Sunday, December 8, 2013

Repeating Yourself (The Importance of the Hook)

Without a doubt the hardest thing to teach songwriters is the thing that should be the most obvious: You have to have a hook. For many reasons, a repeated, catchy hook is what separates the successful songwriters from those who just can't seem to get any traction.

The definition of a music hook seems to be "a musical and/or lyrical phrase that catches the ear of the listener". So the word hook comes from "hooking" them as they listen, so they'll want to sing along on the next chorus, and then of course listen repeatedly to our genius creation.


So why is this so hard to teach to new songwriters? Especially Christian songwriters?

I think the answer to this is simple, the writers are trying to be Christian and say something important. This can actually interfere in the process.

"Why should I worry about a silly hook when I'm proclaiming the Good News of Christ?" you ask.

To that I say, "Oh quit taking yourself so seriously! If you want your songs to reach real people, not just automatons who will nod to anything you say, AND you want to compare your songs to classic songwriting, put in a dang hook!"

Sorry for such a rude response, but I think you get my drift. If you sense some animosity from me on this subject (and it's one we've written on before), the reason is that I hear so many songs each and every week by Christian songwriters, and I sometimes have to ask them what the name of the song is, or which section is the chorus. These questions should never have to be asked of a great song. You know for sure what the title is, and when you are hearing the chorus or the hook.

Now, I know this frustrates songwriters trying to be artistic and different, and wanting to say something that is on their hearts or scriptural. I also know that Christians sometimes get put off by this, when Christ should be the main point of any Christian song. But most artists and songwriters are coming to see us in Nashville with intentions toward getting signed, published, or at the very least become more successful in their music and ministry pursuits. You can be as original and spiritual as you want, but if you have goals of success or even making your music your career, you'd better be ready to write music that can be easily processed and enjoyed by the masses.

How this is actually done in the chorus or repeated section is where you can be creative. Is a line repeated over and over? Is it at the front and end of the chorus? It could even be a verse hook that repeats at the end of each verse, and then is supplemented in the chorus. It could even be one killer line at the end of the chorus. There are no rules, other than rule #1: have a hook. How you design your hook is up to you.

Let's try some examples in the Comments section of this post. Are you game?

List either a chorus, or a verse and chorus to a song (whether it's yours or not). JUST LYRICS PLEASE. Then if you'd like to put a link to your song, do so after the lyrics.

Let's discuss these and see what you guys think out there.

Look forward to reading, listening, and discussing.

Have a great week!

EC
--
Eric Copeland is a songwriter first, but also president and executive producer for Creative Soul, a very different kind of Christian music company. Find out more at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com

32 comments:

Walt said...

Hi Eric,

I'm working on a tune now called God Built a Bridge but I have nothing for anyone to listen to yet. Here are the words to the Chorus (hook) :)

God built a bridge
'tween heaven and man
It was all part of an
incredible remarkable plan
He sent His son to earth
to light the way
He sent His son on Christmas Day.

Eric Copeland said...

Very interesting Walt. So let's get comments on this (constructive only please).

My two cents is I'm not sure I see what the hook is here. It isn't clear that this is about God building a bridge, but just a bit of poetry.

Any other thoughts?

EC

Paul Brittain said...

Hi Eric
Here's the first verse and chorus of one of my songs

Summer came and went I don't know where
But the silent shades of autumn
Settled softly on my soul
And the voice of the accuser taunted
"Where's your Saviour?"

He's with me, He's with me
He promised He would never leave
He's with me, He's with me
I have His word and I believe

Kyle Jardeau said...

We aim for strong hooks and meaningful words in every song on churchsongdownloads.com - I don't find the aims mutually exclusive, you just have to spend longer crafting the song:


"Spirit of God"

Was it a voice
For my ears could not hear it
Yet to my heart it was clear

There on the wind
Came a sweet inner calling
Saying God’s Spirit was near

Shining shining
Just like a light in the dark
Calling Calling
Out of the depths of my heart

Chorus

Spirit of God
Oh holy breath
You reach to the heart of me

Spirit of God
Healing my heart
And setting my Spirit free

Spirit of God
There at the dawning
Over a world made new

I am alive
New ev'ry morning
Now that I live in you

Comments welcome. Read our philosophy on aboutcsd.com which links you to the site where this song is on the home page

Kyle

Christopher Cook's Music said...

