Meet Shane Barnard
Barnard and Everett are experienced campus ministry leaders entrenched at the grassroots level in today's exciting modern praise & worship movement. With a sound more likely heard in a coffeehouse than a church house, the singer/songwriters are constantly on the road, playing major colleges and universities throughout the West, Midwest, North and South. They also serve as worship leaders for church events such as the Metro Bible Study in Houston, Texas, and work with youth camps like Kanakuk, Mission Discovery, Pine Cove, and are heavily involved with Cross Camp. They are regular worship leaders for Breakaway Ministries, a weekly non-denominational Bible study attended by 3,000-6,000 Texas A&M University students.It's a heavy workload, but "God is doing something more here than having a couple of guys come together to sing some songs," says Barnard. "God is proving Himself to be better than music. Not only better than, but the giver of music and all good things."
"We are convinced God is real in our lives and would love for that to be contagious," says Everett. "We want people to know Jesus is real, that He hears you when you pray, that He is better than anything or anyone else, and He loves you."
Tracing a course set by other college-circuit favorites like Caedmon's Call and Andrew Peterson, Barnard and Everett were accomplished indie artists before signing with inpop records earlier this year.
Barnard, a native of Texas, emerged onto the music scene during his senior year of college at Texas A&M. He has since recorded three independent projects, each admired for their raw emotion and honest introspection, and was tapped for a track on The kening Compilation, Vol. 2 critically lauded Awakening Records' various artists indie project from 1998. Barnard stood alongside Watermark's Nathan and Christy Nockels, Charlie Hall and others to participate in Passion '98 a groundbreaking one-day event of prayer and worship attended by thousands of students from all over the world. It amounts to an unforeseen list of accomplishments from what started as a one-off opportunity maturing into a call to ministry.
"It seems the music bomb was dropped on me initially out of more of a calling than a desire," Barnard says of the ministry with Everett. "I fought doing music I loved being a college student. There is way too much responsibility in our lives now." Yet, Barnard honed his chops obediently, and now, "When Shane plays his fingers just do some freaky stuff on the frets of a guitar!" says Everett. "It's amazing!"
While Barnard is the dreamer, his colleague Shane Everett is the streetwise musician teasing out the colors of Barnard's poetry. Also hailing from Texas, Everett studied agricultural business at Texas A&M and made music on the side, first in a local pop cover band, then crafting his own Christian music, including three indie records. Discovering each other's music and becoming fast friends, the two decided to join forces and for the last year and a half Barnard and Everett have been performing much of the material recorded on Psalms.
Featuring an ambitious 14 songs, the record includes 10 tracks written by Barnard; seven of them inspired by the Book of Psalms. "People connect best with the living word of God. They feel like they've made a connection, not with us, but with the Lord," says Barnard.
Broadly, the record is a singer/songwriter's love letter to God, overflowing with accessible vertical songs of thanksgiving and praise. The duo's organic vibe springs from jangling acoustic guitar rhythms and harmonized vocals supported by simple percussive elements. Thematically, the record mimics rhythms of life as portrayed by the Book of Psalms, moving fluidly from moments of stability and certitude to uncertainty and, with hope resting in Christ, restoration.
"Breath of God," the first of two tracks Barnard and Everett only recently added to their repertoire, opens with a funky bass line clearing the soundscape for energetic acoustic guitar, signaling this is a different kind of praise & worship record. Barnard's hammered dulcimer dances string to string, tapping out a joyful percussive melody.
Evocative acoustic guitar work carries "Unto You" into God's harbor, affirming dedication to the Creator that nothing short of exaltation is worthy of God's ears. Gratitude for God's shelter is expressed in the contemplative, pop-influenced ballad "Revive Me (Psalm 143)." With violins providing a musical backdrop, the cut evolves as an increasingly powerful expression of desire to be filled with God's life-giving spirit.
Commendably, Barnard's songwriting is faithful to the Psalmist's daring face off with God regarding life's nagging and seemingly unfair doses of pain and suffering. As vulnerable as David, the song "Psalm 13" asks "How long, O Lord, will you forget me?/How long will You hide?" before giving way in the chorus to a burst of rededication, waiting on God despite the apparent darkness. This pinch of reality is a secondary theme to Psalms, explored also through other difficult books of the Bible. "Hosea" assumes the point of view of the obedient prophet, affirming that even in difficult times God will be praised because restoration is close at hand, while "Job 19" proclaims that there is nothing worth writing down or boasting in others than a living Redeemer God has not left the world to chaos this from one who knew strife intimately.
"The Lord has allowed a lot of walls to be torn down when we play walls between God and man, ones people are scared to engage," Everett says.
Moorings are discovered in "The Answer," another recent addition to the duo's work and the shining moment of their collaboration. As Barnard and Everett harmonize with voice and guitar, the track emerges as an explosive romp celebrating Christ as the solution to life's eternal questions. This revelation amplifies Barnard's richest lyrical images in "The Waiting Room." The song is an apt metaphor for the quiet place of meditation in which the community of believers gathers - patiently, eagerly and with great trust anticipating Christs return.
Performing these songs comes with a specific goal in mind for Barnard and Everett. "The Lord uses music to speak to and open the eyes of people. Sure, it comforts, and that's fine," says Barnard. "But music can also be the spark that goes on with them for the rest of their lives."
"We hope people experience the Lord in a way that will draw them to such a level of intimacy with Him that they would seek Him," explains Everett. "It's our desire that people would just fall in love with the Lord, that hearing the music we play will be an introduction to the Father in the way He is caring and in the way He is love."