(Photo courtesy of Rogers &Cowan)
Q&A: Travis Greene
By Sarah Komisky
“Engage Culture” is Travis Greene’s mantra. Wearing multiple hats as a pastor, gospel artist, and missionary in the local church, aboard, and on the road, has allowed Travis to cross the path. Yet, it’s been his desire to be authentic that he hopes will draw both the church and the unchurched alike. As I caught up with Travis, I was able to talk with him about how music, ministry, and how he keeps it real in it all.
Travis, today you’re a successful Gospel artist…but I want to go back to the beginning. What first drew you to music?
Travis: Honestly, music wasn’t ever optional for me. I often say that I didn’t choose music. Music chose me. With my mother being a choir director, gospel music was the oxygen in our home. Every time we woke up or got in the car, gospel was always playing. So, there was no other backup plan other than gospel music from an early age. I not only enjoy listening to it, but also playing it.
I’ve read that Kirk Franklin is one of your musical influences. For fun, who are some artists you’re currently listening to?
Travis: My playlist is very vast. I have Todd Dulaney, Bethel, Hillsong, House Fires, Rend Collective. It’s kind of all over the place. I just love uplifting, inspirational, and cutting edge music.
On Crossover: Live From Music City you did a few collaborations with people like Jason Ingram, Paul Mayberry, and Bernie Herms. What’s your favorite part about collaborating with others?
Travis: I love to tap into their psyche and thinking pattern. Especially with those guys mentioned. We are all from different places, which gives us fresh and different perspectives. With the different backgrounds and life experiences, we were able to just come together, think together, pray together, and just create. For me, it’s just a delight to have a fresh perspective of the world at large.
As I was scrolling through your website I read that you want to “bring the cool back to the worship experience, and get people, especially the unchurched.” Why is that important to you?
Travis: The bible says that we are supposed to be fishers of men. I’m afraid that many churches have become fishing markets instead of fishing boats. We’re always like “Come Here!” instead of us going out. Jesus remains relevant so we don’t have to try to be relevant in anyway, but some of the things we do are to go to neutral territory where the unchurched and the over churched can come together and lift up a sound of worship. It’s been working and very impactful.
In 2016, you launched Forward City Church in Columbia, South Carolina. Your purpose statement has been to “engage culture.” How do you want/hope to do that at your new church plant?
Travis: Culture is all around us. It is the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the philosophies we embrace, and the art we collect. Culture is unavoidable. It is the rhythm of a generation and it is literally what defines an era. There are only three responses we can have to culture…to either conform, complain, or confront. The fuel behind our movement at Forward City Church and in my music is to move upstream and engage culture. We want the excitement of the lights, sound, and production to have a collision with the presence of God.
Out of that work came the opportunity to extend scholarships and invest in mission work in Africa. What has the experience been like to crossover in this way?
Travis: I have a heart for Africa. It is another thing that is unavoidable for me. My wife is part Ghanaian and part American. Her father, uncles, and aunts live in Ghana. So for me, it’s family. When I go there four or five times a year, it’s just family. We go over there and do ministry. We impart, and we invest. It is all pretty much the same as engage culture. We want to be a part of the answer and the change. It’s one thing to stand back and critique, but it’s another thing to get involved and that’s what we want to do.
This current issue is dedicated to being authentic. For you, how do you want to live authentically as you reach out to a variety of people in a variety of settings?
Travis: For me, when I think of authenticity, I think of legacy. I always think of my two sons who are 3 and 1. I want them to live a life and be proud to wear my name. I don’t want them to walk in shame of a scandal or news of me not living out the message I sang and preached about. I also surround myself with real people who have pure motives, who aren’t overly ambitious to be something that they’re not. By surrounding myself and staffing those type of people, it helps me remain honest to who I am at the core.
When talking about authenticity, who has inspired you to live authentically and why?
Travis: My biggest inspiration for authenticity is my wife, Jackie. She has a zero tolerance policy for anything less than honesty and authenticity. Just watching her and having her as an accountability partner helps me to keep it real in all that I do and say; even in my meditation and what I consider. David wrote, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight.” So for me, it’s kind of one in the same. I want my words and meditation to be acceptable in God’s eyes.
The 2018 Billboard Music Awards have arrived and you’ve currently received some nominations. So exciting, congrats! I love that you’re able to crossover in this way. When this releases, the Billoboard’s will already occur but for you in this moment, how do you want to engage culture at the Billboard Awards this year?
Travis: Being nominated for The Billboards is super cool. It’s out of this world that this is the third year in a row. To be nominated for an award this prestigious is an engagement of culture, and it is literally moving upstream. It’s really humbling, and I know that I don’t have to be nominated. There is a lot of music that’s released, so just to be in the conversation among so many others who released such great music is super cool.
In closing, as you are currently on tour, what most excites you about the tour and live album?
Travis: The tour is super cool because we are able to give an honest demonstration to what people have heard live on the album. So, for people to see the creative elements really brings it alive for them. I remember being a kid going to concerts. I could never hear a song the same after seeing it performed live because I always had the imagery of seeing it performed. So we try to give people moments that will give the song a fresh wind and make it come alive.
Catch Travis on tour this coming fall and discover more of his music and mission at: travisgreene.net