A Storyteller- Chris Perkins
Today I would love to introduce you to another one of my favorite storytellers– Chris Perkins. He is one who loves God, teaches, leads worship, and is an amazing musician.
Chris tells a story with his life and through each song that he writes. As he shares his music, he points to the un-created God, the most creative one in all existence. Today I not only want you to listen to Chris’ music, but I want you to hear his heart.
Here are the questions I asked Chris:
I believe story is the very heart of music. As human beings, I belive we have been made in such a way to respond deeply to story and music, and when you put those two things together, you have one of the most powerful means of expression we have available to us. And the unique thing about telling stories with music is, unlike the spoken word, music is able to take us to places in our emotions that we wouldn’t be able to go otherwise.
I think my favorite stories to tell are ones that are relatable. And yet, those stories that point us to things beyond ourselves. And I think, culturally speaking, this is one of the things we need most right now – more exposure to things that make us take our eyes off of ourselves (or our smart phones!) We are plagued by so many distractions. So music that lyrically is going to lift our eyes and recalibrate our thinking, musically that will be interesting and cause us to ask questions and go places emotionally – these are the kind of stories I want to tell through music.
Another way to think about it is that the stories I don’t like to tell through music are stories that don’t make us feel anything, that don’t make us think anything or desire anything. It could be argued that much of the mainstream music we hear on the radio that we listen to “in the background” is good music – the quality of instrumentation and execution of the music is good. But when I think of good storytelling through music, I think of music that makes people do things or think things differently after they hear it, because of the journey it has taken them on.
Specifically, I love to write songs about relationship of different kinds, songs about powerful or difficult concepts, and I love to write worship songs that pull either straight from Scripture, or are intricately woven with the narrative of Scripture, because I believe these are some of the most powerful stories we experience in our lives each day.
Listen to Chris’ new song: Paralyzed
How do you express your heart through music?
When it comes to writing and producing music, the most potent personal expression comes through capturing the lyrics, composing the music and laboring to marry the two together. The interesting thing about writing or working on a song is that you have a limited amount of room to work with – a lyric is usually poetic and nature and just like with poetry, you have to say a lot with very little, and that is a beautiful challenge.
Where the music is concerned, the way I usually write songs is to start with the music. I haven’t done enough research to know if that is the right way or the wrong way to do it. But I start by sitting down at the piano, or with the guitar or mandolin, and just playing. And, you know, I let the inherent nature of the “thing” I’m writing about come through the music as I feel it. Or if I’m working with another musician producing their music, I’m going to listen to their heart about what the song is about, what it means to them. So whether I’m writing the music or working with someone else’s music, I’m looking for what is going to flow out of me musically as I work to connect with the theme the song is about.
From here it’s really the discipline of songwriting, which is taking the expressed music from the heart that comes, and then taking the story I’m wanting to tell in song and marrying those two together. Finding the right words and phrases, the right melodies and ways to sing these particular phrases within the music. It’s a beautiful process, and can be a very difficult challenge, but so very rewarding.
How do you point people to God through music?
I love this question. I believe, as a believer in Jesus Christ and a lover of His Word and His ways, I believe firmly that, just as in everything we do, everything that we are as humans created by God, our artistic expressions are no different, in that they flow from and rely completely on Him as the first and the master Storyteller. The stories that we hear and respond to in music (and in books, film, photography, etc.), you know, we are always ultimately responding to mere shadows of the true Story and the true Storyteller.
So when I think of the songs I write, when I think of them in a general way, music and lyric and song, I’m aware of the fact that this is just a shadow, this is a pointer. And when I think of the content of the songs specifically, every song that I write, whether it is a worship song that is word-for-word Scripture, or more of a singer-songwriter song that is telling a story through lyric and music, I do not see a separation between those things. I see telling stories through the lens of Biblical reality, of Who God is, and I don’t see any other way to do it.
If my “job” as an artist, or even a producer of music, is to tell people about what I see through music, to tell the story of the things that I see, then I have to be honest in what I see, and because I see things through the lens of God’s reality, then that is how I have to tell my stories. I am always a story-teller pointing to the Story Giver.
I love introducing you to Chris, because he tells a story through his music. He points to a wonderfully creative God as he expresses his worship through song. He is a storyteller. And so are you! In the last few months we have enjoyed God’s grandeur with Devon’s dancing, Casey’s art, Mary’s photography; and this week we delight in our creative God with Chris. No matter which facet of God’s creativity we express, we each have a story to tell. We each have a voice.
Tomorrow we will be having the fourth I am a Storyteller link up. Will you join us tomorrow, February 14th, to share your story? This month we will be showing different expressions and aspects of Love. (Get the full prompt here.)
We may have a thousand different voices, but we will all be telling a single story.
We will be telling the story of God. And our stories will point to a person–Jesus! So write. Make music. Dance. Take pictures. Create art. And come share your expressions that will glorify God and point to His creativity. Please join us in sharing your story!