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Recording artist Charity Gayle shares songwriting advice with Liberty music students

Charity Gayle leads worship at the School of Music’s 16th annual Night of Worship on April 16. (Photo by Natalie Olson)

Contemporary Christian recording artist and Dove Award winner Charity Gayle and her husband, Ryan Kennedy, visited campus on Monday to work with students from Liberty University’s Michael W. Smith Center for Commercial Music.

Gayle and Kennedy were special guests at the 16th annual Night of Worship on Sunday, hosted by the School of Music and Thomas Road Baptist Church, and they remained on campus through Monday to share industry insights and wisdom they have gleaned from their career of leading the Body of Christ in worship.

“There’s such a passion for being equipped for their callings here,” Gayle said of the Liberty students. “It is beautiful to see that they walk with such humility but also with perseverance to what the Lord has called them to. Even in the songwriting, you can see their hearts on the page … to see them be so pure (in their songwriting) is really special.”

“It is such a beautiful place. But more importantly you can sense the Lord on it and covering it and that is irreplaceable,” she added.

Some of the students were able to showcase their original songs during the session with Gayle and Kennedy, who offered advice and critique.

Charity Gayle and her husband, Ryan Kennedy, review students’ work in a songwriting class on April 17. (Photo by Chase Gyles)

“We all want these songs to glorify God, and to hear how we can do that more effectively from people who are doing that effectively is really, really amazing,” said junior songwriting student Christopher Spana. “(They gave) really helpful feedback on things to remember such as song structure and how to make it all feel cohesive.”

Gayle’s first record, “Lord, You are my Song,” debuted at No. 1 in the Christian and gospel genre in January 2018. She released her sophomore album, “Endless Praise,” in 2021, featuring the song, “Thank You Jesus for the Blood,” which also debuted at No. 1.

Gayle recently received a Dove Award for the song “Benediction (As You Go)” on Selah’s record, “Firm Foundation.”

Kennedy is a songwriter, worship leader, and music artist who is often on tour with Gayle. The couple married in 2018 and their songs have been translated into many languages and are sung by the Church around the world.

Spana said the opportunity to hear from industry professionals was a big draw for him to enroll at Liberty.

“That’s a reason I came here,” he said, “because of how many connections that the School of Music is able to make for their students and the things that they provide for their students. It’s amazing, the opportunities that they give to encourage and build up their students.”

Students showcased their originals in front of Gayle and her husband Monday morning. (Photo by Chase Gyles)

Gayle said the chance for students to work with devoted Christ-followers in the music industry is invaluable.

“There is no substitute for good mentorship. I’m so blessed to see that there are people equipping them now. (The students) are so blessed … when I was their age, there really wasn’t a mentorship for songwriting, and the local church is so important to pour back into.”

Gayle and her family live in Houston. Besides continuing to write worship music, she and her husband are beginning a movement for 24-hour prayer and worship called GatherHouse.

The Michael W. Smith Center for Commercial Music began in 2019 with the mission to train competent, proficient, marketplace musicians to serve as commercial music industry practitioners. Smith is the center’s executive director. He visits every semester in this role, seeking to offer advice and counsel from his many years of industry experience. The center has welcomed many other industry professionals, including award-winning contemporary Christian recording artist CeCe Winans, GMA Dove Award producer Ben Shive, and songwriter and producer Tommee Profitt.


The Night of Worship was held on April 16 at Thomas Road Baptist Church. (Photo by Natalie Olson)


(Photo by Natalie Olson)


(Photo by Chase Gyles)
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