Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews
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Twila Paris

  • 1999 25 Oct
Twila Paris

Mention the name {{Twila Paris}} at a church gathering, and you will find that most people know something about her, even if she is referred to by her first name only. Some might comment that she is a beautiful Christian woman with expressive eyes and a voice as pure as a rain-washed spring morning. Or that she is a veteran singer/songwriter who has been a staple in the Christian music industry for 19 years. Some might even recognize her as an artist who has had 27 number-one singles and has earned myriad awards, including three Doves for Female Vocalist of the Year. Her music has touched people worldwide and several of her songs are even found in hymnals. But even with such an impressive resume, some people might be surprised to learn that while Twila grew up wanting to be a singer, song writing was not something she aspired to do.

"I've always loved music," she explains simply. "I took piano lessons from the time I was five. I sang in choirs, and sometimes did solos in church. To oversimplify it, I wanted to do music.

"Of course, there was no discussion of my doing secular music," she states, laughing at the memory. "I have a strong Christian heritage. My whole family is involved in the ministry - they're all preachers. When I was seventeen, contemporary Christian music was just exploding. So, I thought I could do Christian music. That would make me happy, that would make God and my family happy. Everybody would be cool with that. It would be fun, but it didn't go any deeper than that."

After graduation from high school, Twila was awarded a music scholarship from the University of Arkansas. But, the Lord had other plans for her life.

"My dad was directing the Discipleship Training School for Youth With a Mission," she explains, "And I felt like the Lord was speaking to me to go there. I really grappled with it, because I felt like the more direct path toward what I wanted to do would be to major in music. And I knew what I wanted to do." But Twila felt that the Lord had spoken clearly to her, and after confirmation from several different sources, she declined the scholarship and went to YWAM. After completing the program, Twila stayed on as a volunteer, and almost from day one, she says, God began doing some intense work in her heart.

"I had always been a good child," she says. "But there is really a lot of self-righteousness that can creep into a even a good preacher's child. I knew a lot of stuff in my head, but God started tearing down some of the negative things that had built up, like pride, self-righteousness, and independence. He was humbling me, teaching me to hear His voice."

Music became the outlet for Twila to express what was going on inside, and she naturally began to write songs. Not that this was her first experience at song writing. "A couple of times in the past, I had written bad songs. Once when I was about twelve, when my dad and Grandma taught me piano, I was assigned to write a song. So, I grudgingly wrote a bad song.

"That one experience opened the door to me to the idea that song writing is not some secret society. That you can have an idea, pursue it creatively, and write a song. I don't want to make light of the gift that God had placed there, but I just hadn't discovered it at that point." It was then that writing songs turned from, "Hey - music's fun and I think Christian music would be the path of least resistance," to "I have something to say. The song became the catalyst for my becoming a recording artist instead of the other way around."

Twila has determined to guard against again making the mistake of placing the creation above the Creator. "Like Paul said, 'I die daily' - that is something that I must grapple with in an on-going way. Keeping the balance. I value the art, and I value music. They are wonderful gifts that God has given us." But the bottom line for her is, "I've got something to say and my voice is just a tool to say it. Hopefully, people will like my voice."

While admitting that she can sit down and write a song if she needs to, Twila contends that those aren't her best songs. "I consider each song a gift from the Lord," she states. While she is quick to point out that she doesn't mean that every song is written as if she were taking dictation, She also admits that, every once in a while, there are those special moments. "Like 'Lamb of God.' I can almost step back and say, 'Did I write that?'" she laughs. "The answer is No, I didn't. At times like that I have an overwhelming sense of having been allowed to create with the Creator. I am very dependent on that moment of inspiration. I just happened to be at the piano at that time, because it could have been anybody. He could have given that song to someone else."

Twila pauses for a moment, searching for the right words to express the sense of thankfulness for the privilege she feels. She quickly clarifies that she is not referring to being in front of thousands of people, or having a name people recognize. She chuckles as she explains that for someone who is an introvert like herself, that is not even the fun part.

Then her voice drops as she quietly explains, "But, it's when I get a letter that says, 'I came to the Lord through listening to your music,' or 'My husband and I were about to divorce and this particular song spoke to us and we recommitted ourselves to the Lord and each other.' Or hearing that one of my songs is being performed in Romania as a worship song. Those people in Romania probably don't even know my name, and that's okay. It's about using that song that God gave me to begin with, for worship, and returning it back to Him in worship. That's the eternal stuff."

==True North==, Twila's 15th recording, reflects her sense of dependence on the Lord as the answer to all her needs and, she believes, the only answer for the world's needs.

"One day, my husband Jack was talking about the science of the compass, how it all works, and how he saw God's hand in that. If I were lost in the woods and just decided where 'true north' is, I'd just get even more lost and probably get in a lot of trouble along the way. Just as a planet has only one 'true north,' the person and the message of Jesus Christ is our one True North.

"There's a lot of talk about values these days. But the problem is, everyone wants to set their own. You see it on talk shows or read it in magazines. People aren't making any apologies for it. They're just standing up and saying, 'This is what I believe. This is my religion. This is my idea of God, or myself as god.' Then we see our society in the mess that it's in, largely due to the fact that a lot of people are choosing their own 'true north'."

Twila will debut her new project with a unique concert experience, similar to her ==Perennial== video. In addition to showcasing music from ==True North==, she will share the stage with local children and adult choirs as she performs favorite songs from the past. Sponsored by World Vision and, Twila will also be joined by Myrrh recording artist {{Fernando Ortega}}.

When linked with classic hymn-writers like Fanny Crosby or Martin Luther, Twila doesn't hesitate to state that she doubts that she will be remembered as they are. And that's okay with her. What she does hope will endure are the songs; especially the worship songs.

"You have to think that, whatever our gifts are, when we use them in the purest form to worship God - that has to be the highest use. I would rather people would be using those songs to worship God, whether they remember me or not. But, it would be really neat if I was in Heaven a hundred years from now and I knew someone was still worshipping God with 'We Will Glorify'. I'm not expecting that," she laughs. "But, I'll probably be in Heaven singing songs that were written there."

For information on Twila's Fall 1999 "True North" Tour - click here!