Don Moen’s career has spanned decades with a Doves Award for ” God With Us”, and touring with artists like Chris Tomlin, Twila Paris, Sara Groves and Paul Balochete. Don is known as a worship leader, artist, record executive, father, grandfather, and husband. After he stepped down from his position as president of Integrity Records, he finds fulfillment in touring, singing worship songs and working with his non-profit Worship in Action.
We sat down with Don to find out more about his new project Worship in Action as well as how does one go from being a lumberjack to a record executive?
WS: We like to start in the beginning, can you tell us where you grew up?
Moen: I was actually born in St Louis in the same hospital as Bob Dylan. My family then moved to Duluth Minnesota where I studied violin focusing on classical music. After high school, I received a scholarship to a southern Mississippi college for music. As someone from the north, I had never even heard of Mississippi. During my sophmore year of college one night after a performance of Carmen. I just decided to quit college and drove back to Minnesota. During my few months at home, I became a lumberjack in the Superior National Forest during one of the coldest winters in Minnesota. It was then when I decided maybe playing the violin isn’t so bad after all. I then continued my education at Oral Roberts University.
WS: How does one go from college to President of Integrity Records?
Moen: During the late ’70s and early ’80s, I was a musician for Terry Law Ministries, first playing guitar and trombone but later adding arrangement and production to my resumé. In 1984, I was hired by Michael Coleman of Integrity Incorporated, authors of the praise & worship series Hosanna! Music. I was initially hired as the Creative Director but also recorded about five worship albums with the most popular Give Thanks, which became a Gold record. (meaning it sold over 500,000 copies) In 1992 Worship With Don Moen, his song “God Will Make a Way” was nominated for a Dove Award, and he actually won one two years later, for the musical God With Us. I had many different roles Integrity as creative director, de facto A&R director, and finally president.
WS: How do you see that worship has changed over the last 20 years?
Moen: Just like with other types of music, styles of worship come and go. There have been several movements over the last many years. I would say over the last 10-15 years we have seen a surge of worship artists. In other genres of music, their career is solely based on that individual. With worship music, it is more about the music and act of worship. I feel it crosses over cultures because the message is the same.
WS: Back in 2007, you made a career change that most would say is risky. How did you feel during that time?
Moen: I still lived in Mobile, Alabama at the time working as president of Integrity Records. I was trying to phase out of those responsibilities. It was very difficult as I was involved heavily in the day to day operations of the business. I finally had to turn in my resignation. It was a very scary time for me and my family. Over the years, I had spent a lot of time in Nashville but never wanted to move here, finally the timing seemed right. The music business was changing due to the digital market and for whatever reason Nashville didn’t seem like such a scary place to live. We now live in Brentwood and couldn’t be happier.
WS: Tell us more about your non-profit Worship in Action?
Moen: It was originally called Don Moen and Friends. But I recently changed it to Worship in Action as I didn’t want to give the impression that people were sending money to me. I took a trip to Ghana back in 2005 where I met a woman named Naomi. Naomi started caring for abandoned children naming it Royal Seed Home. It was on that trip that a met a little girl named Gifty who had a terrible scar on her head. I asked how she received that scar and was told that she was abandoned at three days old in a black garbage bag in a field. A couple of boys saw the bag moving thinking it might have been a snake and they proceeded to hit the bag until they heard a baby crying. They went to find Naomi and Gifty became part of the Royal Seed Home.
My goal is to raise enough money to feed the over 200 children that Royal Seed Home cares for daily. We also work with Food for the Poor to build houses in Haiti and Operation Blessings in the Philippines. At the end of the day, worship is more than the songs we sing. It can’t end there. We need to be providing food, shelter, and clothing, bringing hope to those who have no hope.
Once on a mission trip, a woman was giving a Bible to a man, who said to her, ” Can I eat those pages?” We must find ways to help our fellow brother and sister which often comes in meeting those basic needs. If I could spend 90 percent of my time doing just that, I would be more than happy to do so.