Editor-in-Chief Chris Unthank had a chance to sit down and chat with one of Southern Gospel’s favorite new voices – Riley Harrison Clark from Tribute. Check out this quick Q&A with the talented vocalist.
Chris Unthank: First of all, give our readers a history of your time as a vocalist and what brought you to Tribute.
Riley Harrison Clark: I began singing around age 12 and working with vocal coaches the year after. As time went on, I realized all I wanted to do was sing, so I took every opportunity I could. I began leading worship at my church around age 14. To skip a few years, I was 18 and on my face before God in my room around 2:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, pleading that he begin my journey in singing and leading in whatever way he saw fit. It was the time in my life I had finally laid it all out and trusted his plan over mine. Literally 8 hours later around 10:00 a.m., I received a phone call from Gary asking if I would be interested in joining Tribute. I packed my things and moved from Oklahoma to Nashville nearly over night. That was six years ago June 25.
CU: How has life changed for you since joining Tribute?
RHC: I have grown. Both in ways I was hoping for and in other ways I was not expecting. To be effective in whatever God has called you to you have to be willing to stretch. This happened to me and continues to happen to me in many ways. Moving in less than two days was the first change. I said a quick goodbye to my friends and family then hit the road. A couple days after I joined, we hit the road in a bus, another crazy change, and went out for 10 days to the very northeastern corner of the United States. I had never been further than Tennessee, let alone ending up in Maine. Then there is the adjustment to our “normal” schedule that is no where close to the average persons weekly routine. I have met some incredible people both artists and friends on the road. How has life changed? Completely.
CU: Almost immediately after joining Tribute, you gained quite a following. What can you attribute to your rise in this genre?
RHC: I will answer this question with the least bit of arrogance I can so please understand where I am coming from. I would like to say it was my voice then again I have heard the first album I recorded with the guys and am confused as to why they kept me. Haha!
I will answer the question this way” I believe God gives favor to those who work hard and do their best to glorify him with the gifts he has given to them. I tell people all the time, as cliche as it may sound, I want to change the world. I will not stop until I do everything I can to change the world for His Kingdom and His glory. Whenever and however He gives me the opportunity. Also, I like to smile and talk to people. Sometimes too much I’m sure, but I do believe that makes a huge difference to the people that come to our concerts. In saying all of that, all of you “newcomers” to this genre/industry, please learn to be kind and put on your listening ears. It will most times touch hearts more than a good voice.
CU: Since your time with Tribute, what songs have had an impact on you?
RHC: Songs that we have recorded that have had an impact on me would consist of “Homecoming Day,” “God On the Mountain,” “Those Who Know Me Know,” “God of All My Days,” and truthfully the list could go on and on. I am thankful for songwriters that trust us to carry their songs across the country. I love to sing of His grace and faithfulness.
CU: Over the last couple of years, you’ve gotten married and had a couple of kids. How has fatherhood affected you?
RHC: This could be my favorite question seeing as how my family is one of my favorite things to talk about. I LOVE being a dad. It is the greatest yet hardest responsibility but I still LOVE it! It may sound weird, but one thing that has affected me most about fatherhood is my wife. She has taught me so much about being a loving and caring dad by the example she is as a mother. I have always heard the love of God seems even bigger to you when you have children of your own and sure enough it’s seems to be the truth. I am simply thankful in just the opportunity to be the daddy of two beautiful kiddos!
CU: What can we expect from you and Tribute in the near future?
RHC: Tribute is currently working on a new project that should be out later on this year. We are very excited about that. Also, I have recently went into the studio with Lauren Talley to record “The Prayer,” so you can be looking out for that on an upcoming project of theirs.
CU: What has God been teaching you lately?
RHC: Trust. He has been teaching me a lot about trusting him. In the good the bad and in between. I say it many times from the stage, “I dare you to trust God in whatever your circumstance.” Seemingly, it is one of the hardest things to do, especially if you are anything like me. I want to be able to fix it and move on. God, however, doesn’t always work that way but he does ask us to trust Him. John 16:33 is a verse I have been studying lately. I don’t want to quote it here, because I want the reader to have the fantastic opportunity to read it themselves. I say all of that to simply remind you to trust God in all things. We can trust him together!
Find out more about Riley and all of the guys in Tribute by visiting them online at www.tributequartet.com.