Neely, a grassroots worship duo, has partnered with UK's Homegrown Worship to release their brand new single "Whisper." Intriguingly, Jeremy and Kaci Neely opted not to record in one of Music City's vast array of studios but instead decided to travel 4000 miles across the Atlantic ocean to record a new collection of songs in Sheffield, England.
The couple, who have been touring their blend of faith-infused country/rock/pop internationally since 2008 joined forced with Homegrown Worship; a fresh new label and community born in the UK in 2018. The movement now has more than 50 writers, artists and churches signed up to share new songs'.
We are honored to catch up with Jeremy Neely for this exclusive interview.
Q: Jeremy, thanks for doing this interview with us. Can you tell us about yourselves as the Neelys and your journey thus far?
It's my pleasure. Thank you so much for this opportunity! Kaci and I have been doing music ministry since 2001 but the Lord did not have us go full time in music & ministry until 2010. We have four beautiful daughters: Allison, Aubrey, Emma, and Ella. Allison and Aubrey are old enough that they no longer travel with us. As a matter of fact, Allison married our guitarist, Brad Rankin, 4 years ago and they have given us 3 beautiful grandchildren.
When the Lord took us into full time ministry and moved us to Nashville, TN (Music City USA) we both thought that we would plug into the Christian Music Industry and that's how God would use us. Wow, how wrong we were but how graciously God directed us in His will. It was winter of 2011 when we heard the Lord tell us, "No more contracts, no more fees, just go and serve. Leave the finances between me and the Churches you serve."
To say that we were a lot frightened to move in this direction is an understatement! However, we did and that is how we have lived our lives since. God has always provided and we've never missed a bill payment and we've always had our needs met.
The Lord has grown us in so many other ways as well. Reminding us that while we are not defined by our past, we should not forget where we came from either. In this way, it helps us to posture ourselves to reach out to folks who don't know Jesus so much more effectively. Thus, why you see some seemingly secular songs in our discography. As "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19) we know our music is our fish bait and to give you some of my downhome country boy talk, "you ain't fishing if you ain't got bait!"
As we grasped these changes from the Lord, He grew our ministry from just a regional ministry to an international ministry without a Record Label, Manager, or Agent of any kind. Just God opening doors for us. With that said, we did feel led to partner with Andy Baker and his team at Homegrown Worship. Not because of the label aspect of Homegrown Worship but rather because of the community aspect. To link arms with other like minded Brothers and Sisters who share a dream and talent is amazing. What is even more amazing is when we can share some of our contacts and resources to bless them and see them soar higher!
Our journey hasn't been all green pastures and flowers in our hair. Life is tough and the enemy is real but through it all God is who He says He is and He is so faithful! We simply continue to move ahead one step at a time as the Lord leads us.
Q: You have recently worked with Homegrown Worship. Tell us a little about Homegrown Worship and why you chose to work with them?
As I had said previously, we were content to continue in ministry with no label\management\agent. Then we noticed what Homegrown Worship was doing and was intrigued by the efforts they were making to build a community. Because of the posturing of our ministry as outreach we didn't really think we were Homegrown Worship material.
Then a dear friend of ours, Loulita Gill, intervened and put Andy Baker and I together. We found out that we both had a similar vision for ministry and a heart for worship. Andy and I have both been around the music industry for a long time and both of us are really tired with the formulaic sounds coming out of the music scene. We both prayed on it for several days and Andy came back saying, "let's do four songs together and see where it goes from there..." and here we are!
Q: You have released a new single "Whisper." What's the story behind this song?
I'll never forget the evening this song was conceived. It was the evening of April 4th, 2019 and I had just finished going through our social media one last time before going to bed. I was overwhelmed with grief because I saw so many friends posting, whether in their joy or pain, that they "heard the universe saying..." and I thought to myself, "they are so close and yet so far off the mark!"
At the same moment, the Lord was bringing to mind individuals throughout scripture whom didn't have Church buildings, Bibles, daily devotional books, and the like that simply heard from Him. One of those individuals that immediately came to mind was Abraham and how he simply stood before the grandeur of creation speaking to the Creator.
