Sitting in a studio years later with fellow songwriter Ryan Shirley, Voss was reminded of that profound yet mysterious message when Shirley suggested the title of his full-length debut. Songs Of Heaven & Earth proved to be a fitting name for the fresh collection of songs that formally introduces Corey Voss. "Our conversation immediately reminded me of that theme and that word I'd been given a long time ago," he reflects, "and so it felt as though I'd come full circle."
Voss may be a new name to some Christian music listeners, but he's quietly been honing his skills for years, working with some of the industry's finest songwriters. And many of them now share co-writing credit on his first LP for Integrity Music. In addition to Shirley, for Songs Of Heaven & Earth, Voss wrote with like-hearted friends, including country artist Crystal Yates, Dove Award winners Jennie Lee Riddle and Krissy Nordhoff and GRAMMY Award nominee Michael Farren ("Trust In You"), a fellow worship pastor and mentor.
"I met Michael on my first writing trip to Nashville, and we just hit it off and became friends," the northwest Indiana-native shares. Since that time, Voss has written, recorded and taught at worship seminars with Farren.
Eager to be immersed in the songwriting culture, Voss is an active member of Jennie Lee Riddle's People & Songs, a community of creatives who mentor young artists and gather regularly to support and encourage one another.
"It's a support system," Voss adds. "I can call anybody in that community and ask for prayer or encouragement, and it's just a really great group of people to confide in."
Community fuels Voss' creativity. In addition to his songwriting collective, his home congregation—Gateway Church in Shelbyville, Tenn.—is often his first source of inspiration. Over the past six years as a worship leader at Gateway, Voss has seen the church grow from a small weekly gathering of 70 people to more than 800 members. It's a multi-generational congregation, which Voss takes great pride in leading despite the fact that he's far younger than many of the worshippers who attend.
"Being able to minister to people who are older than me is so encouraging—not just ministering to my peers. I love that I get to do life with these people," Voss says. "It's amazing to see the heart of this church. I've never led worship for a church that's been so open to new songs. They love it when we do an older song or a hymn, but when we do new songs, they embrace it... We've created that culture of worship where they expect that we're going to sing new songs pretty frequently."
Although Songs of Heaven & Earth was recorded live at Gateway Church, which meets in a former Walmart, only half of the tracks were familiar to those in attendance. While multiple songs have been a staple in Voss' Sunday morning set list for the better part of a year, he introduced five new selections the night of the recording. When technical difficulties prohibited sharing the lyrics with the congregation, the church was forced to learn the fresh songs quickly. Yet, on the finished product, no one would guess. The voices gathered seem to know and connect with these songs warmly and intimately.
"Live records are special because you can capture moments... In those moments, and within that larger experience, I think something special can happen that is different from what would happen in a studio setting where you're recording one song at a time," Voss offers. "I wanted to invite my church to be a part of it because they are such a blessing to me. I get to lead them every week, but to actually do an album where they can be a part of it meant a lot."
The album's tracks beautifully articulate the imagery found throughout creation, often inspired by the time Voss spends outdoors. An avid hiker, Voss explores Tennessee's rolling hills in search of songwriting ideas. The result is a kaleidoscope of poetic lines soaked in innovative synth and electronic elements, produced by Kyle Lee (Leeland, Dustin Smith, Bryan & Katie Torwalt), who also contributes as a writer.
With lyrics like "Take me higher than the angels fly / Where there's freedom in the open sky," Voss' songwriting on "Canyons" brings to mind epic, unfolding landscapes. "We wanted to write something that talked about the height and the depth and the width of God's love and just how vast it is," he says of the anthem penned alongside Krissy Nordhoff ("Your Great Name").
The upbeat "Nothing Is Impossible" is equally as descriptive. "This is a brand new up-tempo song that declares all the ways that God has shown Himself to do the impossible," shares Voss. "It's full of truth and powerful things that God has done in creation and in our lives. So I'm excited for worship leaders and bands to hear it."
Voss also puts a unique stamp on his song "I Got Saved," a powerful selection recorded by award-winning vocal trio Selah. "The journey from earth to heaven starts with our salvation and our redemption and celebrating the fact that the Lord has saved us," Voss contends. "I've been leading it a lot and it always seems to connect with people everywhere."
Yet, it's "You Promised," co-written with Jennie Lee Riddle ("Revelation Song"), that personally resonates with Voss most. "I was in a season where I was struggling to see God's promises, and I was frustrated with my situation. I was looking around at a lot of things in my life and feeling like there wasn't a whole lot of motion or fruit," Voss explains. "Jennie reminded me, as we were writing that song, that in this moment and forever, He will always be faithful to His promises...and that's the lyric of the chorus. It just reminded me of the unfailing character of God and that His promises are ‘yes' and ‘amen,' and they don't fail. Even if we have to wait and endure to see the promise, we will see it."
For now, Voss is seeing the fruit of years of labor. Songs Of Heaven & Earth is the fulfillment of a desire to lead people in song that began when he was a student at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla. Since college, he's been asking a prayerful question each time he sits down to write—a question he still asks today.
"When we sing songs, we are releasing prayers, scriptures and songs of praise that shift and fill the atmosphere with God's presence. So, as I write, I begin by asking the Lord, ‘What do Your people need to be singing?'" Voss shares. He answers this question on Songs Of Heaven & Earth with vibrant imagery that evokes a sense of wonder and awe for all who listen, drawing them closer to their Creator, the maker of heaven and earth.
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