Christian music’s stay-at-home tours


MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Friday, May 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. This time of year many Christian bands would be preparing for summer concerts in large auditoriums and outdoor amphitheaters. But weeks of social distancing have brought all that planning to a halt.

Many Christian artists were just beginning their national and international tours when the pandemic broke. Now they’re having to find new ways to share their music. Here’s WORLD reporter Myrna Brown.

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER:  After nearly 30 years of leading worship, this might be a first for singer-songwriter Matthew West…

MATTHEW WEST SINGS TO EMILY WEST: Ladies and gentleman, the love of my life. My beautiful girl, my beautiful wife. 

…sharing the stage with Emily West, his wife of nearly 18 years.

WEST TO FACEBOOK FRIENDS: How you doing? Good to be with you all. Emily actually wanted me to sing this song…

When the coronavirus began to spread throughout the United States, West was in Trenton, New Jersey, in the middle of a multi-city tour. 

WEST: Everything just kind of came crashing down in our world and we received word that not only would our concert be postponed, but our entire tour was going to be postponed. 

Once back home in Nashville, West says his early morning routine changed. His  wife was the first to notice. 

WEST: My instinct was to wake up and first thing in the morning turn on the news. She’s like, look, maybe that’s not the best way to start our day. LIke you’re stressing yourself out and then you’re stressing the whole family out. You got to lead better than that. 

WEST SINGING: Turn your eyes upon Jesus

That’s when West began Quarantine Quiet Time. It’s a daily morning devotional recorded in his home studio, using Smartphones, a guitar, a Bible and his social media platforms.

WEST: Just yesterday it was people watching from Brazil and Wisconsin and New Jersey and the Philippines.

But West says people watching through Facebook and Instagram want more than his music. 

EMILY WEST: Abigail’s going through a divorce…

One morning as many as 2,700 comments and prayer requests were posted on his Facebook page.

WEST: We all have an opportunity right now to not only find peace in this uncertain time in our personal lives, but to be peace for somebody else. 

TYLER SINGING: Teach me to be still, teach me to lay down. 

Singer-songwriter Micah Tyler knows peace can be found in stillness. But living out Psalm 46:10 doesn’t come easy for the Southeast, Texas husband and father of three. 

MICAH TYLER: Like, I’m the guy who’s constantly moving and doing things. So this whole shutting down thing, as much as I’m loving the rest of being able to spend time with my family, it kind of makes me feel like I don’t have enough value.  

In the middle of the pandemic, Tyler released a new album.

AUDIO: [TYLER SINGING TEACH ME TO BE STILL]

But it’s this song, written seven years ago that’s getting the buzz. 

MICAH: I went from playing in front of a thousand people on a tour to setting up my phone in my bathroom. And so, it’s definitely a different audience than what I was expecting.

Tyler says more than 7,500 people listened and responded to his spontaneous powder-room performance. He says the lockdown has sparked another rhythm in his life. 

MICAH: I don’t want to look back on this quarantine and feel like I lost months of my life. Last night we were about to go to bed and we just decided to move the furniture out of the way. And we had a Nerf war last night. 

ELLIE AND DREW HOLCOMB: Amazing grace how sweet the sound

Nights at the Holcomb household are for singing. 

ELLIE HOLCOMB: My husband was like, hey, we’re going to sing our way through this crisis and we’re going to do it in our kitchen after we put our kids to bed every night. And we’re going to call it “Kitchen Covers.”

Standing in front of the kitchen counter with a vase of freshly cut flowers, Drew Holcomb plays guitar and sings two-part harmony with singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb. The married duo says they’re thankful technology keeps them connected to their 19,000 YouTube subscribers.

HOLCOMB: I know social media can be a mixed bag. It can bring a lot of comparison and darkness, but a lot of us are using it to bring a lot of connection and hope to people.

CODY CARNES: Hey friends, this is Cody and Kari. We’re so excited to be with you in your church today.

And because of technology, married couple Cody Carnes and Kari Jobe are leading worship in churches around the world.  

KARI JOBE: We started noticing that a lot of smaller churches are just not used to streaming. Not a lot of churches were set up for that.

Jobe says since making their living room-inspired worship sets available for free online, churches in 60 countries have responded.

JOBE: There were 1,800 registrations for downloading them. We saw a few in India, South Africa, and Australia.

AUDIO: [WEST ENDING HYMN]

Back in Nashville, Matthew West says the lockdown has changed Christian music’s platform, but not its purpose. 

WEST: My normal way of encouraging people is on a stage in a city somewhere and that’s been taken away. But that doesn’t mean that God can’t still use those who He’s given a voice to. And here’s the best part, He’s given a voice to all of us.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown.


(Photo/Matthew West)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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