by Dan MacIntosh
“It’s my favorite song that I’ve ever written in my life.”
Phil Wickham can’t contain his enthusiasm for “Living Hope,” the title track to his latest album Living Hope—his first since 2016’s Children of God. Recently, Wickham began serving as a worship leader at his church, Harvest Christian Fellowship, and this new responsibility transformed the way he wrote these songs. “The songs went from being an expression of my heart, to servicing the heart of the church,” he says.
Wickham applies a two-fold definition to Living Hope. “In one sense, our living hope is a person who is alive, who is Jesus. All our hope is in something that’s alive. Also, that hope in Jesus who is our living hope becomes something that’s living in us. This living hope becomes a part of who we are today. It becomes a living thing. It’s such a giant idea, which encapsulates what this record is all about.”
Wickham refers to this new project as a journey, primarily because it took a full year to complete and involved a whopping 19 songwriters and six producers.
“You know, my whole life I’ve worked with one producer, Pete Kipley,” Wickham explains. “He’s a dear friend and a talented man, but I just felt like God had something new for me to do, where a bigger group of people could be in on it.”
When pressed, Wickham wouldn’t name one favorite producer from this stellar group, which included well-known producers, like Ed Cash, in addition to Kipley. “I equally loved working with them all,” he recalls. “They all have different strengths and different ways they attack songs and it was very fun and very refreshing.”
Wickham’s seventh full-length album also includes a special guest on the artistic side in former American Idol contestant Hollyn She duets with Wickham on “Song of my Soul” for what seems like a divine appointment.
“I was in the studio recording the vocal on it, and when we got to the second verse I said, ‘I wish I wasn’t singing the second verse,’” he recalls. “I wish we had a killer vocalist that was a girl singing on it, just to bring a new flavor to the record. I said to the producer Jonathan Smith, ‘It would be awesome if we had a girl sing this part.’ He replied, ‘That’s crazy! I was just going to say that.’
“We went through a quick list of girls we thought would be awesome. It was probably four in the afternoon when we thought of this amazing singer that goes by the name Hollyn. We thought maybe she could come over, so I got her number from a friend and texted her. ‘This is Phil Wickham. Are you in town, and can you sing on a song tonight?’
“She texted me back a few minutes later, ‘I’ll be there in two hours.’ We had the idea at 4:00, and at 7:00, Hollyn was in the studio singing the song. The song was finished by 8:00. I felt like it was all meant to be.”