Interview with Honeytree
Without a doubt one of the most mentioned names when folks speak of Jesus music of the 70's is Nancy Honeytree. Nancy remains very active in her music ministry and missions work. She recently took time to answer a few of my questions. Hope you enjoy this interview. For more on Honeytree's ministry and available music visit www.honeytree.org
6087 Stoney Creek Drive
Fort Wayne, IN 46825-4411
219-407-8880 phone / 219-407-8888 fax
One-Way: Nancy, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Have you had a chance to visit the Jesus Music website and what do you think about the recent popularity explosion of the Internet?
Honeytree: Yes, I have visited the website, and I'm glad it's there. The internet is a good thing if it helps us get the message of Jesus Christ out to lots of people.
How are things going with your new website?
Pretty well, we are still working on getting it to come up in all the search engines. But I have heard from some folks who were glad to be able to find me somewhere.
By the way, when did you start using the name Honeytree?
Honeytree is my nickname. My maiden name was Henigbaum, which is German for Honeytree. When I was a teenager, my hippie friends started using Honeytree as my whole name, no first or last name, just Honeytree. They did call my mom Mrs. Honeytree, though. Now I use it as a nickname, or sometimes I call myself Nancy Honeytree.
Did you have any religious upbringing while growing up and did you plan on doing music for a living?
My mom raised me in the Episcopalian church. Yes, I thought I would probably be a musician, but I might have been a cellist and played in an orchestra. That's because my whole family are classical musicians and that's the way I was raised. But my mom was also into folk music, and taught me to play guitar when I was 7. So I was something of a folk singer when I became a Christian.
How and when did you get saved?
I was 17 years old, a senior in high school. My sister asked me to visit her in Fort Wayne, Indiana over Easter vacation. Wow! That was 30 years ago! Amazing. Anyway, I visited my sister, and met some friends of hers who were born again, and they witnessed to me, and I got saved. My sister did too, after a while. The people who introduced me to Christ were Jesus People.
Your Christian musical roots started at the Adams's Apple in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Tell me a little about those early days.
Well, the Adam's Apple coffee house was started by a man named John Lloyd. He should really be in your leader section in the website, because he was instrumental in the Midwest occurrence of the Jesus Movement. John led me to Christ on that first visit I made to Fort Wayne. Later on, when I moved to Fort Wayne to live, I began working with John and the Adam's Apple folks. We were an evangelistic outreach ministry. We did a lot of street witnessing, singing in schools and churches, just anywhere we could go to tell people about Jesus. There were a lot of open doors, because people were concerned about drug abuse, and we had the testimony that we had done drugs and stopped because of becoming born again Christians. I became the secretary of the Apple. That was like college to me. I worked there for 5 years right out of high school. Couldn't have gotten a better education.
Any particular recollections during the recording or songwriting process on some of the early albums?
At first, I learned worship choruses with guitar accompaniment to play at the Bible Studies we had every Monday night. While I was by myself I would write songs about my relationship with the Lord. Every now and then I would throw one in while I was leading worship. I had no idea whether they were any good or not. But people got blessed, and little by little the Lord showed me He had a plan to use my songs. My pastor borrowed the money for me to record my first album ("Honeytree") in 1973. Later it was picked up by Word Records and they began distributing it.
Phil Keaggy was a big part of the 1975 Evergreen album. How did that come about?
Phil with Honeytree during the Evergreen sessions
Phil lived in Youngstown, Ohio, and he would come and sing at the Adam's Apple every few months. In the afternoon before his concert, he would be in the office, so he and I would get our guitars out and play together. He knew all my songs, and would play along with me. Can you imagine how beautiful that sounded to me? Then he would teach me something. That really stretched my guitar playing. I think he got a kick out of a girl guitar player that could learn some of his licks. Anyway, we were good friends, and when Evergreen came along, he agreed to help me with it. Praise the Lord!
Do you have a particular favorite album of yours from the 70's? Any other favorite artists/albums from that period?
I love Evergreen for the songs on it, and the Phil Keaggy influence. I also love Melodies in Me for the artistic freedom I has on that one. Phil was always my favorite artist from any period, but I loved everybody. Annie, Evie, Andrae, Pat Terry, Larry Norman, all those guys.
