We caught up with April Shipton to find out about how God inspires her music and how she became an artist who is regularly played on UCB Radio.
Did you always want to be a musician? When did you first feel called to get involved with music?
Six years ago, I felt God challenging me with the question, ‘April, are you using your talents and passions?’ Over several months He bombarded my life with that question, until in January 2014 I finally realised He was asking me to sing. The idea was terrifying; I didn't feel good enough, but He began to show me that being good enough was not a requisite for this calling.
What part has UCB played in your journey as a musician?
It's been a constant voice of encouragement and affirmation, from those very early days until now as an active Christian artist.
I remember one morning 4 months into the calling, I hadn't found any in-roads into singing and felt directionless and frustrated. But the Word For You devotional that day was titled ‘Waiting Game’, and was bursting with promises for me like ‘Hold on, your change is coming.’ It helped me to realise that God was still working on me and preparing me for His plans.
This season of waiting seemed to last forever though, and 2014 became a tough year. One day, I plugged my earphones into my computer at work and played UCB 1 to cheer me up. I tuned in during a speaker's slot about how frustrating it can feel when God tells us to wait, using the analogy of sitting on a bus, waiting for your bus stop. The speaker gently pointed out that if you get off the bus too early, you’ll miss your intended destination – or it’ll take you twice as long to get there. His voice spoke clearly to me as he concluded, ‘Don’t get off the bus yet.’
Two years later, things looked very different. I was training, performing, writing, recording and speaking, every opportunity I got. In April 2016, right in the middle of all this busyness, I visited UCB on a tour day, and came face-to-face with the family that had unknowingly blessed me so much over the years. It really is a family of people who love God and want to give Him glory, and who connect people all over the world to discover Him for themselves. I felt so proud to be a small part of that family.
In March 2017, I resigned from my job to allow what was rapidly becoming a full-time singing ministry to continue growing. Two months later, my first song was accepted to UCB 1's playlist. It was an absolutely huge moment for me.
In the months and years since, I've had a total of six songs accepted across both stations. It's utterly bizarre, humbling, and every single time it surprises me!
How has your life changed since your music became more well-known?
I've had some truly breath-taking opportunities, but the biggest changes have been going on inside!
When ‘Least’ had been playing on UCB 2 for just over a week, I received several comments from listeners I’d never met telling me they’d been helped by it. I felt this awesome sense of gratitude and responsibility, and that's been something that I've found is really shaping my heart.
God has also used the journey to grow a new passion in me to tell my story, because it's not just about me – we each have talents and passions, and God longs for us to use them to glorify Him and bless His children.
Do you have a favourite memory of visiting UCB?
I've been invited on air a number of times, but the most significant for me was in late 2018. The whole year had been a whirlwind, and the opportunity to visit the studio to talk with Ruth, Gareth and Becs on each of their shows was such a privilege.
However, to my frustration, I was SO ill on the day! Despite my frequent sniffles and dragging a box of tissues around from studio to studio, the team were exceedingly welcoming and even included me in their group prayer time. In that professional environment, it really hit home what an honour it is to be able to share my story and music so widely, and I came away hugely encouraged.
Shortly after the visit, one listener got in touch to tell me that she heard my healing story on air, and it provided her with a chance to talk to her son about Jesus.
Do you have any new songs coming up that we can look forward to?
Of course! This year there have been several corkers I hope will inspire you, from the uplifting reassurance of ‘One More Mountain’, to the powerful declaration of ‘Invincible’. Next year I want to push my limitations a bit more and experiment with different styles, so that's an exciting prospect.
What has God been guiding you to write about recently?
Mountains! Over the past 18 months, it's ALL been about God's power to move the mountains we face in life, and His faithfulness to guide us along the way. Amazingly (and in true Jesus fashion) I've found myself amongst brilliant songwriters from all over the country, including Matt JR Hurley who I've been partnering with this summer for our project Beyond The Mountain.
We’ve all been moved to write around the subject of journeys and overcoming mountains, and it's been such an honour to bring them all together into an album of mountain-moving anthems.
Find out more about April’s music at aprilshipton.co.uk, where you can hear her songs and discover her latest project – she would love to know what you think!