New artist Iryne Rock is set to release her debut album JFY this month. The album is preceded by the lead single today, titled "Fire In My Veins."
Rock, who is a worship leader in her home state of Maryland, grew up listening to the likes of Leon Patillo, DC Talk, Michael W. Smith and others. She sang in the choir as a child in her native Nigeria, but it was in her home church at Solomon's Porch Worship Center in Jessup, Maryland, where Rock began seriously writing music.
Q: Iryne, thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself, tell us more about your journey.
Thank you for chatting with me. I grew up in Nigeria the first 17 years of my life. I attended a Christian boarding school called Trinity International College (not because I was a bad kid. It is common place to send your kids to a boarding school in Nigeria). My experience there created the atmosphere I needed to develop a more personal relationship with God. A year after my graduation, I came to the US as an International student at Stockton University in New Jersey. I graduated and headed to University of Maryland to become a Dentist. It was at Maryland that I met my husband, a handsome Nigerian-American medical student. We got married 8 days after our graduation and have been blessed with two young boys.
Q: I believe you are currently leading worship in church, tell us more about your ministry now.
Well, even though I didn't know it at the time, my ministry started in my teenage years. At my high school, my sister and I were placed in a singing group by our school chaplain, called "Fresh Fire". I guess you could say this was the first band I was in. This provided me the opportunity to lead the entire school in worship which I did with joy. In New Jersey, I joined a local church and continued to lead worship with the rest the rest of my family which I continued even when we moved to Maryland. It wasn't until I joined Solomon's Porch Worship Center that I began to write songs with a fresh anointing and teach them to the choir and church.
All these years, I had written songs and never really shared it with anyone but my siblings. By the leading of the holy spirit, and with the encouragement of my family, Pastor and many members of the church, my husband and I started to record some songs. Over the past year, I have led worship a little less because I needed more time to write and record the album.
Q: When did first feel God's call into music ministry?
I honestly don't know. In hindsight, I see how God has used open and shut doors and my upbringing to lead me into the music ministry. Personally, I noticed that leading worship brought a different level of joy or fulfillment in my life that dentistry couldn't replicate. I also noticed that melody and writing came easily and almost consistently. I am always humming a tune or listening to one. In fact, I remember in dental school that one of my patients asked if I knew that I had been humming while I worked on him. I just shrugged and continued, thinking it was the norm for everyone.
Back then, I was very focused on dentistry even when I felt the call of God into his music ministry. I just could not see how to do both. It was when some doors in my career were shut against me unexplainably, that I felt the Lord leading me to focus on him and his ministry by recording my music. It was an answer to prayer because I had always desired and prayed to be in the recording music ministry. Once we started, God took care of the rest and led us to all the people we worked with to produce this album. Thank you Lord. I realize now that I don't have to choose between the career that God has blessed me with, and the music ministry he has equipped me for. God calls us to be excellent in all that we do because we're a reflection of him.
Q: You have a new album coming out, tell us more about the style of music on this record?
I tried to incorporate as many different styles as possible (laughs). Our God is multifaceted and so are we. When I began writing, I wasn't thinking about the styles but as I got to the end of the process, I wanted to make sure that the album represented me well. I love different styles of music and don't consider myself as one style. I have a deep appreciation for different genres of music. So, there are pop melodies, reggae and African influences, rock and RnB vibes in the album. At the end of the day, I pray that it ministers to everyone and each person has a hard time picking their favorite.
Q: You also produced the album yourself. This is amazing. How did you first learn about music production?
That is a tough question and I will try to answer it as best as I can. It has been a learning process with improvement after each step. Firstly, all the inspiration for this album came from God. I wrote every song and created the melodies, but the accompanying music was created and mixed by the different amazing musicians, producers, and engineers that I worked with, some of whom I have never met in person.
Obviously, I sang in all the songs, some songs alone and others with amazing vocalists. I was able to find them through Soundbetter. In fact, all but two producers were from Soundbetter and I was referred there by a wonderful friend and Gospel artist, S-Dee. I gave them the melody, lyrics and idea for each song and they believed in what God was doing and DELIVERED!! Thank you!! I was very involved in the process, providing feedback as we developed each song. My sister sang the bridge with me in All is Alright and my dad and brother provided the interlude.
But most importantly, I wouldn't have been able to do this without the support of my husband, Joseph. He is my editing board for all my melodies and lyrics. He hears all the bad and good ideas. He also financially supported every endeavor. Therefore, I can't take all the credit.
Q: Your new single "Fire in the Veins" is out. What's the song about? And why are you excited about it?
I wrote the song after my sister gave a message in church. The message spoke of how we Christians are easily moved by the emotions of a great worship atmosphere, you know, the lights and music, but still return to our sinful nature once it's all said and done. It was a powerful message to say the least. It inspired a hunger for holiness that I was able to pen to paper and song. I'm excited because I believe that every believer can relate to it, as it calls us to repentance and to a life truly transformed by God. To the glory of God, the song debuted at #1 on the Christian Radio Chart the week it was released and is also available for free download. I hope everybody gets the opportunity to listen to this song.
Q: Name a couple of songs on the new album you are super excited about. And why?
I love all the songs, LOL!! They are like my children. I'm excited about "So Endless" because I wrote the song when I was having a hard time recording in the studio. It helps remember endlessness of God's love no matter what we are going through. I'm excited about "Overflow". I ended up changing the melody of the song in an instant which reminds me of the power of God and how it changes things in an instant.
I'm very excited about"You are my Shepherd (YAMS)" and I can't wait to share this one with the world. The name YAMS itself has a special place in my heart as it reminds me of my nickname in high school. I also almost didn't record the song which would have been a GREAT mistake!! I can go on and on about the other songs.
"One God" is a proclamation from John 1 that I believe Christians would enjoy and "To Be Different" was written for my two sons to encourage them to love their Nigerian-American heritage and "Lord Most High (remix)" is great. There are other exciting songs to talk about, like I said I can go on all day but I will stop here for now (laughs).
Q: How do you wish your music would impact your hearers and God's kingdom?
I pray it inspires, encourages, and lifts people up. I pray it draws people closer to God, wherever they are in their spiritual journey. I pray it excites the hearers about Christian music, because it's for everyone and it is inspired of God, so it's very cool.