Kim gives album the perfect finishing touch

Yoo Jin "Gabby" Kim performed in the Songwriters Showcase during her time at GCU.

Last in a series

One morning on the way to campus last spring, a thought popped into Eric Johnson’s head.

“We have to find a way to include Gabby,” the manager of Grand Canyon University’s Recording Studio said to himself.

The list of 10 songs for Canyon Worship 2022 had been finalized, and Yoo JinGabby” Kim wasn’t on it. That just couldn’t stand, in Johnson’s mind.

It’s such a great story, the fact that she could barely speak English when she arrived from South Korea and over four years became fluent in the language and in recording music.

Then Johnson walked into the Studio, and Canyon Worship producer Geoff Hunker hit him with this:

“What would you think of having an extra track on the album and making it Gabby?”

It was a classic God moment, but there was one problem with this divine idea: Kim, who had never made the annual album, had to compose a song that would qualify – and she felt as if she was in a bit of a writing slump.

“It was a bit unexpected because of the time that I kept experiencing failures even though I made lots of attempts to get a chance that matched my musical skills,” she said via email from her home in South Korea.

So she tried something different. Over the next month, she put together an instrumental. She had written a few in the past but never reached the point of having it published.

This time it worked. Mission accomplished – the album had an 11th song, “From Winter to Spring.”

It had Gabby.

We felt like she had a larger story than just writing songs.

Eric Johnson, Manager, GCU Recording Studio

“We felt like she had a larger story than just writing songs,” Johnson said.

But Canyon Worship’s first instrumental is more than a good story. It’s just plain good.

“It is captivating,” Worship Arts Coordinator Dr. Randall Downs said. “What a complex and fun piece of music! This track will be a pleasant surprise for previous Canyon Worship listeners.”

The nine-minute track takes the listener on a journey through the four seasons. “You can hear how each section of the composition reflects on Gabby’s journey through her time at GCU and also how the seasons change according to God’s design,” Johnson said.

The seasons of Kim’s work in the Worship Arts program included making the spring 2021 Songwriters Showcase. Also last year, she wrote, produced and performed the piano prelude to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” for The Grand Collective, the student-driven EP. She grew her recording skills.

“I learned both the musical side and the production side, and they both impacted the process of finding the proper position for me in the music area,” she said. “I was already used to music theory and some musical stuff like vocal and instruments, but learning how the song can be produced and how to control the soundboard was the whole new stuff for me, which also made me enjoy doing it.

Gabby Kim learned about music and production at GCU. (Photo by Elizabeth Tinajero)

“Also, I still remember my first Showcase and first opportunity to participate in the album project (The Grand Collective) that came like a gift for me. Overall, it was a great experience to see my musical gifts grow and some personal improvements in the production area and use them for worshiping God with many students who love Him and pursue the similar goal.”

Said Downs, “Gabby’s talent has not been concealed throughout her time at GCU. She is a humble individual who doesn’t highlight her own talents. However, anyone who has heard her play the piano or sing knows that she is extremely gifted.”

Now, having graduated, she’s back in South Korea sharing her gifts on a mission wave, a one-year program designed to raise disciples in her church community. After that, she hopes to find a job in recording music. But who knows?

“It can be changed in the future if God leads me in different ways,” she said.

Just as He did in bringing her to GCU … and then inspiring her mentors to find a way to include her.

“Her story is one of coming over from Korea and learning this craft of worship leading and what it means to be a worship artist and to be able to bring that home,” Johnson said. “We resonated with that story.”

And now it has the perfect ending.

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


Canyon Worship 2022 is scheduled to be released Sept. 9 on Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music. It will be available in the iTunes Store.


Related content:

GCU News: Canyon Worship 2022 is in step with collaboration

GCU News: Fearlessness propelled ascent to Canyon Worship

GCU News: Freshman's talent is the talk of Canyon Worship

GCU News: Russell leads the way on album, with other students

GCU News: Canyon Worship displays Jasperse's sound skills

GCU News: God's voice resonates through Lopez's journey

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