Mac Powell’s career has spanned the rise and transformation of contemporary Christian music — from a still-budding genre in the early 1990s to the multi-faceted operation of the modern day, with award shows, radio stations, and fans across the world.
At his core, though, Powell isn’t all that different from the audience members who fill the seats.
“I still love Christian music,” he told Christian Headlines. “I’m still a fan. It's music that encouraged me when I was a teenager and a young adult. To get to still make that and encourage other people is a thrill.”
During the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, Powell helped lead his band, Third Day, to four Grammy nominations (including four wins), an American Music Award, and numerous Dove Awards. Legendary songs like Soul on Fire and Cry Out to Jesus remain popular on Christian radio.
The group sold more than 10 million albums before it officially disbanded with a 2018 farewell tour following the release of its final studio album, Farewell.
Today, Powell is staying busy with a solo career. His most recent album, New Creation, was released last year. It includes the popular country-tinged song River of Life.
Powell collaborated with Nashville songwriters for the new album — a first for him.
“With the past stuff we did for Third Day — we're from Atlanta — we never really came to Nashville that much,” Powell said. “We never got together with the pro songwriter guys. We never wanted to do that, because we were a band, and we split songwriting amongst us. We didn't have room for somebody else to take a portion of it. But for my solo record, my manager said, ‘Why don't you just go to Nashville — try it out.’”
Powell followed his manager’s advice — and “had a blast.”
“I assumed I was gonna come up here, write with a couple guys and go, ‘No, I'm gonna write my own stuff.’ But I just had an amazing time, getting in a room with those guys — guys [who] do it all the time. That's what their mind is thinking about all the time, crafting a song, and they're great artists themselves. I'm kind of allowing other people to pour into what I'm doing.”
This fall, Powell will embark on an 11-city “Mac Powell and Friends” tour alongside Mike Donehey, Josh Baldwin, and David Leonard.
Powell, 49, says he didn’t discover Christian music until he was about 18 when he started listening to artists such as Rich Mullins, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Michael W. Smith. He said he still feels like the “little kid” that was pulled up on stage during a concert.
“The cool thing,” he said, “is that I still get to do this.”
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Paras Griffin/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.