Are you a music freak? Just a music buff? A slight enthusiast perhaps? Although I am not as wild about music as some of my friends who are into Ipods and downloads and all things ‘musicy’ (Yes, I realize that is not a real word!), I do enjoy listening to some types of music. Show tunes are fun. Most country makes me either laugh or cry. I love to crank up TobyMac with my sons in the car or listen to some Sara Groves with my daughter. Yes, music does have a place in my life.
Once in a while I will come across a relatively new musician that catches my ear. I’d like to introduce one to you today. His name is Rick Hopkins and he is the son of some friends of ours from church. He is an up and coming artist whose music just sooths my soul. In fact, I listened to his album often last summer during our packing, moving and unpacking time. It calmed me right down! (no easy feat, as my family would testify to whole-heartedly!) His mellow voice and rich guitar blend beautifully and his music is a mixture of familiar and new.
I have a busy week this week with two speaking engagements I must drive to. While I am away, enjoy this interview with Rick. Hop over to his site. Give his music a listen. And, most importantly, leave a comment about the role music plays in your life. What do you listen to? Why? How does it help you? Anything goes!! Rick will give away a copy of his album to five lucky winners. Read on!!! ( And those of you in the mid-Michigan area, Rick will be in concert at Eureka Christian Church on Sunday, October 26th. Check it out by calling the church at 989-224-7709.)
Rick Hopkins is 29 and currently resides in Saranac, Michigan with his wife of 9 years Nicole and three kids: Derek (5), Grace (3), and Jack (1). Rick was born and raised out in the country just north of St Johns, Michigan around the small town of Ashley and attended Fulton High School. His wife Nicole (Barrett) was born and raised in St. Johns and both attended the youth group at First Baptist of St Johns where they met and they worked together at Wendy’s.
Rick and Nicole got engaged right after high school, went to college together at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan and got married after their sophomore year in May of 1999. While going to school at Cornerstone they became involved with Ada Bible Church where they continue to attend. Rick leads worship regularly, Nicole works in children’s ministry, and they lead a married couples small group.
Rick currently works as web application developer for Morrison Industrial Equipment in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is also very involved in writing and recording music and playing shows around the west Michigan area. He hopes to start getting out to more areas of Michigan and beyond to share his music with others who haven’t heard it, and to share with them how God impacted his life in the hopes that God will move in their lives as well.
· Rick, tell us a bit about how you got started in music?
I have always loved music. When I was a kid it was pretty obscure stuff like the country song “Black Sheep” by John Anderson. I tortured my whole family with that one, until one day I found my record broken. Nobody would confess to it. I got involved in music in school when I joined band and played trombone. That stuck until I was too cool to be in band anymore. I started playing acoustic guitar when I was about 16. My grandpa taught me a few simple chords and I started playing with a few friends. I eventually moved on to playing electric guitar and learning how to solo and do my own leads. I’ve played in a few rock bands and really enjoyed that, but it has always been acoustic artists that have drawn me in more and made me feel their music more, so I started playing acoustic guitar a lot more, and began writing my own music. I didn’t really start singing until just a few years ago when I the church I attend (Ada Bible Church) was in need of more worship leaders, and they basically stuck a microphone in front of my face and said, “now sing”.
· Now what is your involvement, both professionally and at church with music?
This past summer has been my busiest time with music. I managed to get a song on the radio in Grand Rapids, MI on 91.3 WCSG. I had a lot of opportunities come my way because of that and I ended up playing about 10 shows this summer. On top of that I usually play about every other week at my church. So I have been pretty busy with music related activities. Oh yeah, and I have been recording some new stuff which also takes a large amount of time. A big thank you goes out to my wife for holding down the fort at home with 3 kids while I have been pursuing all this.
· How did the making of this cd come about?
The songs that I wrote for this album were some of the first songs I had ever written. Really the original goal in making an album out of them was just to record the fact that I was smart enough to actually write a song. It became interesting as the songs were being finished that there was a theme behind all the songs together. I have a good friend named Andy Ferris who offered to record them for me in his studio at his house for free which was right in my price range. It took about 3 months or so to get them all recorded and to get the cd pressed. I had a friend do the album art for me and printed them up for as cheap as I could find at any cd duplication companies. Then basically just started handing them out to family and friends to see what they thought. I got really good feedback from everyone that heard it so that was very encouraging.
· Do any of the songs on this album have a special story behind them?
I think pretty much all the songs have a great deal of meaning to me. It’s hard to pick even a couple of songs out of them all to focus on. The song “Free Lands” is about looking forward to a time when I won’t have to see or deal with a lot of the bad things that happen in this world. I struggle with a lot of depression and it can feel suffocating at times. The chorus is… “and finally, I’ll rest within your hands, breathing deeply, the air of these free lands”. It’s all about being free from the oppressiveness of a world where nothing is the way we know it should be.
The song “Fireflies” is about when my oldest son Derek was about 2 or so, we would go outside at night and catch fireflies and put them in a jar. Then we’d place the jar next to his bed when he slept and that functioned as his night-light. Those times together with him are some of the memories that I hope I will keep forever, and were really the reason and meaning behind the song.
“Still Frame”, the title track of the album, is a song I wrote to deal with losing loved ones. When I was in my sophomore year of high school I lost my best friend in a car accident. All I have left to remind me of him is his senior picture in a small frame. The song came to me while I was looking at that picture and reflecting on the times we had and the impact of that loss on my life. The song is also a song to help my family cope with the loss of our grandmother about 2 years ago. I was trying to write the song for the funeral, but couldn’t get it done in time so I ended up playing “The Old Rugged Cross”. Like I said, all the songs carry a lot of meaning to me, and to write all the stories down would take a lot more time than I have with my kids running around right now.
· What kind of music do you personally like to listen to?
I listen to quite a range of music. Anything from the quiet acoustic stuff, to the loud hard rock or metal, to country. The only genre I have never really gotten into is rap. Just not a fan of that. I pretty consistently come back to a few artists that have impacted me over the years through their testimony and the depth of their lyrics and music. Artists such as Derek Webb (of Caedmon’s Call, also has great solo stuff), Shane Barnard & Shane Everett (Shane & Shane), Jon Foreman (lead singer of Switchfoot, amazing solo stuff), and Sufjan Stevens (pronounced Soof – yon). There are lots more, but we’ll keep this a short list.
· How can music help us in our walk with the Lord?
Music has a way of saying the things we can’t say ourselves. Music can relate to any situation and help us deal with the difficulties of life, or help in the celebration of all our victories. If you read through the book of Psalms you see a vast array of songs that deal with every situation that life can throw at you be it good or bad. The Psalmists used music to praise God and to question His motives. The Psalms can be extremely dark in dealing with feelings of abandonment or despair, or they can be relating the pure joy of the author in how God delivered them. They cover the whole gambit of life and they show us that others have dealt with the same emotions, downturns, and upturns in life that we have. They show us how God works in people’s lives. They bring us closer to God.
I think the way words flow and the emotion that is wrapped up in a well-crafted song can move someone closer to God and more quickly than most other forms of art. There is just something about music that can move people to action, bring them to their knees, or lift them off their knees.
There you have it folks!!! Now leave us your comment about music. Five happy winners will be announced Monday.
Prayers for my speaking travels this week appreciated. I leave Wednesday afternoon and dad (a.k.a. the principal) will have to hold the fort down while I am gone. And those of you in the Chicago and Fort Wayne, IN areas—wave at me when my Michigan mini-van pulls into your neck of the woods!!!
Magical, musical blessings,