By Jeff Goins, Editor
Paul Reeves grew up in Savannah, GA. Although his father was a professional musician, he never really got into music as a young boy. His dream was to play professional basketball. During his second year in college, his dream began to fade. He says it was tough, having spent so much time and energy only to realize that it probably was not going to amount to much.
As a sort of stress relief, he picked up the guitar, remembering a little from the basics his dad had taught him. He joined the college worship team, which forced him to practice a lot. Although he claims that his first gig was awful, he fell in love with playing guitar. It took about a year to develop passion and skill, but he was hooked.
That same year, basketball ended. He led worship for different youth groups and did college ministry in the summer. Gradually, he started writing some of his own songs. As this progressed, so did the choice of venues. The only places to play outside of church in Savannah are the bars. So, thats where he played.
In March of 2005, Paul moved up to Atlanta to take a job as a worship pastor at a church and expose his original music to a broader audience. Shortly thereafter, he got married in June and released his first album, Face to Face. He didnt play much or tour after that album. In an attempt to play at better venues (he was just playing at coffee shops at the time), he released another album, Invitation, which was released last year in October. He looks at this as the true starting point of his career as a singer/songwriter.
Paul describes his music as a crossover between spiritual and secular and trying to reach out to the disinterested person, while also encouraging the believer. His songs are honest, dealing with real issues such as sexual temptation and the masks people often wear. His hope is that he would write authentic music like C.S. Lewis wrote profound fiction, art that was just as deep as it was simple.
Recently, Paul has been playing music for churches again. This is where he feels comfortable and free to touch on the issues that he thinks are important. The kind of people that are going to be fans of yours are going to be the people that you would normally hang out with, he says, And so, the kind of people that I hang out with are Christians.
At the beginning, I felt guilty,” he says, “because I felt like it was too easy. But it was my old pastor that said, What type of shows do you experience the most joy? and I said that its gotta be ministries or camps and he said, Thats what you gotta do if it gives you life.
And thats exactly what Paul has found. Life. When hes booking a show, he shares his heart an encourages them to invite non-Christians, too. Despite his shift to less secular venues, he still doesnt consider himself part of the modern worship or contemporary Christian genres.
Gently, he says, I dont want to sound negative about all of this, but even a lot of the new praise and worship, Im not a big fan of. [It] sounds like singing prom songs to God by an effeminate male onstage. David Crowder is one of the few people that I do like. And some of the Christian music just sounds cheesy. I want to do it in a new way, I guess.
Somethings wrong, he laments. If the song makes you feel comfortable and happy, then people will just sing along with it. Something doesnt feel right about that. He continues, a little jaded but open about his frustration with Christian subculture, Its tough, because I dont think people really want to be challenged.
Paul is desperate for depth in artistic Christian expression. He says that just because you put a rock beat to a song that talks about lifting up your hands and praising God doesnt make it deep. Longing for depth, he admits the temptation to write shallow songs, Of course you want more people to listen to your music and buy your albums, [but] I wont compromise.
He wants to write music that is palatable and accessible to a tune that will get easy worshipers to also hear the words and dig deeper. He declares, I am still trying to find that.
We ask him, Whats a need in the Church that you try to meet with your music?
One that comes to mind is being still and resting. Its so busy around here that you dont know your neighbors. You kind of do your thing and you go home; you stay inside and you never meet your neighbors. I havent written any songs about community but thats something thats coming.
We also ask, Whats wrong with church?
He lists some things hes observed, such as church mailings that say, We serve Starbucks coffee to bring in seeking people. He describes his group of guys that meets once a week and shares, I was working on a song the other day called What do you do? What do you do in the mean time when its hard to find a group where you believe all the same things a community where youre all tracking together? The question lingers for a moment as if hes still searching for the answer. Its tough to find a group like that and not just accept whatever the Christian thing is.
Lastly, we ask if he wants to share anything else, and he replies, I do have hope. I know its not just a few people [who] go to church where theyre not completely content with things.
He says thats a goal of his music, to speak to other jaded followers of Christ, telling them, Hey guys, I know its going to be hard. But he encourages, Theres a lot of joy in this.
Listen to music from Paul’s new album, “Invitation”:
Jeff Goins is originally from Chicago, IL and currently resides in Nashville, hoping to get signed as a professional kazoo player. In the mean time, he edits and writes for Wrecked.
You can visit Paul Reeves at MySpace. Be sure to check out his new album “Invitation.”