They say that everyone has a niche, something they’re particularly good at, something that feels “right”. It might be a certain talent, or a calling. Some find it early in life. Others are still searching.
Jeremy Horn found his calling on his fifteenth birthday, when his older brother gave him a guitar. “I was one of those kids who was okay at a lot of stuff, but not really great at anything. Okay student, okay athlete. God was just waiting for me to discover music, and when I did, it was Bang! Lightning struck! I connected to it instantly.” Horn never even devised a backup plan, deciding in innocent faith, “Lord, this is what You have for me. How can I use this to serve You?” The first step was learning to play this new guitar. “I got a dirty old Mel Bay guitar chord book that looked like it had been in an attic for 40 years. I taught myself. I don’t even really know how I learned it.”
Horn’s zeal to serve the Giver of his musical gifts has resulted in a flourishing role as worship leader at Christ the Rock Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He is as content to serve his church as he is to make music for the masses. “At the end of the day,” Horn declares, “if I was not an artist I would be right back to where I am and continue to be, a local church worship leader. What I do as an artist is an outflow of that, a desire to serve the global church with songs that can help connect their hearts to God. Either way, my goal is to serve the church.”
Horn was born and raised in Memphis, a town where the music flows through the streets like rainwater. He grew up listening to the Beatles, but couldn’t help being influenced by the sounds of Memphis: Sun Studio, Beale Street, jazz, rock and blues. Just down the road from Beale and Sun is another musical landmark, Ardent Recording Studios. “For some reason,” Horn recalls, “I particularly admired the music that was coming out of Ardent. At the time it was Big Tent Revival, the early days of Skillet. And Dana Key, Eddie DeGarmo, these guys were trailblazers.” That admiration led to a moment when a 16-year-old Horn might not have realized how closely God was listening. “I remember praying on my bed, ‘Lord, if I could just record at Ardent Studios, I’ll be happy with my life.’ It’s neat how that selfish prayer became my story.”
“I was playing in Christian bands as a teenager and writing bad songs! A friend of mine was the manager of Skillet at the time, a spiritual father to me. He reached out to John Fry at Ardent, who gave me a job. I didn’t know anything. I had no business working in a recording studio. I was just making coffee, answering the phone. They would tell me to go get a piece of recording gear, and I’d have to ask what it was. It was such an education for me. I can’t stress to you how much I learned about songwriting and the recording process and making music just by being there. Most people pay thousands for that sort of college-like education, and I got it by pouring coffee and making $5.15 an hour.”
Today, Horn is a married father of two young boys, and he’s still part of the Ardent family. He knows his way around a guitar and a recording studio now, and with The Sound of the Broken he offers an album of worship meant to remind us that the Spirit of God rests inside of broken people, and that God wants to use us to tell His story of redemption. Lead radio single “Only God Who Saves” introduces the album’s theme with a humble opening verse: “I am fragile, I am broken, made of dust and made of bone. Without You I am nothing on my own.” The title track uses a metaphor from Acts 3 to describe our human condition and the healing that comes through Christ.
“Surrender” was co-written by Horn with Aaron Ivey and Chris Collins (“Grace Like Rain”). It’s a bright song with a simple message about the beauty of letting go of control and the madness that tends to come with it. Equally powerful is “Father of Lights,” turning the words from James 1:17 into a proclamation of praise to the source of every good and perfect gift.
Another standout is the closing song, “This Reflection.” It’s one of those songs that was written quickly and recorded in a day but it sticks with the listener for a long time. It’s a gentle reminder, Horn says, that “we’re all broken, and we must not forget that. Don’t become prideful. Grace is the only thing in our lives that we have. Jesus is it. That’s all we have in life.”
Sound of the Broken was co-produced by Horn alongside James Joseph and Curry Weber (Todd Agnew, Joy Whitlock). It was recorded, naturally, at Ardent. The answered prayer of a 16-year-old has not changed Horn’s understanding of his calling. “I’m a local church guy who loves people and wants to disciple people and be relational. Worship is a lifestyle of obedience to the Lord. It’s saying yes to Him when He asks you to do things. Worship can mean living your life for the glory of Christ, living your life to share Him with others. Worship can be the outpouring of our hearts in singing and proclaiming who God is, to ourselves and to others. It’s making Jesus bigger on the Earth and in our life.”