Myron Butler talks music collabs, lessons learned, favorite artists & the creative process! | @MyronButler
One of the major music-makers of this era that specializes in inspirational, revelational songs is Myron Butler. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Kirk Franklin, Butler has produced marvelous melodies that connect and convert the listener, with choruses easily condensed into bits that bless beyond expectation.
Unforgettable selections like Speak, Unrestrained and I Am God, touched souls and took hungry, heaven-centric music fans all the way up. Now, Myron makes his long-awaited return to the center stage with a new album that’s passionate, pleasing and altogether purposed in its message. No surprise, the album is called, On Purpose.
The multi-talented musician, producer and artist spelled out his vision and mission recently in an exclusive for BlackGospel.com. The conversation touched on his two favorite artists, his creative process and pinpointing his next assignment as a minister of the Gospel.
Christopher Heron: I’ve got to start with the title track; powerful artistic contributions by Bishop T.D. Jakes and Tamela Mann. What’s the creative process that brought these heavyweights to the title track?
Myron Butler: Tamela Mann and I were working on her upcoming record that I’m producing for her. I wrote the music for that song almost seven or eight years ago. And I was like, ‘’Hey, Tamela, I think this song would really be great for you to sing with me on.’’ And she said ‘’Sure.’’ It was really that simple. We talked with Bishop about being on the track because he had a message that talked about living on purpose and centering your life around your purpose. And so I said, ‘’Bishop, I’ve got a song that was triggered by one of your messages that you preached, and I was wondering if you could speak on it.’’ And he said ‘yes’. So we got in the studio and the rest is history.
Christopher Heron: I love the collaborations on this project by other talents like Jonathan Butler and Amber Bullock. Did you write the song and then imagined voices for those particular songs or do you have these talents in mind and are waiting for just the right song to feature them in?
Myron Butler: It was more of the latter. I grew up listening to Jonathan Butler, love all the music that he released, and I was like, ‘’I want to sing a song with Jonathan.’’ I really kept it to myself, I didn’t tell anyone. Years ago, when I was promoting the Stronger record, and I was at a Bobby Jones Gospel taping, he was on the same show, and we were backstage, and he said, ‘’Man, I love your music. I listen to your music all the time.’’ I thought he was just making conversation. So he pulled out his iPad and showed me that he’s listening to Unrestrained, and I was blown away. At that point I was like, ‘’I’ve got to do a song with Jonathan Butler.’’ I just knew that I had to include him on a song on this new record.
Christopher Heron: Your music is very melodic, very lyrical, very contemporary, and very accessible to a diverse market. Would that be correct?
Myron Butler: That would be correct. I always want the music to be accessible but I’m a musician so for me the music has to be interesting. The music has to be involved; it has to pull you in from the melodic line to the vocal harmonies, to the instrumentation. For me, all of that plays an integral part in creating the sound, and those details make one song different from the other and so that has always been me. That’s the creative side of me. You want other musicians to be able to reproduce the music, so I don’t want to make it so strange, so creative that nobody else could play it. I still want music that people could sing in church. So that’s always been my ulterior motive, musically.
Christopher Heron: You’ve worked with so many great talents, from Tamela Mann to Marvin Sapp, from Kirk Franklin to Karen Clark Sheard. What are the most valuable lessons learned being around so many artists who live by the code of excellence?
Myron Butler: The lessons are that excellence is the standard coming in the door, but aside from excellence, we have to be true to the moment. We have to be true to the message that we’re trying to convey, the sound that we’re trying to capture. People think they love what they hear, but they actually love how they feel. They really love what they feel if the music is honest. If the music is pure then I think people gravitate towards it because it’s not shrouded in ulterior motives. “Let’s make this sound.” No. Let’s just make music that’s honest and that speaks to the people where they are.
Christopher Heron: Is there an artist you love the synergy you get from artistic collaboration?
Myron Butler: There is a synergy I get with Tamela Mann. When we’re in the studio it just clicks but I’m also thankful for the level of trust. She trusts me to lead her and pull things out of her. Tamela and I have been working together for almost 10 years, so that’s what comes from working together for so long and when there’s that kind of trust. I also have that kind of relationship with Kirk Franklin.
I tell everyone that’s the musical house that I come from, how I approach harmony, how I approach the art of songwriting, for me there’s a language there between Kirk and I, what we do musically. He trusts me as well, and I trust him because he’s my mentor, he’s the one that’s shown me the ropes. So for me, those two – Tamela & Kirk – are the ones. It’s never work, the music just flows when we come together.
Christopher Heron: Are you more comfortable in the role of a producer, orchestrating things behind the scenes or do you still like being front and center, ministering to the people?
Myron Butler: I like both. People have asked me which one do I like most, artist, producer, songwriter? I like all of them. All of them make up who I am; they’re all a part of my makeup. I literally have been working on this album for about almost three years. So second-guessing the music, whether it’s relevant, how will it fair in the marketplace, it’s hard enough? That’s what’s played a part in the amount of time, but I’m comfortable in all of the roles. They’re just different sides of who I am.
Christopher Heron: Several years ago I sat down with you and your wife and I asked you about what’s next, and you said that there was this calling on your life to full-time ministry. Do you still feel that calling?
Myron Butler: Oh, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it will come to pass. I’m embracing it more now. I’ve been called to shepherd a flock. Producing a conference is totally different from producing a CD. Having been in church all my life, I know that shepherding a flock is different from being a minister of music. When you shepherd a choir or a praise team, it’s different, but I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has called me to minister a flock. So now my wife and I are being prayerful. Is God saying start a ministry, be a pastor somewhere? At this point, we wait for God to direct, but I promise you, I am sure, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has called me for this assignment.
Christopher Heron: Let me ask you two light hearted questions. In terms of music, how do you like to listen to music? Is it on satellite radio, streaming it on Spotify, Tidal or Apple, terrestrial radio or on CD?
Myron Butler: It’s radio and CDs. I’m a purist. I know technology evolves, and it’s streaming for a lot of people. I was talking to this person who’s a subscriber to Pandora and Spotify, and they were enamored that I said, I’ve got to have a physical CD. For me, it’s the experience of reading the credits. For me, I’m a purist in the sense that when I find an album on iTunes, I’ll buy it, then go and buy the same physical copy at the store so that I can have it on me.
Christopher Heron: Being the true musician you are, which instrument best expresses who Myron Butler is?
Myron Butler: Piano. The organ can be interpretive but the piano is a very interpretive instrument. It embraces emotion the way you play it, so for me, the piano would be that instrument.
Christopher Heron: Why was On Purpose the appropriate title for this album and what do you hope listeners will take away from the full album?
Myron Butler: This was the appropriate title for me because when we talk about On Purpose, it’s two-fold for me. When somebody says they are going to do something on purpose, it means they’re going to do it intentionally. I want the listener to walk away listening to this record, encouraged to live their life intentionally, not based on what anybody else has done, not based on what they see somebody else doing, but what God has called them specifically to do themselves.
Also, when Bishop T.D. Jakes preached his message about living on purpose, that God has a purpose for everyone on Earth, you should center your life around that purpose. If God has called you to minister or if God has called you to advance the Kingdom in the business world, whatever it is, you should center your life around that purpose. That’s why the title was appropriate and that’s what I want the listener to walk away with.