Mac Powell: Talks about his momentary move from Third Day to country music

Wednesday 10th October 2012

Tony Cummings reports on the Alabama-raised, Georgia resident and now solo country singer MAC POWELL

Mac Powell
Mac Powell

When it was announced that Third Day's frontman Mac Powell was to make a momentary career detour to record a mainstream country album, it was a bit like as if P.O.D. were announcing an album of Barry Manilow covers. Since Third Day's inception in 1994 Powell's gritty voice has been considered one of the jewels in Southern rock's crown while the depth of Mac's commitment to ministry is revealed in classics like "Call My Name" and "Cry Out To Jesus". Certainly, the news of Powell's change of style and content was not welcomed in all circles. On the internet some Third Day fans who enjoy the band's bluesy Southern rock swagger expressed their loathing for what they consider hopelessly uncool country music while the singer's decision to record a secular rather than a gospel country album brought a comment from one Third Day follower who exclaimed that she had "lost all respect" for Powell and asked "how do you go from 'cry out to Jesus' to 'fell in love with her'."

Powell spoke to JesusFreakHideout about his foray into country music. "I think there are a couple things that I would love to come out of, with me making this whole country record. I think one thing is that it would be great for people to recognize that as a songwriter you can be a Christian and not just have to write about Jesus in every song. Because I think as a person of faith, my life is not compartmentalized. I don't have my life on Sunday, or my life on Wednesday night, my life on Saturday; I'm the same person throughout that. So whether I'm writing a record for Third Day or writing a country record, my faith in God kinda shapes me as a person. So I think I would want people to know that, that I'm the same person and that I'm not gonna change - and yet as a songwriter I can have these different challenges and these different things that I can talk about that don't necessarily fit within the Christian music genre when I write, and when I'm making a country record."

Earlier, Powell spoke about his long-time love for country music. "I grew up listening to country music. It was a big part of shaping me musically and I think that's pretty evident in Third Day music. There's always been little tinge of it. There have been so many times in the past that I had song ideas that didn't really fit lyrically or musically with Third Day. I filed those songs away to the 'maybe sometime' category. Well, that time is now. I started working on these songs, and a whole bunch of new ones, off and on about a year ago. Then, I had the chance to record the songs with some really talented musicians. I am very happy with the results, and I cannot wait to share it with you!"

Powell recorded the 'Mac Powell' album with producer Jason Hoard, the multi-instrumentalist who has been touring with Third Day for the past two years. He also enlisted Nashville-based songwriter Brett James (Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take The Wheel", Kenny Chesney's "Out Last Night", Chris Young's "The Man I Want To Be") to co-write half the album. Powell told Billboard that it was connecting with James which was the basic foundation stone for his country debut. "I started writing with Brett. He was really the first step. We just hit it off really well and came up with a lot of ideas in a short amount of time, and then Jason worked on a few of those ideas as well. We started recording them and it just started feeling great."

Mac Powell: Talks about his momentary move from Third Day to country music

Considering the controversy the album was likely to cause amongst some Third Day supporters, 'Mac Powell' (released on Powell's own independent label) has received fairly favourable reviews. JesusFreakHideout wrote, "'Mac Powell' is simply another side of the proverbial coin of Mac's persona that few outside of those who are close to him have been able to see. Songs like "Sweet Georgia Girl" and "This Ain't No Hobby" are upbeat and fun country rock songs that honour his wife and family, while other relationship-based songs are more obscure and seem to either be inspired by loves of his past, or are included to fulfill that obligatory need for country songs to be about love and loss ('Mississippi', 'Julia Ann', 'Trying To Get Over You'). Among the ballads on the record, 'My Love For You Remains' is a sentimental love song for his wife about looking back on how their relationship has evolved since the beginning, but his love for her hasn't changed; 'Carry You' sounds like a sibling to Third Day, serving as a potential radio single, except given more of a twang than the usual Third Day hit; and 'Carolina' is a song about his love for South Carolina. Album highlights include the quirky and a bit unorthodox love song 'This Ain't No Hobby', in which he likens to loving his girl as a full-time job, not a hobby; 'Mississippi' is a fun (but potentially monotonous) song about getting out of an unhealthy relationship, and 'Trying To Get Over You' is a classic, heartbreaking country tune about trying to forget someone who's broken your heart."

Powell has already started playing some country concerts at small venues. For these he's being backed by a seasoned group of country musicians, ironically named The Backsliders, and although it's a bit of a change for an artist whose primary outlet puts him in front of thousands of fans a night, it's a change he clearly feels led to follow. "It's different to think about getting in a van with a trailer and driving five to eight hours a night," Powell told "It's something I never thought I would do again, but when you're driven to get this music out, you'll do it."

