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Interview: Worship Leader Tasha Layton Smith

Tasha Layton Smith is a worship leader and recording artist in Tennessee. Recently, Tasha talked to Worship Links about holy motivation, listening to the Holy Spirit, and never being embarrassed.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. It’s truly appreciated! The first question is an easy one. Tell us a little bit about yourself in five sentences.

I am a pastor, worship leader, session singer, vocal coach and professor in Nashville, TN (I teach voice and theology at Trevecca Nazarene University’s “National Praise and Worship Institute”). I’ve worked simultaneously in the music industry and ministry for many years. I have been on staff at churches in worship leading and administrative capacities and I toured singing backup for Katy Perry for over four years. I used to think I should choose just one of those roles, but God has uniquely opened up different kinds of unique opportunities. My life is diversified between lots of roles, which means I’m never bored!

How did you get started in worship ministry?

I’ve been in worship ministry since my early days in my church’s youth group. My first calling was to pastoral ministry… I just happen to have a propensity towards the arts and God has used me in pastoring people and worshipping Him through the avenue of music.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

Prayer. For me, everything starts with hearing from the source first! I seek to hear what is He doing in the congregation and what would He like to speak to the corporate body through the ministry of music for that service. Often, it coincides with the scripture around which the sermon is based and if there can be some prior planning with whomever is giving the message, that’s wonderful. The Holy Spirit can inspire in the planning just as much as in the spur of the moment!

Desert Island Worship Mix: You’re trapped on a desert island, and for reasons too ridiculous to explain, you can only have one CD with five worship songs on it. What are they?

Well, I’m going to reach back a few years! I’m not scared!

  • Fall Afresh – Jeremy Riddle – Bethel Music Loft Sessions
  • Sing and Shout – Matt Redman –Your Grace Finds Me
  • What a Friend – Delirious? – King of Fools
  • The Stand – Hillsong United – United We Stand
  • Consuming Fire or When Silence Falls (I can’t decide!) – Tim Hughes – When Silence Falls

What have you found are some of your greatest challenges in managing a worship team? How do you handle the balance between being a musician and being a manager?

I would say helping people overcome insecurities and distractions to see themselves as worship leaders, whether they’re running lyrics or playing guitar. We have to know why we are doing what we are doing… otherwise, it becomes rote religion instead of intentional and heartfelt worship. Keeping a “holy motivation” at the center of the team’s attention is very important. I try to be as prepared as I can be so it leaves room for me to focus on the spiritual atmosphere and not just the logistical details of leading the team.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

Matthew 22:37–38
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”

This passage reminds me that worship is both intellectual and emotional… and should involve ALL of me!

If you could give one piece of advice to up and coming worship leaders, what would it be? Conversely, what’s some advice you wish you’d received earlier on?

Learn how to listen to, be sensitive to, and obey the Holy Spirit.

Advice I wish I had not only received but taken—Don’t be scared. Be bold and courageous, like Joshua!

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

Hopefully it will be heartfelt, passionate expression of our adoration for Him, whatever that “looks like”… it’s different for everyone around the world. As long as He is the focus, I don’t care what it looks like!

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

I’ve been interested in what God’s doing with the United Pursuit crew out in Knoxville, TN lately.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

I don’t remember doing anything embarrassing… in fact, I am often striving to not think about being embarrassed but to simply “get over myself” and worship!

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

This might be my favorite part of what I do. I love meeting and encouraging worship leaders and vocalists and hearing their stories! You can find me at TashaLaytonSmith.com or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

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