10 Questions with ... Ginny Owens & Andrew Greer
May 11, 2015
1. Brief history / synopsis
GINNY - I was born and raised in Jackson, MS and at age 3, a degenerative eye condition left me totally blind, but my parents insisted on me having a normal childhood. With their blessing, I grew up doing everything the other kids did. (When my peers started getting their drivers licenses, I finally realized there were some things in life I just wouldn't be able to conquer.)
My younger brother, John David, and I both played music growing up. I first attempted songwriting at age seven or eight, after hearing Amy Grant's earliest work that had a profound effect on me. At the same time, I was surrounded by Gospel and R&B music in Jackson, and both genres were tremendously influential in my musical development.
After graduating from high school, I moved to Nashville and attended Belmont University, where I pursued a degree in music education in hopes of becoming a high school music teacher. Instead of securing a teaching job upon graduation, I was signed by a music publisher as a staff songwriter. A year later, I became an artist on Rocketown Records, and after nine glorious years and four studio projects with Rocketown, I set out on my own to record music as an independent artist. My most recent album, I Know A Secret, was released November 2014.
ANDREW - I grew up on the fringes of West Texas in the small town of Azle, Texas. Growing up, my parents, brothers and I had a wide variety of interests, but music was a common thread. My mother is a professional organist and music educator, while my dad, a therapist, has a steep background in loving and playing music as well. I grew up with the sounds of everything from Motown to Simon & Garfunkel to Black Gospel and Southern Gospel being played over the speakers of our household. After graduating from Belmont University in Nashville, TN with a Bachelor of Music degree, I decided to stay! After dabbling in the Christian music industry behind-the-scenes, I recorded and released my first independent record in 2009 and the rest has been history.
2. Tell us about your current book project....how did it originate, what was the driving force?
GINNY - When Thomas Nelson approached Andrew and me about co-authoring a book, our first order of business was to settle on the subject of our book. Transcending Mysteries was inspired by a myriad of questions and personal experiences. We both had friends whose legalistic backgrounds caused them to dismiss not just the Old Testament, but also God Himself. As Andrew and I observed our friends journeys and wrestled with our own questions, we were prompted to delve into the pages of the Old Testament to study the stories of how God interacted with His people. We paired those Scriptural accounts with stories from our own lives in an effort to discover more about the greatest mystery of all time - God.
ANDREW - Transcending Mysteries was birthed through several months of conversations with two close friends of mine here in Nashville. Conversations about who God is, who are we, how do we relate to him, what is scriptures' meaning and purpose, and how does all of this play into our own lives every day? Throughout these conversations, these friends and I decided to re-open the Bible and in a open-hearted attempt to instead discover who God is. So for better or worse, Ginny and I used these conversations and our own life experiences to take the plunge and reopen the pages of the past to help us journey forward in the future.
3. What's the basic premise of "Transcending Mysteries"?
GINNY - In Transcending Mysteries, we invite readers to, as our tag line says, 'decide what to do with God.' Simply put, we believe the God of the Old Testament is still relevant to the 21st century Christian, and we can discover a great deal about His nature as we study His relationships with His people recorded in Scripture. My hope is that the reflections and potential insights we've shared will inspire readers to continue their pursuit of God through personal Bible study, prayer, and discussion with others.
ANDREW - The book's promo line is: 'We fell in love with Jesus. Then we had to decide what to do with God.' That hits the core of the conversations discussed in the last reply. As twenty-first century disciples we desire, we love Jesus, but just can't figure out God. This book will only scratch the surface of chiseling away at some of the mysteries of God, but we believe this pursuit to know more of God is holy for spiritual beings.
4. How much do you travel, what are the challenges? How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home?
GINNY - The amount of travel tends to depend on the season. With a new book and a new record, I am currently on the road several weeks out of each month. As much as I enjoy the road, it's a completely different world from home. Maintaining a routine, good sleeping and eating habits, and keeping up with friends and family is a challenge.
I'm on staff as one of the worship leaders at my home church in Franklin, TN, which means I try to be home two Sundays a month. This helps keep me involved and connected to church. Otherwise, I try to be intentional about reaching out to folks back home while I'm on the road, but the balancing act never ends.
ANDREW - I travel a great deal of the year. As musicians, travel is required to promote the projects we are releasing. To be in the same room as other people is the most effective way to do this. And, of course, sharing the medium of music in a face-to-face setting is unparalleled in connecting us to each other and to God. This is why I got into music, and now authoring a book, in the first place.
5. What Artist or Pastor has had the greatest impact on you?
GINNY - For artists, I wish I could narrow down the list to just one. Carole King, John Mayer, Sara Groves, Amy Grant, Stevie Wonder, and Jon Foreman are ones that immediately come to mind. I love hearing how other writers articulate what's important to them, and how they use melody to further the impact of their lyrics. I'm also particularly interested when artists with deep faith find ways to articulate that faith to an audience beyond the contemporary Christian Music genre.
