Travis Cottrell: Redirecting the Spotlight
- Thursday, August 20, 2009
With quick wit and a gracious spirit, Travis Cottrell possesses the posture of someone who rarely meets a stranger.
As the staple worship leader for Beth Moore's seismic Living Proof Bible study events, it's his friendly demeanor and impeccably crafted church music that attracts a rapidly growing number of spiritual seekers each year. Add to that an imposing set of pipes, a striking stage presence and his first live record in six years, Jesus Saves LIVE, and you might think Cottrell is quickly becoming Christian music's next poster child.
Except he's not.
Rather than setting his sights on capacity crowds and gold records, the faithful music minister opts instead for a veritable opportunity to equip the saints with music for not only services of corporate devotion but moments of personal praise. ChristianMusicPlanet recently caught up with the tunesmith. …
CMP: The first time I had ever heard your voice was when I reviewed your Christmas record last year. I was blown away! Have you ever considered going the performance route?
Travis Cottrell: It's just not my calling. Like a lot of people with artistic tendencies, I'm helplessly insecure. There are elements of [performance] I'm able to incorporate, but the bottom line is I feel so protected by God under the umbrella of His calling.
CMP: When did you first feel called to lead worship?
Cottrell: When I was 16, I went to a youth camp called Ridgecrest in North Carolina. I walked in the first night, and a guy was leading worship. I don't remember his name; I just knew it was the first time the Holy Spirit had really spoken into my heart a calling.
I walked up to the guy and asked, "Where did you go to college?" He said, "Belmont College." It was a college back then because it was practically before World War II [Laughs]. God laid that university on my heart. I really loved the school, but it was Nashville that made it special.
CMP: What was your first church music job?
Cottrell: As soon as I graduated college, the church I was attending needed a worship pastor. When God threw me in that role, He began to do a very personal work in my life, [teaching me] how to categorize service and ministry and differentiate it from my walk with God.
I came to Nashville and didn't know if I wanted to be a singer or a worship leader, or what the difference was. I didn't know where to channel what God had given me. All that started getting sorted out through having to lead people in worship when I was just a bumbling idiot right out of college.
CMP: You have led worship for hundreds of thousands of women as a part of Beth Moore's Living Proof events. Surrounded by so much female-ness, how do you assert your manliness?
Cottrell: [Laughs] I love leading worship for women more than men because you don't have to be cool. If you can just be marginally charming, they'll listen. I feel equally called to minister to worship pastors, which is largely a male group. So I have my foot in both gender camps.
CMP: You have made songs popular by other writers as well. As a songwriter, do you ever get the "I wish I had written that song" syndrome?
Cottrell: There's always the "I wish I had written that song" syndrome [Laughs].
CMP: So how do you choose which songs to use?
Cottrell: God has not called me to pastor a church per se, but I may get to pastor 10,000 women one weekend for six hours. My job is to help them connect to God, end of story. So I try not to make it a choir rehearsal. I meet them where they are and mix tunes they recognize with our original songs, so they don't feel like they are spending all their worship time learning songs.
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