Worship ambassador, senior pastor and humble psalmist, William McDowell, is back with his 5th and foremost worship album to date – Sounds Of Revival II – a melodic, hermeneutic string of songs & spirit overflowing in the natural and supernatural.
McDowell has emerged as Moses in the modern era, a reluctant leader in the domain of divinity, ushering saints into a more intimate encounter with God. His songs have become textbook hymns for tabernacles of worship around the world. Still, William understands his role as the modest, soft-spoken servant, withholding nothing, surrendering everything to Him.
It’s evident in his assignment as pastor of Deeper Fellowship Church, it’s quite clear in his role as husband and father to 4 children and it’s unmistakably obvious in his reverent, Master-serving music. It was also apparent in a recent exclusive William McDowell gave BlackGospel.com, as he expounded on the purpose of worship music in the modern era.
Christopher Heron: Last time we spoke, you mentioned that Sounds of Revival was birthed out of private moments with God. Is Sounds of Revival II more of those intimate worship experiences captured in recording?
William McDowell: Absolutely. There are two things that are significant in Sounds of Revival II. One, is the birthing of new songs. The second is that when we recorded Sounds of Revival what you heard was only half of the night. We were heading somewhere. So a lot of what you’re hearing on this album is the rest of the night.
Christopher Heron: On Sounds Of Revival II, we hear collaborations with Israel Houghton, Tina Campbell and Travis Greene. Did you introduce these artists based on relationships, their voices or was it a spiritual kinship?
William McDowell: All three of those things. Spiritual kinship, friendship and of course they’re all phenomenal. I don’t sit back and think, ‘’What special guest can we get?’’ As a matter of fact, most of our projects don’t feature special guests, so this was very different, but as you hear, none of them stand on top of the moment. They’re all within the moment and add something significant. I think it’s important that you have people that can really understand and deliver a message you’re trying to sing, and they all did that.
Christopher Heron: To achieve ministerial, musical and artistic goals, you have to be in sync with your producer. Who’s your producer and what kind of relationship do you have with him?
William McDowell: I think one of the unknown aspects of all of my projects is that I produce all of them. A lot of people don’t know how involved I am in the production. So most people just assume that it’s coming from someone else, but a majority of the songs are written by me, and all of them are co-produced by me. I want to pivot here and give an extreme amount of credit and deference to Clay Bogan who, in my opinion, is probably the most underappreciated producer in the industry. The guy is an absolute genius. We have this great working relationship. He is the other half of my musical brain. It is certainly a collaboration. I often get asked, ‘’’Who produces your records?’’ And I’m thinking to myself, ‘’Guys, my name has been on every one of them.’’
Clay understands and interprets what God allows us to do together. I’ve never had a desire to work with someone else because of how amazing Clay Bogan is. Just a professional, through and through and he really gets these sounds that we release. I wanted to produce a 3-dimensional experience, so when you sit there and listen in your car or on your headphones, you feel like you’re in the audience. Clay got that from the very beginning, and we’ve endeavored to do that together on every project. So what he produces, the layers and size and space and width and depth is second to none and unparalleled. Clay is a genius and at the same time I think that it’s unknown how involved I am in the process as well. So we produce together.
Christopher Heron: You mentioned to me before that a prerequisite to being used by God is brokenness. Is brokenness really a path to being used by God?
William McDowell: The answer to that is still yes. What we appraise as being used by God is different than what God appraises. Just because you see people doing what they do does not mean that the hand of God is on them. Just because they’re popular does not mean that the hand of God is on them. You can appear to be humble before men, but God knows the heart. So if you look at Ezekiel 44, what you discover is that there is a difference between those who keep the church and those who don’t. God says through prophet Ezekiel to the priests who led the children of Israel straight out of captivity, they will have to bear their shame.
The punishment was not that they were no longer priests. The punishment was that they would do things for the people in the priestly duty, but not have access to God. That was their shame. In other words, you’ll still be a priest but not have access to God. So what we see today is people that need to use hype in order to create emotions because they are aware they don’t know the way to His heart. So brokenness is still the prerequisite to being used by God.
Christopher Heron: I have the sense that calling you an artist is inappropriate. You identify yourself as a minister of the Gospel and your recordings are a tool for expression of worship. Is that fair to say? Or are you also an artist performing music?
William McDowell: People ask, ‘’How do you balance these two different things?’’ I’m the lead pastor for Deeper Fellowship Church. There’s really no such thing as balance. The word balance is not scriptural. Everything stems from the same call. When you see Bishop TD Jakes or many other people, that have multiple streams by which they flow, it still stems from the same call. There’s still a central call in which all the different expressions then manifest in order to express the nature of that call. It is the same with me. Rather than identifying as an artist or a minister or a pastor, I’m William with the call of God on my life and worship is a part of the expression of that call.
Christopher Heron: Each album that you’ve produced has had a signature song like I Give Myself Away is from As We Worship, You Are God Alone from Arise. What song do you hope and pray will resonate with listeners?
William McDowell: You know, I’m glad that you asked that question. This album is very different from those. I don’t know if there’s one signature song from this project and the reason is because of the goal of Sounds of Revival & Sounds Of Revival II. Both albums were to be a collection or a body of work that speaks to different parts of the body of Christ and to stir hunger, passion, fire inside the people who long for the revival that is available to us in this generation. We have the opportunity to receive a revival in this generation. And so it’s really to awaken that desire in people. There are different songs that resonate with different people. I think that Spirit Break Out did that on the first album. As far as Sounds Of Revival II, almost every declaration has its own unique presence. So this album is meant to be a collection of work rather than one song that drives the album.
William McDowell: I want to be careful that we don’t devalue the multiplicity of expressions of music. We’re living in a generation that has access to more revelations than any other generation on Earth, outside of the First church generation because they were firsthand witnesses to Christ. There are more books written about Him now and more mediums by which people can understand the Gospel than any other time. We are at a time when music speaks to installing His virtues, His nature and His character, so worship is here to stay. Worshipping in truth is not a genre, it’s not a style of music, it’s a lifestyle of submission and obedience.
There are worship leaders that never sing or never release CDs. Just by the way they live, they’re giving God glory. So I don’t want to be lofty about what we do, and I’m grateful that there is an expression of music by which we can give voice to the body of Christ and have us express our love for God. And so from that standpoint, it’s here to stay, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it the dominant genre, as if anything else doesn’t matter. Everything that everyone writes matters, in all due respect.
Christopher Heron: Why has the sound of worship found a home in so many churches, among so many denominations and cultural communities around the globe, in this millennial generation?
William McDowell: I think that there’s something that the heart longs to say. There’s something the spirit longs to connect to that’s bigger than us, and this sound is giving a voice to what the heart longs to say. I think the songs help people really see God as a deliverer, I think that songs of worship help us to see Him as He is.