By BRUCE DENNILL
Mike Weaver, frontman for Christian pop and worship band Big Daddy Weave is, like so many songwriters in the Christian contemporary music scene, a serial collaborator within that market. Yet many of his declared influences – Sting, Bruce Hornsby, Bonnie Raitt and others – are not Christian artists.
“I just love music,” states Weaver cheerfully.
“I think that whatever the message of music is, you can see the Lord’s fingerprint in it; see what He has done through someone’s creativity. But corporate worship is a favourite of mine. I love that niche, though I think it’s maybe too easy to put all artists making that type of music into the same group and associate that with a vague ‘radio sound’, which is probably not a true reflection.”
Some of the artists Weaver has worked with in recent years include Phil Wickham, Stu Garrard and Paul Baloche.
“Man, I’m such a big fan of Delirious,” grins Weaver, “so it was great to write with Stu – just as someone who’s enjoyed his music so much.
“I learned so much from Paul. One of the first things I asked him was to tell me about writing Open The Eyes Of My Heart Lord. That’s an amazing song with a great story behind it.
“Phil and I hadn’t actually met before we wrote together, but I felt that God put it on my heart to connect with him. It was really easy: I sent him some ideas from my iPhone and he came back with some incredible stuff the next day! And he was really humble about it; a great guy.”
An experience during the writing of Big Daddy Weave’s latest collection, Beautful Offerings, upped the ante even further.
“I got to write with Matt Redman,” says Weaver, “and as well as being a thrill for me, it was great fellowship, too. They tell you never to meet your heroes? Wrong! I’m so glad I had that time with him.”
Weaver is based in Nashville – arguably the best city on the planet to live as a career musician, but perhaps a challenging place to combine missional intent with creativity?
“Yeah, the scene in Nashville can quickly become business as usual,” he concedes.
“It’s dangerous for believers: what you do there must come from a place of relationship with God. But it’s an amazing place to meet others, as people come from all over the world to work in this city.”
Big Daddy Weave is one of the 10 most played artists on Christian radio. How much of that is by design? Do Weaver or any of his bandmates have any “But I’m an artist” qualms about having such a commercially successful sound?
“We’ve never though of ourselves as artists,” he says.
“Instead, we’re trying to be communicators. So a song that works on the radio is a fantastic vehicle to reach people. Radio gives wings to the messages in the songs.”
In the title track of Big Daddy Weave’s previous album, Love Come To Life, the band tackled the issue of having their beliefs being less than evident in the way that they live; of having their relationship with God ruined by routine.
“We believe that God wants us to have encounters with Him,” agrees Weaver.
“One of those encounters was also behind the song Redeemer. As a kid, I hated myself and my body, but I loved God and I knew that He loved me. I didn’t understand that those two perspectives don’t really line up. But then I had an experience where I was sitting in my garage and the Holy Spirit arrived. I was going through all the stuff I hated about myself and He just countered those with things I should value about myself. I remember clearly sensing Him say: ‘I love the way you smile.’
“That particular point was a great message for me. I’d built up walls around the way I looked, but the one thing I thought I did have was a great smile – and He touched on that first. Through that incident I became aware that nothing I do makes a difference: I need to find myself in Him.”
This is knowledge Weaver abnd his band now love to share.
“As we travel to places that are hurting around the world, we see the fragility of what we have and are reminded of how much we all need His strength.”
Weaver admits that sometimes he only finds out what his songs are really about in retrospect or via listeners’ responses to words he has written.
“That’s often the case,” he says, “but sometimes there are events that influence your worldview so profoundly that you can’t help but write about them. For instance, the song Love Come To Life came about after we visited Tanzania. We visited a place in a rural area where we saw that because of a mission outreach, a tribe was able to crops in a desert – and in a drought! We saw that responding to needs was so important, and what happened there became iconic for us.”
Love Come To Life as an album is about discovering balance. But learning something and maintaining momentum are two different things.
“The only way we can maintain this balance is with the Holy Spirit,” states Weaver.
“The only consistency in my life comes from Him. On my own I am nothing, but I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
Big Daddy Weave’s latest album Beautiful Offerings is available now, and previous collection Love Come To Life has recently been re-released.