I have been a professional musician, festival organiser, church consultant and community organiser working with not-for-profit groups. While I write from a Christian perspective, I hope my songs are accessible to a range of listeners from all faiths and none.
I have made some notes here about:
- Song themes
- Instruments I play
- A brief chronology.
As I look across the songs I have written since the early 1980s, there are a few recurring themes:
- Creativity. God is creative and made us to be creative as well.
- Relationships. While I don’t write love songs (with one exception) as I have ‘rubbed shoulders’ with people in very diverse settings, I have written about how people relate to each other – the good and bad.
- Brokenness. I have a set of songs that I have written about how broken and flawed humans are. The world as it is.
- God and Humans. Another theme in my songs is about who God is, and the relationship between God and humanity. In Jesus, I believe we see ‘God made flesh’.
- The world as it should be. While recognising we live and work in the world as it is, my songs try to express the hope that we can make a difference, that there is something better, something more we can be part of.
My songs are shaped by the instruments I play. I started with classical piano, and eventually started to experiment with improvisation. My parents bought me a piano accordion so I would have a “portable” instrument. Accordion’s were not particularly cool, so I taught a friend to play it and sold it to him when I was 16. (Paolo Soprani 120 bass accordion’s are worth a bit these days, so I regret that.) However, after seeing a brilliant button accordionist play at a family wedding in 2012, I decided to revisit the accordion. I also learnt the trombone as a teenager, but don’t use it often. The harmonica is my portable instrument now.
I don’t think of myself as a singer, but I am generally the only person who will sing most of my songs. I have done a fair bit of solo singing. I also enjoy singing bass or tenor in choirs. I was lead vocalist in a rock band, but that was last century.
A brief chronology
1983-1984: As a songwriter, my bio starts in my teen years in the early 1980s. My songs were often anthemic in style and quite embarrassing to look back on.
The Band Years
1985 – 1997: A big part of my formation as a songwriter was working with my brothers, Darren and Greg, and sister, Belinda, as professional musicians for 12 years (1985 to 1997) with two final gigs a year apart at the Blackstump Festival in 1998 and 1999. Over the years, our band was known by different names, including The Connection, Danger UXB and Quick and the Dead. Our band played more than 2000 live performances in Australia’s live music scene, which gave lots of opportunities to try out new songs.
1985-1987: Our band started out playing (mostly my) original songs. We released a single (‘Tomorrow’).
1988-1992: In this period we were working heavily in the Australian live music scene in pubs and clubs – often performing 4 to 5 times a week. We played about 80% covers, which helped me learn about different approaches to song-writing.
1993-1999: During this season, we were able to play primarily original music and had the opportunity to perform at festivals in Australia, UK and in Europe. The band released two albums (Womb, 1994; Burn, 1996) and an EP (Nothing, 1996). The band’s last two performances were a year apart at the Blackstump Music and Arts Festival in 1998 and 1999.
2012: Just for fun, and to give our kids (average age 10) some idea what their parents, aunt and uncles got up to, we ‘re-formed’ for a surprisingly tight gig at the 2012 Blackstump Festival.
I have also regularly performed a different set of songs solo as a singer-songwriter, often in churches. In 1997 I released a solo album (No Secret Message), which was banned in Sydney’s main Christian music store, for having ‘explicit lyrics’ (See Superglue).
Songs for worship
In recent years I have begun writing songs for a worship setting: songs designed to call the church to participate in God’s transforming mission for the sake of the world. For the first time, some of my songs are written for collective singing. This website will collate lyrics, chord charts, lead sheets, and occasional scores so they are able to be used by church worship bands and congregations.
Glen B Powell, Sydney, Australia