Jaye Thomas is a dynamic singer, songwriter, and worship leader who has been a household name among the International House of Prayer (IHOPKC) community since moving to Kansas City in 2008. Jaye is well-known for his original songs which are featured on various Forerunner Music compilations and Onething Live albums, such as "We Make Room," "We Love Your Name," "Song of Love," "Only One," and more. He also has many popular co-writes with Cory Asbury, such as "Shekinah," "Holy Ghost Party," and "Reason to Dance."
Hallels: Jaye thanks for your time. I believe your great-aunt is the legendary Nina Simone. Were you close to her? How has Ms. Simone influenced you in terms of your own music?
Thanks for taking the time with me. I'm honored to be interviewed. Yes, Nina was my great-aunt and though she was famous long before I was born, I DO recall times when we would come home for holidays and play the piano at my great-grandmother's house and we as a family would sing together. I wouldn't say that Aunt Nina influenced me DIRECTLY, but did in the sense that she was BOLD about what she believed, stood for, and sang about. While those systems radically differ, I am much the same both personally and musically.
Hallels: How did you become involved with the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOPKC)?
I joined staff with IHOPKC in 2008 after having completed an internship there. My initial plan was to stay for only a year and then move back home to North Carolina. Then I met my wife Nayomi and all that changed. I soon was leading teams in the Global Prayer Room, teaching in the University and married with three children. Moving to be part of IHOPKC was one of the best decisions of my life.
Hallels: You have appeared on over 20 albums released by the Forerunner Music and you even have your own solo records. How has your approach to worship changed over the years?
Interestingly enough, this year marks twenty-one years of worship leading for me. While many things have changed since those humble days in the beginning where I felt like I knew NOTHING about leading worship, I would say that my approach towards my audience has changed the most. Twenty-one years ago-and for many years, I saw my job as leading PEOPLE into the presence of God. Therefore, my energy was mostly spent being a worship "cheerleader" and trying to change people's EMOTIONS by singing songs ABOUT God to people. Now, I understand that my job was and is to exalt Jesus alone. And this is accomplished by singing songs ABOUT God TO God. This never gets old as it is what is most modeled for us by the continual atmosphere of worship around the throne (Rev. 4).
Hallels: You have also recently released a solo album Here Is My Worship. Tell us more about this album.
Here Is My Worship is my first full-length album in fourteen years. I was excited to join arms with Forerunner Music to record this album LIVE at our annual Onething conferences that draw approximately 20,000 young adults there each year. It is a conglomeration of worship sets taken from a couple of years at the conference, and I had the privilege of recording it with 'The Cry'- a dynamic vocal ensemble that I put together in 2010. I also produced the album and am VERY pleased with it. It's not just a listening experience but a worship experience.
Hallels: On the new Onething Live: Shout Your Name album - you are also on three songs. Tell us more about this new project and your involvement in it.
Much like Here Is My Worship, Onething Live: Shout Your Name highlights snapshots of some of the worship from the most recent Onething Conference in Kansas City, MO. I was blessed to lead two sessions and had three songs chosen to be featured on this record. Two and a half of them are my originals. (smile).
Hallels: I particularly love your song on the new record "Hymn (John 1)." What was the inspiration behind this song?
Thank you. That is one of my all-time favorites that I have been given stewardship over as a songwriter. I have an eternal fascination with hymns - you know, all the old hymns we grew up with. I think it's because they are so rich in sound theological content, as well as being melodic and easy to sing. I have ALWAYS wanted to write a hymn, and this song was born out of a meditation on John 1. It just came naturally. But I loved the imagery that it creates that He (Jesus) made this world his home and as a result He now makes our hearts his home forever.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to know more about you or/and purchase the new Onething Live album, where can they go?
Absolutely. Onething Live: Shout Your Name (available June 30) and Here Is My Worship, as well as many other albums on the Forerunner Music label, are available online everywhere music is sold and at forerunnermusic.com. For more information on me and my music and ministry, visit www.jayethomas.com. I am honored to have had this time with you. Thank you very much.