CMP:  Songs you sound best on may not be the easiest for an audience to sing. How do you balance the set list between performance and worship?

Cottrell:  I want to be a great artist. I want to be a great singer. And I want [the band] to be tight. But when push comes to shove, my goal is not for them to respect my artistry or even remember my songs. My goal is to help them connect to the Lord. The worship moment always trumps our artistry.

CMP:  How do you hope the audience responds after a weekend of worship?

Cottrell:  To move away from the paradigm that worship is a conference thing. I believe when we give God our thanks and confess His Word through song—Monday through Saturday, in our home, in our cars, with our kids, by ourselves—that empowers us. That changes our minds about things. Hopefully the worship moment connects corporately, and they take those moments into their private times and begin to live transformed lives, rather than just lives of believers who have fire insurance.

CMP:  In concert, do you distinguish an audience from a congregation?

Cottrell:  For me, an audience is a congregation. I consider myself an equipper, to equip people with tools, with an experience to draw from to worship the Lord. I don't know if tobyMac is going to consider his audience a congregation. Does that negate the powerfulness of his ministry in the Spirit? By no means. He's just a different conduit. Whether an entertainer or a worship leader, we put ourselves in a posture of surrender before God. We make ourselves available for the Holy Spirit to bear fruit through what we do, no matter what it looks like. The ultimate goal is to point people to Christ.

CMP:  How did Cindy Morgan get roped into the pandemonium of Travis Cottrell for this live record? 

Cottrell:  I tell people she's my Bono, my Eagles. She's my favorite artist and songwriter of all time. And she's from East Tennessee, and I'm from Western North Carolina, so we are both card-carrying rednecks [Laughs]. We started writing because our publisher set us up. We kept writing because we had a great friend connection. I have a great respect for her as an artist, as a mom and wife, and as a woman of God.

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©2009  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

**This interview first published on August 20, 2009.