Landrum, SC – Last week, Blue Ridge Baptist Church announced the hiring of Josh Burns as Minister of Music to the 215 member congregation. Burns, 22, is a recent graduate of North Greenville University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in recreational leadership. We recently sat down with Burns to discuss his new job.
VR: Josh, good to see you. Congratulations on your new position. First of all, what was the church looking for in a minister of music, and why did you get the nod?
JB: Thanks! Yeah, I am really excited about it. I grew up at Blue Ridge and the leadership here has always placed a high priority on “excellence,” especially when it comes to worship. However, they place an even higher priority on “availability,” so I guess, above all, they were able to recognize my willingness to do it. Being a recent grad, I was looking for a job, and the church was looking to fill this slot, so I guess it just made sense for everybody involved.
VR: Your educational background is in recreational leadership. How did this prepare you for being a minister of music?
Believe it or not, there is a lot that is transferable. For example, in class we learned how to structure round robin tournaments, based on any number of participants. This has helped me with scheduling members of the worship band. Generally, every third week each person gets a bye. Also, I have the band do an icebreaker or team building activity before each service. I find that it helps us mesh better, musically.
VR: BRB’s Senior Pastor has affectionately referred to you as “Spartanburg’s Sanjaya.” Where did you learn how to sing.
JB: Coming from him, that is a huge compliment. Sanjaya is his favorite Idol of all time – he was super bummed that he didn’t make it to the end. Well, I learned by singing along with CD’s by the Christian band, Third Day. People say that if they close their eyes, I sound exactly like Mac Powell, maybe just a little bit more nasally.
VR: You lead worship with an acoustic guitar. How long have you been playing?
JB: I picked up the guitar just a couple of years ago. I noticed that a couple of my buddies in college who played were getting a lot of attention from the girls, so I asked them to teach me a few chords. They taught me 3 of the most common ones, and I’ve been playing around with it ever since.
VR: Do you play any other instruments? For example, the bass guitar?
JB: Yeah, I can probably play the bass. It’s pretty similar to the regular guitar, right?
VR: Members of the worship band have noticed your uncanny ability to transpose any song into the key of E and any time signature into 4/4. How do you account for this?
JB: Pardon? I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question. Time signature?
VR: Never mind. We’ll move on. Have there been any challenges so far, that you’ve had to overcome?
JB: Well, yeah, one issue that we’re currently dealing with has to do with the piano player. She must not be overly talented because she requires sheet music in order to play. When I set down a piece of paper with just the lyrics in front of her, it paralyzes her. So she wastes a lot of our time, having to write in chords over the lyrics. To make matters worse, she doesn’t have much of a CCM repetoire, so when I say things like “Can’t you play this song the way they did it on the 2nd Passion album,” she is totally lost.
VR: What would you like to accomplish in, say, your first 100 days? What goals have you set for yourself and the congregation?
JB: Well, for one thing, there is a wealth of good Christian music out there. Musically, most of the songs I am thinking of are designed to showcase the ability of the band and the range of the lead singer. However, I don’t see any reason why these can’t be implemented for congregational singing.
VR: Thanks for your time Josh! Best of luck to you as you, through your music, help lead Christian Solidiers onward as they are “Marching to Zion” under the “Old Rugged Cross.”