In November the eagerly awaited new Third Day album 'Miracle' will be released and with legendary producer Brendon O'Brian (Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, The Fray) working on it, it could well end up being Third Day's biggest album yet. So whether we'll ever see another country outing from the singer/songwriter remains to be seen. One thing is clear though. Powell has greatly enjoyed his unlikely plunge into country. CR

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.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by Vanessa Turner in Kentucky @ 19:17 on Jul 30 2019

I have loved worshipping with Third Day for years. It was wonderful to have southern rock to worship to. I haven’t listened to secular music in years, simply because I don’t enjoy it. I am so sad, and disheartened. I purchased 19 tickets to a concert coming to my home town, and invited my closest church family. We are best of friends who love to travel and enjoy life together. I also invited some unsaved family members, in anticipation of them being in the presence of such anointed worship. Only now am I discovering this album is about “fun on a payday Friday night,” and breakups. I honestly don’t know that I will enjoy this $800.00+ experience. I never imagined that the songs would be secular, and not God centered. I don’t have anger, venom, or ugliness to spew at Mac for his endeavor. I think we need secular music that doesn’t dishonor God, for those who either aren’t saved yet, or who are and enjoy other music besides Christian and Gospel. But I never imagined that an anointed man of God would like to represent himself under the heading “backslider.” My heart is broken, and the idea of the powerful worship experience I was so looking forward to is now shattered at the foot of a “fun loving Friday night” country song. I’m praying that God uses this experience to minister to my Daddy, who is lost, in spite of the lack of worship, and presence of The Holy Spirit that comes through unity and anointing during worship. I am dreading this now that I’ve discovered what it will be.

Posted by AngelinaC in Earth @ 22:17 on Apr 11 2019

😦😆😁. I’ve listened to Third Day since we both had a PO Box off Lawrence Street in Marietta. I’m happy to see you’ve gotten grey too! 😆. Third day is STILL my all time favorite for worship, cleaning my house and the odd air guitar session.

All the best for ALL you TD guys (and families) and your new ventures! Despite the fame, I know youve all had a challenge to be where you were at and I SO respect that.

I don’t think even Mac Powell’s voice could convert me to country music 🤮, music is always such a personal thing. Maybe if you sung “hand down your head Tom Dooley”, a song that stuck in my head as an infant, off my mom’s radio. 🤔Nope.

God bless the dummies that “lost all respect”. Christ’s love for Mac makes up for your loss. Three years late, but comments are still open. Much two cents 💰

Posted by Deborah Isenberg in Pennsylvania @ 16:43 on Sep 10 2018

I just now saw that you are doing country music. I have been a huge Third Day fan for awhile. I wish you the best, but Third Days music was so inspirational for many people, so uplifting and giving peace. I just don't know if you can get that from country music.

Posted by Chad youmans in Fort Wayne indiana @ 07:41 on Sep 7 2018

I’ve been listening to Third day for many years and they have been a ministry to us for so many years and it’s not just because of the music but because How the band lives outside of the music. So I beleive MAC has a good relationship with God and if this is something he wants to do then I’m sure he has prayed about it and I’ll support him in it. I was sad about third day cause third day was such a huge part of my life and my families lives but I’m excited to see what God has next. And maybe your daughter will carry on that torch. She had an awesome voice. Love all you guys and will keep praying for ya.

Posted by Cynthia Jefferson in Texas @ 15:47 on May 13 2018

As with all things in this life we must put this in God's hands and pray for His will to be done. He sees the beginning and the end. Sometimes we as people do not see the God in things. Take heart God has this, after all He gave Mr Powell the "gift of music." God can take this and turn it to His glory and purpose no matter what.

Posted by Keri L Harrell in Ok @ 00:15 on Mar 7 2018

I have seen Third Day in concert many times and your Christian music has blessed myself and my teenagers. I am very sad for the change. Although you say you will be the same person, with country music comes singing in bars, which is not very becoming of a Christian and comes with many temptations. Just remember you will still be setting an example to others, whether it is good or not. Good Bless You!

Posted by Tim Yakich in Pittsburgh @ 19:18 on Jan 31 2018

Mac Powell (Third Day) has toured with Roman Catholic Matt Maher, so to see him going secular and touring with a band called "The Backsliders" isn't either surprising or coincidental as God has a way of speaking to us. The question is this: Is Mac listening? Colossians 3:17..."And WHATSOEVER ye do in word or DEED, do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus (yes, Jesus is Lord, so it's supposed to be His will, not ours, Mac), giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

Posted by Nell Morgan in Red Bluff, California @ 20:45 on Nov 15 2017

It was Great seeing Mac Powell in my Home town of Red Bluff, California and I have the Hope of seeing My Favorite Christian Band Third Day in Red Bluff California sometime Soon if it hadn't been for Craig Morgan I may Not have seen Mac Powell here on October 15,2017 at Our State Theatre that night and I got to buy Mac Powell's Second Country Album! I Love his Voice and I Love My THIRD DAY BAND! Thank You Mac Powell! Your Biggest Fan BandBeanieMama aka Nell Morgan!

Posted by Renee Rollins in Texas @ 02:04 on Sep 23 2017

This is a little late...since MacPowell has made the country album...but I want to share this;
I am a worship leader and songwriter, and the calling I have always had on my heart was to connect with people, many of them who don't have a personal relationship with Jesus) in music. I have written many christian jazz songs that where played on secular radio, as well as getting "Lone Star Music" song of the year for a country song I recorded and I truly believe God can use anyone who is willing to be sold out to Him.
I believe Mack Powell has a heart and a love for Jesus that has been seen in so many ways...not just in his performances but in his songs.
The truth is; lost people don't listen to christian music...but people like Dolly Parton aren't singled out and I really am praying that the fans of this great singer don't single him out either......God can still use him in a very unique way to touch so many hearts.
Always will be a fan of Jesus first....and I believe that's his heart.

Posted by Calvin fields in Mississippi @ 17:10 on Sep 8 2017

I'm just kinda hurt for mac making such the turn around
I can't see how one minute you praising God and singing
Of his love , then next thing we know, mac is singing secular songs. If he wasn't such the American role model
I would understand , but not only a follower of Christ,but a role model. I hope the other guys continue on with their
Witnessing through Godly music .

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

Add your comment

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.