Singer/songwriter Mary-Kathryn is originally from San Antonio, Texas where she began her music career with debut album, Perfect Gift in 1995. Her second album, Stream in the Desert, released on Rhythm House Records label in 1998. One Spirit followed on October 31, 2000 with Mary-Kathryn and her band touring much of the U.S., and her fourth album, Dreams & Visions, released on August 21, 2007, receiving a first-round Grammy nomination. Mary-Kathryn's latest project, Wonders in the Deep, released online in March, 2015 from Rhythm House Records and quickly climbed to #7 on the Zone Music Reporters Top 100 chart. The project will release to the Christian market Fall 2015.
Hallels: So glad for your time. Let's start with yourself, tell us a little about who Mary-Kathryn is.
I'm a worshipper, and I say that because it was my love for God that inspired me to begin writing songs. I wanted to share a part of my God-experience with others, to encourage and inspire them as well. And what God had put into my heart, musically, has been the voicings (if you will) and the expressions of the nations. I've always had an appreciation and fascination with the diverse cultures of the world.
Hallels: Your music is completely unique. As I was listening to your new album, I can hear a large influence of music from various countries and traditions. How would you describe your style of music?
I think my music best fits into the World Fusion genre. It's a fusion of pop/rock/world/jazz - I very intentionally determine what sounds I'll use in creating musical palette when I go into the studio to record
Hallels: Let's talk about your new album, "Wonders in the Deep." This is your first album in 8 years, what took so long?
Life happened! I began recording "Wonders In the Deep" in 2009, but my family has always come first, so I needed to make them my priority through transitions and life events that were not under my control. I'm pretty sure God saw these things coming - haha. I've learned that sometimes we just have to let go and trust that His timing is perfect, no matter what.
Hallels: Why did you call your album "Wonders in the Deep"?
In praying about what the title of the album needed to be, I was reminded of one of my favorite chapters of scripture - Psalm 107 - especially where it says, "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep." For me, this has always served as a great metaphor for my life in music ministry, and in business with my entrepreneur husband.
Hallels: On your press release, it says that you do not want listeners to just know the love of God, but also to feel it. How do you do that through your music?
My music is very experiential, very visual - and not just because I say so, but because people tell me that all the time. But in addition to that, I think there are so many believers and seekers alike who want to experience the Living God. I've never thought that was too much to ask of Him.
Hallels: "Elohim," I have read, is one of your most personal songs on the record. Why is that so?
Paul Buono and I have co-written and produced two records together now. When writing "Elohim", the music came first. So I took the track home from the studio and just lived with it for about a week. As I listened I thought, "What is the music saying?" At the same time, I remember being inspired by the movie Slumdog Millionaire, and had also come across an article about the Dalit people of India. This allowed me to hear what the music was saying: it was a prayer for the poor and suffering in the world.
As I headed back into the studio with this inspiration, I was driving in my car and heard the lyrics for the chorus, "It's for these that I pray, For these I seek - Set them free - heal their dreams, Elohim - Do what you've done for me." And I just began to weep.
Hallels: One of my favorite tracks off the new album is "Ships." What's the story behind this song?
The story behind "Ships" is the Psalm 107 verses I referenced earlier. I just wanted to capture the sensation and the image of being out on the ocean, in the deepest waters; that place where you have no other choice but to completely rely on God's guidance and protection.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to get to know more about you and your music, where can they go?