Listen: Levi McGrath chats to Graeme Burrill
It was years ago that Levi McGrath first began singing the words ‘You are in control’, to a catchy tune in his head. And it would be years before that little hook was crafted into a complete song and recorded for an album.
As it turns out, though, the timing was perfect.
That song, You Are In Control, now features as one of the tracks on his latest album, Be Here Now – and it’s a message tailor-made for this season of uncertainty we are now in.
Speaking to Graeme Burrill on Hope Nights, Levi explained the song’s evolution.
“It takes us back to that place where we can be reminded of God’s sovereignty in all situations, including this one right now.”
“It’s one I’ve been working on for a while, perfecting, and only finished off and recorded just last year,” he said, “and it made this new album.
“For me, it was written in a time when I was in between albums, in between tours, and I’m like, ‘What’s next, God, what’s next for me? I can’t see the blueprint. I don’t know what’s up ahead, I don’t know what’s coming, and I’m nervous about the future. What’s in store for me? Is music still what you’re calling me to, God? And I was really kind of struggling.
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“I didn’t realise that… all these years later, that this song would be for now.”
It was Levi’s wife who first picked up on the significance of the message.
“My wife heard me practicing it in my studio one night, and she tapped me on the shoulder, and said, ‘This song is for Covid-19, this is for now, for people in isolation who are really struggling. They’ve lost their business, they’ve lost their jobs, they don’t know how to teach their kids, how to inspire their families… so it’s going to be a song of hope and encouragement.’ And it basically says that God’s in control. We don’t need to worry.”
Inspired by a Childhood Bible Verse
Trusting God in every situation is a message Levi’s has carried through his whole life.
“It’s really inspired by a verse that my parents tucked me into bed with when I was little,” he said, “from Isaiah 43: ‘Do not be afraid, I’ve called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be there. When you pass through the flames, you will not be burned.’
“I just love that. And it takes us back to that place where we can be reminded of God’s sovereignty in all situations, including this one right now. That we can actually find some rest and some peace in that, and not stress out, and not worry.”
Live Concerts from Home
Like many musicians, Levi has been thrown more than a little off-course by the Covid-19 shutdown.
He was due to be touring his new album this year, but now, concerts are out of the question. Instead, he has found himself in lockdown, being a homeschool dad, making memories with his kids, and getting creative with his music – by giving free loungeroom gigs from home, via Facebook Live.
The online concerts have also been a chance raise awareness and funds for the work of Empart Australia – a charity working with the poorest of the poor in developing regions of Asia, to bring sustainable change and fight poverty.
As an artist who has long supported many social justice causes, Levi is a champion for Empart’s work, and said that now is when charities like this one need our help more than ever.
“I know a lot of people are struggling to get through here in Australia, in isolation… but there are families where it’s life and death, this lockdown.
“It’s not just the disease of coronavirus that they’re worried about, but just getting through this time, keeping their families alive. That’s what Empart is doing, getting hygiene and health and sanitation packs into the communities, and also distributing food, throughout South Asia.”