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Friday 7 June 2013

Artist Spotlight - Lenny Smith

On a brisk Maryland autumn evening in 1965 at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, in a dorm closet and well past student curfew, Lenny Smith had just finished writing his first song. Struggling to contain his excitement, he tiptoed down the hall to show his best friend, who promptly fell back asleep after muttering the words “You woke me up for that?”. The following week, Lenny led the song at the folk mass organized by students and a few renegade faculty, and the experience changed his life. He began writing songs like a man obsessed. In 1974, Lenny penned “Our God Reigns”. Shortly after, the song was heard by a traveling evangelist, and within four years it was being sung in thousands of churches across the globe. It even became a favorite hymn of Pope John Paul II. But as other styles of popular music began to dominate the musical landscape, particularly through the 80’s, folk music fell out of fashion, and the momentum gained by “Our God Reigns” slowed. Acoustic guitars were out, and synthesizers, drum-machines, and Flock-of-Seagulls haircuts were in. But Lenny continued to write, continually searching for the perfect turn-of-phrase and its accompanying melody. In 1994, American Recordings released the first Rick Rubin-produced Johnny Cash album, and the tide of popular taste began to turn as cultural love for song-craft was rekindled. People began to find relevance in folk music again, and Lenny’s own work slowly garnered new attention. His excellent album Deep Calls To Deep, first released on hand-made cassette in 1994, then on machine-made cassette, was finally officially released on Sounds Familyre in 2001.

It’s now 2013, and Great Comfort Records is proud to release Who Was And Is And Is To Come, Lenny Smith’s first album in twelve years. A crowning achievement in a career spanning almost six decades and encompassing hundreds of songs, the record is about people and their Maker, about dirt and sky and the horizon where they embrace. The music has warts and wrinkles and is undeniably human. It’s earthy, with the aroma of dusty crushed leaves and moving air. Twenty-six songs were recorded in the initial sessions, and thirteen of these make up Who Was... (the remaining material will be released in a follow-up album later this year). The writing of these songs range from the 1970's till now, and the ensemble, comprised of all five Smith children, dear friends, and a gaggle of grandkids, represents an impressive marshaling of forces (two drummers, two bassists, a pianist, two organists, three guitarists, a violinist, a ukuleleist, and a heap of vocalists). At the helm of it all is seventy year-old Lenny Smith singing and playing his heart out.
Who Was And Is And Is To Come is a gospel album of simple but certain declarations about the primacy of Maker over everything else. Stories are divided into chapters, and implicit in the term ‘gospel’ (literally “good story”) is the sure hope that those bruised, bent, and broken chapters will be followed by chapters about mending, building, and creating; the assurance that what is good and lovely will carry the day, that all things sad will become untrue. The invitation is open. Press play and hear this extraordinary music by veteran songwriter, Lenny Smith. Who Was And Is And Is To Come is sure hope in song. It’s good story that’s been a long time comin’, and that horizon where dirt and sky embrace now seems a little closer.
Visit Great Comfort Records

If you would like to be considered for our Artist Spotlight feature please get in touch by dropping an email to: phil@worshiptherock.com
(we'll be in touch with what we require and the cost of this service)

If approved - here's what you'll get:
  • A dedicated email send out about you to our 8,000+ members on Worship The Rock
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  • A blog posted about you on the WTR blog

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