Tony Cummings reports on the acclaimed, Nashville-based songsmith MATT MAHER
Practicing Catholic Matt Maher has done more in challenging his church's cultural insularity than any other modern musician. The Canada-born, Nashville-based singer, songwriter and worship leader has written many songs which are now being sung around the non-Catholic Church, and his songs have been recorded by Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Third Day, Jeremy Camp, Matt Redman, Hillsong, Casting Crowns, Meredith Andrews, Jesus Culture, Jars Of Clay, Passion and many others.
He has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards in his career and was awarded the Songwriter Of The Year For An Artist at the 2015 GMA Dove Awards, while in 2013 he performed at the Vigil Mass presided by Pope Francis in front of a crowd of three million people for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.
Now, the Provident Label Group are releasing 'Alive & Breathing Vol 1', the first of four music bundles featuring three songs that Maher has written for other artists but hasn't recorded himself, live versions of some of Maher's previous songs or, as in the case of "Lord, I Need You", recorded in a different language. 'Alive & Breathing Vol 1' features "Run To The Father", "Lord, I Need You (Señor, Te Necesito) [Live] [ftg Blanca]" and "White Flag [Live]". The remaining volumes will release in October, November and January 2020.
Maher talked about the recordings found on the four bundles. He said, "Over the course of the past 20 years of music, my two greatest joys in this area of my life are playing music live and writing songs with friends. That is why I gravitate so much to writing congregational church music - they're songs that are meant to be sung live and they're songs that come out of the gift of friendship. It's part of what inspired me to record the live songs on 'Alive & Breathing', for example, 'White Flag,' which I enjoyed writing alongside great friends at a writing camp for the Passion Conference. That year at the conference, unbeknownst to us, thousands of white flags were hung in front of the Georgia Dome in unison, representing everyone in the stadium's surrender to Christ.
"The new song that appears on this first instalment of 'Alive & Breathing', 'Run To The Father', is a song I had the honour of writing alongside Cody Carnes and Ran Jackson. Cody is a gifted worship leader, writer and artist in his own right; he had already recorded and released the song, but it reached me in a deeply personal way and I felt like I wanted to record a version of it, so my friend Bernie Herms agreed to produce it and I'm so happy to share it with everyone."
Maher went on to talk about the Spanish version of his hit, "Lord, I Need You", which he recorded with Blanca. He said, "One of the things that makes worship music powerful is to sing songs in your 'heart language'. For me, that is English, the language of my culture. But when English isn't your primary language, you have to convert the words and even the ideas about the words. 'Lord, I Need You (Señor Te Necesito) [Live] [ftg Blanca]' is such a primal song - to need God is a primal need. I wanted a version that helped people whose heart language is Spanish, to be able to pray it this way, so I asked my friend Blanca to join me in recording a new, live version of this song, in both of our heart languages."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.