Music review by Luchae Williams
South African singer, songwriter and music producer, Pieter McKarthy, believes that it is our responsibility to impart the heart of worship to the next generation. The crooner from Jeffreys Bay — now based in Durban — has been leading worship across the world, for more than 30 years, and has a passion to see schools of worship set up around the country. McKarthy refers to himself as a “son of the African soil” and is well known in congregations across South Africa. His unique blend of rock, folk music, jazz and afro fusion sets him apart, as he brings a vibrant and energetic flavour to the local Christian music arena.
McKarthy’s latest offering, titled Beautiful Day, was written with the local church in mind. He shares: “I desire to write songs that could be used in our worship services all across the nation and the world.” Beautiful Day is one of more than 20 albums that he has written and produced over the past 30 years, and he believes that it holds a “now” message, for the body of Christ in Africa. “These are current songs with the current sound of the Lord for this generation. Prophetic, powerful, Holy Spirit-inspired, joyful, modern and uniquely South African.”
This can be picked up in title track, Beautiful Day, a catchy pop-infused praise song that speaks about the work of Christ on the cross. Husky-voiced McKarthy sings the chorus with conviction: “Beautiful day/Jesus washed my sins away/Beautiful day/I will never be the same.”
Other fun, upbeat songs, such as My Chains are Gone and I’ve Got A River, caught my attention. The latter reflects on the Spirit of God among us, with a fun bridge that urges listeners to “clap your hands, sing and dance, shout your praises loud!”
Another favorite was found in multi-lingual track, Unstoppable Joy. This authentically South African song has an endearing “get up and jive” element to it, that does exactly what the writer intended it to do. It could definitely work in a congregational setting.
With no less than 15 tracks on the album, I was pleased to hear that many of them cater to a corporate worship setting. Songs such as Love Set Me Free and Take My Life fit the bill. Both have a likeable melody, easy to learn lyric and offer messages of faith and surrender.
If you’re familiar with McKarthy’s music, you’ll come to know and love his smoky vocals and stripped-down, guitar driven worship ballads, such as Our Love Song Sing and Wrote Upon My Heart, an ode to our faithful God. The worship leader gets right to the point — no messy, complicated arrangements or elaborate displays of vocal bravado. Instead, he delivers each worship song with intention and simplicity.
With a heart that longs to see South African worship leaders and Christian music singers singing songs that are relevant to this land and this nation, Pieter McKarthy unashamedly takes a stand. In Beautiful Day I found much more than just another collection of songs. Instead, I was reminded of the responsibility that we, as South African worshippers have, to release the sound that God is singing over our nation. We could do well to learn from pioneers such as McKarthy and should be doing more to encourage and support local worship music. If you’d like to purchase the Beautiful Day album, or any of the other Pieter McKarthy Music albums, you can find him on iTunes.