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Meet the New Cory Asbury

Meet the New Cory Asbury

If you know Cory Asbury, one of the biggest worship artists there is, you know he can’t be anyone but Cory Asbury.

At his core, the “Reckless Love” singer has to live his truth, for better or worse.

That doesn’t mean he’s rude or steps on people’s toes, but it does mean he’s going to do what he feels called to do, whether you like it or not.

That’s what gave him the confidence to release an album unlike anything he’d released before. Pioneer isn’t like his past worship albums. In fact, it’s not really a worship album at all.

There’s a clear country influence to it, although a country fan might hesitate to call it a country album. Instead, it bridges the unique crossroads of Americana, folk, country and worship.

“We actually called it The Bridge Project,” Asbury explained. “It’s a bridge from one way of doing things to another, but not necessarily because I plan on becoming a country guy. It’s just because I love the tradition of the beauty of country music writing. I think there’s such value to that and even bringing that back into this world over here.”

Asbury isn’t too concerned about what people will think of his new music (and even his offbeat social media humor) because he’s happy with where he’s headed.

It’s been three years since you released an album. What’s been going on since then?

I mean, a lot has happened, but one of the biggest is that my wife and I came out of nearly 18 years of full-time ministry at a church. This is the first time we’ve not been on staff at a church.

We just attend church, and it’s been refreshing. We’ve been processing life and what the past 18 years of ministry have looked like for us — some of the difficult things, some of the things that were painful about it — and letting the Lord talk to those things and heal those places. It’s been really beautiful. It’s been really powerful.

We’re not post-church or anything like that. But there’s stuff that happens that’s real, and if you don’t address it, don’t hit it head-on, you’ll live in bitterness and offense.

We processed a lot of life and ministry, and the Lord met us in the middle of that; even the past two or three years since we’ve been here, it’s been really sweet.

Why did you decide it was time to get back into music?

The idea that I took a step back from music is probably not quite accurate. I took a step back from being public with music. I needed to do some deep heart work. And in the middle of that, I was still writing a ton of music.

So yeah, it has been three years since I released music, but I needed to withdraw a little bit and feel and process and decompress.

This project seemingly has an added layer of vulnerability. Is it easy to be honest in your music?

I don’t think I can’t. I can’t not be honest. I listen to some Christian music, and I’ll think, Is that really how you feel? I hear some songs and everything wraps up by the bridge, and everything is amazing again. And I think, “Dude, I know your life. It’s not like that.” I know my life isn’t like that. It’s really difficult for me to write songs that aren’t just 100% out there, wide open and honest because it’s what I need.

And if it’s what I need, then it’s probably what a lot of folks need. It’s our job as artists to give language to the stuff that we feel on an everyday basis, whether it’s losing a friend, a family member, someone getting married, losing a baby, a marriage dissolving after years.

If I’m experiencing it as the leader guy who sings cool songs and receives from God, then I’m guessing that “regular people” are probably experiencing it as well. So, I prefer someone I know and trust would write about that.

You’ve got a lot of country influence in your new music. Where’s that coming from?

I love organic instruments — guitars and stringed instruments. I think they’re beautiful. There’s something so special about actually playing the instruments. So much of our music is processed. It’s synthesizers, keyboards, all these digital sort of sounds and samples. When I go to a show, I want hear people play instruments.

I grew up listening to that kind of music. Even in North Carolina, there’s a country vibe and influence where bluegrass is big. I think I fell in love with that sound, but it felt like in Christian music, when I first started making music, you sort of had to do a very specific sound and style, a lot of pads, a lot of soundscapes.

But these instruments bring such emotion. There’s such evocative, emotional, something unquantifiable to it. I returned to it and was like, man, I love this kind of music. I wonder if we could produce this record more along those lines.

Everyone’s calling me “Country Cory” now on social media, and I don’t even think it’s fully in that lane. But even if it was, I wouldn’t mind.

Being in Nashville didn’t help that penchant, of course. If anything, it made me want to go after it more, but it felt like it fit the music because the songs are very story-driven.

That’s the tradition of country music. You’re telling a story, you’re bringing the listener in, and hopefully you’re giving them a lesson through this story, whether you’re talking about someone else or telling your own tales.

Aside from your burgeoning country career, you also have a lot of fun on TikTok. What do you like about showing a different side of yourself on social media?

There’s something to the rawness of TikTok that appeals to me. I think it appeals to a lot of young people because no one wants the fake veneer. Everyone wants it real and honest. That’s the beauty of TikTok. It doesn’t have to look cool; it doesn’t have to even feel cool.

It just is what it is, and there’s something raw to that. That fits my personality. I’m just going to say it to you how it is. And if that hurts your feelings, I’m sorry, but I’m just going to say how it is.

I think people just want real right now. They don’t want you to fake something. They don’t want you to fabricate something.

I use humor because I think comedy was created to be a social commentary. You think of the court jesters back in the day: it was literally their job to poke fun at stuff and then to bring social change because of it.

@coryasbury God’s love is #not #reckless ♬ original sound – Cory Asbury

That’s what they were created to do, and the king would go, “OK, you’re right. You’re poking fun at the poor for this, and you’re poking fun at the rich for this. I might make a few changes here” And they were allowed to say it as plainly as they wanted using humor. For some reason, you know, that’s just the way it was.

And there’s something to that, creating a social commentary and being able to say this and that about different things and have people receive it. Because I’m not railing against something. I’m not screaming and yelling, I’m not cussing, I’m not freaking out, I’m just pointing out, “This is funny the way this is, don’t you think?” And people realize it is.

Would you say that TikTok is your favorite social media platform?
Yeah, but I can’t say that too loud, or else people get mad.

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