“When the noise is over / A still small voice you will hear / I hope that you believe me when I tell you that I will handle all of your cares / Just wait on me and be still and know that I am God”– Travis Greene (from “Be Still”)
In a voice blessed with an endearing island rasp and a message grounded in forward thinking vision, pastor/singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Travis Greene is fast becoming a unique leader in Contemporary Gospel. His testimony filled with monumental tests and triumphs, Travis is viewed as one who speaks authoritatively on what growing closer to God can do for you. Following three independent releases, Travis’ 2015 major label debut The Hill and its galvanizing #1 hit single “Intentional” earned him accolades, 7 Stellar Awards and two Grammy nominations. Now, Travis springs forth from that launching pad with his latest new album Crossover: Live from Music City, 13 songs recorded in concert at Skyville Live in Nashville plus 2 in the studio. The lead single, “You Waited,”bounded to the Gospel Digital Songs chart top 2 in June. The second single, “See the Light” is a fun up-tempo number that features Geoffrey Golden (Season 7 winner on TV’s Gospel talent competition show “Sunday Best”) and Travis’ touring vocalist Isaiah Templeton.
“The theme of Crossover connects directly to the theme of my church, Forward City,” Travis explains. “It’s a call for people to move forward – to crossover from our pain and hurt into the promise of a beautiful future with Him. The song has a Biblical storyline from the angle of the children of Israel that crossed over from Egypt into The Promised Land of Canaan. Many songs on the album share a common denominator of what those people witnessed and dealt with. It’s directly from their story of walking out of slavery into all that God had planned for them.”
A testament to that statement is how transparent Travis’ lyrics are along thematic lines – from the drums and piano glory march into a light reggae lilt on“Forever Amen” and the piano ballad that builds into a rock anthem of the spheres in “Instrument” to the two studio numbers: the introspective “Love Will Always Win”and the triumphant standing-in-the-light finale “Finally Found.”Crossover also finds Travis shining light on two young artists from his Greenlight Music company: Chandler Moore on “While I’m Waiting” and Hailey K on “Daddy’s Home.”“Chandler is like a son to me and I’m very proud of him,” Travis shares. “Hailey just turned 18…a gifted writer with such a story about overcoming to tell.”
Born in Delaware, whisked off to Germany then Columbus, Georgia where he spent his formative middle and high school childhood in the Warner Robins suburb, Travis Greene’s own story stemmed from embracing music by birthright. “My mother was a choir director, so all I ever wanted to do was Gospel music,”Travis reflects. “I started playing instruments in church. I played drums first then keyboards became primary. Music was part of our culture. I started writing songs at 7 and would force my sisters to perform them with me! I always had a thing for rhymes. I wrote a song in my early 20’s that was the first I ever performed called “Please Don’t Ever Change” – about God, His Love and His consistency.”
By the time Travis arrived at Georgia Southern University, he had put his musical dreams on the back burner, electing the more traditional route toward adulthood by pursuing a degree in business with a music minor. His piano professor set him back on the righteous track. “Two months before I graduated, she told me, ‘You have a real gift. Do what’s in your heart. What would you do even if you weren’t getting paid to do it?’ I told her I loved ministry and I loved music. My assignment for the remainder of the semester was bring her brochures and different things pointed in the direction of my passion. I still completed my undergraduate degree in business with a music minor, but I lost everything in the process. My Mom prayed when I was young that God would bring me the gift of recording and producing my music. I listen to other genres to be inspired but my desire was always Gospel/Christian.”
Pointing to those that came before him that wielded the greatest level of influence, Travis cites the musical trinity of John P. Kee, Kirk Franklin and Israel Houghton. “My #1 influence in Gospel performance is John P. Kee – my Michael Jackson. I learned keyboards, singing and harmonizing by playing his tapes with the volume up all the way to the fade to get every nuance. Studying music theory in college, all they did was put names to things I’d already learned listening to John P. Kee. Kirk Franklin inspired me in his ability to evolve and remain relevant over two decades. I admire the fearlessness of his creativity, how every note and lyric matters, and the importance of being true to your own style. Then Israel Houghton took the scene by storm – rewriting the history of what worship looks like in white and black churches. What I’m supposed to do musically looks like what Israel has done.”
With the help of God – Travis has stared down two near-death experiences before the age of 5, suicidal thoughts and an extremely touch-and-go first pregnancy with his wife, Jackie. They are now touchstones of his testimony and a fortifying force in his artistry. “Trials forced me to see the world and life differently,” Travis muses. “How your next breath is God’s option. With that in mind and heart, you don’t take goodbyes for granted, love for granted, and definitely not time.”
Travis’ life duties include being a musical messenger, a loving husband and father, and a respected pastor who put his higher theological studies on the back burner (for now) to focus on his families at home and in church. “Forward City Church is a movement about bridging gaps,” he states. “I believe the church should define culture, not adjust to it. Our major initiatives are engaging, confronting and moving upstream so we’re not reacting to what’s happening but thriving in places of power within the community that invoke change. Our sights are beyond Columbia but it’s home base for our under-churched and over-churched – believers tired of the predictable. We just celebrated our first-year anniversary and had 550 salvations –converts! We intend to quadruple that in 2018.”
Travis’ wife, Jackie, has also been a saving grace. “I met her 10 years ago doing college ministry,” Travis says. “The first 4 years was long distance calls with her in dental school in Georgia and me in North Carolina. We built our relationship on communication, talking about everything. We’re both very inquisitive and smart, so we dissected each other and learned each other’s secrets long before we met at the altar. We’re best friends.” They are also the proud parents of sons Jace & Josh.
With music ministry moving full steam ahead, Travis Greene’s album title Crossover has a second meaning as it pertains to the intended stretch of his songcraft. Take for example the metaphorical and morphing new song “Taste and See.”“When I prepare an album,” Travis explains, “I often go back to old voice memos. That was one I was playing around with on piano when I lived in Charlotte. I was wrestling with how to end it – so much so that I almost cut the song. Then I got a breath of fresh air idea to speed up the tempo and do something fun and Country – like Mumford & Sons!” About his ability to play multiple instruments, Travis humbly adds, “I play drums, keys, lead guitar, can get around on bass, and played all the brass in high school – trumpet, tuba, all that fun stuff. I was pretty good on trombone. But anybody on stage with me has to be way better than me. I can’t be better than you on an instrument I’m paying you to play! My musicians are on a whole `nother level. That’s the standard.”
“Musically, my trials forced me to not be lazy with what I’m called to do,” Travis concludes. “If you’re not wired like that, it’s probably difficult to work with me. I’m full throttle all the time.”