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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
If you keep your eyes open, you just might spot singer/songwriter and former Dove Award winner Ginny Owens in a shirt emblazoned with a groundhog playing a saxophone. Among the topics Owens discussed while traveling to a concert in Michigan was the evolution of her music to a more distinct R&B / Blues sound and her recent fascination with groundhogs.
Owens predicted her music will continue to develop into more of a R&B sound, “I’m trying to sneak as many elements of that into my songs as I can”, she says, “I’m not sure how much we will sneak onto the next record but I’m pretty sure it will be a good bit. I think every record will be a little bit more than the one before.”
Owens says as a child growing up in Jackson Mississippi she listened to a steady diet of R&B music. The blues flavor to her music is particularly noticeable on three of the songs from her album ‘Beautiful’ released in 2004. The songs are ‘Won’t That Be Fine’, ‘New Song’ and ‘Bread.’
On her new DVD, Live from New Orleans set for release on May 3rd. Blues will be front and center. The album was recorded live at the legendary House of Blues in New Orleans. On the album she does a cover of the Lenny Kravitz song "Let Love Rule." She once again worked with longtime friend and producer Monroe Jones who has been with her since the days she originally cut her first demo CD for promotion to record labels.
Owens attributes a lot of her success to the approach Jones takes, “He is so driven by what an artist wants to do.” She said one of the things that makes him so easy to work with is that he ‘checks his ego at the door.’ “Monroe is one of my favorite people on the whole planet.”
Live from New Orleans is a DVD that was sandwiched in between tours during 2004. She says it was something that had been talked about for a long time and then it just came together. She said the project was purposely kept low key and low budget. They didn’t want to attract a lot of attention. Owens says it was also a good time to work on the project because the band and she had already performed in about 100 shows that year so working together to produce the DVD came naturally. She refers to it as, “a really fun experience.”
Owens reflected upon the differences between how she approached her music in the early days of her career and how she feels about it today. "I didn’t love music then. I liked it and it was kind of fun. I kept going, 'How did this happen, how did I get here?' The fun part is as I’ve grown up and got older I’ve grown to love music more. I’ve grown to have more of a passion for what I get to do and I’ve grown to realize a little bit more maybe the significance of the opportunity that I’ve been given to perform and to write. There are a lot more days now when I wake up and go gosh I have the greatest job in the world whereas the first few years I was in a haze, kind of a dream world.” Now she acknowledges how grateful she is for the opportunity she has, “It’s really neat to have come full circle and beyond and go, this is such a great and fun job and I’m so excited that I get to do it and I have a thousand times more passion now than I did then. It’s just really neat to think that.”
Owens is still amazed when people tell her how a song has affected them because she says that her songs are born out of personal experience and is still surprised to learn that other people share the same struggles and have felt the same way concerning those situations. “Especially when you are introverted and then when you are a songwriter on top of that you write songs from your own life’s framework and from your own perspective and from your own heart. You can't really imagine what anybody else’s heart looks like. I will think how did they get in my brain and understand all that I was trying to say in that song.”
She doesn't take her responsibility lightly either, “ I think what I have also learned over especially recent years is my job is to write songs and hopefully is to be a good steward of that songwriting and to try my best to make the lyrics of the song as clear as I possibly can. I have begun to learn that there is immense power in a song and so I don't take that lightly. Now I just realize that God has allowed me to have this gift and this job for the time being and so my job at the moment is to write songs from my own personal experiences which might be able to touch other people.”
She says it is in the process of her songwriting that she grows and draws closer to God. In her childhood years songwriting was a way for her to heal from the many hurts in her life whether they were dealing with her blindness or parents’ divorce or just the everyday challenges that children face. As she got older she said her writing became her way of journaling and then added mischievously that some of those thoughts may even have contained lyrics about cute boys. ‘It definitely was my way of releasing stress or just releasing creative energy and kind of escaping from stuff and moving on.”
So Ginny, what is this fascination with groundhogs all about? She says, “I’m a new fan of the groundhog.” It all started on Groundhog Day and the legend about the groundhog being able to predict how soon spring will arrive. “I began to think why is the groundhog here? Why is he on earth? Why do we celebrate the groundhog?” She says loves dogs and cats but calls the groundhog “the fascinating animal of the moment”.
Ginny Owens is passionate about her music, grateful for the opportunity she has and often underestimates the impact she has on people’s lives. Although no longer introverted she still has an ongoing struggle with shyness and the challenges that poses for her as a performer. She doesn’t sit down to write a song thinking about how it is going to appeal to all the commercial standards of the Contemporary Christian Music scene but she approaches her music as a craft. Ginny Owens puts the art back in the word artist.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
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