Q&A: Gordon Mote Talks About the Values of Hymns & His New Hymns Album

Gordon Mote

On the heels of Gordon Mote's Dove Award-nominated project, All Things New, New Haven Records recently announced the upcoming release of Gordon Mote Sings Hymns and Songs of Inspiration. Produced by Mote and industry legends Phil Johnson and Wayne Haun, this all-new treasury of traditional favorites and new classics blends Inspirational, Southern, Country and Pop styles to create an album that is fresh yet timeless. 

Hallels:  Congratulations on the release of your forthcoming album "Hymns and Songs of Inspiration."Why did you decide to do a hymns album?

Well, I did an instrumental album back in 2004 and people seemed to really like it. I enjoy doing it because I love the great old hymns of the church and I never had ever done a vocal hymns album.  I always wanted to and it's about time to do one.  We were trying to figure out what we were trying to do. We kind of have this on our radar for the last 3-4 years and when we were done with "All Things New," I kind of decided that the hymns thing is the next thing to do. So we decided to do it.  

We were in Ken Harding's office.  Ken's the President of New Haven Records and we were talking about what we wanted to do.  But I didn't want to do the old traditional hymns I wanted to do several of the new songs that I believe in time will be hymns.  This is why we did "O the Blood" which is a Gateway Worship tune with Kari Jobe.  We did "Because He Lives, Amen" by Matt Maher and Chris Tomlin and the very popular song "Holy Spirit" which Francesca Battistelli had and quite a few writers were on that song too.  But I do believe those will be hymns in time.  

And we've been testing the waters on the songs and it's so cool and the people knew the songs.  And we mix 9 traditional hymns together and then I wrote a song for the project which I believe is very timely called, "Only Jesus Can Heal the Hurting World." 

The reason we thought of "songs of inspiration" is that not all of them are hymns although 3 of them will be in time.  But Songs of Inspiration was a radio show that I grew up listening in my hometown Gadsden, Alabama. The show's been on the radio since 1959 and we would get up on Sunday mornings as we were getting ready for church, we would have songs of inspiration on the radio.  And that's where that part came from: how that radio show influenced me and how I learnt so many of the new Gospel songs of the day plus they played alot of the old songs. 

Hallels:  Of all the hymns, how did you narrow down your choices? 

That was really hard.  I wanted to do hymns that meant something to me both in my childhood and now.  And again I'm always focused on what I want to say.  And it was hard to narrow down.  I knew when Wayne Haun came in and said, "I have an idea for "Precious Lord, Take My Hand."  Well, that song was not in my radar and I love that song but I said, "Okay what is your idea?"

"What if we get Chicago Mass Choir to sing." 

"Okay, you got me.  I'm in. I love that."  Wayne had the vision for that song.  I guess the other ones, I mean, I had a long list so I just think in my mind what I could do with this song.  And that's one of the ways I narrowed down.  I felt I had a fresh arrangement we didn't want to change so much that they lost their integrity but we did freshen the tune just a bit.  This album is me all the way through.  It really is.  Songs like "Great is Thu Faithfulness," he's been so faithful to our families and brought us through alot of tough times and good times.  And as a Christian body of believers we can all say "Great is Thy Faithfulness."  I got songs people can sing along with; songs that people love over the years.  Yeah, there are so many of them.

Hallels:  What do you think is the value of hymns?  Why do you think they are important?

Well, they are timeless; there's great theology in many of the hymns that we have sung.  There are many churches who have gone away from singing hymns.  I'm not one that hates the contemporary music.  I think there are some great songwriters and great artists conveying the truth of Jesus Christ through lots of different styles of music.  I'm a big fan of all of that but I hate to see us stray so far away from the hymns.

Anytime I lead worship, I incorporate lots of different styles into the worship set and kind of like my albums but I do think the hymns have so much incredible theology contained in them.  One of the reasons is that they are timeless.  And the melodies are so beautiful, the poetry, so I think, if we get away from the hymns we are making a big mistake.  This is my way of keeping them alive.

Hallels:  Phil Johnson and Wayne Haun, I believe, co-produced this record with you.  What was it like working with these two veterans?

Wayne and Phil are both musical heroes of mine.  And they are increibly talented, both of the come from a different place but where they meet in the middle which is pretty special.  They are both great friends of mine.  Phil, someone I've worked together many times before.  Wayne and I worked on a couple of songs on the last record.  They did very well for us, "Meanwhile Back at the Cross" and "The Other Side," both did well for us.  And the label was very excited about Wayne and Phil collaborating on the record. Both are great songwriters they recognize a great song.  And both of them have great vision.  So to have that kind of widom in the studio with you to keep you on the straight and narrow or to kind of let you wonder off a little bit, hey, that's good.  I really respect both these guys.  So, it was a pleasure to work with them.

Hallels:  Besides your own albums, you also play instruments on many albums, both secular and Christian.  And you are also a producer too for other artists.  How do you balance your time?  Besides your own album, what other projects are you working on now?

I love the production part of what I do.  I love producing other people. I did the Gold City hymns revival record not too long ago.  That got my appetite going for doing my own hymns project.  I produce a good bit and I've been creating the sound for the vocals bands over the years.  As a keyboard player many times, you're a band leader.  Even if your name's not on the record, you've kind of produced it.  I think all musicians in Nashville are producers.  I've had alot of fun producing other artists and I get more into that as I get older.

Balancing your time is always a hard one.  You've got many people asking you for so many things.  So you've to prayerfully consider everything you are considered to do and see if there's something God would have you do.  My wife's really good to bounce stuff off; she's got that great intuition I guess.  She's really in tune with the Holy Spirit and prays for us constantly.

My favorite thing in the whole wide world is to be home with the family and the kids. I love travelling but the bummer is not having time with family.  I wish I could do it all but when I'm home I give them both quality and quantity time. 

Hallels:  For our readers who want to find out more about your music or yourself, where can they go?, then follow me on Twitter at gordonmote and we also do periscope and Facebook.  Go like us on Facebook. I love to have you follow us, keep in touch, email us, follow us on social media as you'll know what's going on in our ministry.  We love to hear from you.

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