Kurtis Parks, Lead Pastor of Tennessee-based Bridges Nashville church, talks to Louder Than The Music about their new single 'Jesus You Are', and how it was inspired by a series of difficult events in the life of the church.
For all who don't know much about you, please introduce yourself to our readers.
I'm Kurtis Parks, and I have a few different lanes that I run in - Lead Pastor of Bridges Nashville, Author of "Sound Check" and working on another book, Worship leader and songwriter - but my favorite lane is being husband to Sarah and dad to Norah and Moses!
What can you tell us about your latest release single?
Our church has gone through quite a few trials these last couple of months. Our trailer with all of our equipment was stolen earlier this Spring, and a week later our city got hit with a devastating tornado. And, of course, a few weeks later, the Covid19 pandemic started to spread across the US. On the front end of these 3 epic events, Delaney Ramsdell (one of our worship leaders) and I wrote "Jesus You Are," a declaration pointing to Jesus, as Lord and King. We led it a few times before the quarantine took effect, and about a week into the "stay at home" orders went out, we put together a bunch of at-home videos with our worship team recording their parts. Then our friend Travis Flynn put it all together as an incredible music video experience. We put the video out on April 3, and released the single a week later! It's been amazing to see the response and connection with the story and the song!
In your opinion how has the music industry changed over the years?
I can remember going out on tour in 2006 selling CDs and t-shirts. We still have t-shirts, but CDs seem like a relic today. Streaming and video are the avenues most songs get discovered, so I feel like to really give the sound of a song a chance, you need the story of video. That's one of the reasons I think "Jesus You Are" has found its way into people's homes and playlists.
Does it get harder writing fresh new songs?
I look at songs as "altar moments" of God's faithfulness. When God does something in my life, I write about it. So as long as He keeps providing the miracles, I'll keep writing songs! I always prefer to co-write with others, because community is so important in my life. I think that's a huge way to keep things fresh, is by inviting others into the mix!
If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?
My hero in songwriting is Sir Paul McCartney for sure. I grew up with the Beatles, and it doesn't get much better than the Fab 4 in my opinion! On the worship side of things, a writing session with Matt Redman is on the bucket list. His songs have been anthems of praise for me throughout my life. Would be an honor to collab with Matt! I guess I really look up to English songwriters, hah!
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
I'm definitely a pop/rock/folk kind of dude. Love all things 80s, like Journey, The Police, Huey Lewis, and Men at Work! Early on my parents only let me listen to Christian rock, so it was bands like Jars of Clay, DC Talk, and Audio Adrenaline. Then in high school, I fell in love with rock bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My all-time favorite band is a group out of Denmark - Car Park North.
How would you define success in your career?
At the end of the day success is doing what God asks of you, and stewarding that to the best of your ability. It's working like it depends on you, praying like it depends on God! I care deeply for the Church, and since I was 14 have written songs to lead people in worship. That's my aim as a songwriter, to help people sing a song from their own heart to God. If my lyrics and melody can help, I call that a win! I've been able to resource worship leaders with online teachings, my book "Sound Check," and I do a "worship camp online" a couple times a year. The more I can resource the Church the more success I believe I have.
What is your favourite album of all time?
I have a Journey's Greatest Hits album that is so scratched from years of use. Definitely my favorite record of all time!
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?
If I'm stuck on an island, it'd be "Message in a Bottle" by the Police. Then I'd send out an SOS :)
What does the next year hold for Kurtis Parks?
Probably some producing, lots of songwriting, and finishing up my second book, which will be another book to resource worship teams and leaders. Spending lots of time (especially during quarantine) with my wife and kids, and continuing to pastor the greatest church family one could ask for - Bridges Nashville! I have a goal to release a Christmas album with remakes of some of the classic Carols, so be on the lookout for Hymnlike Volume 2: Christmas!