In Nashville, a city known for its abundance of musical talent, high-quality worship teams are abundant. Small, 150-person churches and megachurches alike boast award-winning, professional-caliber musicians that make Sunday mornings an epic auditory experience.
While the collective of worshippers at Nashville Life Church certainly enjoys its top-tier roster of creatives, the group from South Nashville offers quite a bit that sets them apart. From the uptempo, high praise--strangely uncommon in our more contemplative worship culture--to the multicultural sounds and diversity of the group itself, Nashville Life Music is experiencing a special move of God in their midst, and they can't wait to share the songs and lyrics pouring out of them.
With the release of Shine On Us Part 1, not only is the band making a bright, positive, enthusiastic opening statement, it's prepping us all that they're just getting started. Bolstered by performances by CCM icon CeCe Winans (a pastor of the church) and Byron "Mr. Talkbox" Chambers, the group already has some serious momentum.
I kicked some questions to one of the worship leaders, Dwan Hill, to learn a little bit more about the Life happening there in Nashville.
You guys began as a spontaneous worship gathering. How did you go from that to what you are now? Tell your origin story!
A few years ago, a group of about 30 young adults experienced a powerful week of restoration and revival in Alvin and CeCe Love's living room. I remember looking around the room and wanting to capture those moments because I knew they were the beginning of something spectacular. That small group grew into a gathering too large for their house, and we officially launched Nashville Life Church soon after. It's been six years since then, and we're just getting started!
What church are you based out of? What do your meetings look like now?
We are the worship team at our church, Nashville Life Church. All of our team members are very involved in life groups and in serving the community. Each Sunday, we love leading our church family in worship. We meet at 2 p.m. in South Nashville and welcome anyone to join us!
Musically speaking, you're doing a lot of awesome things. For someone who hasn't heard Nashville Life Music, describe the sound.
We're not sure what we've gotten ourselves into! So far, our sound is an interesting blend of synth pop, gospel, and contemporary Christian music. On any given Sunday, you might hear all of the above in one song! Our church is diverse in both ethnicity and musical styles, so our songs are an authentic representation of our family. We especially love upbeat songs and dancing!
In a time where worship music really dominates Christian music, there's actually not a lot of high-praise, upbeat celebratory worship. You guys fill that void, for sure. Why is that such a big part of your calling, and why is it important?
One of the key values of our community is enthusiasm. Whether we are working hard or having fun, we believe in doing so with all of our hearts. So when we praise God, we praise loudly and passionately because God deserves that and more! We needed songs to support that heart, and this is where songs like "Shine On Us" and "Heaven On Earth" came from. As a worship leader, it's hard to find upbeat songs for worship services, so we hope other churches will be able to use these as well.
How do you guys write songs? Do individual members bring their songs, are these written in times of spontaneous worship, or are you all together in a room chewing on songs?
All of the above! But very rarely do we sit down for a formal songwriting session. In many cases, our worship leaders are also songwriters, and they bring new songs to the team's rehearsal. Crazy enough, both "All Power" and "I Am Persuaded" were written over text message! We love new songs, so whenever inspiration hits, we try and ride the wave.
Shine On Us Part 1 just released. Which songs are really resonating with people in live settings, and why?
Can I say "all of them?" Seriously, we've been singing original songs in our services for years, and the ones we've included on this album were already standout favorites in our church. "Worthy One" is always a party, and "Firm Foundation" opens a powerful moment of faith every time.
How many subsequent parts will be in this series?
We have so many songs to share! Right now, we are planning on releasing more of them in the near future, but we're working on how and when. Stay tuned!
CeCe Winans (Pastor CeCe Love to you) and Mr. Talkbox both appear on the album. How did you connect with those guys, and what did it mean for you to have them on the project?
The best part about having Pastor CeCe and Byron "Mr. Talkbox" on the album is that they are family to us. CeCe leads our church with her husband, Pastor Alvin, so having her sing "Looking Up" was a no-brainer and so much fun. Byron has been a hidden gem in our congregation for a couple of years, but we knew "My God" was the perfect song for him to show up and show out. They both took the songs to a new level, and we love them!
Have you been able to share these songs outside of your church walls in performance? What's a live experience like with NLM?
We have done a few worship nights around the city of Nashville in the past, and we hope to do many more. When you worship with us, you can expect to encounter the presence of God and have fun at the same time.
In a city that's so full of professional music, how do you keep your spontaneous, authentic vibe? Is it hard to keep?
Part of the blessing of being in Nashville is the large number of talented people who are a part of our church family. So many of them bring their skills and love for God to church, and it produces an environment of creativity and personality. We've decided not to hide our unique characteristics, but instead celebrate them as a gift from God. We hope that what we bring to the world of music and ministry will be an encouragement to others.
What's next for y'all? How can people be praying for you?
Things are moving so fast, we aren't sure what is next! We are praying for more opportunities to share the message of Christ with people everywhere, and also continue to write and release songs that help people to overcome their daily challenges. We'd really appreciate your prayers for wisdom as we navigate upcoming decisions, and for more open doors to magnify Jesus Christ through music!
Marcus Hathcock is the Executive Editor of NewReleaseToday.com, a husband to Savannah, father of three and a worship leader living in Boise. He has released an EP, Songs For Tomorrow, and occasionally blogs at mheternal.com.
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