From first listen, Leeland’s The Great Awakening (2011) was immediately one of my Top 10 favorite worship releases of all time. Though I only used two of the songs to lead at church, the CD was undeniably vertical, & at the same time uniquely artistic, making it stand out from the crowd. I remember trips with my band where we listened to it on repeat for a day at a time while traveling: it was the only CD that we could all agree on!
That said, their latest, Invisible, had big shoes to fill. And on the first listen, I literally rose out of my chair & cheered! Invisible is an absolute beauty, moving from elegant instrumentals, through corporate anthems, modern hymns, & quiet songs of personal praise. TWC friend & contributor Jonathan Simeral’s review can be found HERE – I agree with every word.
One thing is clear when you hear the new CD, however: this is a different Leeland. I caught up with Leeland Mooring to find out what God has done in their lives leading up to the latest release, & beyond.
“Jack will be rejoining us on the road – I think he’ll be joining us on a few band runs this Fall.”
And with that sentence, the first change became immediately apparent. Jack Mooring – keyboardist/co-vocalist – was no longer a full-time member of the band. Lead vocalist/guitarist Leeland Mooring explained; “My brother left the band first to be a full-time pastor in Franklin, & that wasn’t a surprise for us. We knew that was in his heart, but that was really tough for me because I’ve been doing music with my brother since I was 11 – we wrote everything together.”
That wasn’t the only change; “Next, our drummer & sound guy went with our cousin, Rae Lynn – the country artist who sings ‘God made Girls.’ It all happened so fast. Casey – our guitarist – & I just said, ‘Jesus, we want to make Your music, but we need help.’’”
Transitions can be tough. For a moment you can lose yourself. Leeland said that they “felt like nomads – we needed to feel a part of a family.”
About 2 1/2 years ago, right in the middle of the transition, a chorus “dropped” into his mind while ministering from the piano during a church service; “Our God is a Lion – the Lion of Judah! He’s roaring in power, & fighting our battles…”, & their current hit, “Lion & the Lamb” was birthed.
“I held that one to my chest for a while, but when I’d sit down with other writers & show it to them, no one was biting.” Read that again; “no one was biting.” If you’re a worship songwriter & you’ve got a little piece God’s set near to your heart, don’t give up. He continued, “I went to a writers retreat & my old friend Brenton Brown latched onto it, but we needed help with the 2nd verse, so I roped in Brian Johnson.” The song was finished via group-text, a first for Leeland.
That’s how the conversation with Bethel Music got started; “I’ve known Brian & Jenn since I was 18 – I was leading worship for Acquire the Fire & they were leading right down the road, so we dropped in. We’ve just kept up the relationship through the years, but working together on this song sparked a fresh connection. It was just a God relationship, & they have been champions for what we’re doing. We love their hearts & their ministry – I feel like we’ve gained a new family. This is really a new thing – it’s based on friendship more than business.”
Have you led “Lion & the Lamb” or any other songs from Invisible? What other Leeland songs have you used at your church in the past? If you could ask Leeland Mooring one question, what would it be? Post your question in the comments section this week & we’ll get an answer!
Shannon Lewis is “The Worship Community Guy“. Passionate about helping others respond to God, & training people who are passionate about the same, Shannon also blogs at SaintLewisMusic, where you can grab his free eBook, UNSEASONED: How to see Godly Growth in an Inexperienced Worship Team.