Hello friends of Soul of the Songwriter :)
I wrote a song called Streets of Gold. My goal was to use the phrase 'streets of gold' as much as possible. I hope it works. There is a link at the end of the comment if you would like to hear the demo.

Regarding the second and third songs that were posted. I do see the chorus repeating. I guess the next test would be to hear them. If there is a musical hook then you just might have a song. If the words don't sound cliche. Post a link so I can listen. I would love to hear your song in action!

Streets Of Gold

You could say that I believe in fairytales
You could say I live in a dream
You could say the Christian life is way too boring
You would be so wrong
Jesus tells another story
Full of endless glory and love
Jesus speaks about a kingdom
Never ending freedom and more

Streets of gold, endless wonders
Life abundant a hundredfold
No more pain, no more sorrow
No more sickness, no more war

You could say my faith is just imaginary
You could say I’m wasting my time
You could say that I’m a fool and walk away
But you would be so wrong
Jesus tells another story
Full of endless glory and love
Jesus speaks about a kingdom
Never ending freedom and more

Streets of gold, endless wonders
Life abundant a hundredfold
No more pain, no more sorrow
No more sickness, no more war

Soon I’ll go Where the streets are gold
Soon I’ll go Where the streets are gold

Streets of gold, endless wonders
Life abundant a hundredfold
No more pain, no more sorrow
No more sickness, no more war

Streets of gold, endless wonders
Life abundant a hundredfold
No more pain, no more sorrow
No more sickness, no more war

Soon I’ll go to where the streets are gold
Soon I’ll go to where the streets are gold

http://www.reverbnation.com/christophercook4/song/19252309-streets-of-gold

Alice4God said...

^Walt: "God built a bridge" would become a better hook if you repeat it in a different way at the end of the chorus or in each verse.
Though I haven't heard it in context and don't know your melody or rhythm, here's a rough example of how I might work it in at the end of the chorus:

God built a bridge
'tween heaven and man
It was all part of an
incredible remarkable plan
He sent His son to earth
to light the way
He sent His son on Christmas Day.
No one could cross that ocean of sin
Through His birth
God built a bridge.

I do this with a song of mine called "Lately" - The context of the hook changes on each repeat of the chorus. Here are the lyrics:

I hold onto moments,
they're like souvenirs;
Little jars of sand
to prove that You've been here.
When I hold them in my hands
Oh, how I long for You to speak to me again...

Lately - I haven't heard from You lately.
I've heard it said, and recognize it as the truth:
If You seem distant, You're not the one who moved.
Lately - I haven't heard from You lately.

Most of my life, I live
like it's about me;
Although this contradicts
what I say I believe
If I really wanna watch You move,
How could I restrain
The good I know to do?

Lately - I haven't seen Your hand lately.
Since You called us out to be Your hands and feet,
Should I be so convinced I'm not the one You need?
Lately - I haven't seen Your hand lately.

When I see the need,
I often turn the other cheek;
As if that's how You'd ever treat
the least of these.
Unseeing eyes, complacent heart, playing pretend;
It's been my story, and I've come here to repent.

Lately - what have I offered You lately?
Do I need to let go of some things I have,
So there'll be room enough for You in my grasp?

Lately - I haven't heard from You lately.
Lately - I haven't seen Your hand lately.
Lately - What have I offered You lately?

Studio release coming soon, but here's a link to demo: https://soundcloud.com/alice-mitchell-summers/lately

Walt said...

Eric and Alice, I appreciate your comments and will take them to heart. I agree with what you are saying. This particular tune is a brand new one that just came to me the other day. I've been busy working on finishing some instrumental pieces and I will soon return to this and put your advice to good use. Thanks again.

mgv said...

VERSE 1
you touched our lives with dreams of wonder
when you read the holy poems
rest easy, rest easy our dear mother
let soft white wings of angels take you home.

