We are sharing here our recent interview with a highly talented artist with touch of spirituality in his lyrics ‘Rev Peter Unger’.
Twist Online : First tell us about the start of your music career?
Rev Peter Unger : Music for me has always had a spiritual dimension. I began to play the guitar and write songs after a move from an urban area to rural Vermont. It was a difficult move for me, leaving friends behind and moving to a drastically different area. Writing and performing songs through high school became a way to cope. The songs reflected my inner struggles, and often had spiritual aspect to them. Later in college, and graduate school, I began to perform for friends who encouraged me to sing in some public forum. Eventually I would perform in coffee houses, and worship services in college, and graduate school at Princeton Seminary. It was natural progression, then, for my music to become an integral part of my ministry. In the churches I have served I often performed the songs, in place of a sermon, in combination with a story thematic with the song. The congregations loved this alternative which broke away from the rote sermon format. In a greater music ministry I was also asked to perform at weddings, funerals, Baptisms, and larger regional church gatherings.
As a full time pastor, and pt college instructor I found these outlets for my music sufficiently fulfilling, and have not sought to perform in more secular arenas. The main focus of my songs has been to offer spiritual hope, comfort, and inspiration
Twist Online :What was inspiration behind starting your spiritual music journey ?
Rev Peter Unger : Musically it was combination of folk, folk rock, and celtic music. My mother’s family emigrated from the Hebrides in Scotland, and I have always seemed to have an innate love of this genre. It also seems to speak to the mystical, spiritual side of me.
Twist Online : Tell us about your recent single “Heaven Only Knows” ?
Rev Peter Unger : In my current church I have been working with a number of individuals with addictions. They came to me after experiencing the slow downward spiral that addictions precipitate. Broken relationships, deteriorating health, depression and a loss of any real meaning and purpose in their lives had brought these individuals to ever greater even suicidal lows. The song was written, and video produced, as an extension of this ministry.
Twist Online : What’s your favorite music genre?
Rev Peter Unger : Probably Celtic music, it seems to speak to me in a spiritual way that goes beyond words. Maclean, The Chieftans, Clannad, and Julie Fowlis are among the many celtic performers I enjoy listening to.
Twist Online : How many songs you have on your credit? what’s your own favorite song?
Rev Peter Unger : I written dozens of songs over the years only some of which have been recorded and uploaded onto the internet.
Twist Online : You have also written some books. How was the response from the readers?
Rev Peter Unger : The books were written partly as fundraisers for the churches I served in at the time, and partly to address what I thought were pressing issues facing the mainline protestant churches. “Elmer’s Ethics” recalls, through the life of a unique and remarkable PA Dutch man, the way core values were once more commonaly instilled in individuals through the mentoring of family and community. “Spiritual Journeys in Prayer and Song” was written to offer a very different, less moralistic and more Grace filled, paradigm for a spiritual journey. A third book, “Grace of the Cast Off Cross” was a book I had published and wrote the intro. to. This book, my father’s journal, documents how his spiritual growth, and that of a faith communities in the camps helped him and others cope, and survive the inhumane conditions. It is also a story of his great hope to be reunited with his wife, the former Irene Kahn, and daughter who were placed in camps for women and children.
Twist Online : Do you have some goals in your mind?
Rev Peter Unger : My greatest hope and goal is not for commercial success, but to minister to a greater audience through my music. Our culture is one that is driven by commercial interests and trends, and the kind of music that floods the marketplace is no exception. So much of this music bombards the listener with a driving beat, and overly produced music. Contemporary Christian music has increasingly been influenced by enjoy some of this music, I seek to offer an alternative with my music.
Given how overloaded and stressed out we often feel in the current culture it is my hope that a quieter, more natural, and soothing sound might offer some hope, comfort, and inspiration to those who seek it.
Twist Online : Are you working on any new music project?
Rev Peter Unger : While I have no immediate plans to perform outside church settings, I continue to write songs and love working with a friend Lisa Koza to create videos for them. We have already loaded up eight or ten of these. Given the continuing trend toward music videos it is my hope that some of our music videos might, through the internet, minister to greater numbers.