Even if you haven’t heard of Yancy Richmond, chances are high your kids have sung her songs during a church service or vacation Bible school. Large churches like Life.Church and North Point Community Church utilize content from Richmond’s worship albums and videos weekly in their environments for children. She has written songs for artists like Avalon and Jaci Velasquez and co-writes with Third Day’s Mac Powell. Here, she shares her story.
What’s your background?
I grew up as a pastor’s kid, so I come from a church background. It’s all I have ever known. I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and for 18 years my dad worked at Tulsa’s Church on the Move. Now I’m married with little boys of my own.
How has your ministry evolved?
I’ve been making music for 22 years. Within that time period, my audience has changed. I spent the first 10 years singing traditional music and then got more involved in leading worship, which led to songwriting. That turning point happened when I was asked to write the theme song for Dry Gulch USA, a camp outside of Tulsa. Then I started thinking about how I knew children’s ministry people and could make a kids’ album. I had no idea that the first “Little Praise Party” album would change everything for me. I’ve been focused on making music for kids and families for the past 12 years.
How do you find the balance between making worship music for kids fun but also scriptural and authentic?
The starting element for me is getting the message I want [to convey] in that song the right size for that age group. I write lyrics simple enough for the audience to understand, whatever age that audience is. So, the song might have one verse you repeat twice instead of a second set of lyrics for another verse. But I always start by asking, “What do I want to say?” Then I figure out how to say it simply enough for a child to understand.
You lead worship, write songs and teach about engaging kids in worship. What do you consider your primary role?
I would say I’m an artist and songwriter first and foremost, but I do wear many hats. Some days I think about my teenage self who wanted to be a professional musician and laugh. I had no idea how little time is actually spent making music. So much of my day is emails, writing articles, working on logistics—all these little things that aren’t singing songs. On the flip side, I’m a worship leader, and I have a passion for teaching young kids how to worship. I also have a lot of partnerships with churches and ministries all around the world who use the songs and videos I’ve made in their weekly worship. I also speak at ministry conferences to help local leaders understand how to lead worship for kids.
So you have led worship at some events and served as a speaker at others?
That’s right. I’ve worked with Orange Conference and Children’s Pastors Conference. The group had a conference for a number of years, and I was involved in that. I lead worship at SuperStart events.
What suggestions do you have for event planners who want to incorporate worship into an event for adults?
Always think about what you want to accomplish and what you want to make happen in that moment. Sometimes people get caught up in just filling a time slot and randomly picking three songs, which can turn out superficial. Ask yourself: Where do you want these people to go? How do you want to prepare their hearts for what’s coming next in the event? Music can trigger all sorts of emotions, so be strategic.
Who inspires you musically?
That changes throughout the years. Growing up, Amy Grant was my No. 1 for sure. I’ve also loved DC Talk, Switchfoot and Mutemath. I’m a longtime Leeland fan. Recently, I’ve loved the Cody Carnes album. I listen to it all the time.
What’s it like knowing kids around the globe are worshipping through your music?
It’s so cool and fun to think about how some of the largest churches in the world are using my music. I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and saw something from a church, and their post included me singing on one of my older albums! It’s cool to have those moments and think about the bigger picture. Knowing I get to be a small part of what people are doing week in and week out is a huge win and something I’m thankful for. I may not meet these kids this side of heaven, but I get to be a part of them knowing Jesus. The songs we’re singing with our kids today are not just about filling time with a song. We’re planting something deep in them that will be in their minds for decades to come.