We speak to BRYN HAWORTH who has been one of the mainstays of Britain's Christian music scene for many years but whose last album of new recordings was in 1999.
CR: What have you been doing over the last two years?
BH: I've been doing a mixture of solo concerts, guitar workshops and worship seminars, but the main focus has been on the solo evangelistic concerts, many of them in prisons. Blues/rock style music goes down well with most prison inmates and it's given me great freedom to share my story and talk about Jesus. It's been good for me too because it keeps me on the ball! You have to be really focused in these places. It also makes you look for songs that communicate and draw people in. Also, three years ago in April we moved into a house which needed complete renovation; the builders have only just left and we unpacked the last box this week. In the middle of it Sally, my wife, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's now come safely through all that that entailed, but it was time consuming for us both. One good outcome is that I learnt to cook! We now both enjoy cooking together - it's one of our favourite times of the day, cooking and listening to music go together well.
CR: What plans do you have for a new recording?
BH: I've been writing, building up a body of new songs and plan to record an album in 2004; I don't feel any rush to record and want to keep writing to get the best material I can. There are so many albums released every month, so I think it's important to wait until you feel you really have something to say. I think the style will probably be a simple bluesy/country/rock style. but we shall see! At some point I would also like to make an instrumental album. Last year we launched our own label, Bella Music Ltd, and put out our first release, a compilation of old tracks, 'Water From The Rock'. It's been really good having control of my own product for the first time in 30 years of recording! We've just had four of my old albums released in Japan ('Let The Days Go By', 'Sunny Side Of The Street', 'The Gap' and 'Pass It On'), which is very encouraging.
CR: Do you perceive yourself as primarily a worship leader or a blues musician?
BH: I've always loved and listened to all kinds of music and this comes out in all that I do. It's the way I was brought up. My mother would bring home an Elvis record with the fish and chips, and another day we'd be listening to Mendelssohn. One of my problems as a musician has been my diversity; people prefer to be able to pigeon hole you, but I'm not like that. With regard to worship, it's a part of my every day life at home, and I also play and listen to all sorts of songs through the day. My work simply reflects my every day life. I love variety. But it has sometimes made it difficult for people to promote my music or offer me work because they're not sure if I fit into their bag. But all of life is worship to me.
CR: Any plans for future live work?
BH: I'm touring doing solo concerts throughout the UK this year, and also planning to work in collaboration with UCB for a number of concerts. I wish we had more Christian radio stations in this country; I've even written a song lately called "Keep The Faith" which is not about religion, but about listening to the radio. I grew up in the '50s and the radio was the main channel to hear music, and in this pre-packed processed culture we live in today where all our thinking is done for us, radio, books and the like really stir the imagination. I've done many evangelistic concerts over the last 20 years and I've seen the Christian music scene in this country change. Evangelistic concerts were popular in the '80s, but more recently the churches have been focusing on praise and worship celebrations and Alpha, so there has been less concert work around. I really enjoy concert work and still feel called to it and have been doing a lot more events in clubs and small theatre type venues, as well as churches. Many churches are now doing "café style" evenings, which I used to do a lot of in the 70's. Small is beautiful!
CR: What have you learnt spiritually over the last two years?
BH: My wife and I have survived several challenging situations over the couple of years and it's been wonderful to experience yet again God's amazing ability to provide, uphold and deliver us. He has brought us back to our roots of a very simple faith, trusting in him and in his Word, and prayer and worship. When we moved into this house we felt that prayer would be one of the significant things that would develop here and that's proved true. We thought it might take the form of prayer meetings, but actually it's been in our own personal lives. I've been really encouraged through something as simple as keeping a prayer list, which keeps me praying, but also has the added side effect of deepening my relationship with God because I'm spending more time with him - and also getting encouraged through so many specific answers to prayer. I've also been using a through the year Bible and found the discipline of just going through the Bible regularly has brought the Word back to life in fresh ways. As a musician discipline wasn't something I was attracted to - so the discovery of these simple disciplines has been liberating!The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.