From trying to impress his eighth grade crush to encouraging and deepening the student body’s faith in chapel, songwriting has been a way for chapel worship leader Joey Ramirez to express what’s on his heart.
“I just wrote a lot of melodies and little phrases that I would sing to; I realized if I could write poetry I could probably write songs too, I always made little ditties in my head but never wrote words down so I tried to do that and started dabbling,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez’s success in songwriting began about three years ago: the first time one of his songs played in chapel. Close after the release of his first song, ONU students and staff were looking to download Ramirez’s work to have for themselves.
“Around that time, I started to realize people were enjoying what was happening. Everything started happening right off the bat, which I thought was pretty cool but also kind of scary,” Ramirez said.
Unfortunately, his songs are unavailable to download while new pieces are in the process of being created.
For Ramirez, his writing serves as a personal journal, a prayer journal and a songwriting book. All of the work he creates comes from life experiences, thoughts, relationships, devotions, prayers and conversations that he is involved with personally. Throughout his songs, Ramirez challenges and encourages not only himself but also those who are listening to his songs. Emotions act as a connection between the writing of the songs and the audience because most of the listeners have felt the same love, anger, sadness and joy.
“Whenever life is happening is when songwriting happens. Honestly, it is easier to write when things are harder, when heavy things are happening, because there is a lot of things I’m trying to process and make work. Music is a way of feeling at peace in the midst of chaos for me,” Ramirez said.
Using his talent to connect with the Olivet community has been “cool, relieving and enjoyable,” but the job also has some weight to it. “It makes me always focus on what I am writing down,” Ramirez said. “I don’t ever want to lead people astray, so I don’t ever want to make the songs confusing … super mystical or whimsical. I want them to be straightforward and packed with as much truth as possible. For me that is a burden.”
Throughout the past four years Ramirez has had countless people that have cheered him on and encouraged him in his writing. One faculty member that contributes to Ramirez’s success is Chaplin Mark Holcomb.
“Chaplain Holcomb has helped me develop this. He is the one molding the themes, so when it comes to having conversations for chapel I wait for him to say keywords to write and create what needs to happen for next semester,” Ramirez said.
Currently Ramirez and Holcomb are working on organizing chapel for next semester. When preparing content for next semester Holcomb creates a central theme and Ramirez writes songs with that particular theme in mind. Throughout his busy schedule, Ramirez contributes at least one day a week to sit down and work on his writing.
“That doesn’t mean that they are going to be for chapel or anything. I just set a time aside to just write,” Ramirez said.
Keeping his listener’s hearts in his mind, Ramirez is challenged every time he writes. He added: “I always want to write something better then the last one to challenge myself to be a better writer. I don’t ever want to let this community down.”
—Nicole Pilbeam, Sports Editor