Kari Jobe performed last night in the Mabee Center to a crowd of students and college weekenders. If you didn’t get enough of the two-time Dove Award-winning singer-songwriter, here’s a Q&A with contributing writer and KORU Station Manager Peyton Luke.
Peyton Luke: How did you become interested and get started in music?
Kari Jobe: “I have been doing music my whole life. My parents had been in ministry since I was a little girl, and I started singing with them when I was about three. When I was between 10 and 13, I realized I wanted to do music for a career. I took lessons a lot, but we were in a church that was very charismatic and nondenominational, so worship was very important.
We would have nights of worship which would last for hours—and I just loved it. I learned to wait on the presence of God, and that when we sing, it’s not just singing songs before a preacher gets up, but that it’s an exchange of faith. It’s singing prayers and something shifts in the atmosphere. It’s about having the presence of God welcomed there. So, I just knew that’s what I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. When I went off to college at Oral Roberts, I began singing and traveling with one of the worship teams there. I just kept at it.”
PL: When was your break-through moment in the music industry?
KJ: “I recorded Revelation Song with Christ for the Nations in 2004 and from there started getting requests to sign on different labels around 2006, but I didn’t actually sign until 2009. I just kept serving at my church [Gateway Church]. I was on staff as a worship pastor, just enjoying that. I didn’t feel like I wanted to do my own CD quite yet, but I did the Christ for the Nations CD, ORU CD and Gateway CD. So, I served a lot on other people’s projects.”
PL: KORU also has a Spanish station, so I have to ask. Out of your eight albums, two of them are Spanish. What was the inspiration behind writing songs in another language, and why Spanish in particular?
KJ: “I went on a mission trip with a team at Christ for the Nations, and I memorized a bunch of Hillsongs worship songs in Spanish. (This was in about 2010). When I would finish singing, the people would come up and start speaking to me in Spanish and I was like, ‘No, wait, wait, wait! I just memorized those songs!’ Then they started telling me how authentic I sound and that they couldn’t even tell I had an accent when I sang. So, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s amazing! The Lord must have an anointing on me to do this.’
So, we did those [Spanish] projects and albums, then went back to South America and would do the whole night in Spanish. It’s just one of those baffling things, because I don’t speak the language quite yet, but I am learning. I just love it. I love that culture.
When I was at Oral Roberts, I took Spanish and for extra credit you could go to a Spanish church. I went there a lot, but it was because I really just fell in love with the presence of God that was there. It was kind of hard to understand even the translator.
So, sometimes I would take my headphones out and just sit in the presence of God. I didn’t know what they were saying or anything, but at one point all the people started going down to the altar just weeping and putting their hands up in the air and I thought, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to the front.’
So, I got up and went down to the altar and I was so overwhelmed with the presence of God. Then this lady came down and started praying for me, but I didn’t know what she was saying. I was just like, ‘Yes, Lord. If this is you, then I receive it.’ Then after that I had such a love for the Latin culture. I think I received a gift to love those people that day. I didn’t know what the lady prayed, but I’m seeing the fruit of it now.”
PL: What is something you learned during your time in school?
KJ: “I really look back and realize it wasn’t about me learning more math, science or even my major, which ended up being psychology and pastoral ministry. God was teaching me to have a relationship with Him for myself, not just because my family taught me to love the Lord. And I will say college was one of the hardest seasons of my life, in having to learn to love the Lord by myself, find a church, know what I believed, why I believed it, and why I believed the Holy Spirit was real.
God became more real to me while I was in college. So, I just look back and think how thankful I am to have been pushed into that uncomfortable place and that I ran to the Lord instead of away from the Lord. I think some people get jaded in college years and turn to other things. Thankfully, I knew enough about the presence of God to know I needed to understand the Lord in a deeper way, or life might eat me up through the struggles.”
Kari Jobe’s professional career began by recording projects with ORU, Hillsong and Christ for the Nations. She often travels with headlining tours and makes guest appearances with Chris Tomlin, the Passion Conference and Hillsong Conferences in Sydney and London. Jobe remains an associate worship pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.