Spirit-led music, theology-driven lyrics continue to characterize veteran group
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
FRANKFORT, Ky. – We’d never seen Soul’d Out in person before last Friday’s appearance at Capital City Christian Church. Suffice it to say we hope it won’t be very long until the next time our paths cross!
Simply put, Soul’d Out was fantastic!
Soul’d Out was in Frankfort for a weekend revival along with Bob Russell, the former minister of Louisville’s Southeast Christian Church, and his son, Rusty, of Port Charlotte, Florida. It could be described as a 2023 nod to an old-fashioned “meeting” loaded with powerful preaching and music that stirs the soul.
It was a perfect fit to the ministry Matt Rankin envisioned when he started to put Soul’d Out together in 2001. Hearing Soul’d Out sing in several 15-30 minute segments over two nights left no doubt the mission has never changed.
We caught up with Rankin for a brief interview a few minutes before Friday’s service, talking about how Soul’d Out has stayed focused on its ministry and outreach over the last 22 years.
“I actually started Soul’d Out in 2001,” Rankin said. “I had a desire ever since I was saved and surrendered my life to full-time service at church camp when I was 18.
“I said, ‘God however you want to use it, that’s what I want.’ I felt called to do this.”
While serving as a youth minister in 2001, he’d been invited to audition for a spot with The Kingsmen Quartet but after a weekend of singing a few songs during concerts, Rankin was passed over.
Yet a fire for a music ministry had been lit. “When I got home, I said, ‘God, I need to do this. I don’t know how I am going to do it. I don’t have much money to do it, but I need to do it,” Rankin recalled.
His need has translated into meeting the needs of people ever since. Whether singing classics like “The Old Gospel Ship,” leading the congregation in rousing hymns like “Victory In Jesus,” or delivering a recent hit like the title cut from the trio’s latest album, “He Said I Could Come,” a message of uplifting Jesus is at the core. The lyrics are stirring and the theology solid.
“We are here to uplift the name of Jesus Christ,” Rankin would tell the near-packed house Friday night.
And later, he encouraged the crowd with, “We expect to be a little different after three nights of revival.”
Soul’d Out might have set the tone with sets that directed the crowd to Christ and supplemented the messages. “Our focus has always been that we want to reach the lost,” Rankin said. “I love the songs about the empty tomb, the blood, heaven, of course. That’s not unique in Southern Gospel music.”
(Rankin noted that while most of Soul’d Out’s appearances are in the concert format, the group occasionally does events similar to the weekend revival in Frankfort last week. The trio had worked with the Russells before.)
Last weekend, Soul’d Out was in a bit of transition as Rankin and group veteran Jason McAtee were singing with Nashville worship pastor and studio vocalist Chris Chavez filling in for the weekend. The strong harmonies and lively spirit drew the audience into a strong sense of worship every time the trio stepped on stage.
We’d heard a lot of Soul’d Out on the radio and streaming services over the years and while the style is decidedly Southern Gospel, the group is not limited. “I was a big Kingsmen, Gold City and Cathedrals fan,” Rankin says. “My first CD was by Gold City. I love the quartet singing and love Southern Gospel.
“But if it’s a great song, we are going to record it, regardless of style. We do a David Crowder song called ‘Red Letters.’ The message is pure.”
During a Soul’d Out concert, one can expect the gospel of Jesus to be the message, no more, no less.
“I always want to make sure I have those elements of the cross,” Rankin said. “Generally, I would say of the course of the last, I would say, 10 years, my writing has shifted a little bit in helping people that are discouraged a bit because I know what it is to battle depression. I know what it is to fall. I know what it is to fail. So, there are a lot of encouraging-type songs.
“People listen to all kinds of music. When I am driving, I really don’t listen to music, but when I do there are a couple of songs I am listening to right now that inspire me. They inspire me in my writing. They inspire me in my life.
“One is ‘Never Not God,’ by The Sound. Another is ‘Good God Almighty,’ by Old Paths (now Anthem Edition).”
And Rankin says Soul’d Out tries to encourage people to come to a living relationship with Christ. “My goal is always to have a song that’s going to have lyrics that lift up. That if you are lost, it’s going to be uncomfortable a little bit. Not that I am making them uncomfortable at the time but the Holy Spirit.”
It’s evangelism set to music. It’s who Soul’d Out is.