CHORUS
Yes Virginia, yes Virginia there is heaven
its time to take your place beside his throne
you've earned your place your place in heaven,
angels beckon to take you home

VERSE 2
your time on earth may be now over
but your memory lives on through
the lives you touched continue onward
spirits old, spirits born anew

CHORUS
Yes Virginia, yes Virginia there is heaven
its time to take your place beside his throne
you've earned your place your place in heaven,
angels beckon to take you home

BRIDGE
The cold wind blows, across the prairie
Frozen roses, scattered on the ground
blood red roses, their beauty leads us
to look to you as you look down

CHORUS OUT
Yes Virginia, yes Virginia look down from heaven
from your place beside the throne
Your in your place your place in heaven
yes Virginia your finally home

susan soave said...

Hello! Here are the first few verses and chorus of my song Living Water:

I went to the well
Looking for water
In the morning lite
Safe harbor from an empty nite
In the arms of a lover

And there He was
Sitting quietly He looked at me
And i felt naked
Felt that He could see
Every scar i tried to cover

And the desert sun was warm
Against my face
As He spoke the words that lifted me
Above this earthly place

Chorus:
He called me woman
He called me daughter
He told me child of Mine
Your thirst is over
Come in
And drink My Living Water

Here's a link to the YouTube video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU9Hg0zxD8Q

Thanx for reading! susan

kjbell said...

Hi. I'm responding to the first post from Walt's song "God Built A Bridge". I think the title of your song, which is the first line of the chorus, can be the hook. But you have to use that phrase in a creative way (perhaps it should be the last line of chorus instead of the first). The rest of the lyrics you wrote for the chorus should be set aside to use those words (creatively) somewhere else in the song, because they don't accurately capture what you're really trying to say. But you've opened the door to a flood of imagery when you say, "God Built a Bridge". You will have to get VERY descriptive with this song because obviously no one can see God building the bridge. So, you have to create the imagery in the mind of the listener. So, I would suggest creating some kind of real life story or struggle (for example: we are lost because of our separation from God) something that people can relate to, and then weave in how God built a bridge. But don't just come out and say it right away...make the words and imagery flow into it, so that the listener will think, "Yeah, you're right Walt...God DID build a bridge. AMEN!!"

kjbell said...

Here's a song I wrote called "Make You Mine" I wrote it about 10 years ago as I was just learning about songwriting. I'm still learning, but I would like to know what you would consider the "hook" of the song. In my opinion its the entire chorus. I provided a link to the song at the end of this post enjoy:

Verse 2

I wanna see You through the eyes of a child.
I wanna hear You speak Your holy words.
I wanna touch Your lovely face.
All that I am is in You, Lord.

Chorus: It’s Your love that’s everlasting.
It’s Your truth that will never die.
And You have the life-giving waters.
And I will always make You mine.

http://reachingoutinlove.org/audio/Make_You_Mine.mp3

kjbell said...

Hi Paul Brittain! I'm commenting on your song you posted. It seems clear to me that "He's With Me" is the hook of your song, which is good, and I like the first half of the chorus. I think you start to say something meaningful, but then at the end of the chorus it seems to drop off suddenly. So, give the listener more on the chorus. Please re-write the first verse. I like the part about the voice of the accuser, but the beginning doesn't seem to flow well into the subject matter of the chorus. (I hope that makes sense). Develop the part about the accuser and what his voice is saying (or better yet, how the voice of the accuser makes you feel). Be a little more descriptive with it all and I think you'll really be onto something with this song.

Eric Copeland said...

Such excellent comments! Thanks for being a part everyone.

Paul: "He's With Me" seems right on point.

Kyle: Also right there in the hook pocket.

Chris: I don't remember this one, is it new? I'd have to hear how the hook is in there, but this is a good example of how a lyrical hook can happen in a place other than the chorus.

Alice - You rock as usual. Nice hooky chorus.

MGV - Hard to tell, I'd have to hear this one.

Susan - I'm not sure this one is as easy to tell that the lyrical hook is Living Water since it's only presented at the end of the chorus. Listening to the chorus, I might think it was called "He Called Me".

KJ - Same as Susan, not sure I instantly recognize that "Make You Mine" is the hook I'm supposed to remember.

Keep up the conversation folks! Good stuff!

EC

kjbell said...

Thanks Eric! Here's another. The audio link is at the bottom:

Verse 2

We’re the forgotten ones no one sees.
No one expects us to be a star.
We are the least now; rejected again.
Will we be great? And will we go far?

Pre-Chorus:

Where are the heroes? They’ve come and gone.
But I know the One who still lives on.

