An encouraging word. A quiet compliment. A pat on the back. Tyrus Morgan believes these small gestures are important ripples in an ocean of eternal impact. We were created for more than just going through the motions, and for this Nashville-via-Kansas singer/songwriter and worship leader, it’s important to be reminded of that on a regular basis.
“There are earthly, tangible things through the Body of Christ that show us something greater than ourselves, something to believe in,” says Tyrus, a sought-after songwriter who co-penned “The Same God,” the poignant power-ballad which scored GRAMMY®-nominated NewSong their most recent Christian radio hit. “Life is more than just a ‘go to work, pay the mortgage, go home, go to bed’ type of thing, and it’s our job to build each other up in good times and in bad.”
A simple action with lasting significance, encouragement is at the heart of Straight Line, Tyrus’ highly-anticipated sophomore recording. He co-produced and co-wrote each of the project’s 10 songs, and immersing himself in all aspects of the process afforded a prime opportunity to paint honest lyrics—that both uplift and challenge—against a refreshingly pure pop canvas. Among several standout moments is a guest turn from Dove Award-winning vocalist Nicol Sponberg on the worship anthem “Song To The Savior,” a selection Tyrus often shares in concert as an opening call to worship.
In short, Straight Line is a reminder that the mission field is often found in the middle of everyday life, and perhaps no song echoes the album’s theme more prominently than the lead track. A sunny groove punctuated with tight harmonies, “Something To Believe In” is a signature anthem Tyrus hopes his audience will keep singing long after the concert ends. “None of us are exempt from tough times and discouraging seasons when it feels like our cups are empty and we have nothing to offer,” he shares. “The whole idea of this song is that in both the good and bad times, God gives us something to believe in that never fails or changes. While it might seem typical to write a Christian song about that, I wanted to take it a step further to help people understand it’s really our responsibility to uplift each other.”
If encouragement is its cornerstone, the foundation of Straight Line is built upon some of the defining moments in Tyrus’ own life. A self-described high school jock with a passion for baseball, at age 17 he inherited a guitar from his grandfather and quickly taught himself to play. A few band gigs in college began to whet his appetite for more music than sports, and after graduation Tyrus found himself in Nashville writing songs at night and paying the bills with an advertising job by day. But then things began to change—in just about every way.
“I did really well at the ad agency, according to the world’s standards,” he remembers. “But moving up the corporate ladder was never my primary goal, and I didn’t want to see my music fall by the wayside. I had a crisis of realizing that my passions were not lining up with my faith, that what I believed in was not what I was doing on a day to day basis with my time and talents.”
“It was a really tumultuous 18 months of starting to say yes to God instead of yes to the worldly thing,” Tyrus says. “Reading through the book of James, I began to question whether my actions were reflecting my faith or if they were just words. I’m a words guy, so that was kind of hard for me to swallow, to think that my words were not enough.”
Rekindling his love of performing, songwriting and worship leading, Tyrus embarked into the uncharted territory of full-time music ministry. While there were many lessons in learning to trust divine provision and timing in those initial days, God was also giving the Morgans yet another life-changing opportunity. After being deeply affected by a Compassion International presentation at their church, Tyrus and his wife Casey began the process of international adoption.
“I had held that sort of thing at arm’s length because I had heard negative things in the past about different child sponsorship programs,” Tyrus—who is now a Compassion International artist himself—shares. “But it all goes back to the Holy Spirit working on us. We looked at each other and agreed we needed to do it. It opened our eyes to our ability to help other people, and our call to do that.”
Already parents of a 2-year-old daughter, the couple traveled to Ethiopia to welcome Mahi into their growing family. “Seeing Casey and Mahi meet for the first time and knowing that our child was given to us, not through biology, but through God placing us together—to have her walk out into my wife’s arms—was pretty powerful,” Tyrus recalls. Today, she’s a perfect fit, nestled squarely in the middle of the Morgan clan. With big sister Ella and baby brother Rhodes on either side, Mahi’s influence is also reflected on Straight Line.
Her given name, Mahelet, is the name of an Ethiopian musical instrument often used in worship services. A wooden and metal shaker, the mahelet is prominently featured on one of the project’s standout tracks, the ethereal and deeply moving “Where Love Stays.” With lyrics reflecting Mahi’s own journey— There’s a place where the children are laughing and innocence always survives/where your feet hit the water your dreams become oceans wide/take me to that place/where love stays—the song dually depicts the ultimate love and acceptance to be found in our Heavenly home.
As his family has grown, so also has Tyrus’ ministry around the country. Although he maintains a healthy calendar of concert dates each year, he’s able to prioritize time with his family and be actively involved with his home congregation. A worship leader at Wellspring Church in suburban Nashville, Tyrus is also part of an artist partnership program at Little Rock, Arkansas’ Fellowship Bible Church. The quarterly opportunity there is a mutually beneficial relationship: he gets to lead worship and share his heart, while in return they fill his cup with support, prayer and encouragement.
Without a doubt, encouragement is Tyrus’ watchword these days. As he deliberately chooses to use his own gifts to uplift others, God’s blessings in his life echo a remarkably similar theme.
“We’ve got to support each other; we’re supposed to,” he reiterates. “We should want showers of blessings on our brothers and sisters and they should want that for us. I hope anybody I encounter will know that I’m not just encouraging them because it’s my ministry—I really mean it.”
Whether cheering from the sidelines, offering a proverbial pat on the back through his music, or simply doing what he does best in song or in person—encouraging—these seemingly small gestures leave a lasting impression. Offering an important reminder that life is about more than just going through the motions, Tyrus Morgan is indeed making some pretty big ripples in the ocean of eternal impact.