Mary-Kathryn: Poured Out In Praise
by Heather Salon, The 700 Club
Mary-Kathryn feels like she is a “musical missionary,” and describes her musical style as world fusion music with pop sensibilities. She incorporates sounds and instruments from other nations. Her music is birthed from her worship to God, and she feels like this is part of the message that God wants her to share. She’s always felt God has given her a freedom and told her not to withhold anything in worship. People are intrigued by her worship style, which inspires more people to be free to worship.
She feels her call is to be a psalmist; her music is for healing and deliverance. Her music speaks to the nations, and it’s of the nations. It is a different musical expression that embodies the freedom that is found in God. Her previous albums (One Spirit, Stream in the Desert, and Perfect Gift) were released to the Christian market between 1995 and 2001 and received positive critical acclaim and were well accepted by listeners.
It wasn’t until her fourth and latest release, Dreams & Visions, that she believed God was doing something new. It was completed at the end of 2005, but Mary-Kathryn felt like God wanted her to wait before releasing it. She felt like He was saying that she was preparing for His coming for her previous twelve years in music. Now, it was time to “go back to Egypt and bring deliverance to His people there.” When Mary-Kathryn asked what Egypt was, God told her, “The New Age.” The New Age is a nation and culture of seeking people. What they are looking for is found in Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes through her music and draws them. When they are drawn in, she tells them about Jesus and doesn’t recoil. Mary-Kathryn is just there to shine her light and share God’s love with those that she draws in with her music.
As she waited for her album’s release, she built a MySpace page with her husband’s encouragement. Though she was skeptical at first, she found that the Internet was a great way to reach a lot of people she would never be able to in person. Many of these people were hearing her music for the first time. Affectionately, she began to group these new friends into categories: the Beach people, Fairy people, Space people, Blood Rockers, Bikers, Belly Dancers, Wiccans, etc. One of these friends, who considers himself a lone wolf, would post Mary-Kathryn’s songs on his website and would keep in touch with her for words of encouragement. Another friend, who is a Wiccan, has a desperate need for words of hope and encouragement after her teenaged son committed suicide.
Today, she has over 11,000 MySpace friends and she has placed on the Top 100 MySpace Music Charts in the ambient, fusion and Celtic categories. Many of her MySpace friends are seekers, artsy, spiritual, and very expressive. One friend is an author who writes scary stories. Recently, he wrote that her song, Let Us Praise, from her last album “has real lyrics,” and he gave it five points and wanted more. Mary-Kathryn says she got the words of this song straight from scripture.
Another one of her friends is a music producer from the Middle East. He commented that her pod cast is tops. The song Only One, from One Spirit resonates with many of her fans. One of them is a very dark kind of person. Mary-Kathryn doesn’t get the sense that he is a Christian, but he blessed her and wished for peace and unity. A female fan from Germany also finds Only One a beautiful song. Another Middle Eastern musician told Mary-Kathryn, “God Bless You.” Celtic Ken, a fan who has an Internet radio program, plays her music on his show and has played her Incense of Praise video at his church. One fan from California said, after he finished listening to the song Incense of Praise from her new album, he smelled some really good incense, and he wasn’t even burning any!
A NEW MOVEMENT
In 2007, Mary-Kathryn was introduced to Suzanne Doucet, who is a great influence in the New Age Movement. (She opened one of the first New Age music stores on Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles 30 years ago; and it is still in business.) Also, she is a well respected musician who sits on the Grammy Board representing New Age music. When she heard Dreams &Visions she thought that there was a definite place for it in the New Age market.
Her assessment was right. In August 2007, the album immediately received acceptance and wide critical acclaim when it was released in the General and New Age markets. Dreams & Visions also received radio airplay on NPR and college radio stations across the U.S., Canada, Spain, The Netherlands, Romania, and American Samoa. At the end of 2007, the album had already received a first-round Grammy nomination in the New Age category. Mary-Kathryn felt that the words God had given her in prayer were unfolding, and the music had an impact on people for God where otherwise they may not have received it.
Suzanne Doucet also says Mary-Kathryn’s music fits well with a new sub-genre of New Age Music called New Thought Music. This has to do with the intention encoded in the music, which is “based upon the universal spiritual principles of oneness and unity that are so fundamental to most of the world’s great religious teachings. This music movement is committed to the growth of music as a transformational force for good in the world. It is believed that the artist is the holder of the highest intention for our respective societies, and that the conscious use of our artistic gifts is vital to the unfolding of a more positive vision – for all people, of all faiths…[It is] music that celebrates the universal in many forms – some familiar, and others less so. But encoded into so much great music are the messages of oneness and unity, whether it is in the music of Coltrane or Dylan, Sting or Stevie Wonder.” (Definition of New Thought Music from www.newthoughtmusic.com.) Her music is resonating with this audience.
Mary-Kathryn grew up in the First United Methodist Church in Cuero, Texas. She was confirmed in the church at age 13, but she knew she was not having an authentic experience with God. At 14, Mary-Kathryn’s mother and four other ladies in the church had an event for the teens in their church so they wouldn’t “die on the vine.” They asked another thriving church from Corpus Christi, TX to come and speak to the teens. Mary-Kathryn said that was the first time she felt she really heard the Gospel. She accepted Jesus into her life and knew there was a change in her heart.
Unfortunately, she says she lost her faith until she reconnected with the Lord in college in a town near her parents’ home. On visits home with her family, she would also visit her best friend whose mom was a strong Christian. She witnessed to Mary-Kathryn and led her back to the Lord. She also prayed that Mary-Kathryn would find some good Christian friends and a group where her faith could grow.
Back at school, she met a Christian friend in her American History class that connected her to an AOG campus group where she learned about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She knew she needed and wanted it. The group prayed for her to get whatever God had for her, and she felt like God told her, “It’s done.”
THE GIFT OF SONG
Shortly after this encounter, Mary-Kathryn visited her best friend’s mom who had an audio tape of herself singing in the Spirit. Mary-Kathryn listened to it and told her friend’s mother that she would love to sing in the Spirit, too. Her friend’s mother told her to ask God for it. One evening Mary-Kathryn felt that the Lord gave her two words and she started singing in the Spirit. Mary-Kathryn never had any voice lessons. She just wanted to worship all the time singing in the Spirit and continued to grow in her relationship with the Lord. During this time she also married her husband, Elliott.
Seven years later in church, Mary-Kathryn felt God say He was calling her to be a psalmist; that she would minister to people with songs of healing and deliverance. She began to hear music, simple songs, and she began to write them down. For another seven years she wrote songs down and sang them onto tape. She began to ask what the purpose was. In the midst of this, she and Elliott changed churches and had children. She told the Lord during this transitional time that, for whatever reason He gave her those songs, she would give it back to him. In the meantime, she was a worship leader at her new church, usually singing the songs that brought people to deeper places of worship. Here, as in the previous church she attended, the Lord would not let her just blend in, He brought her out front. The leadership of this new church even sent her to a conference, the School of the Psalmist, that brought her to a place of personal deliverance and more freedom of expression in worship.
In 1994, Mary-Kathryn saw a breakthrough. She got connected with people to help accompany her with her songs and ended up recording her first album Perfect Gift. Since then it’s been an adventure with God. From this very first album the response was very positive. When she performed at a women’s meeting, the women would say they worshipped like Mary-Kathryn did when they were home, or that they always wanted to dance like that. Rarely would anyone question what she did.
Mary-Kathryn says if you step out in what He wants you to do, He will cover you. David danced before God with all his might to usher in the Presence of God. God told her to dance to usher in His Presence. What matters is who we are now and what God wants to do through us.