& Greet: Travis Cottrell
in the wide-open musical playing field
between George Beverly Shea and Delirious,
joyous and warm-voiced singer Travis
Cottrell thrives as a leading purveyor
of "blended worship." The
style is defined by an artist's love
for modern worship songs, traditional
hymns, and original works that blend
into a dynamic repertoire to connect
with the broad range of worshipers in
the Church today.
open-ended genre makes a perfect fit
for Cottrell's views on praising God.
don't think worship can be defined by
a musical style," Travis says.
"I believe that it's such a matter
of the heart. If God has gifted you
to sing an oratorio, then do it as unto
the Lord, and that's worship. And, if
God has gifted you to rock, then do
it. Do it for the Lord. God is creative.
He likes to be worshipped in creative
ways, and He calls us to grow in our
worship. He did not stop being creative
when Handel, Bach, or Fanny Crosby died.
He continues to shape music and shape
how music expresses our worship differently
in each generation."
Cottrell himself is a walking example
of diversity, and his God-shaped story
is testament to divine guidance. The
singer left his hometown of Boone, North
Carolina in 1990 and headed for Nashville,
Tennessee where he was determined to
earn a vocal performance degree at Belmont
University and pursue an onstage career
that would put him on the fast track
to fame and wealth. But a heart-shift
led to a church music degree, and soon
he was writing songs for Larnelle Harris
("It's Only Thunder") and
best-selling youth group musicals (Waiters:
A Youth Musical about Waiting on the
Lord) for congregations nationwide.
also landed session work as a background
vocalist with everyone from Avalon and
Steven Curtis Chapman to Garth Brooks
and Alan Jackson, and held down a steady
job as editor at a music publishing
company. But even those highlights pale
in comparison to the day a leader at
his 6000-member church called out of
the blue and asked if he would consider
serving as an interim minister of worship.
The providential opportunity opened
the eyes of Cottrell's heart to the
depth of John 4:23-24, which says:
"A time is coming and is now come
when the true worshipers will worship
the Father in spirit and truth, for
they are the kind of worshipers the
Father seeks. God is spirit, and His
worshipers must worship in spirit and
experience of working with that church
body, choir, orchestra, and drama ministry
was an unspeakable blessing," Travis
remembers. "In planning worship,
I began to learn at an early age how
important it is to try to be sensitive
to such a diverse group of people of
ages and experiences."
noticed Cottrell's unique combination
of talent and contagious spirit, and
following his year of church service,
he was asked to lead worship at student
rallies and citywide worship nights
throughout the country. Soon, Travis
was also leading worship at events for
popular authors and speakers like Henry
Blackaby, Anne Graham Lotz, Josh McDowell,
and, most notably, Beth Moore, whom
he still partners with for her sold-out
Living Proof conferences and popular
concert praise recordings.
has given Travis what I believe is a
gift of favor with audiences and congregations,"
says Moore. "His approach permeates
every denominational wall. His warm
yet powerful style engages even the
most resistant group into irresistible
worship. What I love best about Travis
is that he is not a performer. He is
a true worshiper."
point is proven on Unashamed Love, Travis
Cottrell's major label album debut featuring
a mix of classic, modern, and original
tracks. Recorded in a live setting,
the project shows Cottrell's ability
to both lead and blend into the corporate
worship. His rich, deep voice often
drives a song, like the softened take
on Lincoln Brewster's "Let the
Praises Ring," and just as easily
melts into the choir's soulful celebration
during the Israel Houghton-penned funky
praise opener "You Are Good".
The quiet moments are equally powerful
and inviting; a shimmering, peaceful
beauty marks the meditative title track
and Cottrell's own "Hallelujah,"
and traditional conservative church
worshipers will delight in the triumphant
nine-minute marathon medley that features
"In The Cross" and "Crown
Him With Many Crowns." The end
result is an overall sound not too far
removed from recent Michael W. Smith
But whatever his style may be, sound
and repertoire are secondary to Travis,
who still lives near Nashville with
his wife Angela and their three small
is not about the songs we sing in worship.
It's about the heart we offer to the
Lord," the humble artist admits.
"...I know I never merited this
chance to be one who leads other people
in worship, (but) God can use anybody,
and He uses us all where He wants us."
And it's clear that Travis Cottrell
is in the right place.