I’m eight years old, sitting on the carpet in my parents' living room in Durham, North Carolina. There’s a warmth and energy flowing through the room. I’m surrounded by at least four couples my parents age, a couple guitars, maybe a tambourine or hand shaker, and a lot of laughter, singing, and joy. Moments like this are etched in my brain. Not the exact people or the exact songs, but the emotional memory is vivid - I’m completely full, happy, alive.
My brother and I were the only children in a ministry of musicians, singers, and lovers of the arts. For most, if not all of my childhood, my home had become the gathering spot and practice ground for whichever worship ministry we were a part of at the time. I’ll never forget the bluesy folk music my dad (Kevin Darby) and Todd Gilmore would sing and strum to - specifically Eric Clapton’s “Layla” and the many (as I know now) acoustic renditions to traditional hymns and spiritual songs. To me, these versions were the originals.
I knew that these “jam sessions” moved my soul, filled me with joy, and fostered incredible relationship and times of fellowship with the other families there. These moments of music and togetherness have had a profound impact on my spiritual and emotional connection to the arts; I believe this is the result of the love and joy created by individuals using and developing their God-given gifts. I felt free to be myself while being encouraged (even as a child) to engage with the adults in the collective creativity and expression of music.
Over time, as I learned to use my gifts for my local church, mostly through dance and song, I had the privilege of being mentored by some incredibly talented and accomplished artists. Somehow the Triangle area of North Carolina had become a mecca of extremely talented musicians, dancers, actors, and writers. Because of my particular church’s conviction on the necessity of the arts in our spiritual worship, I had the opportunity to participate in our yearly award-winning Broadway-scale production of “A Little Christmas Spirit.”
This effort had an even greater impact on my young, spiritually impressionable soul. The community, the closeness, the joy, the relationships, the creativity, and the growth that developed in my local church family as a result of our efforts towards this musical was a testament to God’s spirit coming alive in each one of us as we used our gifts for him and each other.
Not only was our church family transformed by it, but we were able to make a huge impact on our community. I am so thankful for these experiences as they laid an important foundation for my life - a foundation that says passion and our purposes in Christ are one in the same. Specifically, he created a passion for the arts within me to be used for his glory, not separate from it. It is through passion that I find his purpose for my life and the motivation to pursue it.
When I was about 12, my father, Kevin Darby, produced the CD Be Still, My Soul during his time as worship director for the Triangle Church of Christ. This album was a collection of the acoustic renditions to the hymns I mentioned earlier. The CD soon sold out and has been out of print for over 16 years! Many have been asking for a copy of the CD, so my father has been working fervently to bring it back. As of May 2016, the remastered tracks of Be Still, My Soul are available at www.kevindarbymusic.com. We believe it is really important that the music be accessible to all, so the tracks can be streamed for free through the website, but they can also be purchased for download. Our goal is for everyone around the world to have an opportunity to hear the songs from Be Still, My Soul.
This CD, which was originally released alongside Sam Laing’s book, is particularly meditative in nature. It’s perfect for times of quiet introspection, spiritual inspiration, and mood music preparing you for your day or in winding down. The beauty of this music is in its power to quiet the mind and soul in the midst of the difficulties by focusing on the truths and promises of God’s word. I hope you will partner with me in spreading the word about Be Still, My Soul.
Stay tuned to the website www.kevindarbymusic.com as it will become a hub for all of my father’s original music and arrangements. We will also be starting a blog, so please subscribe if you would like to gain insight and wisdom in your music ministry, engage in philosophical topics of the arts and spiritual worship, and many other inspired topics.
Finally, there is some exciting news coming as we will be looking to launch my father’s worship consulting business as he seeks to help individuals and churches around the world grow in their worship! Wherever you are, we are family, and I am so thankful for each one of you. Please continue to seek to find your passion and purpose for living on this earth, and once you find it, I implore you to find every possible way to use it to serve others! We have no greater calling than the one tailored made to our unique gifts and abilities. You were created for a very specific purpose; we need you desperately.