Interview: Kathryn Scott

Sep 08 2014

Internationally renowned worship leader and songwriter Kathryn Scott is well known for working with artists such as Brian Doerksen and Paul Baloche. But now she is back with her new independent EP, 'Sing on the Battlefield'. LTTM asked Kathryn about the EP and how she goes about writing songs.

Tell us a little bit about your new EP 'Sing on the Battlefield' and what the inspiration behind it was?

I have a real passion to help people connect with the goodness of God, especially in the midst of the broken world in which we live. That’s the emphasis of this new EP, from songs like “Father (Generous and Kind),” declaring the depths of the Father’s great love for us; to “Always Good,” about making the choice to lean into the truth we know of God’s faithfulness above rather than the circumstances we face; and “We Still Believe,” planting our hearts in a solid God-ward direction. It feels more like a worship set than an album, which has been my longing for some time when it has come to recording.
Which is your favourite track on the EP and why?

It’s the title track, “Sing on the Battlefield.” My husband, Alan, and I pastor the Causeway Coast Vineyard Church in Northern Ireland, which we planted back in ’99. One of the joys of walking life out with such a courageous community of people is that we continually risk it all to keep reaching beyond ourselves with the reality of the Kingdom of God. We regularly pray for healing on the streets of our town and are seeing a staggering amount of people coming to faith. (As I write, there have been over 2,000 since February ’14). This is a community committed to risk. But with risk comes disappointment, for all is not as it will be yet. And with disappointment comes an increasing responsibility to keep pressing in so that we don’t back off from the Father or the things He has asked us to do. There are times when that can leave us weary.

“Sing on the Battlefield” is a description of a clear image of this very thing. I saw myself standing on a battlefield, sword drawn and bloody, but was almost too exhausted to lift it any longer. And then I caught a glimpse of Jesus, right there in the midst of the fray with us, and He took my breath away. I had to sing in response. This is the King who has won us so completely, who chooses to position Himself with us in the middle of whatever we might be facing, and graces our hearts to believe again.

Sing on the BattlefieldWhat’s your songwriting process?

It’s different all the time, but usually it starts with an image or impression - something that I think we need to be singing as a church, or something that I think the Lord is stirring among us. I spend some time mulling that idea over, sometimes writing in a journal until I get a handle on how to describe it, or having conversations with friends around the subject until words start to become lyric ideas, and then I know I’m onto something. After that, I sit down at the piano, and the melody usually comes pretty quickly. I spend ages reworking the lyrics until I’m happy with the way it sings and the weight of what it’s saying. And then I try it out with a few people to see if it connects with them. Their initial thoughts are so helpful and often lead to more time back at the drawing board, but that’s what can take a good song and make it potentially great, so I love that part of the process, too. Once you let that song go “out there” you don’t get a second chance to fix it, so it’s worth waiting until you know you’ve got it as far as you can.

If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?

Probably Bono! He is an exceptional artist, filled with fire and poetry that goes way beyond music. He lives with conviction that has become a message, catching the imagination of millions and making the expanse of their hearts that much wider as he has helped them see further than themselves. I love that.

How would you define success in your career as a worship leader?

My role as a worship leader is to create space for people to connect with Jesus and then get out of the way as they sing their heart out to Him. Every time people walk into His presence and encounter the Holy Spirit for themselves, I’ve done my job, and count it a privilege to have done so.

In your opinion, what makes the perfect worship song?

In my opinion, the perfect worship song is simply an honest expression of a heart that can contain itself no longer. Everything else is secondary.
What advice would you give to any aspiring worship leaders or songwriters out there?

My advice is to stay close to Jesus. Love Him with everything you are. Deliberately carve out time to connect with Him " even if that’s not through music. Go to your secret place with Him often. Then learn your craft. Spend time learning how to hone songs that lead us deeper into His presence and teach us the wonder of who it is we are worshipping. And finally, don’t be afraid of critique " it’s the gift to us as writers to take “our songs” and allow them to become “everyone’s song.”
Away from music, you are also heavily involved in ministry " tell us a little of your role in the church and community.

My husband and I are the senior pastors of our church, which means we get to lead an extraordinary group of passionate people on the most incredible journey of faith together. I also have the privilege of leading worship at home twice a month and traveling to lead worship and teach. Outside of that, I’m a mum to Sophie (13) and Emily (10) which keeps me out of mischief the rest of the time!!

You’re stuck on an island, it’s hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your mp3 player. What track is it?

I have no idea!!!

What does the next year hold for Kathryn Scott?

I’m looking forward to several short tours in the U.S. the first of which is in just a few weeks. I’m also working on writing some new material for another EP, hopefully next year. And, as risky as this feels to me, I’m hoping to finish a book I’ve been writing for ages! We’ll just have to wait and see if that’s for this year or another time a little further down the line.

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