(Photo courtesy of Hoganson Media)
Ready For Revival
An Interview With Tori Harper
By Sarah Komisky
Tori Harper has wisdom beyond her 20-or-so years. She’s already figured out, live—don’t just exist. When she found herself going through the motions of life, she decided to do things differently. Discovering personal revival that changed her life completely, Tori went one step further; she sang about it! With a new single just released April 19 to digital retailers and streaming outlets globally though The Fuel Music, she also recently went to radio. Tori is equally excited about the music and the message. Unashamed of her faith, she lives out passion for God and it’s this passion that she believes catches fire and is able to do the impossible! Tori partners up with Lead Church Planter, Pastor of Ethos Church, and author of “Revival Starts Here,” Dave Clayton, to give away copies of the book and music to radio stations nationwide in order to spark a louder cry for revival. This music and message will also be taken onto the road as she continues the Revive Tour with JJ Weeks and Jason Fowler, as well as other festivals like Fish Fest in June. Today, the debut singer caught up with me to talk music, faith, dreams, and revival. Here is what she had to share.
Sarah: Let’s talk about music. When did you get started and how did you know it was the “it” thing for you?
Tori: I’ve always kind of been doing performing things. Like, when I was a little, I kind of did some choir and theater stuff with my church, some dance. But, when I was eleven, there was this local songwriter that just decided to put on a song writing camp for kids, so I went not really thinking anything of it and I just loved it and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to keep writing songs and that I wanted to be a musician. And I just knew.
Sarah: I’m so impressed by all the things you’ve accomplished already just as a young person. I saw all the people you have worked with on Instagram. So, growing up in Nashville, how has that been an open door for you in the music industry?
Tori: Being in Nashville has been helpful in just that I don’t have to fly into town to work with somebody. Everything is right here. And, if someone wants to write, they can just call you up and you can just go. And, you run into people you work with at the grocery store. At church, you see people you work with and it really definitely makes it a music family instead of just people that you work with. Being in Nashville definitely helps you to be around the right people, if that makes sense.
Sarah: When I was looking through your Instagram, I saw all these really fun selfies with people like Britt Nicole, the guys from Tenth Avenue North, and Plumb, for example. So, I wanted to know, who has been the biggest influence for you musically and why?
Tori: Musically, the biggest influence on me has been Brooke Fraser. Definitely . Her stuff with Hillsong and her personal artistry has really inspired me—the way she writes and the way that she does worship music but, in her own way, is very unique.
Sarah: What I found refreshing about your music is that it’s very organic and raw, but also points to the bigger picture of who God is. As a songwriter, who and what inspires you and how do you hope to communicate Christ to this current generation?
Tori: Growing up, I heard so many songs on the radio that were really good songs, but I couldn’t relate to them where I was in my faith journey. So, it kind of broke my heart that I even saw a lot of my friends that were going through the same thing as me and I thought, “Well, what do they have that they can relate to because I don’t have anything to relate to.” I always just felt really strongly that if it’s something I haven’t been through I don’t want to write about it. I want to make sure it’s 100% something that I’m feeling and going through, and [to] just be honest and vulnerable. And, because of that, it’s kind of scary sometimes. So, I let the songs marinate over time before I show them to people because they’re all very personal to me. A lot of my inspiration just comes from daily life, what I’m going through, and what God’s telling me, and the things that I’m learning as I go. And, a lot of times, I’ll come back to a song and I’ll be like, “Wow, I need that right now,” [laughs] because they’re all lessons that I’m learning.
Sarah: I’m gleaning a lot from your Instagram because you had so many fun things on there, but I wanted to talk about a post where you said, “Don’t be afraid to have big dreams. God dreams can be big and scary but it’s so worth it!” Then, in another post, you posted a throwback pic of yourself from 2010. So, I’m going to combine the two posts into one question, because you seem like you’re a dreamer, what would you tell your younger self as the girl in the picture about what it means to dream in the place where you’re at right now?
