"The emotional power of music to lift us in worship to God always amazes me," says author Max Lucado. "As I have had the opportunity over the past couple of years to tour with Christian music artists, I've experienced that power first hand."
Lucado harnesses that power on Next Door Savior, a companion CD to his newest book, which explores the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as both divine and human. Next Door Savior includes nine classic hymns plus two original songs. Released by Creative Trust Workshop on Aug. 12, the CD features music from Christian artists Michael W. Smith, Third Day, Fernando Ortega, Selah, Ginny Owens, Warren Barfield, Watermark and others.
"There is something so honest and yet so noble about old hymns that fits in perfectly with Next Door Savior. It's been a real treat to hear today's Christian artists bring their unique style to the hymns on this new CD," Lucado says.
Pull up a chair and check out the rest of our conversation with Lucado.
Crosswalk: Many of your books have generated companion CDs and have found their way to the music world. Why? What is it about your writing that lends itself to musical adaptation?
Lucado: Well, there are about two or three answers to that. I really have, through the years, tried to interweave music in any event or message that I've done. I've always tried to have an artist on the road with me and really try to let the music set up the message. I've done that starting way back with Twila Paris and Sandy Patty, and developed friendships with a lot of the artists. So maybe that's it.
Also, they tell me that my writing has a little bit of a poetic ring to it and lends itself easily to music. Brown Bannister [Christian music producer] and I were in college together. I was also in college with Mike Blanton, and Mike, through the years, has been Amy Grant's and Michael W. Smith's manager - so through those two connections, I've kind of had a foot in Nashville.
Crosswalk: Do you shape the recordings in any way, like choosing the artists, for example?
Lucado: No, although they will let me have as much input as I want to have. Especially with the last two, Traveling Light and Next Door Savior, by the time they were working on the CDs, I was already back into church work. In January, February and March, I'm writing and preaching. But in March, I am trying to turn my head back into being a good minister at my church. So I really just say, "Do whatever you want to do." They would send me a list of artists and I'd sign off and say, "That's great." I did suggest two or three, but some of the artists on Next Door Savior I was not acquainted with. But I trust the Creative Trust people a whole lot.
Crosswalk: Do you ever sit in on the recordings?
Lucado: I could. On one of them, my oldest daughter, Jenna, sang on one of the Traveling Light songs ("Let it Flow"). So my wife went up and was in on the recording, but I couldn't go.
Crosswalk: Who are some of your favorite Christian artists?
Lucado: It would be hard to find someone who is not [a favorite]. I think this is such a great era in which we live. I think there was a time when Christianity kind of had to apologize because our music was so behind the times, but now, I think what we turn out is just as top notch as anything secular musicians do.
Really exciting to me, of course, are Michael W. Smith and Third Day - I just spent a lot of time with them on the "Come Together and Worship" tour. I saw Michael Card yesterday and it brought back all kinds of memories of how much his music affected me - especially back in the mid-'80s. You talk about a good man who has been strong through the years. Ginny Owens is an artist we are really enjoying, and we like Sara Groves. Sometimes we'll have CDs in the car that my kids - my daughters - put in and I'll listen to those. And I hear Warren Barfield is really strong. He's got two songs on this new [Next Door Savior] CD. Fernando Ortega - I love him, too.
Crosswalk: Out of the songs that have been adapted from your books, do you have any favorites?
Lucado: The title cut from Traveling Light - I thought that was a fun song.
Read our article about the book, Next Door Savior, here.