Chorus:

No more the outcasts. No more the ones who are shamed.
We live on because He lives. No more the outcasts.

http://reachingoutinlove.org/audio/Outcasts.mp3

susan soave said...

Thank you for the commentary Eric - really appreciate the opportunity to post and receive feedback! i guess i felt the hook made sense here when taken within context of the musical structure, but i understand your point and will use it as good food for thought! susan

Deborah Wolf said...

This is a song I wrote last year but just got recorded this year. The link is posted at the bottom.

I Don't Know Why

12/19/12
I DON’T KNOW WHY(Based on Sandy Hook, CT tragedy)

VERSE 1
I don’t know if legs can hold this heavy heart of mine
Or if I have the strength to bend my knees this time
I don’t know if I’ll ever know, or if my faith can stand not knowing why

VERSE 2
I don’t know if I can go on living out each day
Or if I can even lift my voice, or bow my head to pray
I don’t know if I’ll ever know, or ever understand the reasons why

CHORUS
And so I fall into, not the arms of why but who
And I weep in Your Embrace
I can barely stand, as you offer me your hand
My weakness for Your Grace

VERSE 3
I don’t know if eyes can take this flood of tears I cry
Or if I still believe, in the one who came to die
I don’t know if I’ll ever know, or if my faith can stand not knowing why

VERSE 4
I don’t know if you can make this trembling go away
Or if love can ever change the hatred of today
I don’t know if we’ll ever know, or if our minds will always question why

BRIDGE
You become my legs, you are my voice of praise
Your suffering paid for me
So I boldly sing, You are my King of Kings
You are my Prince of Peace

VERSE
I don’t know how I could doubt the life you came to give
The love that suffered on the cross, it gives me hope to live
I don’t know if I’ll ever know, or ever understand the reasons why (2x)
But I know WHO, I know WHO, I know YOU

© 2012 Praiseworthy Publishing
Deborah Wolf


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HARni1Zlmrk

Paul Brittain said...

Hi all. Thanks for the various comments on "He's with me". I've put the whole song on Soundcloud if you want to hear it. I'm not sure about the way I've ended it so further comments welcome! the link is
soundcloud.com/paulbrit/hes-with-me.
Thanks

Perry Walp said...

This a Christmas song I co-wrote. The link is @ the bottom.
Verse 1
While the world lay slumbering, asleep and at rest
Heaven sent a present Its Dearest and best,
To a world full of darkness in the still of the night
He came as a baby to bring heaven's light

Refrain:
Behold He is Heaven's Light
Born for us all this night

Verse 2
Away in a manger the baby was laid
The angel told the shepherds “Be not afraid,
Go, now find the infant in a cattle stall
The One you are seeking is Lord of us all

Refrain
Behold He is Heaven's Light
Born for us all this night

Verse 3
From a King to a pauper, from most to the least
Jesus came as a man to bring us heaven's peace
When I bow my knees before Heaven's Throne
Jesus has promised my heart as His home

Ending
Behold He is Heaven's Light
Behold He is Heaven's Light
Behold He is Heaven's Light
Born for us all this night
Perry
Inspiredsongwriting.blogspot.com

http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=11227487

raju ahamed said...

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Rakib Hasan said...

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musicians .Please write write more about songwriters wanted .I wanna read more similar post from yours .Please

keep writing for music.

Markeeta Foster said...

Hi Everyone, I am new at this,but I am hungry to learn. Please tell me what you think.

Sanctification:
I write from the valley about the mountain top. I want to live inside my words of stillness on the pages of the spiritual writes. And I know my purpose, in the dimension unknown to the norm…wide…inside the universe. I can touch the quietness of love that lives in my soul. I can see the moon sitting at my feet. My tears are in the harvest of the stars and they teach me to believe on high one at a time. In the secrete place I stand on hidden riches, established, I became satisfied inside the writes of my pages…today…today…today…I became satisfied. The righteousness in my pages is my heart… springing up together… and He, my Lord created it.

Hannah D. said...

So I'm just a kid, so maybe I don't belong in this coversation, but I've been writing songs for a couple years and wanted to share one of the ones that I wrote lately. Does it have a hook? I don't know, maybe... That's what I want to know. I wrote this one Dec. 2013.


