Andrew Russell is a former intern at New City Fellowship - Glenwood, and a recent graduate of Redeemer Seminary-Dallas. He has been leading worship for the last few hears and has new record called “I am Who I am”
Here are some various links people can pre-order it:
- Andrew's website - The website has wav files and 1 extra song that’s not on iTunes or Amazon!
An Interview with Andrew:
The title of your project has more than one meaning. Can you explain?
Yes, the title of my project is “I am Who I am”. This means 2 things. First, I am celebrating my God-given individual creativity. Every song is completely different. I cover reggae, R&B, CCM, funk, and pop. I don’t fit a particular style or fit in a certain box, I am who I am. Secondly, “I am Who I am” is the name God gave to Moses in Exodus 3:14 when Moses expressed fear and reluctance to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go. God had heard the cries of his people in the midst of suffering and slavery and he chose Moses to be his vessel to lead his people out of Egypt, slavery, and Pharaoh’s oppression. Exodus 3:13-15 says the following, regarding God’s name:
“Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’”
And so ultimately, this EP is Moses, telling God’s people (and those who are yet to be God’s people) that God has sent these songs to be an announcement of God’s power to deliver you from slavery and oppression…that he has heard your cry for help. So don’t give up, the I am Who I am is here to save.
What was the biggest challenge in completing the EP?
My biggest challenge has been time and money. I have been working on this project for over a year. 5 songs! Most artist take a few months to knock out an EP, but because of my busy work schedule, being a husband, father, and also dealing with the busy schedules of my producers, it has taken over a year to complete.
Secondly, money was a big challenge. The project cost over $10,000. That’s $10,000 that I don’t have. While I worked on the project, I was a seminary student at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, TX. I graduated a few months ago. And so, as a seminary student and father of 3 kids and husband of 1 wife, I didn’t have the time or money to complete a project of this magnitude.
So what did I do? I asked for help. I ran a kickstarter campaign that raised over $10,000! Praise be to God! I had to walk by faith trusting that God would provide the money I needed to work with professional musicians, singers, and producers. And He did.
What song on the EP means the most to you personally?
I wrote a song called “For All the Girls”. I was inspired to write this song by seeing the tragedy of sex trafficking in Dallas and all over the world. I thought about the Psalm 137:4, which says, “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” I put myself in those girls’ shoes, and tried to answer that question. What would the Lord’s song sound like for someone who had no hope, someone who felt like they were living in exile, someone who was lost? I think everyone could relate to this theme, even though it’s entitled “For All the Girls”. The chorus says, “Don’t run, don’t run away until you see how far you can go. You don’t know what the future holds.” It’s a song of perseverance mixed with pain, hope mixed with sorry, and love mixed with grace. It’s the story of my life, and I think the common human experience. All of us at some point in our lives feel like we are not home. We feel like strangers in a foreign land searching for familiar sights and sounds. We feel like sometimes running away, whether that running is suicide, drugs, alcohol, seeking a better job, a better family, or a better marriage. We run from our difficult circumstances in many ways, but God says, “Don’t run…because you don’t know what the future holds.”
What does the creative process look like for you? Walk us through your creative process from finding motivation for a song to completing that song.
Before I start to write a song, I sit down at the piano and begin to play. As I play certain chord progressions come to mind and depending on my mood or the chord progression, I start to hum certain melodies and let the music carry me. If I think about a passage that God places on my heart, I will start singing about that. Sometimes I just start praying and songs come out of my prayers. Other times I write about how I feel at the moment. Rarely do I sit down with a particular theme or idea in mind. I usually just come up with the concept as I’m playing. Music is very cathartic for me. I get to lay down all my fears, shame, hopes, dreams, joys, and questions at the foot of the cross and ask God to give me a song. Usually, I find a strong melody and build the song from there. The music comes before the words. Yet other times I can look at a passage of scripture and just sing the passage as it is. It’s amazing to me how musical the word of God is. It’s as if every word of God has multiple melodies waiting to be discovered. It’s truly freeing.
Your own story is so interesting. How was the Bahamas-to-Texas journey with all stops in between influenced your own musical style?
When I moved from the Bahamas to the United States, it was tough. I left everything that was familiar and comfortable for the unfamiliar and uncomfortable. I had to become a student of my environment. And so I learned new musical styles that were unfamiliar to me, like rap, rock, country, etc. When my family and I moved to Orlando, FL from Nassau, Bahamas, I processed my pain and confusion by writing music. My first song was called “Rescue Me”. The chorus goes, “Rescue me from all my doubts and the pain and all my fears shall flee away.” I was crying out to God to make sense of my circumstance. And he did. After Orlando FL, we moved to Memphis, TN, then Dallas, TX. Along the way I was influence by the Memphis blues, black gospel music, country, and hip-hop. I used all those various styles in my writing to make my own sound, which is everything I just mentioned, plus reggae, junkanoo, and Motown. We are all a hodgepodge of musical influences. Beethoven can influence rappers, Motown can influence country artists, and Parliament and the Funkadelics can influence Bahamians. No man is an island.
Where will we see that diversity reflected in this project?
You will see the diversity of musical styles in every track, particularly through “Don’t Give Up”. In this song I am paying homage to my country of origin, the Bahamas. I have a junkanoo rhythm (a native Bahamian rhythm influenced by West African culture) on top of some old school funk rhythm. And so it’s like Earth, Wind, and Fire meets George Clinton meets Bahamen. It’s a fun tune, which I think symbolizes the culmination of my favorite diverse styles.
You created a Kickstarter campaign to make the dream of creating an EP a reality. How did that go?
It was very successful. I raised over $10,000. Most of my advertising was social media and word of mouth, but the biggest help was doing live house concerts. I did 3 house concerts and invited all my friends and church family. If it weren’t for the house concerts, I would have never raised over $10,000.
What do you want listeners to take way from your EP?
I want my listeners to take away this: it doesn’t matter who you are, how far you’ve fallen away from God, or what difficult circumstance you find yourself in; the I am Who I am is here and ready to save, heal, deliver, bring hope, purpose, and identity to you. This EP is for every dreamer who thought they could never realize their dreams, every singer who was told, “you’re not good enough”, every entrepreneur who has failed and failed. Don’t give up; there is hope. And that hope is found in true freedom…the freedom that Jesus Christ gives to all who would surrender their lives to him. This EP is just the beginning, the introduction of what God can do through a little Bahamian boy who decided to write a song.