Immediately the words, "I hear You whisper, when the wind blows. I feel Your peace when the rain washes over me" just burst out of my mouth. I immediately sent a voice recording of those words & melody to Loulita Gill and by the time I woke up she had already crafted the rest of the chorus.
From there our son-in-law, Brad Rankin, and our dear friend and fellow musicianary, Patrick Steele, helped me craft the verses and the bridge.
Q: On this song you got to work with worship leader Loulita Gill, whom we have also recently interviewed. What was it like working with her?
Working together with Loulita on "Whisper" was not our first time writing together and it was not our last time. Lord willing there will be even more opportunities because we have a uniquely, wide open, writing style. What I mean by this is, for example, when working together on "Whisper" not only did I send her the initial voice recording in which she returned to me with the rest of the chorus finished, but we also write via video calls via FaceTime.
That's just writing "Whisper."
Then we've had the pleasure of writing together in a hotel room in South Africa as well as a last moment, 11th hour writing session on our last evening in the studio (this was a killer song you'll hear later this year via Homegrown Worship). Most songwriting teams I know of have a specific setting and routine they like to get into and don't like to step out of that. It's definitely a blessing to work with someone as flexible and as creative as Loulita.
Q: Are you working on a new album now? If so, give us a sneak preview of what we can expect from the new record?
We are not working on a new album, but rather we are working on singles. I am an incredible fan of all types of music and I'm an artist to the core. That means for me to be cornered into one specific genre makes me feel creatively claustrophobic. Our current production cycle will give the folks following us a new song every three months. In the meantime, the Lord is moving us into a realm of doing stripped down acoustic music and videos that we will release every two weeks via our YouTube Channel (as well as other streaming services).
We will be doing all of this via our Patreon page (www.patreon.com/neelymusic) where those who help fund the projects will get to step behind the scenes and see the music making process. For instance, I just had a band from Mexico ask me if I would be featured on a song on their new album and that I would need to learn the verse and chorus in Spanish. I love these guys, their music, and I do love a challenge so I said, "yes!"
I invited our Patrons for the exclusive opportunity to go "live" with me in the vocal booth in the studio. Several did and said it was one of the most amazing experiences they had. It's a new and different way of making and delivering music and we are certainly excited about it.
Does that mean we won't collect songs and release an album? I honestly can't answer that question as the music industry really is going through some major and interesting changes at the moment.
Q: You also have an autobiography coming out entitled "Falling Down." Tell us a little about this release.
This book was a long time in the coming. God has been on me for years to write my story but the project just seemed too big. In August 2017 my intestine ruptured while Kaci & I were in England and I nearly died. Thankfully the good folks at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro nursed me back to health (along with a couple of big miracles from God but that's a whole bigger story). As you can imagine the recovery from this kind of medical emergency is quite long. While I was bedridden the Lord helped me to realize how to tackle this project. Or as I would say, "How to eat the elephant".
When we tour we do so as an acoustic duo and we do what we call a "storyteller concert". To simplify, we share our testimony between songs, linking the music together, to tell our story. The Lord made this painfully obvious connection for me: why not break your life story up into short stories and tell them as you would at a concert?
"Falling Down: My Life Story as Seen Through the Eyes of the Prodigal Son" is a collection of short stories from as early as I can remember right up to the editing process (which began early 2018). The stories are put together in chronological order so they read like one big story.Thus the Lord helped me eat the elephant...one bite at a time.I've been blessed to receive so many good reviews about the book. People are telling me that once they start reading it they can't put it down. Most complete the book in 2 - 3 days! Through the whole process I learned something new about myself: I love to write!
Q: How do you wish your songs would impact the lives of your listeners?
Our heartfelt prayer is that every song we write and\or sing would draw people closer to God in some fashion. Our heart is that even in our "secular songs" the Spirit of God would be entwined in them on a deeper "Holy Spirit level" that would move people in ways that we never could.
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