"THIS IS JESUS"
Born in a lowly manger
Rejected by those He loved
Dying a painful death
When He did nothing wrong
This is Jesus
This is Jesus

Forgiving when it is tough
Loving when it is hard
Healing those who are sick
Making the blind to see
This is Jesus
This is Jesus

This is Jesus
Power and glory and honor
This is Jesus
Who reigns all Heaven and Earth
This is Jesus
The ultimate sacrifice for you and me
This is Jesus

Born in a stable so poor
Ridiculed, scoffed, and scorned
A love that is unending
A hope, a light to get us through
This is Jesus
This is Jesus

A light when all seems so dark
A hope when all seems hopeless
A Savior from this world
A Father to the Fatherless
This is Jesus
This is Jesus

This is Jesus
Power and glory and honor
This is Jesus
Who reigns all Heaven and earth
This is Jesus
The ultimate sacrifice for you and me
This is Jesus

Saving grace
Amazing love
Unending care
Indescribable
More than words
This is Jesus

Saving grace
Amazing love
Unending care
Indescribable
More than words
This is Jesus

This is Jesus
Power and glory and honor
This is Jesus
Who reigns all Heaven and Earth
This is Jesus
The ultimate sacrifice for you and me
This is Jesus

This is Jesus
This is Jesus
Jesus
This is Jesus

Eric Copeland said...

Nice job Hannah!

Even without hearing any music, I'd say this is very hooky.

EC

Markeeta Foster said...

I love Him ....from my wilderness...this...powerful man...my Father...my everything...my..."I AM"

He picked my up...I was instantly filled with His Spirit...His energy brought a stream of tears...to wash His feet with a sweet kiss

I vowed to honor Him...to passionately love Him with my entire personality...

He's my song I sing ...in poetry...a different strong my "I AM" He is....amazing...so amazing...in everything I must say He grooves me...He moves me...He grooves me.

He lift my head from the low...looking in my eyes...His eyes glow... with a calm for the storm raging in my soul...I became transparent gold...He wrapped me in silk...purple...
and the sign of His cross in frankincense and myrrh...He amazing reversing the course letting me see His dream for me...He's amazing...He moves me...He grooves me.

Jennifer Gutierrez said...

Your post got me because I have written a few songs that I have lived with for a while and speak to me, but I never have a title! I am new at writing songs & I never really thought about it the way you put it! I have wondered if what I am writing would actually mean anything to anyone else. This is the first one I wrote, no one has ever heard it so I'd love feedback.

Walk out on the water, arms open wide.
They say listen and you will hear and they say seek and you will find
But I've been listening for so long and the only voice I hear is mine
I need you God to come and rescue me.

I'm here between the past and all the plans you have for me
Strong enough to not look back but no idea of where I'm going
But you promised me you'd come, meet me in my time of need
So I'll wait right here for you to lead me from
The in between

See how far I've come
Try to stay content
I've read the book from front to back and I know how the story ends
But I've been on my knees so long these faded jeans are wearing thin
And I need you God to come & rescue me

From here between the past and all the plans you have for me
Strong enough to not look back but no idea of where I'm going
But you promised me you'd come
Meet me in my time of need
So I'll wait right here for you to lead me from...

I'm listening
I'm waiting
I'm praying
show me the way
I'm listening
I'm waiting
I'm praying
I won't be shaken

Still in between the past and all the plans you have for me
Strong enough to not look back
But no idea where I am going
You promised me you'd come
Meet me in my time of need
So I'll wait right here for you to lead me from
You promised if I'd wait then you would come
Lead me from the in between

Chris Werle said...

Hello:

Here are the lyrics to a song I wrote with a buddy of mine several years ago called Come to the Light:

Verse 1:

Oh sometimes the world around us
Can seem so stormy and cold
That we don't know who to turn to
When we need someone we can hold
But there's a force out there to guide us
Like a beacon in the night
All you have to do is keep the goal in sight

CHORUS:

And come to the light
Come to the light
Come when you feel there's no hope in sight
Come when you're lost, when you're alone
Come when you're tired of fighting the fight
There's a paradise to share
With a risen Lord who cares
When you need God's power and might
Just come to the light

Verse 2:

A better world is coming
Of this we can be sure
The signs are all around us
Like a newborn child so pure
If we place our faith and trust
In the One who knows our strife
We will surely lay hold on eternal life

Chorus:

Come to the light
Come when you feel there's no hope in sight
Come when you're lost, when you're alone
Come when you're tired of fighting the fight
There's a paradise to share
With a risen Lord who cares
When you need God's power and might
Just come to the light

(INSTRUMENTAL SOLO)

END WITH CHORUS:

Come to the light
Come when you feel there's no hope in sight
Come when you're lost, when you're alone
Come when you're tired of fighting the fight
There's a paradise to share
With a risen Lord who cares
When you need God's power and might
Just come to the light

Thanks for taking a look.....

