Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Shaun Groves: "Created to be Faithful"
On July 12, 2005, White Flag, the newest creation from Rocketown Records artist Shaun Groves, will officially be released. Groves garnered six Dove nominations with his 2001 debut CD Invitation to Eavesdrop. His sophomore effort, Twilight Song Stories, didn’t fare nearly as well in North America when it was released in 2003. White Flag, however, carries with it all the hope and creativity that led Rocketown to sign him to his original contract.
The songs on the White Flag album originate with Groves’ experiencing the difficult ups and downs of the music industry and his suddenly plummeting from being a popular artist that everyone wanted to hear to an artist who was well received internationally but dropped off the map in his own country. For this Texan who is a willing songwriter but reluctant performer it was something he was not prepared for. You see, Groves came to Nashville to be a songwriter and, as he says, to, “Ride in on his white horse and save world.” He only recorded Invitation to Eavesdrop at a friend’s suggestion because nobody else was willing to record his songs.
Looking back he says, “I succeeded and I really didn’t expect to. I thought I would make one record and I would be out,” he says. He thought that he would just go on and become a college pastor or teach saxophone lessons or take up a job as a janitor.
Looking back, he describes his attitude when he was creating his first CD: “It was really just a whim.” He says he looked at it as a great opportunity. “It’s not a bad thing. I’ll try it. I had no idea I was going to get the awards and the radio play and all these things so I guess I didn’t really guard my heart and mind against success.” He says he was always the average guy in school or sports and was not used to winning things or experiencing success. When all his success and notoriety disappeared, he wasn’t prepared for it.
Groves concedes that he zigged when the trend in Christian music was zagging. The trend towards more worship style albums and economic pressures throughout the United States in recent years caused Christian radio stations to take fewer risks and stay with music that represented their core group of donors who help fund many of the stations.
“I didn’t think I cared. The longer the trend continued the fewer interviews I got and the fewer shows I got. The harder it got to pay my bills. I struggled with my identity. I asked God what I did to deserve this? Did I take a wrong turn? I never believed in a prosperity doctrine, where you follow Jesus and your life is great, but I guess I realized subconsciously I must have because when things went wrong I started asking am I doing this right? That’s not what I ever taught. That’s not what I ever believed.”
Groves co-pastors a Bible study in Franklin, Tennessee with his longtime friend and manager Brian Seay. Through the combination of his teachings on the Beatitudes and the lack of success of his second album the pastoral heart Shaun Groves has always possessed was rediscovered. He began to discover new meaning in phrases like “blessed are the poor in spirit.” He says God’s message to him has been, “I didn’t create you to be successful. I created you to be faithful no matter what the cost.” He says he also learned, “It really doesn’t matter what anybody thinks about you. What matters is whether you are righteous and pure of heart.”
Grove says, “I think of myself more as a pastor, teacher, prophet not as in foreseeing the future but in the way an Ezekiel, Jeremiah or Isaiah would come along, see the people of God for what they really are and then be able to apply God’s word in that situation in a very precise way.”
In speaking about places where he is invited to perform he says, “I try to remain sensitive to what is God doing with these people. I ask a lot of questions of the minister who brought me in. Tell me about your people? What are the needs of your people? What seem to be the trends? Who is hurting? Who is rejoicing? What is going on in your city? What am I stepping into? I’ve been asking questions all day about this college. Who goes here? What are the goals here?”
Groves also finds balance the balance for his life in his family. He says he would rather be a good father than a good rock star. “I have learned that I can live on very little. I don’t need to be huge. I have also learned that I can barely get by if I am not with my wife and kids enough. I have realized that poverty is much greater than the monetary kind.”
He thinks of his music as Psalms put to rock music. “I’ve always been torn between the power and aggressiveness (of rock music). I just love the sound of rock music and the poetry, depth, wisdom and the thought provoking lyrics of singer/songwriters like Rich Mullins, Carolyn Arends or mainstream [artists] like David Wilcox or Sarah McLachlan, people who I look up to. These are amazing lyricists.”
He says this attitude helped form the backdrop for the song “Twilight” on his second CD. The song was based on Romans chapters 7 and 8, combined with some inspiration from his two year old daughter who noticed that the moon and sun were “on” (out) at the same time. He questioned why artists were not taking the depth and poetry of a Rich Mullins and combining lyrics such as are found on Mullins’ “The Color Green” with a rock beat similar to bands like Delirious, U2, Vertical Horizon and others.
He describes the song, which appears on his second album Twilight Song Stories as being poetic but says, “I didn’t want to be James Taylor. I didn’t want to pick up my acoustic guitar and put some strings on it and make it beautiful because it is also exciting. It’s exciting to see God’s fingerprints on the world. It’s exciting to me.”
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
This material may not be
redistributed without prior written permission from Joe Montague.