photography: Joel Kirk

This project was really interesting. First we had to interview a person with a story to tell. The person I thought of was the music leader at my church. After writing his biography about his love of music, I had to take of photo capturing just that. Getting a picture of someone singing was harder than I originally thought. The environment was probably the most challenging aspect. I ended up doing two shoots, one at a practice and one in the garden. Here is the fruit of my labour:

Joel Kirk
The man behind the microphone at my church has a long history with the music industry. I began by asking when he first fell in love with music. Joel replied, “I’ve always been interested in music.” As a child he was banned from all secular music. Joel explained, “We weren’t allowed any kind of media until I was about 14.” He didn’t listen to the radio or watch television. In his church the only music he was exposed to was hymns accompanied by organs. One day at lunch on a field trip in middle school he heard a Bon Jovi song playing on the jut box. “That was the very first rock and roll song I had ever heard,” Joel stated.
From then on his new obsession was music. He defied his parents by hiding a radio in his room and making his own records by recording the radio every night. He shared that his ten year old girlfriend “…bought me a Bon Jovi album.” Also “other preacher’s kids would give me albums” so that he could experience the music that they heard too. In high school he started playing guitar with his friends. “Alice in Chains songs were the first songs I learned to play.”
After becoming a Christian at the age of 16, he wanted to use his musical talent to reach out to his friends. The more he learned about Christianity the more his love of music meshed to form his dream of starting a band. Joel told me that in his twenties he finally “started a band. Traveled for seven years. Never made any money.” Although he was still passionate about playing music and reaching people, reality hit his wallet. After he met his wife while playing in Raleigh, South Carolina, his music career was over, temporarily. “I quit music and started working.”
Eventually the music bug came back. After three years, absent of music, he was persuaded to attend church again. Joel explained, “I met this woman at work who said ‘you need to come to my church. We have a rock band on stage.’ And I’m like that’s not church; you can’t do that at church.” The church he had known was about hymnals. This new rock and roll style of church music was a foreign concept. “it was like going to a rock show.” He and his wife “weren’t sure it was cool. We weren’t sure it was okay with God. But we started going.” They were shocked by how amazing the service was. Joel recalled thinking, “this place is freaking awesome. They might be going to hell but it’s awesome.”
After awhile of attending church again word got out that Joel was a singer/songwriter. The pastor invited him to play one Sunday. The church liked it so much that he was hired on as a musician. He had finally made it. “I was actually living my dream: making a living playing music. I went from being a janitor to being a paid musician.”
Unfortunately the dream was short lived due to financial difficulties. The couple moved from location to location looking for their next home. First he went to help a friend rebuild a band. Joel enjoyed feeling like apart of the team again, but after a year of investing his time he knew it was time to leave. He was called to start a small church. He led the worship band, but the church never sprouted. Joel finally found what he was looking for when he came to Maryville. Another church asked him to sign on as the worship leader for a new church branching off from the local Methodist church. They were also looking for the fresh new sound Joel was craving. This led started Joel on the path to his job as the worship leader at his current church.
Now almost every Sunday Joel can be found on the stage at the Remedy church. He loves every aspect of this opportunity. With a smile on his face he said, “It’s neat to work with these guys.” In this new occupation, Joel realized that his job “is not just being a paid musician, it’s being their minister.” Everything he had ever wanted is now everything he has. As a teenager he wanted to reach people through his music and thanks to opportunities that Joel attributes to God, he’s doing just that. His final statement was: “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for music.”


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