Well-known Bible teacher James Goll grew up a singer before he was ever a preacher. Now he has returned to his roots with a special musical album, Never Alone.
“Growing up in rural Missouri, singing was my lifeline. Whether it was performing at church or school functions, arranging choral sounds or bellowing forth as a soloist, singing was truly my delight. Eventually I became a wedding singer and even sang with my bride at our own wedding ceremony.”
Although best known as a Bible teacher and the prolific author of more than 40 books, the 65-year-old was a singer long before he was a preacher. With the recent release of his debut music CD, Never Alone, Goll has added a dynamic new facet to his ministry.
Many who have read Goll’s books might have thought he would have recorded a worship album, but he felt God leading him in a different direction. The result is an album of inspirational music designed to lift the heart and soul. This CD, filled with carefully selected staples from the American music archive, tells his story of life, love, family, and devotion to God.
“My dear, amazing wife graduated to be with the Lord in September of 2008. We were married for 32 and ½ years and then I became a single dad of four. I also went through nine years of non-Hodgkins lymphoma 3 times – and the third time was life and death. So my life went through a lot of shaking.”
“I had to work on reconstructing my life. I had never missed a bill in my life, but now I had more than $300,000 worth of medical debt from both her and me going through these intense cancer treatments. So there are some mysteries that are in God. I’ve learned to keep my hand on the plow, look straight ahead, and not over my shoulder, and just keep worshipping.”
“That worship piece for me is also a singing piece,” Goll explains. “The title Never Alone is really about my life’s journey. It’s about rediscovering life after tragedy. It was a really difficult time, and one of the therapeutic tools God used to help me heal was singing.”
A Life of Ministry
The call to full-time vocational ministry led James and Michal Ann, his wife of 32 years, on a path of world travel, allowing them to minister in more than 50 countries. While their lives were filled with much joy, Goll confesses there were also a multitude of challenges, including both of their struggles with cancer.
“Times of trial and transition are enormously hard on your heart,” Goll explains. “Even loving God and others as well as you used to can be exhausting as you grieve and try to adjust to your new reality. Finding your bearings must become part of your journey, but it’s not easy. You have to ask yourself some basic questions, like ‘Who am I?’ ‘What do I love to do?’ ‘What brings me life?’ Sounds easy, right? But it’s not when you are still reassembling your identity after a major loss.”
Once his feet were firmly established on the road to rediscovering life after tragedy, Goll experienced the rebirth of his old desire to sing.
“I have been singing since at least the age of three. I would sing Sunday school songs and hymns from the old Cokesbury hymnal. I would sing with the radio. I would sing with Lawrence Welk. I would sing everywhere I went! I sang because it was my life. But in the midst of my pain, I discovered I had not been singing much. Once I put my finger on that fact, I realized the key to unlocking my poor, beat-up heart was to sing life back into it.”
That revelation led to the Never Alone project.
Produced by McKendree Tucker (SONICFLOOd, August York) and executive produced by Dove and Grammy Award winner Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Mercy Me’s Bart Millard), Never Alone features ten songs, including such classics as “What a Wonderful World,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Unforgettable,” “Morning Has Broken,” “What the World Needs Now,” “You Are So Beautiful, and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
Never Alone also includes “See Me Then,” a beautiful duet featuring Goll’s close friend, recording artist, worship leader and songwriter, Julie Meyer. Another of the album’s highlights is “Stick Together,” a delightful duet that Goll co-wrote and performed with his youngest daughter, Rachel Goll Tucker.
Goll contributes his own original song, “I Like to Dream,” which he wrote as a bedtime lullaby for his four children, then adapted for Never Alone. “I included this song as a surprise to honor Justin, GraceAnn, Tyler and Rachel. I like to dream about you!” says Goll.
“Through these songs, I hope to give listeners a picture frame to look through with a heartfelt perspective. I chose ‘What a Wonderful World’ because God does indeed have a wonderful plan for each of our lives. My wife, Michal Ann, was ‘Unforgettable,’ far more than a dream come true. She is ingrained on the memory of my soul, though near or far.”
“For me, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is a deeply spiritual song that has become the anthem of my life,” Goll explains. “There really is One who sticks closer than a brother. I believe these songs will give listeners a glimpse into my heart and soul.”
“It was a privilege to help James bring his lifelong dream of recording a full-length album to life,” says veteran producer Bannister. “With truly innovative arrangements provided by the inimitable talent of McKendree Tucker, Never Alone is a beautiful album, with lovely and heart-felt performances of classics that James somehow brings a new and deeper meaning to.”
“James W. Goll is a true Renaissance Man,” declares Grammy and Dove Award-winning superstar Michael W. Smith. “Not only is he an established author, speaker, and communications trainer, but there is an additional expression of creativity that is now being debuted. I promise, you will love his musical release called Never Alone as you hear his deep rich tones bellowing forth in an inspirational style on old classics and new fresh songs.”
For more information on Jim Goll, visit godencounters.com.
Dr. Craig von Buseck is Managing Editor for Inspiration.org.
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