Bringing The World Home To You

© 2024 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Brian Courtney Wilson: Everyman Gospel

Brian Courtney Wilson has reissued <em>Just Love</em>, his debut album.
Brian Courtney Wilson has reissued Just Love, his debut album.

Brian Courtney Wilson released his debut album, Just Love, last year and has just reissued it with four new songs. One of them, "The Only Way", begins lonely and pleading and ends up celebratory and communal.

Like much of gospel music, Wilson's songs are most often about humbling himself before God. He's very everyman in his approach – copping to mistakes, owning up to weakness and crippling fear. On this song, the refrain recalls painful times: "The choices made gave me scars that stayed." And then he asks for help. "But now I have decided to stand here despite the fear. Teach me how to live and love again, the only way."

Wilson tells his life story much the same way. He graduated from college and spent years hung over on Sunday mornings -- and not in church. He worked in pharmaceutical sales for years before committing to the church instead, eventually taking over as music director at St. John's United Methodist Church in Houston.

As a songwriter, Wilson has no problem speaking directly to Jesus, saying he needs help "if I am to be the man you died to see." This arrangement of "The Only Way" makes it seem like that kind of direct line might be for real. The song starts simple and clean. The left hand of the piano stays low, trading lines with the bass. Gradually Wilson's voice -- which lives comfortably in the mid-range, where regular people can sing along -- becomes more confident. Backup singers join him, and strings and a snare drum fall in line. It sounds like he needs help -- then asks for it, and gets it.

After he's got some help, he gets a little playful -- drops a trill, brings in more dynamics. He gives the drummer a fill. "I've wasted so much time," he says 45 seconds in. By minute four he's decided to stop doing that.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

Frannie Kelley is co-host of the Microphone Check podcast with Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
More Stories