There are few things more unsettling than stepping out of your comfort zone, but nothing can compare to the opportunities that come from total surrender to God’s call. Just ask Karyn Williams. She left behind friends and family to move to Nashville, but God has used her obedience to open doors she could have never imagined.
“I stepped out on a huge leap of faith and moved to Nashville,” Williams says of relocating from Orlando in 2007. “I didn’t know one person in the music industry, but I decided if it was sink or swim, then I was going to swim. On the day I drove to Nashville I prayed, ‘Lord, I promise to walk through every door that You open no matter what.’ I have kept that promise and He has been faithful in providing opportunities to share His name.”
Williams’ unrelenting trust in God provides the foundation for her life and is woven throughout the songs on her Inpop Records debut, Only You. The 11-song collection showcases Williams’ compelling voice, a sweet soprano that oozes vulnerability yet also possesses a quiet strength firmly rooted in her faith. The album’s lead single, Rest In The Hope, spotlights the intuitive songwriting and stunning vocal gift that are making Williams one of the Christian music community’s most talked about new artists.
Williams was featured in Billboard magazine as one of the “Best Bets” of 2012 and other gatekeepers have been singing her praises, yet it’s not industry accolades that fuel Williams’ artistry, it’s her desire to touch people with the good news of God’s grace and mercy.
“You just never know how God is going to use your songs,” Williams continues. “All we can do as songwriters is pour out our hearts and leave it up to Him—let go of it and then trust God with the results.”
Williams grew up listening to Christian artists Sandi Patty, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman. “My dad introduced me to country music when I was in high school and I fell in love with the harmonies and the stories in those songs that were told by artists like the Judds, Martina McBride and Faith Hill,” she says, “but Christian music is the music that has always moved my heart and made me want to use my voice to draw people closer to the Lord. I used to sit in my room for hours listening to the lyrics of songs that I loved. I guess I was studying songwriting before I realized it.”
Within a year of moving to Nashville, Williams’ talent as a songwriter earned her a deal with Brentwood-Benson Publishing. She recorded an independent project that gained fans and caught the attention of executives at Inpop Records, who signed Williams to a record deal. With Only You, Williams has fulfilled that early promise, crafting an album filled with memorable songs that draw on her personal experiences to share universal truths.
Though music was part of her childhood, sports also played a big part in her life, and she was an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The eldest daughter of Orlando Magic Senior Vice President and founder Pat Williams, Williams grew up in an exceptionally large family. Her parents had five biological children and adopted 14 others from numerous countries, including Brazil, Korea, Romania and the Philippines. “I didn’t choose the adoption platform, adoption chose me and is a big part of my ministry and a big part of where my heart is,” says Williams, who works with Holt International. “I’ve seen first hand the impact adoption has on families and lives. Because of my parent’s willingness to say ‘yes,’ they changed our entire family, and they changed generations to come. They didn’t just change my life, but they changed the lives of children that were born all over the world.”
Whether writing a song, a Bible study or a book (she co-authored her first book, The Takeaway, with her father in 2009), Karyn Williams is acutely aware of the power of words and devotes her life to using them to uplift and encourage. “I’m passionate about Jesus, people and music in that order, so to be able to make a life and a ministry out of all three, that’s pretty awesome,” Williams says of the path God has placed her on. “Music has a way of healing in a way that sometimes nothing else can. You can listen to a great speaker and or sit outside on a sunny day and feel better about life, but when you are lost in a song that is speaking to you, there’s nothing quite like it.”