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Lincoln Brewster Biography
The idea of surrendering is really important to me right now. Living a life that is completely committed to God and His purpose. Complete and total surrender. That is a big theme for me.
So says critically acclaimed musician/worship leader Lincoln Brewster when discussing the inspiration behind his August 2005 recording, All to You... Live, on Vertical Music. Surrendering is not a new concept to this accomplished songwriter/guitarist, who passed up a career as a mainstream recording artist in order to serve in his home church and follow God's leading.
Music has been an integral part of Brewster's life since early childhood. His mother, an accomplished musician, introduced him to the mandolin at age five. He quickly mastered the instrument and began playing alongside his mother for cruise ship tourists in his hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska. However, it was the electric guitar that truly caught his heart when he was only nine years old.
A love and natural gift for the guitar landed Brewster a gig with mainstream rocker Steve Perry (Journey) and led to offers from mainstream rock labels all before he was 21. But Brewster had made a commitment to Christ in his late teens, and instead took a position at his local church as a sound technician. He remained faithful at that church, eventually taking on youth leadership and worship leadership responsibilities. Several years later, he crossed paths with Vertical music, part of Integrity Music Group in Mobile, Ala., finding a label home that allowed him to record the modern, rock-tinged worship for which he has become known.
The self-produced All to You... Live is Brewster's fourth worship album, following up 2002's Amazed. The new project was recorded live at Bayside Church in Granite Bay, Calif., where he has been serving as a full-time worship leader for the past three years.
I've never felt so compelled to record something the way I've felt with the songs on this album, Brewster says. The inspiration really comes from leading worship at a local church, and that's really what this record was all about. I wanted to capture what God has been doing at our church. I think it would have felt very irresponsible or maybe even disobedient not to have recorded these songs. It's almost like bragging on God by saying, 'Look at you! Look at what you're doing!'
All to You... Live includes a bonus disc containing chord charts for four songs, video footage, studio-recorded versions of three songs and a sample of Vertical Music Worship Tools. The timing for a project featuring this many resources couldn't have been better for Brewster, who has a renewed passion for equipping other worship leaders with tools to enhance their own ministries.
As a full-time worship leader myself, I know first-hand that we're always looking for resources, so this is something I can really get behind, Brewster says. I think God's given me more tools now to execute what's in my heart in terms of equipping people and being highly purposeful about what I'm doing. I think one of the gifts God gives us is our time, and I want to be a good steward of my time and spend it creating things that will help me be the most effective I can be for Him.
All to You... Live takes its title from a song that sums up Lincoln's call to surrender everything to Christ with no hesitations. It's about identifying the change that's taken place in your life because of Christ and running towards it with reckless abandon, Brewster shares. That's kind of how the song sounds, too. It's like, 'Let's get up and go - I'm not going to be a pew warmer, I'm going to give all I can over to God.' It's about saying, 'Take it all, Lord, I'm open and available to you. God has called me and He knows who I am, and I'm going to live my life 100 percent for Him, not holding anything back.'
Following in the same lyrical vein is Surrender, a song penned by fellow songwriter Marc Byrd. It's one of my favorite tunes on this album, Brewster claims. I went to check on our college group at church one night and when I walked in, they were singing that song. I was with my son, Levi, and remember sitting there with him being so moved. I remember thinking how God was saying to me, 'Yes, you've got to surrender him to me, too,' and I thought, 'Oh, wow. Yeah, that's what surrendering it all to God really means.' And as I looked over at my son again, he had his little hand in the air worshipping, and it was so cool for me to see.
A husband and father of two young sons, Brewster admits to having learned more about his relationship with God through his kids. I think about how I know that God loves me way more than I even love my own kids - and that's so hard for me to fathom, he admits. I can say it only because I know it to be true as a matter of scripture. I can't really process it, but it shows me a lot about how God loves and cares for me, how he wants me to do well and make good decisions. He's not waiting to punish me; he's on my side. I look at my kids and think about how I really want the best for them, but I have to discipline them to help them. I have to teach them and create situations that might sometimes be hard for them - so they'll learn. It's so parallel to how God cares for us, and that has been a big thing for me to appreciate.
All to You... Live features 13 tracks containing 75 minutes of live worship music including a haunting rendition of Another Hallelujah, a worship-infused version of the Leonard Cohen favorite Hallelujah. Brewster added his own stylistic flair and, after receiving permission from Cohen, rewrote some of the song's lyrics.
I had always heard that chorus and thought, 'You know, that's a worship chorus,' Brewster explains. I don't know the story about how it was written, but something must have happened to Leonard Cohen because the 'hallelujah' in his song is a mock - he's sarcastic. I think the transformation from his version to my version is basically going from 'God is horrible' to 'God is love.' I didn't think he would let us use it, but we got an okay and it only took seconds to turn those lyrics around. When I played it the night of this live recording for the first time, the congregation jumped in like we'd been doing it forever. It's probably my favorite thing on the project in some ways because it feels like a bit of a victory - a song redeemed for God's purpose.
Along with the release of the new album and continuing in his role as worship leader each Sunday in his home church, Brewster is also serving as a worship music instructor at various worship conferences throughout the country. He also has the opportunity from time to time to perform with fellow artists/worship leaders, such as a recent recording he did with acclaimed musicians Don Moen, Paul Baloche, Lenny LeBlanc, Jared Anderson and Robin Mark.
I'm so glad I am where I am right now, Brewster says. If I could do it all over again I would do exactly the same thing. I'm part of a great church getting to do some great things, and I'm doing what I'm called to do. I love it this way. The things going on in my life right now just make sense in the global scheme of what God's called me to do. I just want to help people connect with Him in the best way possible. If nothing else, I just hope I can be used to accomplish that purpose.