10 Questions with ... Morgann McClanahan
May 27, 2013
1. Give me a brief history....birthplace, childhood, schools, jobs, current hometown?
I'm originally from a tiny town called Rowe, VA (pop. 583). Growing up, I spent lots of time in my local church. Church was where I learned to sing, harmonize and express myself musically in front of other people. I starting writing songs around age 10, and started recording some of them at local studios when I was a teenager. After graduating high school, I went to college at Lee University in Cleveland, TN, and powered through in 2 years. My last semester, I moved to Nashville to intern at a record label and have lived here ever since!
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you?
It kind of depends on whether I'm at home or on tour. When I'm home, I like to get up and read a little Bible, try to sneak in a reality show (I know, I know...it's my guilty pleasure!), check e-mails, social media, etc. Lots of times, I'll have a co-writing session during the day and will spend a few hours writing. During the afternoon, I'll work on new music, marketing or graphic ideas. I teach vocal lessons 1-2 days a week, so some evenings I'll do that. Otherwise, I'll just chill and spend quality time with the people I care about.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now? Why do you like it so much?
Right now, Phillip Phillips' song, "Home" is one that gets stuck in my head. My windshield wipers and/or the sound of my running shoes remind me of the '4 on the floor' drum beat, so it's really easy to let my mind go there...thankfully, it's a really great song!
4. How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home? How much do you travel, what are the challenges?
I LOVE traveling and meeting new people. So much of ministry is about relationships, so I look forward to the opportunities I have to establish those bonds with fans, pastors, DJ's and other artists when I'm out on the road. I play 4-6 shows per month, so I do tour, but am not constantly away from my family like some folks are. That said, there is nothing like pulling into town after being gone for several days. The first night back in your own bed is amazing!
5. What's the biggest "God moment" that you've ever experienced, personal or professional?
I came to a major crossroad a couple of years ago and was torn as to what I should do. In this situation, I could take a safe,"normal" path, or I could take a more unpredictable route that would be way more uncomfortable and require a faith walk...either one would change my life forever. I remember looking out at the ocean one day, saying, "God, I don't know what to do. But whatever You want me to do, I'll do it." That very day, an answer presented itself. And though I ended up taking the path that was less comfortable and more faith dependent, I experienced the perfect peace of God in a way that I'd never felt before. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was making the right decision. That decision is part of why I'm doing what I do today.
6. What's the last book you read?
I've been reading this book called The Cause Within You by Matthew Barnett. Matthew founded a ministry named The Dream Center in Los Angeles that reaches out to lots of poor, hurting and broken people. The whole book basically focuses on how, if you use the talents God has given you in a selfless manner, you can change a little corner of the world.
7. Tell me about how you became a believer. What caused you to want to serve God in full time ministry?
I was born into a Christian home with amazing parents who taught me right and wrong and took me to church. I was a good kid who loved God and other people. But one evening, I went to a youth revival at a high school gymnasium and heard an evangelist talk about how simply being a good person isn't good enough (Isaiah 64:6), and going to church, in and of itself, is a work that Scripture teaches won't save us (Ephesians 2:8-9). God had been convicting my heart for a couple of months, and that night, I made a public confession of faith and asked Jesus to be my personal Savior. I knew that I wanted to be involved in music from the age of 8 or so. But when I was about 10, it was confirmed in my heart that I should use my life to serve God with my gift. I love music in general, but my true fulfillment comes from hearing how people's lives have been changed through the songs I sing. That makes every sacrifice worth it all.
8. Take me thru 3-4 songs on your latest project, What I Do. What's the "story behind the song", how is it impacting audiences, etc.?
"What I Do [Hallelujah]" - I got the idea for "What I Do [Hallelujah]" one day when I started thinking about the generations of people over 1000's of years who've used their lives to further the gospel. I began to wonder what a girl like me has to offer that hasn't already been touched on by the da Vincis, C.S. Lewises and Billy Grahams of the world who have come before me. As I sat there in my Nashville apartment, I came to the conclusion that the answer is nothing. There is nothing new under the sun. And even if there was, nothing I would ever create could do God justice. Yet the amazing thing is this: God doesn't delight in my eloquence; the Bible says that He delights in the heartfelt praise of His people. So if that's what He wants, that's what I'll do.
"Share" (feat. Jimmy Needham)- I had two friends in my life who were going through adverse situations at roughly the same time. Observing them handle their problems made me realize just how much perspective affects our ability to have joy. In a world where people lose their jobs, homes, marriages and loved ones on a daily basis, it's sometimes easy to feel like life has been "stolen" from our grasp and become bitter toward God. But what if we made the decision to be grateful, instead... viewing blessings as things that were never ours to begin with, but shared with us for a season because He loves us? I believe it would make all the difference.
"What You Have To Say" - I started writing a song in the car one day, but quit because I thought, "No one will ever want to hear me sing that song," so I put it down with the intention of never picking it back up again. Fast forward to 4 months later. I was going through a severe writer's block and coming down to the wire for picking the songs I was going to cut for my record. One day I was praying (in my car again, oddly enough) for God to give me creativity to compose the right songs. I distinctly felt God speak to my heart: "Maybe I've already given you the creativity, but you're not listening to what I have to say." I was floored, because the song I'd started earlier was called "What You Have To Say". I have gotten so much positive reaction from this tune, and it's taught me to not censor God. If we'll each take the time to listen to what He is speaking, we might be surprised at what we hear.
9. If you could go back and change three events/decisions in your life, what would they be, and why?
- I would take back any hurtful things that I have said to people.
- I would be less concerned with being socially accepted and more comfortable in my own skin. I think and act differently than a lot of people. But that's who God has made me to be, and learning to own my uniqueness has been a spiritual journey that has given me a great platform to help others, as well.
- I would use my time more wisely. We only have one life...the longer I live, the more I realize that I don't have forever and want to make the most of it!
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question.
I'd like to talk to Leonard Ravenhill or A.W. Tozer.
1. Favorite Bible verse....life verse. Why?
Romans 8:28..."For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose." That verse has gotten me through so many tough times that I didn't understand. When I've simply reminded myself that as long as my purpose is His purpose, I can trust Him to take care of me and never leave me stranded.
2. Funniest or most embarrassing moment?
Okay...so, I once had this meeting with a music industry veteran. We had set up all the details via e-mail and never bothered to exchange phone numbers. BIG mistake. I was running a few minutes behind schedule, then got lost on top of that, which made me even later! I ended up arriving 15 minutes late, and he was outside getting ready to leave. I was trying to hurry up and whip into the parking lot when I hit the curb...which was jagged and totally busted my tire right in front of the guy (thank God for AAA). I was so embarrassed and cried all the way home. I laugh about it now, though!
3. What artist or pastor has had the greatest impact on you, and why?
Mark Hall from Casting Crowns is one artist that I really look up to. I went to a CC concert in college and heard Mark speak about being a successful artist, writer and leader, despite having to battle ADHD and dyslexia. A year after I moved to Nashville, I was diagnosed by doctors as having a significant case of adult ADHD. There have been times where I've felt discouraged and overwhelmed, but then thought about Mark's testimony and remembered that if God could use him, He could use me, as well. Thank you, Mark!