Karin Simmons has been a worship leader since she was 8 years old, at first sharing the platform with her father. She has continued to serve in this capacity for most of her adult life and is currently leading worship at St. Mary’s and The Church of Grace Village in Nashville, TN. Karin released her debut album Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Vol.1 in 2015. Seven years later we are blessed to be able to hear her new album – Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Vol.2 (now available on Spotify). We were pleased to be able to discuss the new album and other topics with Karin recently.

UTR: Can you tell us about your music and worship-leading background and your current involvement in worship leading?

Karin: I grew up in a very musical home. My parents were missionaries in Europe in a touring music group so I think I first ran up on stage when I was 3! I sang with my dad through my school years and started learning how to lead worship when I was in college. When I moved to Nashville shortly after graduating, I continued my love for church music and led at a few churches until I came on staff at Grace Presbyterian Church. I was there for several years before I met and married my husband, Scott. I decided full-time church ministry was not what I wanted (I wanted to sit with my husband in church!) and so I continued to take interim jobs, leading at weekend retreats and eventually found the Anglican church. We began attending Church of the Redeemer in 2010 and I fell in love with the liturgy and what it meant to weave music all through a service. This is where I began setting Psalms and various service elements to music and it started a writing trajectory that has continued. I get to lead regularly at two churches now – weekly on Sunday mornings at Grace Village and monthly on Sunday afternoons at St. Mary’s and I learn so much from the worship styles at both churches!

UTR:  It has been almost 7 years since you released Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Vol.1. What inspired you to record Volume 2?

Karin:  Full disclosure, I recorded Vol. 1 when I was 42 years old. I’d always wanted to make a record (but never wanted to be a touring artist…) and so this was a passion project of sorts. My two boys were 6 and 3 at the time. I wanted them to see their mom realize a lifelong dream! If I’m honest, I included the “Vol. 1” on the first record with quiet hopes there might be a Vol. 2 somewhere down the road. And now, at 49, Vol. 2 came through several years of deeply inspiring collaboration with my very dear friend, Rachel Wilhelm. Rachel and I had a few handfuls of songs we’d written and we were both leading them in our churches! We were casually recording some of them … and then winter of 2021, I decided to make it official: ask Rachel to wear the producer hat and make a record with me. Thankfully, she agreed!

UTR: We understand the music on Volume 2 is all original. What was the songwriting process like for this record?

Karin: The writing process for this record happened very organically and over time. Once I decided to pull an EP together, Rachel and I looked through my catalog from the last few years and there were some easy choices to round out the “Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs” theme. Crazy enough, everything was written before the pandemic and yet, it still feels so connected as these songs took a on a new life during production.

UTR: It’s such a beautiful and well-produced album. Can you give us some insight into what recording the music was like?

Karin: Thank you! I’m so glad you feel that way! I think so too – I just love what Rachel did with these songs! My first project was recorded by John Mark Painter (of Fleming and John) and was a dream to record in his eclectic and whimsied studio. I will always be proud of that record. Rachel and I did Vol. 2 completely differently. I recorded my vocals and piano tracks at Wierok Studios here in Nashville, Rachel added her amazing BGV’s from her home in Knoxville, TN, Avery Bright sent over violin/fiddle tracks, Keiko Ying sent over her beautiful cello parts and even Phil Keaggy recorded remotely and sent tracks over to Jered McKenna at his studio in South Carolina. All done remotely! I still haven’t met Jered face-to-face! But with Rachel’s keen production sense and Jered’s crazy creativity, they brought it all together magically and I couldn’t be happier.

UTR What would you like people to take away from hearing this music?

Karin: Ultimately, this music is meant to be sung, to help bring people into a place of worship. I hope they can hear the scriptures come alive in a new way when they sing “The Lord is On My Side (Psalm 118)”; I hope the words of old hymn “For The Beauty Of The Earth” are reimagined in a meaningful way; I hope evening prayer takes on new and deeper meaning when they sing “Keep Watch”; I hope the Beatitudes are brought to life through “We Will Rise”; and I hope that they fall in love with hymns when they sing “May The Hope of Christ”. Big hopes and dreams for these songs? Maybe. But they all came from a place of wanting to articulate my love of church music and recognizing the church is called to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to one another. (Ephesians 5:19)

UTR: We read that you are also releasing a lullaby project and book. Would you like to elaborate on this?

Karin: I had the privilege of working on a lullaby project with Madaline Garcia who I met through my friends, Lance & Tammie Wieland at Wierok Entertainment. She & I are both moms and decided we wanted to write some lullabies for our kiddos. Adventures in Sleepland was born! Produced by Michael Farren, we were all delighted when Wierok decided they wanted to make a children’s book out of the title track. It’s so gorgeous and I cannot wait for people to be able to see it! It’s coming very soon!

Karin Simmons‘ music is available on all music outlets. Her website is http://www.karinsimmons.com and her Bandcamp page is https://karinsimmons.bandcamp.com. She currently lives in Nashville, TN with her husband Scott and their sons Jack and Leo.