10 Questions with ... Hearts of Saints
January 14, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- Craig Felker (frontman)
- Jason Killebrew (drums)
- Jesse Grisham (guitar)
- Joel Purdy (bass)
- 2010 - Hearts of Saints
- 2013 - For All Of Us
1. Tell us a little about yourselves....where did you grow up, go to school, recognize a love for music, etc?
Craig - I was attending community college in Paducah, KY hoping to become the next Dick Vitale of college basketball (that's not a joke :)) when I gave my life to Jesus. That changed everything! It was then that music became my passion leading me to change my major and move to Murfreesboro, TN to attend school at Middle Tennessee State University. It was at MTSU that I met Jason (drummer) and started making music.
Jesse - I grew up in LaCenter, KY and was raised in a family of first-class musicians. Both my parents have master's degrees in music education and were highly accomplished players of multiple instruments. Music was always a part of our lives, but it wasn't until middle school that it became a personal driving pursuit. It was then that I started playing in church, and within just a few years was called to lead worship. Eventually I was part of the worship team in college at Murray State University where I graduated.
Joel - I grew up in Frankfort, KY and like Jesse played music in church from a very early age. I initially wanted to be a drummer, but I had saved money to get an instrument from a local music store and was disappointed to find they didn't have a drum set. Not wanting to go home empty handed, I took home a bass and amp and immediately tried to learn how to play every song on Steven Curtis Chapman's The Great Adventure.
Jason - My Aunt was a traveling pianist (music director) for several different southern gospel groups and got me interested in music. While I wanted to play drums, she made me first learn the piano. I then picked up the drums and began playing my first gigs as a southern gospel drummer. Needless to say, things have changed quite a bit.
2. Tell me how the group got started? Where did you meet, when did the inspiration for a "group" spring forth?
Craig - I met Jason while attending college at MTSU and we immediately started making music together. At first, the music we created was pretty awful. Our first recording involved me singing vocals into a computer screen mic for a song that I wrote to my now wife of 8 years. I'm still not sure why she decided to marry me after hearing that song. Jason and I played in several different groups together until forming what is now known as Hearts of Saints in 2005. For us, playing these songs of hope and restoration is what we're "called" to do. When I look back at how we came together it fascinates me how God orchestrated our start. If not for my college roommate introducing Jason and I, we wouldn't be a band today.
3. Tell us about the road so far? Where has this journey taken you? Any bumps along the way?
This week we will play a show in New Mexico which marks another state we've been privileged to visit and perform in. We LOVE meeting new people, and the road has allowed us to see so much of the country while also allowing us to share the stage with some of our heroes (Switchfoot, tobyMac).
In April of last year, we had the opportunity to lead worship in Jacmel, Haiti. This was one of the most amazing experiences we've ever had as a band. There were 400 people shoulder to shoulder in a tiny church, and the worship service lasted for nearly two hours. During the service, our Haitian brothers and sisters would sing the songs in English, Creole, French and Spanish. It was truly an amazing experience to hear "How Great Thou Art" being sung simultaneously in four different languages. And the joy...it's life changing! In Haiti there's a pure joy that exists in a poverty that words can't explain. To witness that joy and love wrecked our hearts.
As for bumps in the road...yes they're always there...especially in Haiti where there are very few paved roads. Regardless, we keep going because the struggle means growth.
4. You have a worship leading background, correct? Where & when did worship become a staple of your life?
Jesse - I began playing drums in the worship team at church at age 12. About that same time, I began to sing in earnest and apply myself to the guitar as well. I received the definite call to lead worship around my freshman year of high school. I have been employed as a worship leader at several churches in western Kentucky and currently serve as part of the team of Mosaic Nashville while maintaining a modest schedule of solo worship leading engagements. Each member of the band occasionally leads or plays at their local church gatherings when not on the road.
5. What are your three favorite songs from the new project? Tell me a little about each song.
Craig - My favorite song on this record has is probably "Out of the Dark." Based on 1 Thessalonians 5:4, "Out Of The Dark" captures the message and spirit of this record. As the chorus says: Hallelujah/ Christ has overcome/The Son has risen, this song is about understanding our identity as sons and daughters of light. It's about realizing that God has already conquered death so that we might have freedom to live in Him. Despite what we may face or what we've done, God loves us, redeemed us and wants to give us eternity. This hope we have in Christ is not something we're waiting on; we walk in it now!
