Some people might speculate why Eric Horner would switch horses in mid-stream. After all, as a country performer, his star has been on the rise for some time now, and after scoring big with country radio stations playing his patriotic anthem "We Will Stand," everything seemed to be headed toward the prediction that TV host Lorianne Crook made when Eric made an appearance on her TNN show. "Eric Horner," she said, "is a future star of country music." But Eric, himself, had something else in mind.
"This feels comfortable; this feels like home," Eric says about his return to full time ministry music.
He addresses his life and the road that led him back to the Lord in many of the songs on his first album "Prayer Warrior" and now in his new release, "You Can Always Come Home"."Everybody tells me I've written more than just songs on these projects - they are really short sermons put to music. But that's what God has laid on my heart these last couple of years.
And what a couple of years it has been. Like most Americans on September 11th, 2001, Eric was shocked and subdued as he watched the events unfold that fateful day. But unlike most Americans, that day made even more of an impact at Eric's home. His new bride, Debby, was going through an emotional roller coaster.
"Debby's first husband was killed in the 1983 bomb blast in Lebanon," says Eric. "We lost 241 sailors and marines in that attack, and Debby's husband was one of them. I watched her all day on September 11th, and it hurt me to see her relive the pain she suffered back then. That's the night I wrote "We Will Stand."
Eric recorded the song with just his vocal and guitar in his production studio, and sent it to WSM Radio in Nashville. That's all it took. Within two weeks, "We Will Stand" was being played on every reporting country station in the country. His website was overrun with requests for the song which led Eric to donate the proceeds of the single to the Staten Island Victim's Relief Fund. "We Will Stand" is now a bonus track on Prayer Warrior and also appears on his patriotic release, "Freedom Rings".
With his emotions in high gear, Eric started writing songs about his faith, and the words poured easily for several months. "The song 'Prayer Warrior' encourages all of us that regardless of the circumstances around the world that we can't control, we CAN do something about the outcome. "There is power in prayer, and it's the greatest weapon we have against the evil in our world today."
Growing up in Paducah, Kentucky, Eric learned about Jesus from an early age. He later became a guitar student of fellow Paducah native, Steven Curtis Chapman, and the twoperformed together in a local gospel group. They even attended Anderson College together for a short time, and Steven was the one that helped Eric break into country music. Eric became guitarist and band leader for recording artists "The Girls Next Door," and later began touring with country superstar Lee Greenwood.
After touring off and on with Lee for over 10 years, Eric became a sought-after musician for major country artists such as Brad Paisley, Wynonna, Shania Twain and others. In between bookings, Eric opened uphis own production company catering to artists, songwriters and publishers. He seemed to be finding his niche, but God wouldn't leave him alone.
"I never stopped believing in God, but I got so consumed with the music business that I lost sight of the Cross," Eric admits. "I found myself doing things believers shouldn't be doing. Needless to say, during that time, you would have had to look long and hard to see Jesus in me. After going through one of the lowest points in my life, I started praying again and seeking God's will for my life. That's when I really started what I call my journey back to the Cross. God started laying burdens on my heart for those who suffer."
"Finally it all started to click that maybe God wanted me to minister with my music," Eric continues. "I decided to go in to the studio and do a Gospel album. I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me. I just knew I wanted to put my heart into a recording that would glorify Him. I wrote about 20 songs and put 12 of them on the Prayer Warrior project."
One of his favorite songs on that recording is a song he "co-wrote" with his grandfather - even though his grandfather died in 1979. "Papaw had written many lyrics over the years, and I found one of his songs that really spoke to me. So I ended up co-writing 'When Jesus Mentions My Name' with my grandpa, which was so cool for me. I know he would have liked that."
And it's not just a love for songwriting that he shares with his late grandfather, but a desire to make the gospel message easy to understand. "Papaw was a preacher disguised as an electrician," Eric recalls. "He shared Christ with everybody he met, helping people understand the simplicity of salvation. I try to mirror that simple approach in my songwriting."
Eric's schedule has been filled with opportunities the West Kentucky native never thought possible. "God has used us in many wonderful ways and the doors just continue to open. "We've been blessed to minister to crowds that range from 10 to 10,000 and we are seeing lives changed. That's what it's all about." Though it can be overwhelming at times, Eric keeps it all in perspective.
"I put these albums together never intending to have a record deal," says Eric. "They were a labor of love for me. They were my way to express my love for God, and to thank Him for his faithfulness in my life. If the music ends up blessing others and helping people draw closer to Him, then that will just be icing on the cake."