During the 70's you were one of the most popular female singers. How has your music and ministry changed compared to those early days?
After serving the Lord for 30 years now, I can look back and see that one doesn't always work in the same field. Although I never analyzed it at the time, in the 70's I was in youth ministry through music. Then I went into a time of singles ministry, and now I minister to women with a particular specialty in Spanish. I am basically the same, though, in terms of musical and personal style.
This website is all about Christian "oldies" music - do you listen to any of the older stuff any more?
Sure, lots of Phil Keaggy. And the whole "First Love" project is a favorite. I have some new CD's by Terry Talbot and Barry McGuire that are wonderful.
What are your feelings on the whole CCM industry, as we know it today?
Oh, dear. Well, mostly I am thankful because Jesus is lifted up and He will use it to draw all men to Him. My feelings are complicated because I am totally unknown to most people in CCM, so of course, I feel odd about that. It's like a Pharaoh has arisen who doesn't remember Joseph. My theory is that a generation in the music business only lasts 7 years, and then you've got a whole new youth audience to cater to. So, I wish CCM well, and just go on about my business.
I've had the pleasure of working with Dan Collins on the Newport Records website. Tell me more about the time spent recording the soon to be released First Love project.
Well, First Love is released! We had a fabulous time recording and taping the project. It was a super blessing to have all those pioneers of Jesus Music together. The combined anointing was amazing. I think it did us all a lot of good, because we realized we still have a lot to offer.
Do you keep in touch with or ever see many Jesus Music artists from the old days?
I have seen Phil Keaggy and Randy Stonehill recently, and done concerts with them, Also, Don Francisco, Dogwood, and I did a tour. Then there were the video projects, so yes, I guess I've seen a lot of folks lately. Everybody is still serving Jesus.
It was a pleasant surprise to see the recent reissue of the Evergreen/The Melodies in Me CD.
My husband insisted on doing it. He's a good guy.
Do you think any of your other albums will ever see the light of day on CD?
This year our project will be to put out a classics CD that had most everything not covered by Evergreen/Melodies.
Did you still perform in concert? If so, what is a typical concert like and how can people contact you for bookings?
Yes! My concerts are relaxed, folk-y, I tell stories and sing and lead worship. It's a lot of fun, and very peaceful. Nice to hear one person playing a guitar - acoustic. People can call (219) 420 - 1250 or write us at 519 Tennessee Ave., Suite 1, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 46805.
You've been around since the beginning of contemporary Christian music, what advice could you give to talented young musicians starting out in the music ministry today?
I would say be grounded in a good church and serve in any way you can - develop a servant attitude. Serve in non-musical ways. In good music ministry, the musical part is just the tip of the iceberg. The important parts of character and integrity are all hidden. Sing and play and share Jesus everywhere you can. Let your ministry develop without financial burden until it can legitimately make you a living and then go full time. Make a recording that has a reasonable budget so you can pay it off by selling it at your concerts. Find your own niche. There's lots of ways to serve the Lord through music.
Can you tell us a little about your future plans? Any new album in the works?
Oh, I don't know. I have a couple of really neat songs that I'd like to have on record because people are asking for them - but life is so busy right now. I'll probably, oh, I don't know.
You've released at least one Spanish album that I know of. Share about your outreach to the Latin community and your background in this culture.
I have absolutely no background in the Latin culture. This is a total surprise in my life and fell on me out of the clear blue sky and I don't deserve it at all. But I am in love with singing in Spanish, I seem to have a knack for learning Spanish, and I love Latin Americans, and I am thrilled to be working with them. The thing I am finding is that Latin American Christians have a tremendous zeal to reach the unreached people. Being bilingual is my new goal (I'm about a medium Spanish speaker at this point) so I can facilitate Spanish speaking people as they reach out to Asians, etc. The Lord is doing something wild here.
Nancy, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview. Any parting thoughts to our readers out there in cyberspace?
Just keep tuned in to Jesus. He's up to something good in your life. He is intent on our getting the gospel message out to everyone in these days. He's coming soon. Our lives have fabulous value in terms of doing our part to fulfill His plans. Be energized by the excitement of doing what Jesus created you to do with your life. We will have one amazing celebration together when it's all over! See you then! Love, Honeytree.