Grammy Award-winning worship leader Naomi Raine of Maverick City Music is gearing up for the release of her solo album Journey and wants listeners to know that her faith-filled music goes beyond the worship songs they're accustomed to.
Raine released her first single "Not Ready" last week and it was a long time coming for the native of Queens, New York, who's been writing her own songs since she was a child. Daughter to two worship leaders, Raine recalled the moment she dedicated her life to Jesus.
"I just pretty much grew up in rehearsal and in church for my whole life, groomed in music, groomed to go after the presence of the Lord,” she said in an interview with The Christian Post. “When I was 11, I got filled with the Holy Spirit and that started my relationship with the Lord, just a time of devotion.”
Before lending her signature vocals to Maverick City Music’s No. 1 singles “Jireh” and “Promises,” as a young girl she'd sit in her closet “praying in the Spirit, listening to music and singing to God.”
"I spent probably four or five years doing that. As I got older, I then got interested in boys and got a little distracted,” Raine revealed.
She ended up meeting the man who is now her husband and became “pregnant out of wedlock.”
“At that point, I was leading worship and got sat down,” she explained. “The Lord used that time to really deal with me and actually teach me not just about His presence, but about who He is.”
"I was a church girl and so I knew all the right things to do," she added. "I wasn't always doing them of course, but I just thought if I was good then God will be good with me. Well, that's not the case, as we all know, that's not the grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But the Lord really taught me about grace. And He taught me about how He makes all things new and makes it beautiful, that my righteousness is as filthy rags.”
It was in that season that Raine discovered God’s grace and His true Gospel which is what solidified the call on her life.
"'I want you to tell everybody about my goodness, and my grace, and this Gospel that's bigger than you and it's bigger than our works and what we try to do. Tell people that I came to save them,'" she recalled God saying to her.
Her revelations of who God is are what she shares with the world today in song. Maverick City Music has been widely received by both Christian contemporary and gospel music as well as some in the secular music industry.
"I have never experienced anything like this in my life,” Raine said of all their success. “We all have personal stuff that we go through mentally and some of the lies that the enemy told me is that 'Nobody cares about what you have to say. Nobody cares about your voice. Just be quiet; just sit in the back.' And so a lot of my devotion and worship to Jesus was super personal and private, and I was good there. Then I realized the Lord wanted me to come out.
"When I'm out there worshiping, I'm not worshiping y'all. Like I'm not worshiping for y'all and to y'all, I'm worshiping God, and hopefully, somebody decides to worship Him too. It's really about Him. So just to see that people are actually responding to that, and they want it, and they're going deeper in their relationship with the Lord, people are getting saved, people are getting healed. Getting delivered like that is just mind-blowing because He said He would do it, but it's amazing. It's like the miracle of childbirth. We know it happens every single day but it doesn't cease to be amazing.”
Raines' new album Journey isn't considered worship music that will be sung by congregations on Sunday mornings. However, the message is from a Christian woman and her relationship with Jesus. In the songs, she touches on mental illness but says the album is not solely about that.
“Journey is not just about mental illness, it's about facing the truth. It's about facing yourself,” she told CP.
“What I realized is that when you face the truth, and when you tell the truth, tell yourself the truth, and tell others the truth: you are going to go through difficulty. And if you can't handle that you can slip into depression, you can slip into some of these places because it's difficult to tell the truth and change your life,” she maintained.
Raine stressed that just because she sings confidently about God and who she is in God, that doesn't mean she hasn't had her own battles.
"I know people look and they'll be like, 'Oh, the girl that sings 'Jireh' and she's like, 'I'm already loved. I'm already chosen.' The only reason I can say that is because I went through a season where I was reminded of the Father's love, of His promises over my life," Raine said. "And the words that He's spoken over me when I sing, I'm not pretending, we wrote that from a real place. I can only sing that because I've gone through that with Him."
Maverick City Music was officially launched in 2018 by Jonathan Jay, CEO of Tribl Records, who, along with Tony Brown, spent several years hosting songwriting camps with people from across the United States. Over the years, Jay and his team brought together over 100 Christian artists and songwriters, including Raine, and that effort birthed hundreds of songs.
In an earlier interview with CP, Jay described Tribl — the force behind Maverick City Music — as a "gathering place," a "microphone" and an "amplifier for all the people who feel like they have the maverick spirit."
Maverick City Music has been around for three years, but Raine has been leading worship for over 15 years and has been releasing music since 2015. She's comfortable standing on her own with this solo project but worries about how it'll be received because it's not the worship style that they're used to hearing from her.
"It is a little bit daunting to release this type of music after now so many people know me for Maverick City and for just worship music because this is not worship music in the genre sense,” Raine explained. “It's more life music. It's real stuff. It's the stuff that I talk to Jesus about from Monday to Saturday. I think what most people have heard is what I'm talking to Jesus about on a Sunday.”
“It's more of this kind of, 'Hey, Jesus, we got to talk,’” she said.
The first line of her single “Not Ready” says “Let's just be honest, Jesus, I'm a mess.”
"I hope that people don't get stuck in worship mode and feel like, ‘Oh man, I can't listen to this music because it's not worship,’” she noted. “I pray that they can hear the songs for what they are. It is art. I think it's really good and I'm hoping that they can hear it for what it is.”
Maverick City Music is now on the road with Kirk Franklin for the Kingdom tour. Raine concluded her interview by asking music lovers to give her music a listen.
''Give it three listens and then decide because the music is more than just a bop. It has a message and hopefully, it will make you think and it will push you to have a conversation, not only with the Lord but with others and start these conversations like, 'Hey, where are you right now? Are you good?'”
To learn more about Raine and her new album, click here.
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic