Despite being blind, Mote paints pictures with lyricscomment (0)
February 13, 2014
By Anna Keller
Nashville-based Ken Harding, president of New Haven Records, has worked with such notable talent as the Oak Ridge Boys, Al Green and Glen Campbell. And yet he says he’s never worked with any musician as talented as Alabama native Gordon Mote. Mote recently signed with New Haven to produce the album “All Things New,” a record Harding calls one of the best the label has ever released.
“He’s such a communicator and he paints such a picture with his lyrics,” Harding said. “Gordon likes different styles of music, so it’s a very eclectic album. But it’s all Gordon, and it’s a work of art.”
Making Mote’s success even more impressive is the fact that Mote has been blind since birth.
His foray into the music world seems like it was pretty well predestined. On Thanksgiving Day, at his grandmother’s house when Mote was just 3 years old, he sat down at the piano and began playing “Jesus Loves Me.”
Mote had never had a music lesson.
That introduction to music was just the start of what would become Mote’s passion and, ultimately, his career. Part of what helped him succeed was the fact that his parents never told him or his brother (who also is blind) that there were any limits to what they could do. That attitude enabled Mote to become fearless, and he was one of the first blind students in the country to be accepted into the public school system. In high school, the Birmingham native was among the first blind people to march with a fully sighted marching band. After starting college at Jacksonville State University, Mote eventually transferred to Belmont University in Nashville where he graduated with cum laude honors and a music degree.
It was during his time at Belmont that Mote also met his wife, Kimberly — also a musician. In fact, she often accompanies Mote on his recordings and sings a duet with him called “On the Other Side” on the “All Things New” album. The Motes have three children: Samantha, 17, Parker, 14, and Ashton, 6.
Mote said one of his favorite songs from the album is “The Sound a Dream Makes” — a song influenced by his role as a parent.
“When a sighted person remembers the special days in their kids’ lives, they see it in their mind like a video,” he said. “But for me, I hear those things in my head, so that inspired this song. Everyone can relate if they’re a parent.”
Mote and his family belong to Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville, and though Mote tours often, his family members are faithful participants. Mote joins in whenever he’s home.
“Even with his complicated schedule, he’s always willing to lead or participate or advise,” said Lynn Hodges, the church’s director of music. “Besides Gordon’s amazing talent, he has an uncanny way of meeting new people, asking about them and being extremely personable to everyone.”
Mote’s gregarious personality has helped him make friends in the music world. His latest album includes contributions from well-known musicians such as Sheryl Crow, Trace Adkins, Matthew West and the Gaither Vocal Band.
It’s hard to pin Mote down to a single genre, as he dabbles in everything from country to pop to gospel — something he said he comes by thanks to a wide interest in all types of music.
“I’ve been called a ‘music schizophrenic,’ because I love so many kinds of music. I get bored with just one style,” Mote said. “I find I have so many influences in my music with the playing and the singing.”
And he shows no signs of slowing. In fact, Mote is gearing up for a tour in 2014 and will be filming a concert video in April, backed by a live band and orchestra.
“There has to be an underlying joy in whatever you do,” he said. “I think joy and happiness are two different things. You can be discouraged, but I think joy is totally a different thing and as Christians we should always have that.”
Joy — now that’s something Mote seems to have no shortage of.
“All Things New” is available via Mote’s website (gordonmote.com), iTunes or any record store.