Podcast Episode #166: Mac Powell

Third Day's Mac Powell joins the podcast. 

We discuss developing his voice, how leading a band and being a worship leader influence each other, making a worship record when no record label wanted one and what it means when you tour with the Newsboys twice.

Daniel Ornellas looks a lot different than you thought he did.

On developing his singing voice

Depth definitely came later. If you listen to our early material it’s so strange how different my voice sounds–I sound like a chipmunk. There’s no tone to it at all.

I’ve always been a singer. I feel like as soon as I was talking I was singing. My parents were always singing and playing guitar, then at even 7 years old, I was singing solos in church. The tone though, came with experience and age.

On writing biographical songs

I definitely approach the album in a way that I wanted to write a bunch of biographical songs. Sometimes you look back on a project and realize God was teaching you something through the process. The project just turned out that way. This record was really different than normal for me. I usually write the songs and then I bring them to Third Day and let them shape the parts and tweak areas they think can be better.

We never brought in other co-writers. There were a handful of songs we recorded with other projects like we did Agnus Dei with a Michael W. Smith project and God of Wonders was something we were asked to do but that was pretty much it. For this solo project, my manager encouraged me to team up with some writers in Nashville and I was pretty tentative about it, but the first song we worked on was Love Is The Reason and it ended up being my favorite song on the record. They did such an amazing job of welcoming me into the process and I fell in love with writing that way.

On incorporating congregational worship songs  

We definitely weren’t the first. I mean, Petra was doing that way back when. Our first experience playing as a band was playing in church and youth groups. It was already part of what we did. Whenever we would play concerts whether at a church or a club we just brought that with us, it made sense. We soon found out through talking to people afterward that the “worship” times in our concerts were their favorite parts and we’d constantly get asked to do a worship record. We heard it so much that we decided we had to make an all-worship record for our fans. The record label didn’t want us to do it and we finally had to agree that it wouldn’t count against our contract. We hoped we’d sell thirty thousand units to cover the cost of making the record but Offerings was the highest selling record we ever did.

On lessons learned from leading worship and performing in a band

Growing up and leading worship in church really did prepare me to be a frontman. Yes, performing is different than leading worship but singing with a microphone, being in front of people, knowing how to talk and transition between songs–being comfortable with all those things made me a better frontman.

Now being a worship pastor, I think knowing how to interact and engage the congregation comes from that performing experience. Having grown up in a more reserved church environment I never experienced that until I went to a Carmen concert as a kid. I’m so encouraged now when I see people being expressive in worship and I’ve learned how to call that out.

Follow Mac on Instagram. Listen to Mac's music on Spotify or Apple Music

Jason Houtsma is the co-founder and guitar teacher at Worship Artistry, where he is helping musicians of every level answer the call to worship with passion and confidence. Jason has been leading worship and writing music since he was 15 years old and currently serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA. He is husband to Alli and father to Bjorn and Asher.

Podcast Episode #166: Mac Powell

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