Interview with Ginny Owens
With the release of I Know A Secret (out November 11), singer-songwriter Ginny Owens is back with a collection of introspective, hope-filled songs that are ready to encourage the listener and engage the world. While Owens is best known for her handful of CCM hits like “If You Want Me To,” “Free,” and “I Am,” as well as mainstream adulation from appearances at Lilith Fair and the Sundance Film Festival, her latest album proves that she still has more to say, more to sing, and more to do (including authoring her first book due out at the beginning of next year).
In anticipation of the release of I Know A Secret, Owens has released an exclusive 6-song NoiseTrade Acoustic Sampler to help bring you up to speed with new renditions of some of her best-loved tracks and some stripped-down versions of the soon-to-be classics from her new album. Even if you’re familiar with the album versions of “Be Thou My Vision” and “If You Want Me To,” you’ve never heard them this intimate and crackling with life. “No Borders,” her upcoming single from I Know A Secret is also presented here in a striking acoustic version that showcases the song’s beautiful lyrics and melodic inertia.
I recently spoke with Owens about both her NoiseTrade Acoustic Sampler and I Know A Secret, as well as her new authorial stint with her first book, .
NoiseTrade: Tell us a little bit about the new acoustic versions of the songs you’re offering on your NoiseTrade Acoustic Sampler. Where’d they come from?
Ginny Owens: This sampler contains a fun mix of tunes, including a few I wrote early in my career, my favorite hymn, and a couple acoustic versions of songs from my new studio project, I Know A Secret.
NT: These new versions of some of your best-known material have such a fresh and current feel to them. What’s your secret for making them feel like we’re hearing them for the first time?
Owens: Thank you! Anytime I write a song, I begin the process at the piano or with a guitar. Most of my live shows are me at the piano along with Kyle, my acoustic guitar player. So the versions of my songs on the Noisetrade Acoustic Sampler are what you would have heard as a fly on the wall during my writing sessions and what you’ll experience if you come see me live. The broken-down, acoustic setting is always my favorite and by far the most comfortable musical space for me. I’m sure I communicate that through the music somehow.
NT: For your new album I Know A Secret, what drove your decision to work with producer Monroe Jones again?
Owens: Not only are Monroe and his family like family to me, but because we’ve worked on so many projects together over the years, we have gotten the collaboration process down. We know how to read each other and tell each other the truth, and we enjoy creating music together. I’ve been doing music long enough to know how rare such partnerships are. My ultimate goal for I Know A Secret was twofold – to return to the organic musical elements Monroe and I explored on my earliest projects and to rediscover that incredibly honest place from which I used to write before an awareness of the music business caused me to over think. I had a sense that rediscovering would be best done by returning to work with the person I trusted most to help me navigate music. I think it was a good move.
NT: With I Know A Secret being your 8th full-length studio album, you’ve officially released half of your catalog under a label and half as an independent artist. In your experience, what’s been some of the main differences between the two?
Owens: Great question! There are definitely upsides and downsides to both. The advantage of having a record label is the built-in team and resources that come with that model. There’s a marketing team who sets up the record, and though the artist offers input, his/her job is mainly to follow the pre-determined plan. As an indie, I often find the challenge of wearing the artist hat, business hat, and marketing hat overwhelming. On the other hand, as an independent artist, I get to do exactly what I want creatively. I’m free to write and perform music I’m passionate about. That in itself is motivation enough to continue my musical journey.
NT: In addition to new music, you’ve also been working on a book project for release early next year. What can you tell us about it in advance?
Owens: I can tell you that writing books is a heck of a lot harder than writing records, at least for me. But it was worth it. My co-author, Andrew Greer, and I have just turned in our manuscript, and it feels great to know we’ve conquered! The book is called Transcending Mysteries: Who is God and What Does He Want From Us? and it sounds a bit more scholarly than it is. We use stories from the Bible and stories from our own lives to discover who the God of the Old Testament is, and to explore how He is still relevant to us today.