Tori: I think, like the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve seen little personal dreams that I had in my heart that I thought were too crazy to tell people, God brought about. I’ve realized His heart was also for me to do music. Like, He put that desire in my heart. So, I think what I would tell my younger self is don’t be afraid to keep dreaming—even bigger dreams. God wants to partner with you in that—like He wants to—big dreams are God-dreams. Sometimes, He calls us to do something big, so you know God likes it when we use the imagination He gave us because He likes to work with us to come up with, what can we do to work together, that is going to be amazing to win people for Jesus. I would tell myself to keep dreaming more because I think I was kind of afraid to dream when I was younger.
Sarah: Let’s talk about that for a minute because I think it’s common. Some people might say, “I’m afraid and I’m not even going to move forward.” So, how did you start to take those steps towards your dreams, even though that fear might have still been there?
Tori: I would just say if you are walking in God’s plan for your life, the desires that you have will match up with His desires. If you have a dream, do what you can to go after it. For me, it was just about the daily things and asking God, “What do you want me to do today?” Because He won’t always give you the full picture of what’s going to happen. So, for a while, that was just taking that step of faith to keep writing songs even when I had no-shows, even when it seemed like nothing was going on. I kept putting iPhone videos of my songs online and that was thing that God used that in a big way. So, it’s really not up to us to make the dreams happen, God will make it happen if you’re obedient in the daily things.
Sarah: I want to get into this new single “Revival.” In the song lyrics, one line says, “I want my life to have deeper meaning.” Talk about that line and how it has played into your own personal revival story?
Tori: So, I just feel like so often we coast through life, or sleep through life, and we get so in our routine and the busyness of life that we’re not actually living—we’re just in our routine. And, I think when I was writing the song, I was thinking about how I felt now that God revealed to me that revival can come through me and, also, what is the heart cry of everybody? Like, we all want to be brave. We all want to bold. We want to have deeper meaning in our lives, especially when we realize there is more going on than we can see or fathom. When you actively choose to recognize, even the little things that God does in your life, it somehow opens your eyes to more things that you have no idea that are going on. And, when that started happening for me, when I started seeing just how much God was in the details of every single day, I was like, “What am I doing with my life?” I’m just surviving. I’m not actually living. I wanted my life to have deeper meaning.
Sarah: The short “Revival” promo videos you have been posting on your social media is so encouraging. In one of them you opened up about not really understanding what revival meant and you said, “Revival is something inside you…revival is in people, ordinary, everyday people.” Many of us think of revival as a place or something epic on a large scale and that people used by God are only the pastor, the leaders, the celebrities, but that’s not true. Share a little on that.
Tori: I feel like we make up revival in our minds to be this huge thing that has to be led by a really important person or somebody who has had like years of Biblical training. We put it in this box like it’s something that people plan. Like a group of really spiritual people got together and planned this revival. But, what I’ve been realizing is, that revival is simply the fire of God spreading. So, when God gives you passion or fire, a lot of the time, me personally speaking, I worry if I let these people see that, that it’s going to be too much for them and they won’t want to be my friend anymore. Or, tell them that I’m fasting for a whole week. But, the thing is, revival actually spreads when you’re not hiding your passion. It’s contagious. It’s unique and it’s set apart, but we’re called to be set apart. And, while some people might react negativity, many actually do not. And, more times than not, people are wanting to know what’s different about your life. And it’s so important also to be grounded and to know what you believe, but you don’t have to be some important person to show passion for God and show other people that passion. When you do, it will spread because that’s just the nature of God’s passion. So, it starts within us, with us, even just the simplest acts—being kind to someone who’s really not expecting you to be kind—causes them to ask what’s different about you.
Sarah: In closing, how can we be intentional about our God-given opportunities in life on a daily basis?
Tori: The biggest thing is prayer and just staying in constant communication with the Lord. When you train yourself to just be constantly talking with Him throughout your day, your ear will be more in tune to hear what God is saying to you through the day. You’ll be able to hear more clearly when you’re in the grocery store, or when you’re out running errands and God says, “Hey go talk to that person,” you’ll be able to hear more clearly what God is saying to you.
To find out more about Tori and check out when she’s coming to a city near you, visit toriharper.com