As Integrity Music prepare to release the 'Paul Baloche Ultimate Collection' album, Louder Than The Music chatted with the renowned worship leader to get his thoughts on worship music and how it's changed over the course of his long career.
Integrity Music are celebrating some of your most loved songs in a new 'Ultimate Collection' - if you had to pick out some of your own personal favourites, which ones would you choose?
Besides some of my personal favorites from back in the day like “Above All” and “Your Name,” I am particularly fond of some of the more obscure favorites like “The Same Love” and “Once For All.”
As someone who has been writing worship songs for a long time now, how do you continue to find new ways of writing songs that will inspire people?
I'm a big fan of co-writing. I love what can happen when you walk into a room with a fellow songwriter and begin to share some inspired ideas. After prayerfully worshipping with these ideas and going back and forth, I’m always amazed by the new songs that rise up and practically write themselves.
You've written alongside many different songwriters - is there anyone else out there you'd love to write with in future?
Yes, there are many “next generation” writers that I’d love to spend time writing with - gleaning from their fresh approach to melody and lyrics. Phil Wickham, Mac Brock from Elevation Worship, and Amanda Cook would be fun and inspiring.
How do you feel worship music has changed over the years that you've been involved in it?
25 years ago, there wasn’t much of an industry around worship music… it was primarily pulled from local churches and captured by companies like Integrity Music, Maranatha Music, and Vineyard Music. Today, I think there is more worship music available than there ever has been in the history of the church and that’s a great thing. So, I’m inspired and encouraged by most of what I see and hear. I give the benefit of the doubt that most are writing worship songs for the right reasons with the healthiest of motives.
Where is the most unusual place you've led worship?
The most unusual place I’ve led worship might be out in the barrios, deep in the heart of Mexico where we had to use a generator for the PA system and just sing in Spanish. Another spot would be outside of Dubai right alongside of the big mosque. I was leading worship at an outdoor event for thousands of believers when suddenly the call for Muslim prayer went out. We just quietly paused our night of worship, waited until that was done and continued on worshipping Jesus.
How would you define success in your career?
I think God defines success as faithfulness. There’s a parable in Luke 16:10, “whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” ... I’ve tried to be faithful to God’s calling in my life, first as a husband, a father as well as a worship pastor for 26 years at the same local church in Texas. I pray by God’s grace I will remain faithful to what He has called me to do and that like the apostle Paul I may one day say, "I fought the good fight, I’ve kept the faith, I’ve finished the race." I strive to finish well. That would be success.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as a worship leader and songwriter?
I would say take time to dig a deep well in your spiritual life. “Eat, drink and sleep" the Word of God, prayer and authentic worship. Get around people who are pursuing God. Also, invest lots of time, effort and discipline in your primary instrument or calling. As a worship leader or songwriter, you need to develop the skills required to effectively minister to others through music
What is your favorite album of all time?
It’s such a tough question… but I will say (drum roll please :)… Joshua Tree by U2.
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your mp3 player. What track is it?
There are at least 10 in my head but I'd say "Where The Streets Have No Name" by U2.
What does the next year hold for Paul Baloche?
My youngest daughter is getting married, two Canadian tours, a Spanish language album and most likely a Christmas Worship Tour in the US! In between all of those events I will be trying to write new songs that will hopefully help others worship the God that created us and saved us.