CCM: Where does your heart settle in terms of your calling?
DG: When my team and I sat down to work on my first restart after I’d been dropped from the first label, I couldn’t get signed by Christian labels because they felt like I didn’t know my message, that I needed more time to develop. I understood. If they’re going to take a financial risk, they have a right to make sure that they can invest in someone they feel confident about. So, we signed with a non-Christian label. I am the first “Christian” artist that they’ve ever had. They approached it with, “We don’t know why we’re doing this. We’re just going to do it.”
I’ve been in the church my entire life. I spoke church, I did church—I thought I was going to be the next big praise and worship leader. To now be a solo act and mixing entertainment with the gospel message, I couldn’t have envisioned that. Again, that was all birthed on the American Idol stage. That’s where I fully realized the Great Commission for my life. Our message can’t just be for the church, it’s got to go into all the world. That’s why I now write the way I do.
CCM: You’re increasingly being touted as a singer-songwriter, with more of an emphasis on “songwriter” now. Since the last album, how has that been more of an integral role in what you’re crafting?
DG: Well, with My Best Days (2010), I didn’t do any writing on it. Going into Hope In Front Of Me, I did a lot more. I think with Rise, I knew more than ever before, now that I had more experience, exactly what I wanted to say. It’s funny, because before when I would be writing with others, it was their words that came out of my idea. That’s what happens in the room, you all share your ideas. Now, I knew how to [put words to even] their ideas. Does that make sense?
DG: I actually spent a lot of time writing for the first album, but none of that ended up going on the record. [During the production of the first album], I didn’t really know everything I wanted to say, this time I felt more focused on what needed to be said. This time [with other writers], I would go, “I like the thought, but this is actually how I would say that.” That was a really fun experience and I grew to love that about this process since [the last album]. I learned a lot. I’m always going to be a student—I hope I stay there. In fact, I know with Rise that I will continue that because I want to come back and ask, “What can I do now?” You’re constantly learning, you know?
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