Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

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REWIND - 6/15

REWIND - 6/15
As one of the first wave of contemporary Christian artists, Paul Clark started out as a folk/rock artist, and became the one of the most prolific authors of Christian wedding songs around. But little did anyone know that through the years this stalwart folk/rocker would bring jazz-fusion to the mainstream of contemporary Christian music.

"My official introduction to taking music seriously was seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan," Clark remembers. "It was more than just the music. I looked back at Ringo on the drums and he looked like he was happy doing what he was doing. I was only 13 years old but I wanted to be happy. The next day I went out and bought a black Ludwig drum set just like Ringo's.

Putting together the usual run of bands through high school Clark went on to attend the University of Kansas. There began the series of events that would lead Clark to his Lord and to his career in music. "In 1970, because of student unrest, the campus at the University of Kansas was closed first week of April," says Clark recounting his story. "I packed up my '64 Volkswagen camper and moved up to Colorado with my band. We had changed our name, ironically, from the 'Clergymen' to 'Rocky Mountain Goldrush.' Our goal for moving there was to write songs," Clark explains. "We knew that playing cover material, playing Crosby, Stills & Nash songs, wasn't going to get us a record deal and we were all serious musicians."

It was in this cabin that Paul Clark, as well as two members of his band came to faith in Christ. Clark explains the effect of his conversion like this. "I woke up and went out on the porch and it felt like someone had come and drilled holes in my head and pumped in oxygen for the first time in my life. Everything was like new. For eight straight days I wrote a new song." These eight songs make up the bulk of Clark's first Christian recording, Songs From The Savior, Vol. 1, which was released in 1972. He followed with Songs From The Savior, Vol. 2 in 1973, which continued in the folk rock tradition of its predecessor.

By 1973 the now married Clark and his wife moved from Colorado back to Kansas City and began discussions with Word Records founder Jarrell McCracken. These talks resulted in Clark forming his own label, Seed Records, and being signed to a distribution deal through Word in 1974. What followed this arrangement were some of the most unusual, unique and fresh recordings in Christian music at that time.

Clark's career was picking up steam. His solo work was interrupted by two albums with Paul Clark and Friends, Come Into His Presence and Good To Be Home, which were beatle-esque band projects featuring {{Phil Keaggy}}, Love Song members John Mehler and Jay Truax, and Bill Speer, Clark's piano player from Rocky Mountain Goldrush.

With Clark's release of Hand to The Plow in 1976, his music became full blown jazz/rock fusion "I started writing songs on the piano," Clark explains. "I loved the guitar but I was becoming somewhat anguished by the lack of chordal richness that a piano can bring to the palette. This was also the album that featured the wedding song duet with Kelly 'Willard, 'Woman...Man That I Love.'"

Following Hand to The Plow, came more jazz albums including Change in the Wind, Aim For The Heart, A New Horizon, and Out of the Shadow, (the last of which featured Richard Paige and Steve George who went on to fame in the eighties with Mr. Mister).

"But by 1986 it was over for me in terms of my zeal," Clark explains. "I couldn't wait for the concert to get over so I could go down to Denny's and witness to non-Christians. This sounds terrible but I am going to tell you the truth, I was bored. I wasn't challenged anymore by singing songs to a nice comfortable crowd who called out their favorite Paul Clark songs. It was too easy a lifestyle to tell you the truth."

"From about 1980 forward, I felt like six foot man trying to stand up in a four foot closet," Clark continues. "I was doing the work but my neck hurt. I think a lot of the artists from the Jesus movement era were more comfortable with knocking down trees and building a road than they were traveling along a four lane highway."

In the 14 years since Clark pulled the plug on his major distribution, he was been a worship leader at a church in Kansas City for 10 years and released four albums. The first project was titled, Awakening from the Western Dream, followed by When the Moon Is Behind The Clouds. Next came Private World (an acoustic album of old and new songs) and finally Resonate which was, says Clark, "a kind of semi-profession record made in one weekend that highlighted a few of the worship songs that I did at the church we started in Kansas City. We did it as a building fund fund-raiser at the church."

The mid-nineties found Clark working in the church, performing 50-60 concerts a year and performing as a part of the {{Promise Keepers}} praise and worship team, performing at PK events all around the country. Clark carried a full plate by anyone's standard.

Today, in 1999, Paul Clark is taking a break. "Since last Thanksgiving I have hit the pause button on my whole career. I started out this year releasing myself from Maranatha! and Promise Keepers. I dedicated myself to doing two albums called Songs From My Fathers Books, I have re-recorded the 'Good Samaritan' story off of Good to be Home. I re-recorded 'You Must Be Born Again' in sort of a Dave Matthews version. I am also finishing a book of photography, poetry, and devotions I have been working on for 4 years.

"I find myself today," Clark says summing up where he is, "with a very short attention span for comfort. I am a gypsy at heart. I love to explore. I get jealous of people who get to go out to places and preach the gospel where there isn't really anything going on. I want to be in that place."

For those interested in Paul Clark's music you can access his website at