Peace, Chris Werle

Chris Werle said...

Hello:

Here's another one of my songs called Come to the Light:

Verse 1:

Lord I want to feel You
Feel You touch my heart
Every day, in every way
Never to be apart
Feel You in the morning sunlight on my face
Every day, in every way
Eclipsing time and space

CHORUS:

When I tried to live without You
It seemed my life was through
And after all this time, one thing I know
Is I was lost ‘til I found You

Verse 2:

Lord I want to hear You
Hear You in my mind
Every day, in all You say
Never a thought unkind
Hear You when the night calls
Gently on the wind
Every day, in every way
Just like a longtime friend

CHORUS:

When I tried to live without You
It seemed my life was through
And after all this time, one thing I know
Is I was lost ‘til I found You

BRIDGE:

Lord I was lost ‘til I found You
You showed me so many things
That helped to see me through
If I could live a thousand lifetimes
Each day to start anew
After all that time, one thing I’d know
Is I was lost ‘til I found You

(INSTRUMENTAL SOLO)

ENDING:

If I could live a thousand lifetimes
Each day to start anew
After all that time, one thing I’d know
Is I was lost ‘til I found You
Yes I was lost ‘til I found You

Peace, Chris Werle

Chris Werle said...

Sorry, that last song was obviously Lost 'Til I Found You.

Chris

Her Excellency said...

"DON'T YOU WANNA GO"
Hook:
Don't you wanna go,
Where the streets are paved in gold?
Where sorrow no one knows
hearing stories that are untold (repeat twice)


Song can be heard at link below:
https://soundcloud.com/anastasiaosho/dont-you-wanna-go

Yvonne Perkins said...

Like to get your impressions of this song. SHUT YOUR MOUTH SATAN.

SHUT YOUR MOUTH SATAN


VERSE: I'm so tired of Satan telling me what I can't do
standing in the way of my breakthrough
filling my heart, my heart with fear
and filling my eyes with tears

CHORUS; Shut your mouth satan, quit talking to me
Jesus died to set me free
I am walking in victory
his spirit gives me liberty

VERSE: I can do all things through Christ
with his blood he paid the price
By his stripes I am healed
no longer walking in fear

CHORUS; Shut your mouth Satan, quit talking to me
Jesus died to set me free
I am walking in victory
his spirit gives me liberty

VERSE: Are you tired of Satan telling you what you can't do
standing in the way of your breakthrough
he’s filling your heart, filling your heart with fear
filling your eyes with tears

Bridge: I overcome by the blood
standing on his holy word
blood of Jesus never fails
Against the enemy it prevails

CHORUS; Shut your mouth Satan, quit talking to me
Jesus died to set me free
I am walking in victory
his spirit gives me liberty

Lyrist: Yvonne Perkins
this song is available to recording artists. ask me for mechanical license.
http://youtu.be/bHHd3pcpvHg

Dave Martin said...

This I pray, this I ask:
Set my hands and my heart to your task.

https://youtu.be/lFhJ6xkYY_g?list=PLlP8Beg-961DnyE5Sz-ocrM8egTskOMCO

Brandon Ross said...

One touch from God
Can change someone's life
ONe touch from the Master's hand
can take away their strife
So let's take the hands of people
and place them in the hands of Christ
and know that one touch from God
can change someone's life.

This is the chorus on a song I wrote.
Brandon W. Ross

About Me

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Eric Copeland is an author, producer, keyboardist, songwriter, and president of Creative Soul Companies. What is Creative Soul? Our main goals are to inform, encourage, and assist Christian creative folks in ministry, no matter where they are in their journey. Thanks for reading! Find out more about us at http://www.CreativeSoulOnline.com