Christian singer, songwriter
While Matt Redman's music has taken a key place on the contemporary Christian music scene, he has nonetheless downplayed his role as an artist. "I wouldn't call myself an artist at all," he told Tony K at 97.1 Christian Radio in South Africa. "In the end we have to remember, 'Guys, this is all about Jesus.'" Despite Redman's tendency to place himself in the background, album buyers have identified a distinctive songwriting and artistic vision. "If you add a few more of his lesser-known masterpieces," wrote Russ Breimeier in Christianity Today, "Matt Redman has enough songs to warrant a worshipful best-of album. … His songs are far more thoughtful and meaningful than the average 'Lord, I will praise you' worship song, and he clearly has a gift for melody." Redman has also been active in Soul Survivor, a British Christian ministry, and has worked to help young songwriters find their voice. "The best thing that you can do with your music," Redman told Tony K, "is bring it to God as a worship offering, there are a lot of other good things that you can do with music, but that has to be the best."
By the age of 15, Redman was active in his church, and he was soon busy leading worship services. "My youth leader at the time, Mike Pilavachi, asked me if I'd lead a few songs of worship," Redman told Relevant. "I don't think he realized quite how bad I was, but that's how I got started." Redman then joined Pilavachi in starting a youth camp movement known as Soul Survivor. "[It's about] thousands of young people living all out for God," Redman told Relevant, "and in the process positively affecting the culture they live in." The movement, he also noted, ran counter to current trends in church growth in the United Kingdom. "In England, there are headlines every other day about how the Church is dying and will soon be dead," he told Relevant. "That's why I love Soul Survivor. It shows signs of a vibrant, passionate Church." With Redman's leadership, Soul Survivor established a church, a festival, and a magazine.
While Redman was involved in a number of church-related activities, he also communicated his message of faith through recordings. His debut, The Friendship and the Fear, was released in 1998. "Lyrically this album contains a strong theme of striving for holiness alongside the expected songs of adoration and commitment," wrote James Stewart in the Phantom Tollbooth. "The songwriting is a real step up from some of Matt's older material, with a refreshing honesty." In 1999 Redman followed with The Father's Song. Critics noted Redman's ability to imbue his music with energy, even within a studio setting. "Matt Redman's worship records have always walked the knife's edge between the kind of … restraint and elegance imposed by a recording studio and the dynamics dictated by the communal nature of the songs themselves," wrote Thom Jurek in All Music Guide.
Redman released Where Angels Fear to Tread in 2002. "For those few of you who might not be familiar with Redman," wrote Keith Giles in Worship Music, "let me just assure you that he is one of the best." He recorded his next album, Facedown, before a live audience at North Point Community Church in Georgia during a three-day conference. He hoped that a live album, recorded in the mist of 350 songwriters, would convey the sense of energy and commitment that sometimes got lost in a more formal recording studio.
Although Redman has received critical praise for his craft, he has attempted to keep the spotlight on the message. "Whenever I record a new album," he told Debra Akins in Crosswalk, "it's really not about saying, 'Here's another Matt Redman product,' it's more like saying, 'Here are some songs. If anyone wants to use them, go for it.'" Likewise, as a leader of religious services, he seems more comfortable fading into the background. "It's this sense of invisibility that Redman seems to crave in the act of leading worship on stage," wrote Relevant.
Redman is one of the more prolific writers of worship songs on the contemporary Christian music scene, penning contemporary Christian classics like "Better Is One Day," "Once Again," and "Heart of Worship." Redman noted on his website that he and his wife "were on sabbatical at the time in the USA—and the song ["Blessed Be Your Name"] was written in the shadow of the tragic events of 9/11 (just weeks afterwards). It struck me at the time how little a vocabulary we had in church worship music to respond appropriately in the dark times [of] life." He has also worked hard to build the careers of other budding songwriters. "I'm really passionate about training songwriters," he told Akins, "and I'd really love to do more."
In 2002 Redman and Tim Hughes hosted "Soul in the City" for Soul Survivor, a gathering of 15,000 young people to witness the Christian message. "Yes, these young people will head into London singing their songs," Redman told Relevant, "but they'll complete the integrity of their sung worship by ministering to the poor." He has also worked in the United States as a worship leader in "Passion," a college ministry program founded by Louie Giglio. When not active as a song writer and worship leader, Redman also writes essays and books about the Christian experience, including Facedown, a companion volume to the album of the same name. In all of his activities, though, Redman has worked hard to keep the emphasis on spiritual matters. "With the eyes of faith," Redman wrote in Christianity Today, "we need to realize that worship is a 'spiritual' event long before it's ever a 'musical' event. We're caught up in the everlasting spiritual song that goes on day and night."
The Friendship and the Fear, Star Song/Survivor, 1998.
The Heart of Worship, Worship Together, 1999.
Where Angels Fear to Tread, Survivor, 2002.
Facedown, EMI, 2004.
For the Record …
Born in England; married Beth Redman.
Helped form the youth ministry Soul Survivor, with Mike Pilavachi; released debut album The Friendship and the Fear, 1998; released The Father's Song, 1999; co-hosted "Soul in the City" for Soul Survivor, 2002; released Where Angels Fear to Tread, 2002; served as a worship leader in "Passion," a college ministry; released Facedown, 2005.
"Matt Redman," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com/ (March, 10, 2005).
"Matt Redman," Christianity Today,http://www.christianitytoday.com/ (March, 10, 2005).
"Matt Redman," C Music Web,http://www.cmusicweb.com/ (March 10, 2005).
"Matt Redman," Phantom Tollbooth, http://www.tollboth.org/ (March 10, 2005).
"Matt Redman Is Facedown," Relevant,http://www.relevantmagazine.com/ (March, 10, 2005).
Matt Redman Official Website, http://www.mattredman.com/ (March 10, 2005).
"Meet & Greet: Matt Redman," Crosswalk,http://www.crosswalk.com/ (March 10, 2005).
"The Reality of Worship," Christianity Today,http://www.christianitytoday.com/ (March 10, 2005).
"Where Angels Fear to Tread, Matt Redman," Worship Music,http://www.worshipmusic.com/ (March 10, 2005).
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