ANDREW - Emmylou Harris' music - both on record and live - has had a profound impact on my life. Her ability to communicate so eloquently what the human heart experiences through her songs and voice is unparalleled in my opinion. And of course I think this use of music to connect us to each other through lyrics and melodies of pain, grief, hope and joy is a spiritual thing - ultimately connecting us back to God.
6. What's the last book you read?
GINNY - Scary Close by Donald Miller. It's a memoir, essentially chronicling his journey to marriage. However, he has many thoughtful insights on writing, self, and relationships that I really found encouraging. I liked it so much I'm going to start at the beginning again.
ANDREW - Plainsong by Kent Haruf. It's just a simple story, really, detailing the seemingly ordinary lives of a community that becomes intertwined with life circumstances that have profound impact: cancer, teenage pregnancy, divorce, parenting, and so on. The plot develops with wisdom and grace as it becomes totally relatable to the reader.
7. Funniest or most embarrassing moment on the road?
GINNY - Well, nearly every time I go through airport security there is a moment. One TSA agent practically carried me into the x-ray machine and said, 'Now raise your arms up and pretend you're a bird flapping your wings! Flap! Flap! Flap!' I didn't know whether to laugh or run away.
ANDREW - When I called my dad from the stage to wish him a happy birthday. He answered on speaker phone from the bathtub!
8. Where do you see your career heading 5 years/10 years down the road?
GINNY - I hope to still be writing music and books, and that folks will still be interested in listening and reading. I'm certain my career will also involve much more hands-on interaction with social causes and non-profit organizations, too.
ANDREW - Honestly, I don't know the specifics of what I would like to see happen, as all I really desire is the continued opportunity to make music my living. I do have a few bucket list items, such as playing at the Grand Ole Opry and having more of my songs being recorded by other artists.
9. What organization/service group/cause are you affiliated with or passionate about?
GINNY - It's difficult to choose just one, as there are so many I love. International Justice Mission is one of my favorite non-profits to share about and support. IJM is a global organization working to protect the poor of the developing world from violence, slavery, and sex trafficking. I encourage you to learn more about their incredible work at www.IJM.org.
ANDREW - I have been intimately involved with Food for the Hungry Nicaragua fh.org for three years now. It is amazing how partnering with our neighbors down the street and around the world helps to wake our soul to our value to God, and that makes all the difference.
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question.
GINNY - Just one? Can't do it. I've narrowed the list to three: the apostle Paul, C.S. Lewis, and Stevie Wonder.
ANDREW - Perhaps Dolly Parton. I have a feeling I would leave a conversation with her feeling a lot better about myself. She has a way.
1. Favorite Bible Verse....life verse?
GINNY - Currently, Phil. 4:12B-13: I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
I discovered these verses during a difficult, lonely season of unsettling circumstances and unanswered questions. The question I asked most often was, "Where are you, God?" This verse offered new insight into my faith journey. I'd often thought of God as being the one to rescue me from my difficult circumstances, but these words reminded me to trust Him to be my hope and strength in the midst of dark circumstances.
ANDREW - Psalm 34: 4-5, 18 in The Voice translation. When I needed the Lord, I looked for Him; I called out to Him and He heard me and responded. He came and rescued me from everything that made me so afraid. Look to Him and shine, so shame will never contort your faces ... When someone is hurting or brokenhearted, the Eternal moves in close and revives him in his pain.
2. How and When did you become a believer?
GINNY - Growing up in church, I heard about Jesus, His sacrifice, and His love for me on Sundays, Wednesday nights, and at home, too. I believed this good news and asked Jesus into my heart at age four.
ANDREW - I don't know exactly what prompted my heart to ask my Dad some questions about life, faith and salvation. As we talked about Jesus, it was as if He was as natural as breathing. I don't remember not knowing Jesus. I suppose that is the work of His spirit.
3. What's the biggest "God moment" you've ever experienced? Personally or professionally, when has God shown up in a powerful way?
ANDREW - I spent several months backpacking around Wyoming after a few tough life events several years ago. After meeting some folks who owned a historic lodge that Buffalo Bill Cody had built (circa 1900) outside the East Entrance of Yellowstone National park, they discovered music was my profession. They offered me a key to the lodge where an old upright piano sat. I never thought it would be playable, but one day I entered that un-insulated lodge in the middle of the Shoshone National Forest and set my fingers to the ivories. I couldn't believe it. The piano was perfectly in tune with itself. How could I ever doubt God was in the details? I wrote my entire first record on that piano.