There are probably very few artists who have such a diversity in their music as Cathy Burton who switches between successful EDM releases, singer / songwriter tracks and full-on worship releases, as well as leading worship regularly at events like Spring Harvest. With a new recording on the horizon we felt that it was time to have a chat with this amazing songstress. This was an interview full of honesty, reality and laughter and serious talk about the responsibilties of being someone balancing a music career, involvement with church, 3 kids and a job.
I know that you write a whole different range of genre's don't you? You are a singer/songwriter but you also do some E.D.M. and worship, which is your favorite?
Well that's difficult, I think probably at heart I'm a singer / songwriter and the E.D.M. stuff has been a natural sort of branching into that, because it's kind of what I already do. Only I'm just not writing the music so I just do the top line melody and the lyrics. When I actually get a chance to write, I love it. Sometimes I just have to sing some songs as a session which is a little less inspiring, but even so it's still a fun genre to be part of.
Then the worship stuff it's, I mean I love leading worship, and I've done that since I became a Christian when I was about 14 in different ways, and I don't think I really wrote worship until sort of the dawn of when worship blossomed in the early 90s. You know the whole Cutting Edge stuff and we were in the Church with Martin Smith. Paul, my husband, was their sound engineer and then they became Delirious? So when you've got someone like Martin Smith in your church writing songs you kind of think I'm not really going to try and bring my songs along as well, because I was writing in a different genre at the time. I think to be in the shadow of something that writes such incredible worship songs I kind of shied away from it, but more recently I thought Hang on, I've got a different voice to the big guns. I think I've got a bit of a prayerful voice in my worship songs and sometimes we need to just need to be able to access that part in our worship, in the songs and just reaching out to God from a different place.
You were on a live worship CD probably from Elevation and you did a live version of "At The Cross (Love Ran Red)" and I think, for me, your version is actually better than the original. I love the passion your voice when you sing that, sometimes I think it takes the live element to bring it to life...
The live worship music is my favourite way of listening to worship music by far, to be in that moment and with the crowd of people there at that time.
My normal gripe about live worship music is you wouldn't know it was live half the time apart from the emphasis on the singer's voice but you don't know really there's a crowd there, or that they are not miked up..
Well the crowds do get miked up but sometimes the crowds can't sing the songs because they are too flipping high! So I make it my mission to bring the keys down so they get up and sing.
Making worship music accessible...
There is a different way of writing worship these days that the always contain an octave jump that starts really low and ends up screechingly high.
That's Martin Smith's fault too... for example "Majesty (Here I Am)" has a huge key change in it...
It's not entirely his fault.
I have been writing for a new worship album which I started recording in September. A few of the songs won't be as congregational as others, but the ones that I'm thinking will be congregational I'm tryiing to keep it within certain range of notes so that I know that people who aren't singer singers can just go "oh, I can sing that!" I think that's why we write worship songs, isn't it, so people can sing them! I know everybody I know who writes worship songs tries to do that too, but you just get carried away...
When you get in the studio...
You just want to make it sound good.
You've been singing professionally for quite a while, does it ever get overwhelming?
I think sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming, just life in general, because I've got three children aged eleven, eight and six at the moment. Here at Creation Fest they asked me to perform in the Big Shed, and I was like that means getting a band together and that means rehearsals..because I don't play with a band often I play a solo or a duo, depending on who's around. Although it's an amazing opportunity I just didn't feel like I could do it because it would have been overwhelming to get the preparation done whilst my little girl was in her last term of primar school. Family comes first.
If I do a band gig then I like to know what I am doing, if it's a performance band gig, if it's worship I think it's different because it's a bit more fluid, the arrangements you can shout a bit more, but when it's a song only you know how it should go then you've got to be a bit more on it.
But no, it's not that overwhelming because it's part of who I am, so it's more that if I don't get to do my writing or get to do a gig every now and then, I start forgetting who I am and that's more overwhelming in a way.
So it's a kind of release for your creativity which you don't always get in the day to day?
No, teaching everybody else piano! Which I actually really love, but you can get sucked into that.
So that's the real bread and butter of day to day life?
I teach quite a lot of kids but there are a couple that you really look forward to their lessons because you know they've got something. It's exciting when you see a young person when they start to work out they can actually play and sing at the same time, it's like Yes you can and you sound amazing! Like one little girl she just sang and played a Christmas song in Judy Garland style "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and I'm in the lesson wiping the tears away! It just moved me to really see people get released at what they are good at.
It's kind of a pastoring in a way. I don't know what your involvement is in your church, but is the pastoral side something you do?
I lead worship, I'm part of the core team that leads the worship team and we have training, musical training sessions, we sort of have a recording studio in our house with a drum kit in it so that helps. But at this time in my life and family come first and there are only so many things I can do.
Family and your children have to be your first ministry don't they?
They do and after that I think the creativity has to come as well, if I neglect that then I don't really operate properly. I have served in my churches for I don't know, ever since I became a Christian I have been committed to local church. This is a time when I am stepping back a little bit and I am not as committed, we need to be Mum and Dad and look after the kids first and their faith is just as important as everybody else in the church. I think if you tip that balance as someone who leads worship or a church and your kids get neglected then you are just shooting yourself in the foot aren't you? So we are trying to prioritise, still being in church serving, but not breaking our backs, but being there for the kiddies.
Cathy was planning to start recording her new album in September with a fairly quick recording session with a view to the album being out at the end of 2016. The album will be released by Elevation Music.
They have been asking me to do it for ages and I think the only way that I deliver an album is if you go, your deadline is there, your recording is then and then we'll get it out.
I know the responsibility is for me to get it sorted before, the whole thing, because it's not just us recording it in our studio.
What things are you expressing on this album, what things are finding their way through?
Yeah, I've been singing a lot about injustice in a way and is praying for justice in the world through the songs that's been quite a thing with everything that has come up everywhere it seems with conflicts and terrorism. The day that the priest got killed in France I was writing that day, and that impacted me, it just highlighted everything that I was writing about and I just felt we need to ask God to have mercy because we are the human race and we're all responsible for each other. I know that sounds a bit Peace Out, Man!
But that is echoed through the Psalms and the prophets and even into the New Testament and it's a heart cry if you are a person of faith.
So that theme is there, but the Psalms have been a great inspiration, there's waiting on God, there's praising. It's a quite nice little variety of songs at the minute, but the overarching theme was 'God draw close to us' because it's not looking good and we need You. We always need Him whether it's good or bad.