Derek Minor

"High Above," part two of Derek Minor's "Up and Away" series comes out Nov. 10.

Derek Minor is a rapper who puts heart into his lyrics. Recently launching his “Up and Away” series, the artist is on tour with Christian musicians including Newsboys, Sidewalk Prophets, Blanca and others on a series of “Big Church Night Out” concerts stopping in Woodstock Friday.

The Woodstock concert is at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, 11905 Highway 92. Tickets start at $25 with group rates of $20 each in a group of four and $18 for a group of 10 or more.

“Up and Away” is a four-part series that started with “Your Soul Must Fly” Sept. 1. The first part of the series is a varied set that discusses themes of dreams and success. The next, “High Above,” releases Nov. 10.

“It’s about being high above your problems and issues, floating above your problems,” Minor said about the upcoming chapter.

The idea for the series started when he was going through a season of depression. Minor had to “go back to the beginning” to start to get out of it, he said.

“We all have dreams and things we want to do, and often those dreams are very honest and very real, but as we get deeper into our craft, often there’s pressure to chase the instant reward, get more money, get more influence, get more power, but that never leaves you satisfied,” Minor said. “I had to go back to the beginning, to what inspired me to make music, and what inspired me was to help people. I want to see people’s lives be enriched.”

The third project is titled, “The Trap,” and the fourth is “By Any Means.”

“When you listen to it all, it’s one sentence: Your soul must fly high above the trap by any means,” Minor said.

Born Derek Johnson Jr., Minor is a co-founder of Reflection Music Group. His single “No Quit” was nominated for a Dove Award last year and album “Minorville” won Dove’s Rap/Hip Hop Album of the Year in 2014.

Although his work often reflects his faith, Minor doesn’t define himself as exclusively a Christian artist.

“If I sit down to write records now, I don’t set out to write Christian records. I write what’s in my heart, and let the chips fall,” he said. “But being a Christian, there’s no way for me to hide that, I’m very passionate about my faith and that plays out in my music.”

Minor’s faith journey started when he was in college, after spending a few years away from his religious mother’s influence and after the loss of his grandparents.

“My religion was, whatever I want to do, that’s what I’m going to do with my life. After a couple years of experiencing that, it felt empty. There has to be more to life than chasing women, chasing money, chasing music, chasing things that don’t fill me up,” he said. “I said, ‘God, I love you. The other things I was thinking would make me happy, aren’t making me happy. I don’t want this pain, I just want joy. I remember in my dorm room feeling this sense of peace and joy, and from there that’s where my faith journey started.”

The first part of the series shows that Minor isn’t shying away from discussing current events, but at the same time he wants this divided country to start healing, he said.

“I wrote a song, it’s the first single on the second project, called ‘Walls.’ It’s when we look around our country, we see division, bickering and arguing. We wind out missing out on the beauty of life, the diversity of life,” Minor said. “It’s about tearing down the walls. That’s what Jesus did for us. That’s the example Christians, and I think everyone, should follow. To love unconditionally in grace.”

To purchase tickets or for more information about the tour, visit www.bigchurchnightout.com.

Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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