Since 2009, church congregations all over the world have set the tone with William McDowell's “I Give Myself Away,” a gospel anthem that has been acclaimed for capturing the essence of believers. Hence, McDowell's ministry has garnered much recognition and success. McDowell recently took a moment to talk to me about the creation of his 2012 Dove Award-nominated song, his motivational website, and how his business education impacted his career. Check out the full interview below, and get a look at his first-hand account about the need to arise!
Your song “I Give Myself Away” is a certified praise and worship anthem. It has topped the Billboard charts and earned you numerous accolades, including a nomination at this year’s Stellar Awards. With all this success, have you found it difficult to manage being a thriving music creator and a humble servant of God?
No, because I am a servant of God first, which makes me a servant of God only. I didn’t know the song would do what it did. Everything is the same around me. All glory belongs to God and we have to reject fame, in order to stay right. Humans are not built for fame. Christians have to reject it and give the glory to God.
What inspired you to write “I Give Myself Away?”
I get asked that question a lot and I still don’t have a good answer. Overall, it takes a life of brokenness to come to a declaration that means something. It’ll take the rest of my life to understand [the song]. It came out of a spontaneous moment in my church. Well, it didn’t come out of thin air; it came out of my life, first.
In the midst of the success of “I Give Myself Away,” you launched www.IGiveMyselfAway.org. Tell me about the website.
It’s not enough to say something - you have to do something. At the moment, it’s an opportunity for others to be inspired to do something. It’s an opportunity to take individual, small giving and make a large impact around the world – to literally do what the song is saying.
Your second album, ARISE: The Live Worship Experience, was released back in November and instantly topped the iTunes Christian Chart. How is this project different from your first one, As We Worship: Live?
It’s different from the standpoint that we were making a different declaration on this one. The event itself is bigger and I think the writing is stronger. We’re able to capture a larger moment. It’s different in its message from As We Worship: Live.
Both albums are live recordings. Is there a reason why you have chosen to create live versus studio albums?
Absolutely. In the area of worship, it’s best captured live. Live allows you to capture what it sounds like when the presence of God enters the room. You can’t capture that in a studio. It’s magnified based on the response of the people. Studio recordings place the focus on the song and the art. Live recordings place the focus on the response of the people.
You became the Music Director for praise and worship pioneer Ron Kenoly. What is the most important lesson you learned from him?
I’ve learned a lot. I think the most important lesson I learned from him was that, in this genre of music, the message must be as fresh to you as the first time you sang it. I was at his house, playing music on his piano and he came out of the kitchen and began to sing. As he was singing, he started to weep, as though it was his first time singing the song. And that was a moment that stuck out to me. His relationship was as fresh with God behind closed doors as it was in front of thousands of people.
I read that you graduated from the prestigious Full Sail University, with a degree in Entertainment Business. How has your educational experience impacted your career?
It added confidence, because you can have a lot of theories and thoughts, but you’re not sure that they’re correct. Education is just a starting point, but not a finishing point. It doesn’t make you an expert on something, but it makes you know that you’re not ignorant in it.
Fill in the blank: I imagine that my music will _____.
Inspire people to desire a closer relationship with God.
Who do you listen to for inspiration?
It depends on my mood, but I will say this: I don’t listen to other people for inspiration, because I don’t like to copy. I’m inspired by a lot of people, but not during my writing season. The only way you can know your true voice is to not be clouded by other people’s voices or expressions.
Find out more about William McDowell at www.williammcdowellmusic.com
Follow William McDowell on Twitter: @WilliamMcDowell