise like currents of air beneath an eagle’s wings, carrying the listener to new and greater heights. For many, these songs become virtual landmarks in their lives and have the power to transform again and again. In its most elemental form, music is an emotional bonding agent which connects us with something greater than ourselves. For an artist to create authentic, transformative art, the artist must essentially become the emotional conduit through which others experience the transcendent.
Fundamentally, imagination is the key to great art. If you’re not willing or able to develop your own unique musical identity, you’ll end up on the trash heap of “one and done” copycat artists. And if you’re not willing to risk everything to follow your passion and express your true voice, the public will remain apathetic toward your art. If you wish to play it safe, you can follow the lead of countless others who primarily seek to fulfill the status quo. But the true artist will seek to stand apart from the crowd by creating an authentic style all their own. The true artist will seek to break new ground and transform the artistic landscape through their art. Make no mistake – breaking new ground requires great courage.
In order to create truly significant art, the artist must be bold and take chances – even at the risk of utter failure and rejection. Music and other forms of art, when engaged properly, will always be unique and on the cutting edge. When engaged properly, music will challenge the current status quo. And music, when done right, will have the power to transform lives. If the artist fails to first establish a conduit for something intrinsically authentic, the potential to transform will never be realized. But the artist who is able to connect with the truest sense of who they are and what they represent through authenticity and imagination will truly ignite a firestorm and become a catalyst for divine transformation in others’ lives. Anything less will ultimately fall short.
Join me for part three to learn how authenticity impacts ministry.
David Coleman is the President of CLG. CLG is based in Nashville, and is a distributor of music, video and other Christian-related products to the Christian and general markets.