Tauren Wells’ song “Known” comes from the Timothy Keller quote, "To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God."
The message of that song is so powerful, and the way Tauren delivers the song, it’s no surprise that it became the anthem for so many.
As we were chatting before the interview, I showed Tauren a video of my daughter singing “Known” on our way to Church. Every time this song comes on, she sings her heart out. Not only did we both agree it was adorable, but it also highlights the impact of the song.
“Known” completely blew up a year after it was released on your last album. When you recorded Hills & Valleys, did you expect it to blow up as it did?
I was hoping so! I was hoping that God would really use it because of how much he used it in my own life. This message is so important to me because it’s taught me so much. Some songs like “Hills and Valleys” were written from experiences that I had. This song was kind of a doorway into some things God wanted me to experience about himself and truth and grace. It’s been cool to see people connecting with it.
It earned a GRAMMY nomination this past year along with a nod for Hills and Valleys, and you had two nominations with Royal Tailor. Does it get tiring at all being so awesome? Does it wear on you? (laughing)
(laughing) That is funny. It’s just always an honor. Honestly, I feel like what I have is so little. To know that God is so faithful to make much of himself of the little that we have is precious to me. I’m thankful for the opportunities. And no, I do not get tired of awesome things happening. It’s fun.
How is each nomination unique? Last year with "Hills and Valleys," this year with "Known." Each song has had a life of its own.
It’s unique because of people that worked on the song. Last year with “Hills and Valleys,” it was me, Chuck Butler, and Jonathan Smith. This year was “Known,” which I wrote with Ethan Halls and Jordan Sapp. So, it’s a different crew that’s getting recognized and get to go to LA and hang with.
You also got to do two collaborations last year–“War Cry” with Social Club Misfits and “Echo” with Elevation Worship. Both of those songs have been big hits. How fun is it to do collaborations with these other artists? What’s that process look like?
I love it. I love collaborations. I think there’s something stronger about “we did it” than “I did it.” I love getting to team up with people, especially when it comes out of a relationship. I’ve always loved Elevation Church. I love Pastor Stephen, Chris and the guys, and the ladies from Elevation Worship. I’ve followed Elevation for so long. So, to be able to go there, lead worship, and then get to sing this song just felt surreal to me. I went to a conference there called “Inside Elevation” and met some of the guys and connected. I came back for a weekend to lead worship and that song was on the set list, they asked me to sing it. I sang it, and after, they were like, “Would you record that on our album?” I was thinking, “Would you let me?!” (laughing) Like, that’s amazing. So, that was cool.
I met the Social Club guys years ago when I was in Royal Tailor. I've always been a fan of them as people and their music is so much the soundtrack of the next generation. That song hit me like, this is a song that people need to hear. It was fun to jump in.
I was reading that you lead worship at your father-in-law’s church down in Houston. We’re here at this event called Calibrate, centered around worship in smaller churches and smaller teams. What’s your biggest message to this group of leaders?
Today, I preached a message called “Presence over Everything.” It’s about the importance of really elevating God’s presence over ourselves. God’s presence is our priority, not our programs or our preferences. It’s God’s presence that changes atmospheres. It’s not our talent, not our gifts, not our abilities, not our skills. It’s when those things are aligned with God’s presence that we can really create moments where people can really encounter Jesus.
Since a lot of these churches rely on volunteers, what are some of the best ways worship leaders can engage those they serve with?
Thank you. Thank you goes a long way. Gratitude goes a long way. Honor goes a long way. A person in a paid ministry position, a vocational ministry position, has to remember the people in volunteer ministry positions don’t have the bandwidth in their personal life to devote to what you are so passionate about, what you are paid to be so passionate about. I think remaining in a space of grace for those people is really important and recognizing their contributions in that they’re working their other jobs and participating in other ways. So, just to have some grace and some leeway for people, while also calling them to a place of excellence. It’s really hard, but with real relational equity and really caring about the people more than the program or the platform, I think that can be accomplished.
Stalking your Facebook page a little, I’m seeing that you’re starting on a new album and getting back in the studio. What should we expect from that?
I’m looking at a Fall release, which I’m excited about. I’ll be releasing the album and going out on my first headlining tour. Those things will roll out simultaneously, which I’m super pumped about. I’ve never done a tour. We’re doing 30 cities where it’s just me trying to carry the night with the support of a new album.
I’m going to be putting out a new single, and I’m about to put out the Spanish version of “Known.” I’m excited about some of those things coming up over the next few months. But, I’m immediately about to be on tour with Chris Tomlin. I’ll be on tour with him, Pat Barrett, Nicole Serrano, and Pastor Darren Whitehead.
I have confidence that you’ll be able to carry the night on your headlining tour. I watched your performance of “Known” at the Doves with just you and the Strat. It was incredible.
That was a special moment. I had Bernie Herms produce that arrangement and arrange the strings, he was playing Rhodes. It just turned out so beautiful. Now, we have the Spanish version, which is so amazing. I’m excited for people to hear it.
We talked about the album coming out and your tours that are coming up. Is there anything else on the horizon for you?
My next single is called “God’s Not Done With You.” There’s a version on the deluxe edition of my album, but I went back and reconstructed it with the producer Bernie Herms. I love what we came up with–it’s intimate. I think the message is so pertinent. I think so many of us walk around defeated, feeling as if our best days are behind us for whatever reason. The truth of the matter is God is the author and finisher of our faith. He’s going to finish what he started. It’s encouraging to know that no matter what we do, no matter what life circumstances we may face, God is not done with us.
I was watching the newly released YouTube video of “Here Again.” Where was that recorded?
Lakewood Church. I was on staff at my father-in-law's church, Royalwood. Amazing place, amazing people, and of course that’s my family. Love them. Last April, after Easter, we moved to Lakewood church. I took a position there as a pastoral worship leader. I’m there throughout the year. I get to do songs that I wouldn’t normally get to do in a concert setting, or at one of my shows. I got to lead “Here Again” by Elevation Worship. I love that song. Chris Brown just delivers it in an amazing way, which what I did didn’t compare to. The church responded to it so much, and I love seeing that vertical connection happen.
That’s been one of my worship jams. I can listen to it almost every day and it just never gets old.
Yes! Yes! It just crushes you and brings you to life at the same time.
Are we going to be seeing any more videos?
Yeah! If you'll look at my YouTube channel, I have a playlist for live and worship songs. So, as I’m singing them at church, I’m pulling the videos and putting them up so people can have a worship playlist.
Jake is a longtime fan of Christian music, Jesus Freak Cruiser, a techie, and a softball player. He lives in Texas with his wife and daughter.
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