Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rodney Griffin-Songwriting Sensation

Dear Friends,

Good morning to all of you. I haven't blogged in a few days, but I have a great interview for you today. I have Rodney Griffin, a longtime Southern Gospel singer and songwriting sensation. I don't want to jump ahead and tell you too much about Rodney. I want you to hear it from him. So, here we go.

PB: Rodney, welcome to what I call "Jelly Bean Central." I am excited to have you as my guest today. As with any famous person, there are probably many of my readers who may not know who you are. Let's tell them.

PB. Rodney, I know you as a phenomenal singer and an amazing songwriter of Southern Gospel songs. At what age did you start singing?

RG: My Dad is a pastor.  He talked me and my younger sister into singing a song at church one Sunday when she was 5 and I was 7.  I hated it.

PB: Actually, I think your dad did all of us a big favor by doing that, even though you didn't know it at the time. 

PB: Do you play any instruments?

RG: I don’t play anything extremely well.  I know chords and can find them on a piano.  I can play the “uum chuck uum chuck” rhythm.   I also enjoy playing bass guitar.

PB: Well, that's a start in case you ever want to continue on. 

PB: When did you start writing songs?

RG: I was sitting at my desk at Newport News Shipbuilding when I wrote my first song.  I was 23, I believe.

PB: I can honestly say that I think you are one of the best songwriters in the Gospel industry. I've followed your career for many years, so I can say that without hesitating. 

PB: Have you won any awards for your songwriting?

RG: It’s kind of embarrassing with so much unknown songwriting talent in our industry, but I’ve been voted Singing News Favorite Songwriter for 15 years…crazy

PB: Oh, that's not crazy. That's beyond wonderful.  But, I do understand what you mean. There are many known and unknown songwriters out there who have written some good songs. The ones by the unknown writers just haven't gotten the right breaks they need yet.

PB: What are the titles of some of your songs?

RG: My Name Is Lazarus, Just One More Soul, Faces, God Wants To Hear You Sing, He’d Still Been God, He Locked The Gates, It Pays To Pray, Do You Want To Be Forgiven, God Saw A Cross, What You Took From Me, Take It From Me Meshach, Way Past Ready, I’m Looking For The Grace, Preacher Tell Me Like It Is

PB: What is the highest you have charted initially with a new song?

RG: I’m not sure.  I do think I’ve written or co-written around 15 number ones.

PB: That is amazing, but deservedly so.

PB: I know that you are a member of Greater Vision now. Have you been with other groups in the past? How long have you been with Greater Vision? What part do you sing?

RG: I’ve sung baritone for Greater Vision for 20 years now.  I was with Ed O’Neal and The Dixie Melody Boys for 2 years before coming here.

PB: Greater Vision has awesome harmony. It's worked for 20 years. I hope you guys plan to keep on keeping on. 

PB: To be successful in the music industry, one of the things you must do is go where the people are. How do you feel about life on the road?

RG: The way I describe my life is that I loooove to come home to my family….and I loooove to head toward the bus.  I love my life.

PB: How does that affect your home life?

RG: Regina, my wife of 19 years is incredibly supportive.  She knows that this is my calling, and wouldn’t have it any other way…otherwise, she’d have to cook more than 2 or 3 nights a week.

PB: You're very fortunate to have such a great support system in place. There are bound to be many aspiring/established artists that don't have that solid support system in their corner. I know you truly appreciate Regina supporting you in your calling. 

PB: Tell my readers and me about your personal life-wife, children and etc. This is where you get to brag on your family.

RG: In December, Regina and I will celebrate 20 great years.  We have 2 girls, Reagan (16) and Riley (13).  Both girls love to play in the homeschool volleyball league there in Somerset, Kentucky.  We’re active members of Bible Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky.  We moved there a little over a year ago to be closer to Regina’s Mom and my parents.  We’re enjoying our time with the grandparents.

PB: That's great. There's nothing like being near family that you love. 

PB: Who has been your largest musical influence?

RG: I had more cassettes of the Cathedrals than any other group growing up.  I never dreamed I’d someday get to sing on the same stage as them.

