You may not realize it, but you know the music of Wayne Kirkpatrick. One of Music City's most prolific and respected songwriters, he's the writer behind such much-loved songs as Amy Grant's "Every Heartbeat," "Good For Me" and "Takes A Little Time," Michael W. Smith's "Place In This World" and "Somebody Love Me," along with the 1997 mega-hit, Grammy-winning "Change The World," recorded by Eric Clapton. He was also co-writer on seven of the cuts on Garth Brooks' pop project, In the Life of Chris Gaines, and has had songs recorded by country divas Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill and Martina McBride. Now, after five Top 10 Billboard hits and more than 20 number one Christian singles written for other artists, you finally get to hear Wayne Kirkpatrick as performed by Wayne Kirkpatrick.
This spring, he released The Maple Room, a 13-song CD recorded in his own studio - for which the album was named - and released on Michael W. Smith's Rocketown label. Neither specifically a Christian nor a pop collection, Kirkpatrick says that the album is a group of personal songs that would likely never be recorded by others. He shows us an adventurous pop sensibility that ranges from the dreamy, Beatlesesque "It's Me Again," about the constant self-analysis that comes from being in a creative field, to the jazzy acoustic groove of "That's Not New Age," which clarifies the notion that words like "angels" and "spirit" don't belong exclusively to the modern metaphysical vocabulary. Though truly contemporary and sometimes even alternative sounding, every song seems to spring from an organic well.
That well began filling up when Kirkpatrick, a Louisiana native, was introduced to the guitar as a 14-year-old. After high school he moved to Nashville in 1982 to be a singer/songwriter, soon deciding to focus on writing. A college-buddy alliance brought the collaboration with Grant, and a publishing deal. His early skills and talent for crafting insightful material set him on a course that would keep him busy writing and producing - and behind the scenes - for nearly two decades. But his friends and fans never stopped asking, "When are you going to record your own CD?"
Gratefully, the wait is over. "A lot of things just lined up," says the soft-spoken, six-time BMI Award-winning Kirkpatrick. "I was just really busy for the longest time. And then, Rocketown understood who I was and the history I had in music, and they were willing to let me go off and do the vision I had for a record."
So can we expect to lose one of our more prolific songwriters to the artist world? Not likely. "I'll always first be a songwriter, and I don't want the artist thing to replace that, but just be an extension of it."