For someone who now considers himself a worship leader above all else, nine years ago Bryan Brown sure didnít want anyone telling him that was what heíd end up doing.
Bryan grew up just going through the motions in church. ďNothing that was said or done on Sunday ever connected with my heart,Ē he remembers. ďBut one day this woman approached me out of nowhere and said, ĎI want to tell you I think youíre going to be a worship leader some day,íĒ recalls the 27-year old Missouri-born, Nashville, Tenn. transplant. ďFor some reason it really bothered me when she said that. I remember thinking, ĎThat woman is out of her mind. Iíll never do that. I donít even like worship music.Ē
In his teenage years, playing guitaróespecially songs from the Beatlesí White Albumóbecame a favorite pastime, but Bryan had already decided on what to do after graduating high school. With a plan to stay in his current record store job, the store suddenly shut down without warning. Plan B was to move to Chicago where his friends were, but that wasnít meant to be either. That was because he had a powerful dream about Christís return to the earth Ė and it shook him to the core and changed everything.
ďI felt as if my heart was turned inside out,Ē he marvels. ďBefore that night, all I ever wanted to do was drink, mess around with drugs, waste time with my friends and basically live an existence seemingly independent from God. After that dream, all I wanted was Jesus. I wanted to talk about Him, read about Him, and live everyday with Him.Ē
Bryan dove into serving in a church, working with the worship leader and absorbing everything he could, all the while feeling a growing desire to lead worship himself.
ďI remember sitting in the church office and getting this incredible vision of this sea of people worshiping God together,Ē he says. ďThe crazy part was that I was leading the song. You have to understand, at this point in my life I had barely even sung in front of anyone, much less led worship. In that moment I thought, 'I don't know how, but I'm going to be worship leader.'Ē Two years later, he led for the very first time at a college group.
Over the past seven years, Bryan has served three churches as worship leader, previously Christian Fellowship and The Crossingóboth in Columbia, Missourióand now West End Community Church in Nashville. Heís also come into his own as a songwriter and recorded two albums. His 2004 debut, Sing, (released by Integrity Europe) has an affecting rawness and immediacy, because he recorded it with his brother Christopher in their parentsí basement. Stephen Gause (Downhere, Nathan Angelo, Laura Story) produced Bryanís new album, Shine, an epic ebb and flow laced with regally ringing guitars and anthemic choruses.
Bryan has a clear vision for his songwriting. ďI want to write and sing these songs in a way that others can sing along,Ē he explains. ďThrough that, I want people's emotions to be raised by the melody and by the truth they are singing. My job at that point is to direct those feelings and affections to where they belong. Not to me, or a band, or a stage, but to God.Ē
Renowned UK-based worship leader, songwriter and author Matt Redman profoundly shaped Bryanís God-centered perspective on worship leading. ďMore than anything, I'm just in awe of his humility,Ē says Bryan. ďHe's probably written some of the most recognizable and powerful songs the church has ever sung [ďHeart of Worship,Ē ďOnce AgainĒ and ďBlessed Be Your Name,Ē just to name a few], yet he remains completely humble in what he is doing.Ē
Bryanís vision for elevating peopleís hearts and guiding their eyes upward is at the core of Shine. The eleven songs are a worship experience from start to finish, with accessible lyrics and exhilarating, ascending melodies, leading from the opening invitation to a deeply intimate moment before God. ďEven the opening line of the album [ĎAs we worship you todayí] is a call to worship,Ē says Bryan. ďI thought about it a lot, because I want it to be an experience all the way through.Ē
The title trackóinspired by Numbers 6:24-26óopens the album with an earnest prayer set to steadily pulsing piano and a swooping bass line and overlaid with shimmering guitars. Three tracks later comes the reflective ďItís Your Love,Ē which draws from a scripture Bryan finds particularly captivating: Psalm 63:3. ďĎBecause your loving kindness is better than life, my lips will praise youíóthatís the gist of it,Ē he says. ďDavid was fleeing for his life in that moment. His desire to live was less than his desire for the love of God. One day when I was reading that I was just stuck there. That is a huge statement.Ē
The journey through the second half of Shine arrives at Bryanís meditations on his humble position in relation to God. ďAny time Iím able to put those things back to back, I connect with it when Iím singing it, because I see my nothingness in the light of Godís glory and how because of Christ I am not nothing anymore.Ē That idea is at the heart of both the gliding, melodically rich ďGreat I AmĒ and the album closer, ďNothing,Ē a reverent track that slowly builds to an urgent pitch. By the time the final note fades, the listener is enveloped in a feeling of deep need for God.
Considering that Bryan Brown once thought it was impossible that heíd ever devote himself to merging uplifting melodies and God-centered truthsóand that thatís exactly what heís done on Shineó having to ďeat his wordsĒ wasnít a bad thing at all.
@toferbrown i don‚Äôt get it
@bryanbrown on 12.15.17 | View Tweet
@hereisSj @audreyassad you guys are awesome
@bryanbrown on 12.12.17 | View Tweet
@jillianjmusic i‚Äôll take one of everything thanks
@bryanbrown on 12.11.17 | View Tweet
RT @jillianjmusic: a little song about a lotta ego...the one-take video for ‚ÄúHolier Than Thou‚ÄĚ is on @Vevo NOW ūüėČ‚ö°ÔłŹ
@bryanbrown on 12.04.17 | View Tweet
The man sitting across from me is smacking his candy so loudly that it‚Äôs giving me a cavity.
@bryanbrown on 11.30.17 | View Tweet