PB: Has there been one particular person that has encouraged you the most?

RG: I’d say Regina has been the most steady support for me through the years.  She’s great!

PB: I haven't met Regina, but I can already tell that she's a real jewel. 

PB: When you aren’t on the road singing or writing songs, what do you do for fun?

RG: I have a bass boat that I love to get on the lake.   I also have a motorcycle that is like a one man convertible on Kentucky country roads.

PB: I’m guessing you’ve traveled a large part of the world by now. What has been your favorite place to visit?

RG: I guess Israel is my favorite.  It’s not the prettiest…like Hawaii…but you can feel the presence of the Lord when you visit where He walked.

PB: I haven't been to Israel, so I can only imagine how wonderful it must be there. 

 PB: With such a busy life, is it hard for you to slow down?

RG: Not at all.  I enjoy sitting in my recliner and watching the NFL network when I have a chance to.  I’m an avid Dallas Cowboys fan.  I even re-watch games they’ve lost and try to figure out why.

PB. Rodney, share with us some of the greatest highlights that you have experienced while being in the music industry?

RG: Travelling with Gerald Wolfe for 20 years has been a blessing.  He’s had  many great ideas through the years.  One of my favorites was the Greater Vision Quartets CD.  We brought in several living bass singers, and captured a few who’d gone on to heaven (like George Younce and J.D. Sumner) throughthe latest recording technology.  They’re voices were lifted from original analog recordings.

PB: Modern technology has brought us so far. Not that many years ago you wouldn't have been able to do things like this. 

PB: Do you have a musical hero?

RG: People sometimes say that I remind them of Glen Payne when he sang…not vocally, but by my actions.  That’s an honor, because he is a hero.  Another vocal hero has always been Mark Trammell.  I enjoyed trying to pick his voice out of old Cathedrals recordings.  I had a similar range, and wanted to learn to put that same part in the harmony.  Now I get to do it every night.

PB: Is there anyone you would like to record one of your songs that hasn’t yet?

RG: Yes, Elvis.  I’m thinking that won’t happen.

PB: LOL! Yes, I'm thinking you're right unless you know something the rest of us don't. One thing is for sure. If Elvis had recorded any of your songs, you could retire from everything if you wanted to. You'd be financially set for life.

PB: Until you become well-known in the music world and get that first big hit, it can take quite a while to get a large royalty check in the mail? Do you remember how much your first check was for?

RG: I don’t remember the amount, but I do remember the first group that I was not singing in that sent a royalty check was the Truthseekers out of Marion Illinois.  They are still dear friends to this day.

PB: Many years ago I went by myself to hear Greater Vision at First Baptist Church in Fulton, MS, about 30 minutes from where I live. GV was wonderful. When I left there, I felt like I had been to an old-fashioned revival. It was just AWESOME! All of you seemed so down to earth. I think everybody there could say the same thing. I was fortunate enough to get to talk to you at the merchandise table after the concert. You were extremely gracious and friendly to me. I won’t ever forget it.

PB: As we close out this interview, what words of wisdom would you like to share with my readers and me?

RG: I’m certainly not wise, but I would say for young songwriters to not be discouraged when you don’t have success in getting songs recorded quickly.  In God’s time, He will give you the interesting and unique song ideas that groups are looking for.  It takes time…no need to rush.  A great song will ALWAYS be a great song…even if it’s passed on by many groups.  This is God’s music.  He will get His music to where it needs to be.

PB: Rodney, it's been a true joy to spend some time with you and get to know you a little better. Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to make time for me. For any of my readers that have never heard of you and Greater Vision or seen you in concert, I highly suggest they do so when you travel to their area. They will be blessed more than they could ever imagine. 

Well, folks you and I have just spent a few minutes with one of the most talented men in Southern Gospel music, Rodney Griffin. Look for his songs. Request them on the radio and purchase his CDs. You won't be sorry.

Click on this link to go to Greater Vision's website. I hope you'll check them out. 
 http://www.greatervisionmusic.com/

I hope you have a great day today with SONshine in your heart.

Until next time,

Pat 

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