Grown Folks Music chatted with gospel artist Ted Winn. His new album Stand In Awe is out TODAY on Shanachie Entertainment and we spoke about the album, his approach to creating music, the responsibility of gospel music and the church and his passion and work to protect, educate and empower other artists and songwriters. Read below and enjoy.

GFM: In Gospel music, obviously God is the inspiration and the motivation for the music, but as an artist how to do decide on the style and the sound of the music?

Ted Winn: For me it’s really how I organically create art. That is a culmination of the influences I’ve had from the music I’ve grown up listening to, the current music and how that’s influencing the culture and also what I wanna say on a particular project. When I do albums I look at them as a body of work so that influences how I decide what it should sound like.

GFM: You mentioned two things that I want to touch on from that [answer]. You were talking about the current style and sound of music. Gospel music– the sound of it has changed a lot from perhaps the choir-oriented music that we used to hear back from our parents and grandparents generation. It’s more urban sounding… if that’s fair. How do you feel about the changing sound of gospel music? Or, is it like any other music that as time goes on the sound changes?

Ted Winn: What we hear today in gospel music specifically is like any other genre. It changes based on what’s happening and what the current sounds are and just how people are creating. I think that gospel music to some degree may be unique in that there are different expressions inside the genre. So, for me there isn’t a lot of per se choir music being perpetuated in the mainstream mediums, but I do think that it’s still there. It’s interesting, I was working on this project [and] I did one quote-unquote praise and worship song… you know, kind of what people are doing today… but the majority of it is music that you would have heard, at least stylistically, more like [the] late ’90s [or] early 2000s. I was listening to the Bruno Mars record which made me chuckle a bit because I feel like his record is a throwback. It’s a current-sounding throwback record. I think that’s one of the reasons that it resonated so well. I’m hoping to have that same reaction from people when they hear my album.

GFM: [Talking about praise and worship songs…] the second part of my question about how you approach your albums as an artist is how to do you decide whether an album is going to be an album of worship and adulation songs, or whether it’s gonna slant more toward songs to encourage the people of God? How do you decide? Is it just whatever comes to your writing pen?

Ted Winn: For each art creator it’s different. I’m not really a praise and worship guy. That’s just not really what I do, so that’s not really a conversation that I have to have internally. I usually create music that speaks from the mind, or the ideas, or the thoughts of God to people just because I feel like what I want to do when I create music is let people hear my lyrics and hear the melodies and be inspired from it as a source of encouragement or inspiration.

GFM: I read in your bio that you feel strongly that gospel music and the church should actively address the issues of society. Talk about that.

Ted Winn: Part of what I believe that the responsibility of church in America specifically should be is to speak the good news as we talk about God and as we talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, that also includes justice. It also includes fairness. It also includes addressing the basic humanity that we all share and speaking truth to power and being candid about the world in which we live. Sometimes it can be so lofty that it kind of moves away from practical, everyday living. I think that the gospel of Jesus Christ and God in particular are very practical. I think that sometimes that message can be lost if it’s too lofty in our church rhetoric.

GFM: It’s also important to you that artist and songwriters in gospel and other genres as well understand that the music business is indeed business. Talk about your work and your passion in this area for artists and songwriters.

Ted Winn: I started a company about 11 years ago called Veracity Entertainment which basically represents songwriters. We handle their business. We handle their copyright. We make sure that everything connected to the business side of the song is taken care of. There are so many art creators out there… so many songwriters who are incredibly talented, but are completely clueless about the business. So many times, one or two things happen: either they are taken advantage of or they agree to things that aren’t in their best interest because they don’t really understand what their rights are.

I understand that in every iteration of society knowledge is power and knowledge is key. The more you know the better able you are to make informed decisions that benefit you. I started as a songwriter. It’s what I’m most passionate about. As a songwriter I signed some deals early on that weren’t in my best interest because I didn’t understand them. I wrote a song on an album that did really well. I got a check and it was 25% less income than what I anticipated it would be, because I had signed a deal giving away that percentage of the song but [I] didn’t really understand how the whole thing worked. That was a teachable moment for me and it’s really what encouraged me to become a student of the business and educate myself with the intention initially of just knowing what I should do, but as time went along that turned into empowering other artists.

GFM: If we were in an elevator and you only had a minute to tell me that you have a new album and how that album is going to bless my ears and spirit what would you say?

Ted Winn: This album will be music that will speak to your heart. It will speak to your emotions. It will speak to your mind and it will allow you to be both reflective and think forward about how grateful you are that you are in whatever position you’re in and what is left for you to do as a believer, as a citizen and as a human being.

GFM: What is your definition of Grown Folks Music?

Ted Winn: Music that is substantive, mature and has the kind of quote-unquote traditional elements that we look for– that is a real melody and real lyrics. That’s what I consider grown folks music.

Ted Winn’s new album Stand In Awe is out TODAY!

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Kimberly Kennedy Charles
I have questions. Artists have answers.