Kari Jobe says she always felt called to lend her voice to deliver a message of hope to the world, and just as equally, she had a desire to be involved in the church. Thus, the worship anthems she writes have enabled her to dive into both sides, propelled forward by her latest album, The Blessing, recorded live in Nashville, Tennessee.
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As a Christian artist and acclaimed worship leader, Jobe says she goes through seasons where different types of songs feel more relevant to her personal experience in contrast to what the local and global church may be feeling mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
While she tends to write songs that have a bent toward lamenting over life’s trials, with this particular album, Jobe says it was her goal to write songs that were more declarative in nature, giving voice to truth that needs to be sung over the church as a strong reminder of God’s presence and reality.
“We sat down to write something that’s already done, God already said it,” Jobe tells American Songwriter. “He said to pray this prayer over people to bless them. Singing something like that when God already said it would bless people, is already a different stance as a worship leader.”
Jobe says her first plans for the album began two years ago, when she knew she wanted to make the album live. In her personal writing room, Jobe kept photos of old church buildings with large windows and soaring architecture visible for inspiration. Through the entire writing process, Jobe kept the church in mind. She often wrote alone, sitting in front of her window, inspired by the photographs.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact not only artists’ plans but the ability of churches to meet in person for large worship gatherings, Jobe says she saw the hand of God in the writing process. Songs she wrote alone, though intended for a congregation, were now going to be recorded without a live audience.
“To find out that I’m not going to be able to have people in the room when I actually sing these songs I wrote for the church, it just became this full circle moment of, ‘Wow, God went before me and prepared me.’” Jobe says. “I’ve been singing over the church and writing for the church while I wasn’t in the church and with the church, and then to do a live project the same way, with no people in the room — it was one of those moments where you feel the sovereign hand of God. You’re just like, ‘God, you knew, and you prepared my heart.’”
But Jobe says she knew even if she couldn’t have people in the room to record, it was still the right moment to finish the album. Her team wanted to capture the heart of worship and provide an avenue for individuals to encounter God.
“(The songs) are going to really be these anthems that churches feel connected to,” Jobe notes.
But Jobe says she also writes songs that are geared toward the more personal, individual moments of worship.
“There’s a side of my music that does have that more intimate aspect that people can just play over themselves and it can be something that helps them have an encounter with God right there where they are,” Jobe says.
Sometimes the songs meant for private moments of worship don’t translate to a congregational setting as naturally, Jobe notes, but the album includes songs for both contexts. “It captures both sides of what I love to do with my music,” she says.
Throughout the entire process, from first inspiration to writing and finally recording, Jobe says she has felt God smiling at her and guiding each step.
“It brings a sense of peace, because you’re like, ‘I feel like I’m supposed to do this. I don’t know why I’m doing this in such a hard season but I’m gonna go with what I’m feeling peace about,’” she says. “Those little things just feel like smiles from God.”
Jobe says her heart was encouraged with the truth that God has held the entire process in his hands, and gave her the strength to feel like she could step out and make the project.
“Some people are just feeling disconnected and disjointed and I just want to lend my voice to the fact that God is still in control and he cares about people,” Jobe says. “Who he says he is in his word is still who he is.”
While humanity had to change to continue moving forward, Jobe says God has not changed, and that truth is what she hopes to communicate through the album.
“We can just still rely on who (God) is,” Jobe says. “That’s what I’m hoping my music does in this season — keep people grounded, remind them of the faithfulness of God and that the church is not dying. We’re gonna grow through this and be strengthened through this.”
Photo Credit: Cameron Powell