Messianic songwriting has been a historical part of the Messianic experience since the rebirth of the movement in the early 1960s.
Emerging from the evangelical Jesus movement, Messianic culture began to take shape and form, largely through and around music. Great Messianic artists have come and gone, and many different styles have been explored.
Troy Mitchell has decided to take a slightly different approach from most musicians in exploring an air of discipleship within his music. Listening to an album produced by Troy is more than a musical experience as the words he sings take one on the journey of what it means to follow Yeshua. He explores themes of taking on Yeshua’s yoke, understanding Yeshua’s work on the cross, and crossing the ardent valley of trials. Troy has developed a musical experience that helps understand the heart of a true disciple and encourages those who listen to hold firmly to the Master. We were excited to sit down with Troy to discuss his next album and see what new lights of discipleship it would unveil.
What inspired this album?
The rest of my releases have been kind of mixed regarding language, so this time, I wanted to put something out that was almost entirely in English.
What was your favorite song to produce on the Album?
I would have to say, Lechah Dodi, because it made me step out of my comfort zone stylistically, which made it difficult on the one hand, but on the other hand, very rewarding in the end.
Where do you draw your inspiration from for songwriting?
The majority of my inspiration comes from Scripture and the Siddur. I love taking an old prayer or a common verse everyone knows and try to give it a new life of its own.
How do you feel your music is different from most Messianic music?
My music is different from other Messianic music in that it leans heavily on texts from the Siddur. Also, I like to mix it up style-wise and with languages. I even have a few songs in Greek.
How many instruments are represented in the new album?
It’s hard to say how many, but regarding the live instrumentation, I used acoustic guitar, Cajon, and vocals. The rest I supplemented with keyboards.
Tell us about any guest singers or collaborators.
Aaron Eby and Daniel Lancaster contributed a lot to the poetic lyrical content.
Have any recent life events influenced the creation of this album?
No, not really. But as I was getting ready to release it, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. So, that influenced the name of the release, and it affirmed HaShem’s timing to me because I saw this current crisis as an opportunity for all of us to shake off the dust and awaken spiritually. Combined with it being around Passover and spring, I could not have picked a more appropriate time.
What is your perspective on praise and worship as a means of prayer?
There are many ways to connect to HaShem, from traditional liturgical prayer to taking a long walk alone with the creator of the universe. Sometimes our prayers manifest in high and lofty prayers from the Siddur, and sometimes it might be as simple as humming a little Niggun. Praise and worship are just another one of those means by which we can express our love and gratitude to the Almighty. So, whether we’re saying “Baruch HaShem” under our breath or proclaiming “Holy, holy, holy” during the Kedusha, HaShem wants to hear from his children.
Explain to us the idea of creating Messianic hymns for your new album.
At first glance, hymns seem to be foreign to Judaism, but after further examination, they are not much different and serve a similar purpose as z’mirot do in Judaism. If I were to translate into Hebrew the last part of Colossians 3:16, where it speaks of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, we could translate those words as tehillim, z’mirot, and niggunim. One of the purposes of hymns, or shall I say z’mirot, is to transmit moral principles and beliefs, as well as extolling the King of the universe. So, creating hymns for the Messianic movement seems very natural.
Who is your favorite artist, whether religious or secular?
I’ve been kind of digging Lewis Capaldi and James Arthur lately, but it’s hard to choose.
What’s the one thing you want the public to know about this album?
That is for everyone, Jews and Gentiles, Messianics, and Christians.
What inspired you to become a musician?
My brother inspired me from an early age. When he played an instrument, I wanted to play the same one. I looked up to him in a lot of ways, and he taught me a lot about being a musician.
How has being a Messianic cantor influenced your music?
It woke me up to the realization that there are so many beautiful lyrics waiting to be made into a song. It has inspired me to write melodies that could be used in liturgical services as well.
Who did the artwork on your new album?
I was very blessed to have my daughter Eden create the artwork. She was also the one who sang with me on my last album for the song, Hashiveinu.
Out of all your songs, including ones on past albums, which one are you most proud of?
Picking a favorite song is kind of like picking a favorite child, but if I had to choose, I would say, V’haya Bayom Hahu.
How can we best support you as a Messianic musician?
Besides, helping me finance studio costs, mostly sharing the message of my music with others because during this time, I’m unable to play for concerts. Hopefully, that will change soon. In the meantime, I’d like to invite everyone for a live Facebook concert on Lag B’Omer, May 12 at 7:00 pm CDT.
Source: First Fruits of Zion