Vaught’s Canyon Worship 2021 song makes waves
Ninth of a series featuring the 10 student artists who wrote the songs for Canyon Worship 2021, scheduled to be released in September. Today: Joseph Vaught.
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Joseph Vaught calls himself a “sound nerd.” So imagine his surprise when he heard something he didn’t know about audio frequencies during a Grand Canyon University class.
Every single frequency that human beings can hear, instructor David Bauer told the class, is represented in a wave of water. It’s nature’s version of the pink noise technicians use when tuning a sound system.
It got Vaught thinking: He had read passages in the book of Revelation about God’s voice sounding like “the roar of many waters,” and as he pondered the idea further on his 25-minute drive from Glendale to campus, he felt a nudge from God that turned into the chorus of “Swept Up in Your Wonder,” his song on Canyon Worship 2021.
“I saw the glory of the Lord, eyes like flames, voice like waves,” he said. “That passage, I’ve always been super interested in, just seeing the physicality of the Lord. From there I came back to it every now and then, sat down with the guitar or at the piano and worked through it.
“It’s just a really intimate song between me and the Lord. If I were sitting at the Lord’s feet and could see Him in His glory, I’m looking into His eyes and His eyes are like flames – thinking about how I’d be lost in His presence, lost in His eyes, just so captivated by the sound of His voice in the waves.”
It’s the second time one of his songs has made the annual album – he composed “Has a Name” with Elaina Marchegger and Taryn Nellermoe in 2019. But having a solo is a new experience.
“This is one of the first songs I ever wrote by myself,” he said. “I usually co-write with friends. Songwriting is definitely a newer thing to me. I didn’t really start until my freshman year here. I’m more comfortable crafting parts for songs – I’ve written parts for songs but not the lyrics much.
“I only write worship music. I would consider myself a songwriter, but it’s not a main thing that I do. I’m writing songs of worship for worship. When I work with people, I just get more perspectives, more advice, more brains together. I’m not holding onto this idea. I just want to put something together that will benefit the church at large.”
Dr. Randall Downs, the Worship Arts Coordinator for the College of Theology, loves Vaught’s singing ability as well as his other talents beyond songwriting.
“He’s got such a distinctive, great voice,” Downs said. “I love hearing his voice. It’s so unique and has such a great quality to it. He’s a great guitar player and musician across the board.”
Said Eric Johnson, Manager of the GCU Recording Studio, “Joseph’s song on Canyon Worship 2021 expresses a childlike wonder when considering God’s creation and His powerful position in our lives. I am always delightfully surprised when I hear Joseph’s singing voice because it sounds bigger, bolder and broader than his everyday speaking voice – no doubt a testament to the gift God gave him for capturing the world’s attention in song.”
The song is another product of the pandemic. Vaught had a lot of time on his hands instead of his usual involvement with church, bands and studio projects.
“Instead of going to friends and saying, ‘Hey, let’s write together, let’s work through ideas,’ I was just like, ‘Well, I’ll just force myself to sit here and work through it,’” he said.
Sure, he punches ideas for songs into his cellphone after reading Scripture, but he estimates that he has written or co-written only 10 or 15 songs. That’s not that many compared to some of the prolific songwriters in the program, but Vaught always has been more focused on playing guitar on the Worship team at Chapel and making music with various other groups.
But it all wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t come to GCU. He was so appreciative, he transitioned from student worker in the GCU Recording Studio to a full-time employee coordinating the new GCU Recording Lab after graduating in April.
“Joseph is the kind of person who quietly charges ahead in life without really talking much about it,” Johnson said. “Joseph first impressed me by the way others would talk about him as though he was someone I should get to know. I am glad I got to know him after learning about his humble character because I can easily agree with all the hype! He’s a good guy.”
It’s the perfect place for a sound nerd who’s eager to learn more. Making the Canyon Worship album is only part of what Vaught considers an amazing four years … and counting.
“I love this school so much,” he said. “My experience has been incredible. With the Worship Arts program, it’s crazy, seeing how the Lord has blessed me so much. I’ve had the opportunity to dip my toes into everything.”
No wonder he sounds off about it. It’s as if the waves have washed up into every part of his life, and God’s voice is audible.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
Related content from Canyon Worship 2021:
GCU Today: The music of Canyon Worship is all grown up
Related content from previous Canyon Worship albums:
GCU Today: ‘Amazing’ Canyon Worship album released