Singer, worship leader, and songwriter Joel Vaughn returns with his Dream Records Surrender. While his label debut EP, Kinetic showed Joel in a whole new light garnering his first top 20 Billboard Christian Hot AC / CHR single for "Wide Awake", his sophomore release, Surrender shows an even more evolved sound - with deeper lyrics, soaring vocals, and haunting melodies.
His southern drawl, humility, and nice boy looks remind you where he comes from, but his sound will show the world where Joel Vaughn is headed. Settling in to deeper and modern music -Joel's voice truly shines and it is clear that he is home.
Vaughn is a singer/songwriter based out of Nashville, TN. Growing up in the South Joel was influenced by many different genre's but none were closer to his heart than pop and contemporary music. Joel started singing in his local church at the age of seven and he has kept going ever since.
Known as "the singer" of an all-musical family, Joel originally taught himself to play guitar at age 14, simply to keep up with his siblings, all of whom played instruments. But his love of playing didn't stop at guitar, and he also decided to pick up the drums and piano as well. By the time he was high-school senior he was writing songs & playing whatever musical instruments he could get his hands on.
Joel studied at West Texas A&M University, and he began to lead worship for student ministries and churches in the area. Over the last 12 years as a worship leader in Texas, he has released three independent albums. All of these albums featured the rock and worship styles that he grew up with, but as he continued to progress, his music began to mature and he began to create songs that leaned more toward the contemporary pop genre.
Q: Congratulations on your last EP "Kinetic." "Wide Awake" was not only a Top 20 Christian hit but its video has had 13 million views! This is just amazing, how does that make you feel?
Thank you! It feels pretty amazing. I never thought my first singe at christian radio would turn out as well as it did. People responded to Wide Awake in a way I never saw coming. I am absolutely humbled. Q: Does it put pressure on you when you were making "Surrender"? It did in a way but at the same time I didn't want to try and "one up" my self. I just wanted to write songs that were honest to who I really am and then talk about what God was doing in my life.
Q: What are goals and hopes for "Surrender"?
To lead people to a greater place of faith and trust in God. These songs were written from personal experience of letting go of things that were holding me back. A wise leader once told me that you can't lead people where you haven't been yourself and that statement rings so true to me now. Based on my experience in life, things have always turned out for the better when I stopped trying to control them and gave the control of my life to God. I want people to know there is a better way.
Q: You've got to co-write with some stellar writers like Dave Thulin and perhaps one of my favorite writers Tony Wood. Tony has written so many Christian songs, what was it like working with him? What did you learn from him about songwriting?
Right?! How do I answer this question without looking like a total fanboy? I can't. I've grown up with Tony's songs and I honestly didn't even realize it until about two years ago. There are so many incredibly important songs that he wrote or at least had a part in writing like, "Sometimes He calms the storm" from way back in 1997! At least it was important to me. I'm thankful that he has been obedient to the Lord with his talent. I'd be willing to bet many people have encountered Jesus and even surrendered their lives to him because of his songs. Anyway, I'll try to stop being a fanboy now.
It was equal parts intimidating, flattering, fun and easy. The man is the definition of a pro. He makes everyone in the room feel like they offer something valuable to the process. I walked away feeling like I did something well and I probably had very little to do with how great the song turned out. Haha! It was my very first time to write with him and hopefully not my last. There is so much to take in when someone of that caliber is in the room so I don't know what I didn't learn; I can say I that learned a lot. His humble demeanor is something that is very refreshing. He's accomplished so much as a songwriter and has every right to brag about it but he doesn't. I want to at least learn to be as humble as he is in that regard.
Q: One of my favorite tracks out of "Surrender" is "If I Trust in You." What inspired you to write this gorgeous anthem about trusting God in hard times?
This song was written by myself, David Thulin, and a very talented singer/songwriter, Chris Cron. The day we wrote it we talked about what it looks like to truly trust Jesus. We were discussing how Peter walked out on the water to try to get to Jesus but for a split second he doubted him and he ultimately sank; but what happened? It says that Jesus immediately took hold of Peter's hand, pulled him from the violent raging sea and then said to him, "Oh you of little faith. Why did you doubt?" How many times in our own lives have we doubted God and tried to take control? Personally, I have dealt with many trust issues. They have plagued me in the past to the point where I tried to take control of everything. In this song, we tried to peel back the layers of what would it look like if we had ruthless trust in our savior, no matter what the outcome could possibly be. What if we could let go of our fear and truly trust God even when it's hard to. What could he accomplish through us, our families, our cities, our nation and in our world?
Q: Being a worship leader in a local church, have you ever thought of doing a congregation worship record?
That has been on my mind a lot lately. My heart has always been for worship in the church. I literally grew up in the church and being a part of worship. Only recently have I been performing more of my own material than leading corporate worship. It's no surprise to me that getting to lead worship feels like coming home and it is a blessing every single chance I get to. I don't know what the future holds as far as recording a congregational worship record goes but I'm certainly not opposed to it.
Q: With 2017 starting, what are a couple of resolutions this year?
If it's any indication by the title of this record I am resolving to trust God more than I have at any point in my life and surrender the things in my heart that are keeping me from growing in my relationship with him. I also want to get back in shape physically. Being out on the road messes up your ability to stay fit if you don't stay on top of it. I'm currently turning that around- the workouts are kicking my tail but they've been worth it. Finally, I want to be a present with my wife and kids and let them know that they are much more important to me than anything that could distract me from them when I'm at home. I want to love them well and lead them well. I can't do that if I'm glued to a cell phone or chasing things that don't really matter at the end of the day.