INTERVIEW: Rick Stephenson
Hi Rick, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hi VENTS! – I’m blessed and I appreciate your asking. I’d like to tell you why I respond that way when someone asks me how I am or how I’ve been if that’s alright. Years ago I asked a friend of mine that very question and this was his response (yes, so you could say I borrowed it from him). His response took me aback and I had to inquire why he responded with this, since it was so out of the ordinary and his reply was genius! He said it had two purposes; one, it was a reminder to himself that no matter what life threw at him that he indeed was blessed in so many ways and two, it was a great evangelistic door opener that usually allowed him a chance to share God’s blessings with others. So again, thanks for asking because it does remind me that I am very blessed and your interview is another reminder of that to me.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Make It Real”?
I am thrilled to release this amazing song that Jeff Nelson helped me tweak and did a fabulous production job on. This song holds a very special place in my heart because I believe it really speaks to those who may not know God or who even struggle with their faith like I have at times, since it speaks to the deeper issues of overcoming fear and worry ,as well as striving to reach our full potential and conquer the negative input of others in our lives.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The song idea actually started from my thoughts about another song I put on my first CD “Sanctuary of My Heart” called “Hallelujah to The Great I AM”. In that song I sing about a dream I had in which I was in God’s presence singing His praise with countless others. The dream was so peaceful and satisfying that to wake up from it was very disappointing and I struggled with having to be back in this world dealing with its daily difficulties. As I was thinking about this song and the dream, the idea for “Make It Real” hit me because I was thinking of how much I wanted to be back in God’s presence but it was as if God was saying to me I didn’t need to have the dream again to feel Him but rather to allow the dream to become real in my life right where I was at in the moment. In other words we can make God’s presence real to us when we realize that he is always with us and we focus on praising him through it all. I also thought the song could be inspiring as we hold on to the thought that God is true to his word and will one day make his presence so real to us beyond any shadow of a doubt. I don’t know about you but I look forward to that day!
Any plans to release a video for the single?
I currently have a lyric video for the song and I admit that I have been overwhelmed by the response of it because through very limited promotion of it and within only a short period of time it has been viewed nearly 10,000 times.
The single comes off your new album My Everything – what’s the story behind the title?
Believe it or not, the tile for the album originally was going to be “Make It Real” because that’s how strongly I felt about this song! However, “My Everything” was a song I wrote at the end of putting the album together and it not only found its way on the album but God created the means for it to actually become the project title. I had several photo shoots done in preparation for the album and I wasn’t really satisfied with any of the pictures (I think it’s because I’m not very photogenic). At the time I was still thinking the album title was going to be “Make It Real” so we were shooting a variety of images that I thought we could use as both a hand drawing and then as a real photo to show the transition from idea to reality in conjunction with the working title. I mean so we took all kinds of snapshots of every angle possible of my ears, nose, eyes, elbows and hands etc… But then when we were reviewing the results I came across the shot of my empty hands held out as though offering up something and that’s when I knew the title had been chosen by God not me. The hands represented what I can offer God – My Everything – and although they appear empty as if we don’t have anything of real value to offer a God who owns the universe and everything in it, he still values our effort to give it to him.
How was the recording and writing process?
To me the writing and recording process is so much fun. I love to create and use the gifts that God has granted me. In fact for me the creation process doesn’t stop until the final vocals are being recorded because I’m usually still rewriting words or revising melodies up until or even as I’m doing the final takes.
What role does Illinois play in your music?
Wow, the word that comes to my mind is – roots. I’m really not sure that outside of the fact that Illinois is where I grew up (although as a kid I also spend a very significant amount of time in Wisconsin where my parents were from and [coincidentally?] where I currently live) plays much more into my music, yet on the other hand, you can’t easily discount the value of roots in your life. After all, roots, like those in a strong and sturdy tree, supply all the nourishment, strength and stability for the rest of the tree, so based on that, Illinois (and Wisconsin or really the entire Midwest) will forever have a deep place in me and therefore in my music.
What aspect of your faith did you get to explore on this record?
What a fantastic question and I have to say that I didn’t really think about it in that way as I was writing and recording the album like I know that some artists do in order to provide some cohesiveness to their projects. Rather, I like to write the songs that come out during what I’m currently experiencing. As a result and looking back on it, I think you will see a variety of issues, which I believe is what most of us experience at any moment in time. We all seem to be struggling with several things at once. We can’t compartmentalize our difficulties and say to the world “You’ll have to wait on the fear and anxiety you want to bring me because I’m currently wrestling with relationship issues so you’ll have to wait till I’ve moved on from that – thanks”. Therefore, on the project “My Everything” you just might see everything – I know for sure there is fear, pain, unanswered prayer and marital difficulties but there is also hope, dreams, love, encouragement and reassurance throughout.
Any plans to hit the road?
I would love to get out and about more to sing the songs for people to hear so that they might experience God in a fresh and meaningful way.
What else is happening next in Rick Stephenson’s world?
Of course I’m still strongly promoting the current CD “My Everything” but as I do I’m getting giddy for the holidays because I love the coziness and family togetherness that occurs during this great time of year. I’m also preparing myself because I have an incredible daughter who will be starting college next year and she just decided on where she’s going and what she’ll be studying. As daddy’s little girl, she will be taking a piece of my heart with her when she goes so I’m trying to figure out how to keep that from hurting too much. In addition, I’m strategizing how to maintain my voice when my son starts his basketball season soon because my wife and I are really vocal fans! Lastly, on top of all that, I like to stay busy, so I’m working on new project that I hope to release in mid to late 2017.
Hi Christopher, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? I’ve never been better. Or older. …