KENNA TURNER WEST: Thirty-Four Number One Songs (and counting)

“We have to treat our songs not as something holy, but just as a song… ‘Ain’t nothin holy but the Lord.’ If we cling to what we wrote so tightly that it can only ever be that, if someone doesn’t like that, it won’t get cut. If my goal is to bear fruit and to affect the kingdom when an artist cuts it, who am I to say no?”

This week on The Song Revolution Podcast, John Chisum sits down with Kenna Turner West on the famous Music Row in Nashville, TN. As an incredibly accomplished, award-winning songwriter, it’s safe to say that Kenna is the Queen of Southern Gospel Songwriting! Kenna has written 34 #1 Hit Songs for major artists including The Talley Trio, The Martins, Legacy 5, Brian Free and Assurance, and the Hoppers. She has performed alongside Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, CeCe Winans, Charles Billingsley, The Cathedrals, The Talleys, and so many others.

“I’ve stirred the gift and fanned the flame as much as I can, so now when I feel the Lord nudging me to write, it’s better than it was 20 years ago.”

While Kenna’s musical accomplishments are incredibly impressive, her heart for Jesus and desire for others to understand Him more fully through her music is, perhaps, the most remarkable thing about her. This passion is so evident in this episode, and Kenna does such a wonderful job of helping listeners recognize how songwriting can be a ministry, and how best to hone your craft to have a platform to spread the Good News to the world.

“There’s a thousand ways to learn songwriting, and it would be crazy not to take advantage of those ways, to take the gifting that we have, and take the passion that we have, and make it better.”

Kenna also discusses the art of songwriting, the importance of honing your craft, and recognizing the need to be pliable when it comes to your songs. She encourages listeners to stop seeing your song as ‘holy,’ be brave enough to move the words of your songs around, to create something that will be marketable. Her expert perspective as a seasoned commercial writer is eye-opening, and will be sure to challenge you in the best way.

Some topics we talk about in this episode:

  • Introduction // Kenna Turner West – 1:25
  • Kenna’s Rich Legacy in Music – 5:06
  • Kenna’s Music Background – 11:02
  • Tips for Pitching Songs – 19:45
  • The Importance of Learning Your Craft – 22:12
  • The Best Part of the Song Process – 31:20
  • Kenna’s Songwriting Process – 34:37
  • Advice for the Songwriter – 52:50
  • How to Connect with Kenna – 57:34
  • Wrap Up – 59:36

How to get involved

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John Chisum

John Chisum is a pioneer in the Christian music business, serving alongside people such as Bill & Gloria Gaither, Twila Paris, Paul Baloche, Don Moen, and many more. As President of Nashville Christian Songwriters, John seeks to empower Christian songwriters worldwide to discover and fulfill their call to write.

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