Jesse - "Your Great Love" is my favorite song. In Lamentations 3:22 scriptures states "We are not consumed, because of the Lord's great love." We mostly think of God as a consuming fire, so to read "we are not consumed" within the context of God's love is powerful. It reminds me of the passage in Romans that says God's kindness leads to repentance. "Your Great Love" focuses on our need for intimacy with God and willingness to wait on Him to be our comforter.
Joel - I'd say "Battle Cry" on the rock disc is my favorite. This song is a call to action for the church to start acting like the church. It touches on social justice and tells us we have to rise as a body against evil.
Jason - It's hard to pick just one, but I'd lean toward the title track "For All of Us." "For All of Us" is about God's love for the world. It's about redemption and our victory because of what He accomplished on the cross. As the lyrics say, With the ringing of a hammer/Hope is now revealed. For Jesus, the cross was death, BUT for us, it's LIFE. This isn't just a song for the church... it's God's story for the world. Christ came for all of us, and this song is a celebration of His goodness and kindness.
6. Who is it that you hope to reach with your music?
We've said that this record has both songs for the ear of the bride and songs for the heart of the bride. Some songs were written out of adoration to God (worship disc) and some were written for the "live" concert setting (rock disc).
I feel like we can really relate to Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22 when he talks about becoming all things to all people for the sake of the gospel. Our hope is that this record has something for everyone. Something "for all of us " (see what I did there?). Ultimately, we just want people to be restored and hear the Good News of Jesus.
7. How do you guys approach songwriting/arranging? Group effort, solo, collaboration? Explain the process.
It's always a group effort. No one person gives a full picture of the group. We're brothers, and so everything we do is together. Sometimes I (Craig) may write the melodies and lyrics, and sometimes Joel brings a musical idea to the table. Jesse may have a song idea, and we work it. I typically describe myself as an "idea" guy, and the other guys often help see that idea become a complete thought. Many times they simply tell me my idea is not good :). There's no one set way a song gets written. We all contribute as a band.
8. You've had the opportunity to work with quite a few successful/talented folks in the music industry. Give us a brief rundown of some of those.
Most recently we've had the opportunity to work with our good buddy Michael Farren. He co-wrote several songs on the worship disc and produced it. Michael is one of the most anointed worship leaders/writers we've ever worked with and is probably most known for writing such worship staples at "Let It Rain" and "Let the Worshippers Arise." In addition, he was the lead singer for Pocket Full of Rocks and is able to really relate to what we're doing. We've been so blessed to work with him.
In addition, we had the opportunity to write with Joel Smallbone (For King & Country) on this record, and he has a co-write on the song "Birth of a Legacy." We also worked with producer Ainslie Grosser (Mutemath, Jesus Culture) and GRAMMY award-winning producer Andy Hunt (Matthew West, Buddy Guy).
9. What do you see happening around your ministry in 2013?
That's a great question. I think for so long we had a vision of where we thought the band/ministry should go, and every time we realize that God's plan looked different and was better. We've tried to make our own breaks and kick down doors for too long (with good intentions), and I think we're all just at a place of rest. We rest in knowing that God is in control, and He's for us. Yes we hope for more people to sings our songs, BUT we just hope God uses us in a bigger way in 2013 to restore His people.
10. What advice would you give an up and coming, aspiring worship leader/artist? Any helpful hints?
Make sure that it is what the Lord has put in your heart to do. Run from it if you can, but if He won't let you, then apply yourself with everything you have. If being in the presence of the Lord sustains you and fulfills you, then you are ready to be a worship leader. In addition, learn your craft and discipline yourself to be better every day.
1. Favorite (College Basketball)
As natives of Kentucky, we're naturally HUGE Kentucky basketball fans. So much so that last year, while in Haiti, we used generator power to ensure we could listen to the national championship game. That's right...we didn't have running water, BUT we celebrated Kentucky's 8th national championship.
2. Favorite Cereal
- Joel - Honey Nut Cheerios
- Jesse - Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs
- Craig - Pure Granola or Life Cereal
- Jason - Lucky Charms or Quaker Oats Honey and Raisin