By Kevin Zimmerman
Karyn Williams: A Musical Journey
“Music is one of the only things that made sense to me in my life.” So says Karyn Williams, and it’s a pretty big statement. After all, in addition to her burgeoning career as a Christian music singer/songwriter, she’s the co-founder of the Courage to Dream Foundation, an organization that serves as a kind of mentorship program for young women, and the co-author with her father, Orlando Magic co-founder Pat Williams, of 2009’s The Takeaway, a well-received series of life lessons.
“My mom sang a little bit, but music was always my thing, the way I expressed myself,” Williams says. Growing up in a Christian household, she came to fully appreciate her faith in college – and a singing career developed from there.
“I was a journalism major, but the singing thing just kept with me,” she says. “Country music was always close to my heart. It wasn’t until after I’d moved to Nashville to try my hand at being a recording artist that the whole world of songwriting opened up to me.”
Williams laughs at how, in Nashville, “you can practically be walking down the street and bump into somebody who says, ‘We should write together!’” One of those people was award-winning composer Brian White, who’s written 13 #1 gospel songs – and ultimately became Williams’ husband.
“I find that songwriting inspiration can come at any time,” she says. “I’ve had instances where I couldn’t sleep at night, and I got up and said, ‘Okay, Lord, what are you trying to tell me?’. I’ve gotten songs that way more than a couple of times.”
By the spring of 2009, Williams was in a studio working on her first radio single, “Rejoice” (written and co-produced with White), with her first full-length album, Hey There, coming out on her own Mission House Records in the spring.
Along the way, her song “Courage to Dream” caught the ear of Kathleen Hawkins, founder of Women On A Mission To Earn Commission (WOAMTEC), a networking group designed to appeal to businesswomen looking to grow their businesses. The program seeks to help its recipients – largely teens aging out of the foster care system, children and young adults, and victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse -- complete what WOAMTEC calls “a 40-day reflective journey of self-discovery.” Williams is also working with Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). A video was shot for her song “Just May Be” that will be used as the CCAI national theme song.
Though maintaining confidence in herself and her career, Williams is herself still on a journey, “More than anything I’m trying to have fun. When it stops being fun, that’s when I’ll stop doing this. I’ve been so blessed so far – I was writing for this record before I even knew I was doing a record, so when the door opened for me to do it, it was pretty much already written. And it was written from all of our hearts, which is how it should be.”
What’s On My iPod?
“I can’t get enough of “Born Again” by the Newsboys and pretty much anything by Colbie Caillat or Sara Bareilles!”