Kim McLean's Songwriter Prayer

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Award winning singer/songwriter Kim McLean's "Unapologetic" testimony in music reaches radio.

It all began in a solitary room with a sincere prayer, "God, what do You have for me to write today?" That has been the daily action following the morning scripture and devotion of songwriter, Kim McLean (formerly known as Kim Patton-Johnston in songwriting circles). Whatever song has flowed from her pen, it was begun this way. Her musical sound has always been unique. Incorrectly, because she moved to Nashville several years ago, people have often tried to tag Kim McLean's music "country". Geography has never determined the true genre of her music, however.

The style morphed out of McLean's North Carolina beginnings in the Southern Baptist church, her grandparent's Pentecostal Holiness church, and her mom's constant playing of Elvis on the family stereo as she "jitterbugged." From that family of origin's influence came a rhythmic rockabilly gospel unlike anyone had ever heard in church. All her songs began as an expression of faith with an inspired word at the core of each composition. Her other grandmother, a southern gospel radio dj/programmer and ‘boogie woogie’ church pianist, introduced Kim to the patriarchs of southern gospel’s music and taught her a rockin’ style of piano that left an indelible mark on the songwriting of her granddaughter.

Then, the bluegrass of her mountain roots called McLean to join a local bluegrass band, called Fox Run in the 80's that toured singing mountain classics and gospel. After moving to Nashville, she helped form a blues band adding original soul R&B groove 'Jesus songs' to their secular sets. The refining influence of many genres of music was melded into a unique, honest, sound dubbed "groove gospel", also referred to by many as the "Kim Patton-Johnston sound".

Moving to Nashville, and writing for a secular music publisher, meant writing songs that country artists could record. Again, Kim McLean went to her Source. "God, what do You have for me to write, today?" Songs about family, sacred love, and forgiveness were written and co-written by Kim McLean and found their way to the recording sessions of many accomplished country artists. The process never changed. It was all His, in Kim McLean's heart.

Performing in church for her secular publisher, let the proverbial 'cat out of the bag' as he heard an original song she'd written especially for their service. He began 'pitching' her music in the Christian/gospel genre, too. She eventually left that publisher and began writing for Niles Borup's (Via Dela Rosa) company, Centergy. He, along with another co-writer, Dwight Lyles(He Came Down To My Level) became her first real songwriting mentors. They formed a Thomas Merton club and met for lunch, sharing deep spiritual truths instead of the typical Music Row conversations about “competition in a dog eat dog world”. From these two friends, Kim McLean learned how important scriptural truth and knowledge were to the creation of music used in the church.

Her prayer closet compositions and co-writes have included Karen Peck’s "Bend in the River," The Nelon’s "Take Off Those Rags, Lazarus," The Martin’s "Because God’s Good," "Go Tell," "Well Water" and "Count Your Blessing" which garnered a Dove for Country/Gospel Song of the Year. LordSong has recorded Kim McLean music like "I See," "Stronger For It," and "Send Me." The Florida Boys, Vestal Goodman, The Freemans, and Sierra have recorded her songs, too. McLean‘s "What Judas Didn’t Know" and "Faith, Hope, and Love" have become signature songs for Misty Freeman, whose last project also enlisted the songwriter for production on several tracks.

In the meantime, Country artists like Tim McGraw, Trisha Yearwood, Billy Gilman, Lee Ann Womack and others began recording Kim McLean songs. The creation process for those songs began in the prayer closet, too. "God, what do you have for me to write today?"

Americana and Pop artists have also recorded Kim McLean songs. There was even a number one song by Vanguard Artist, Shana Morrison in France. One can tell by the title, "God Must Love Me," that even in a pop market in another language, a message can be sent and received.

In the past three years, Kim McLean has felt the call to minister in song and message, with her own artist career. As an artist, Kim has returned to her maiden name of McLean, the surname of her father and her musically/spiritually influential grandmother, Sara McLean. It was a sentimental move and also seemed much easier for people to remember.

Throughout her years in the songwriting caverns of Nashville’s Music Row, she has had times of quietly writing God’s messages and keeping a low profile about her faith. She began to realize at the onset of her artist career, she was being called to a "louder" place about her beliefs. In the fall of 2002, Kim McLean enrolled at Trevecca Nazarene University, joined the Nazarene Church, and is seeking full ordination in the denomination while "studying to show herself approved." She has composed, "O The Cross," the chosen quadrennial theme for Nazarene World Missions International, debuted at this year’s general assembly in Indianapolis, at a beautifully moving ceremony.

Her first single, a mother’s prayer for her child, "Angels and Eagles," a duet with Dolly Parton, soared to Top Ten in Christian Country, and is in nominations for Duet of the Year at the ICMA’s in November. Kim has also been nominated for their Female Vocalist of the Year.

In a deep, dark, heartbroken prayer closet moment, the true soul of Kim McLean was written in the lyric of her new single. She felt God calling her to stand up in the world’s political correctness of today...and say the name Jesus, unapologetically. The song that was born out of that morning’s devotion, "Unapologetic" by Kim McLean, has just been sent to southern gospel radio stations all over the U.S., while already being played in Europe, Japan, The United Kingdom, and Australia. It is available on the Family Music Group Compilation for July/August 2005, the SCM Sampler for September 2005, and the HMG Compilation Sampler for September 2005.

So the songwriter read her devotions for the morning, and asked, "God, what do You have for me to write today?"

"C’mon courage keep me shining in the night,

Hey, forgiveness wontcha come and make things right,

Paint a picture make it clear

Jesus, get me outta here

I’m not broken like before

I will apologize no more!"

--Kim McLean "Unapologetic" from the CD "Happy Face"

Kim McLean’s ministry website is and her bio-site is . Her offices are at 188 16th Avenue South in Nashville, Suite 210, 615-244-4422.

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Devon O'day