Christian music artist Iryne Rock has just released her brand new single 'What Love Is." The song, inspired by 1 John 4:7-12, points us to see how God shows His love by loving us first and sacrificing His Son for us. Rock, who co-wrote the song with Grammy and Dove Award winning engineer Jonathan Crone, and Grammy and Dove nominated writer/producer Billy Smiley, says the song was written after she had been waiting five years for an answer to a specific prayer.
Rock grew up listening to the likes of Cece Winans, Kirk Franklin, Panam Percy Paul, DC Talk, Michael W. Smith and Newsboys while living in Nigeria. As a teen, she began writing her own songs, a secret she kept from her family and others. Years later and once she became worship leader at Solomon's Porch in Maryland, Rock gained the courage to share her songs at church. The positive response led to the musician's first album in 2018, titled Just For You. After meeting Smiley, the two produced a worship EP, Grateful, which was released in May 2021.
Q: Iryne, thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself: how did you come to know Jesus Christ?
I came to know the Lord at an early age. I grew up in a Christian home and my parents led me to Christ. I remember that day well, as they shared the gospel with me in their room and I said a repentance prayer with them. My life has never been the same since. We had always had devotions together but, that was the day I actually asked Jesus into my heart.
Q: How and when did you feel the call to sing and record?
About four years ago, I felt the Lord urging me to finally record the songs I had written. Before then, I had been praying for an opportunity with my work and after 4 years of trying repeatedly, I didn't get what I wanted. I felt very discouraged. But God used this to get my attention to music, and in fact this experience inspired some of my songs. I started truly listening to what he had been saying to my heart. While I started paying attention to God's desire, the members of my church were asking for recordings of my songs that I taught them. I had just summed up enough courage to teach the church a few of my songs and all these things happening at the same time truly encouraged and motivated me to sing and record. God truly works it all for our good.
Q: Who would you say influenced you musically and theologically in terms of what you sing about God?
Musically, I have been influenced by so many Christian artists. Every time I get asked this question, I realize that I end up leaving out a lot of artists because the list is unending. So, I won't give you the full list, but it includes Bryan Duncan, Michael W.Smith, CeCe Winans, The Winans, Kirk Franklin, Petra, DC Talk, Newsboys, Avalon, Andrae Crouch. There are other non-Christian artists that have also influenced me. Theologically, my influence has truly been my parents. They have been my mentors since day one.
Q: Let's talk about your new EP, how is this different/same compared to your debut album JFY?
So this EP is quite different to me because its more church friendly. I say that jokingly but it's true. JFY was more experimental and diverse in sound. Grateful has a more focused outlook and the process of making it was easier because I worked with one producer for it all. I learned a lot working on both albums and I got to write from scratch with Billy Smiley on Cleanse Restore Renew. That was a first for me.
Q: Why did you call this new record "Grateful"?
Grateful was how we all felt when we were deciding the name of the EP. With all that has happened to the whole world, the fact that we are still alive, can release music, can aspire for more music and just worship God leaves us grateful. The song was released at the right time. God truly is in control of all things, isn't he?
Q: What are some of the highlights in the making of this EP?
I got to record in a cool studio, The Castle. I had never recorded live with an entire band and that was how we made the album. So that was fun and amazing, Billy Smiley made everything so easy for me. Another highlight was the opportunity to highlight my African heritage in this album with "Let It Rise To You". My husband and I were not sure about doing the song, but trusting God we decided to give it a try. Billy, who is not Nigerian by the way, really nailed the world sound with the music. We had such a great time making it and I thank God for his faithfulness.
Q: How do you wish these new songs would impact the lives of your listeners?
I pray that it helps them appreciate God for who He is, as they are ushered into an atmosphere of worship, renewal, restoration and gratitude for all He has done and continues to do for us.
Q: How can we be grateful in the midst of this pandemic?
By staying connected to God and his people. Let us not get bogged down by bad news, our situation or the busyness of life. But let us keep our eyes on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. When we do this, we will remain grateful because we will continue to see his goodness all around.