By Tony Hebert
After a busy week of class and work, students and community members gathered in Manning Chapel to hear recording artist Derek Webb.
The event, hosted by Associate Professor and Department Chair Dr. Mark Aaron Humphrey, April 20, was advertised as a concert and conversation with Webb.
It was part of a series of similar events that was dedicated to Humphrey’s song writing class. However, Webb, who was recovering from illness, needed to save his voice for a show in Waco the next night.
Webb, a Memphis native, was a former member of the popular contemporary Christian music group Caedmon’s Call, based in Houston, Texas. After his career with Caedmon’s Call, he embarked on a solo career and has been successful for the past 10 years.
Many of the music majors in attendance were encouraged by Webb’s view of the ever-changing music industry. When Humphrey asked if it was a good time for Christians to enter the music industry, Webb replied with certainty.
“It is a more hopeful time for an artist of faith.”
He affirmed his opinion by explaining smaller artists have more record sales than the few well-known top-selling pop artists.
One of the topics that Webb discussed was his song writing process. He said when he began composing, he placed limitations on himself by setting a goal on what he wanted to accomplish in a song.
“I used to envision the product of the process then figure out how to journey to it,” he said.
To counteract the frustration caused by having a rigid framework, he learned to unleash his creativity by being open-minded.
Webb said, “I like to think in bare conceptual statements …. I can’t say what I want to say in just one song.”
In addition, he said he writes songs in groups to express his full range of thoughts on a given topic.
Webb spoke concerning his influences as well.
When he has an idea for a project, he asks himself a series of questions: “What do I want to learn? What books do I want to read? Who do I want to hang out with? And what tools do I want to learn to use?”
After the audience’s questions about the song writing process were answered, the topic of contemporary music versus traditional music in the church was brought up.
Webb believes some churches are so preoccupied with the “worship” aspect of the service that they almost lose focus. Those in attendance seemed to affirm Webb’s thoughts.
Freshman music education major Terry Livingston said, “I thought it was really interesting that his view of worship was more on hearing the Word of God other than singing worship songs all service.”
It was evident that the audience had received Webb very well.
Freshman music major Kaitlyn Campbell said, “He brought up a lot of good points I’d never thought of before.”