The vintage soul of Mike Farris’ recurring Sunday Night SHOUT! series at Nashville’s historic Station Inn is becoming a legendary key in the city’s musical history—not to mention a highlight at notable festivals like Bonnaroo, SxSw and Austin City Limits. So when floodwaters devastated the Middle Tennessee community earlier this year, Farris decided to take action in the form of a six-song flood relief EP, recorded in a single day at Nashville’s downtown Presbyterian Church and benefiting the city’s recovery efforts (The EP can be purchased here: http://www.mikefarrismusic. net/). The American singer/songwriter talks about the new benefit EP and music’s restorative power in his personal life in this special CCM interview. In your personal past, you have kicked a drug and alcohol habit and converted to Christianity. Did music play a role in the transformation? mike: My life has been dominated by music. There’s a radio in my head that never turns off. I feel like that is where God meets me. The more I dig into the creative world, the closer I become [to God]. So instinctively, I immersed myself in music when I cleaned up. At the same time, I was wary of playing music again because I had misused that gift and I wanted to be sure I could stand true to what God has given me. So music is a strong factor in your spiritual life. mike: The presence of God is waiting to commune with us, and for me, the primary point of connection has always been music. Since I can remember I could sense a greater power working through music. whether it’s performing, recording or “helping” to create the songs, it’s the one place I feel like I am working shoulder to shoulder with God. what inspired the recording and writing of The Night the Cumberland Came Alive? mike: My label rep, Tyler Pittman, had suggested we do a charity record. when the [Nashville] floods came, we decided to focus our energy on helping our community. when we focused on the Nashville situation, it changed the landscape of the EP artistically. I had an old Curley weaver song stuck in my head. I loved the chorus and thought I could apply that to a song about the night of the floods. within minutes I had collected my thoughts into what became the song, “The Night the Cumberland Came Alive,” which sets the tone for the record. How did the church-as-a-studio vibe affect the final outcome? mike: First, it took us out of our traditional workspaces, which brought about a more relaxed feeling. Second, we had a very limited amount of time to work, which provided the urgency that I like. Lastly, no one had any idea what the songs were prior to getting together. I showed everyone the structure and then we would play the song. So you had this combination of comfort, urgency and excitement of discovery wrapped in a sense of awe that the church provided. we were in the moment! —Andrew Greer www.mikefarrismusic.net mike Farris CCM 49