Fernando Ortega is one of Christian music’s most respected composers, his works encompassing modern hymns, liturgical songs, and Inspirational and praise/worship favorites. The critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter has three Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and a Billboard Latin Music Award to his credit, while Ortega’s Christian radio hits include “This Good Day,” “Jesus, King of Angels” and “Sleepless Night.” Renowned for his stirring arrangements of beloved hymns— “Give Me Jesus” and “Be Thou My Vision,” among others— Ortega’s solo discography features 18 projects in a heralded career spanning more than 25 years. Fernando Ortega returned August 4 with The Crucifixion of Jesus, but not before graciously sitting down with us to talk about his new release.
First, congratulations on your latest release, The Crucifixion of Jesus! What prompted your desire to release a narrative of Holy Week?
Thanks so much! The big picture is that I plan on recording a series of records with the Church calendar as a template.
This is your first project in six years. How do you think your music (instrumental and lyrical) has evolved in that time?
Lyrically, and specifically with regard to my Church music, I feel like I’m learning to simplify— to camp out on, and develop a textual theme. Instrumentally, it seems like I’m constantly being informed by my classical education. I’m grateful for those roots.
What do you hope listeners take from listening to The Crucifixion of Jesus?
My hope is that the project will help listeners to rediscover the Church calendar—its moods, rhythms, nuances, and the way the calendar shapes our worship. I also hope the record will serve as a meditation, or devotional, that people can use in their personal worship time at home.
Were there any songs on the record particularly challenging to write or record?
The piano part for “Ah, Holy Jesus” was a bear to figure out. I wrestled with that thing for weeks. Even then, once most of the layers were recorded, I went back and recorded it again.
How have you seen God working through your music?
People seem to gravitate to my songs when they're going through difficult times. I’m good with that, and it makes sense to me. No one ever tells me they workout or run on the treadmill with my music. Ha!
How would you describe your music to brand new listeners?
Meditative, piano-driven ballads, for the most part. That’s what I’d say if someone asked.
Which artists are you currently drawing musical inspiration from?
I’ve been listening to random stuff lately: a terrific country singer named Dori Freeman; a bluegrass singer named Sarah Jarosz; Dvorak symphonies; the acoustic half of Foo Fighters’ In Your Honor; Brahms Piano Quartet #3. These are just a few things I keep going back to.
What do fans have to look forward to in the second half of 2017 from your team?
Well, as big as my ambitions are regarding this Church calendar series I hope to do, I also plan on recording a new collection of songs about some important things that have happened in my life these last four years. Who knows if I’ll get around to it, but that’s the plan.