He hasn't even put out an album yet, but a Canadian worship leader is already attracting thousands of followers thanks to performing with Mac Powell, Cade Thompson and others. There's a catch, though.
Nathan Keys is a worship leader at Southlands Community Church, a Salvation Army congregation, in Winnipeg. He and his family moved to the prairie city from Northern Ireland almost 15 years ago and they've been involved with the church since they arrived. For Keys that included playing on the youth worship team, and then stepping up as worship leader after the departure of the church's previous leader.
"I wrote a song maybe in 2015, but it was a terrible song," Keys says while laughing about his first attempt at writing worship music. "I don't even know where it is anymore. I'm pretty sure I have it somewhere in my notes... It didn't even belong to any kind of key so it just like, OK, I'm just gonna lock this away in my notes and never see it again."
While the first attempt may have missed the mark it didn't keep Keys from trying again. He found inspiration in Scripture as well as from other artists who have written songs based on Psalm 51. "I thought, maybe what I'll do this time is not take Scripture word-for-word, but use it and come up with a melody from it. That worked, and I still have that song. To this day it's still one of my favourites."
Keys has continued to write his own worship music and has been sharing it on social media for the past several years. However, he's recently started to attract a lot of attention on TikTok where he's not only been sharing his own music, but doing duets with Christian artists and covering songs. For those unfamiliar, a duet on TikTok allows a user to take another person's video and record a new one with them at the same time.
Keys has racked up over 40,000 likes on his videos as well as nearly 8,000 followers. Many of the videos have thousands of views, with his cover of "Battle Belongs" nearing 100,000 views.
While the numbers are impressive, the videos are about much more than attracting a following for himself.
"My whole purpose when it comes to the music ministry there is straight out of John 4:24; to worship, God in spirit and in truth. I want the worship music that I post online to be a reflection of that," he says.
Not only is Keys leading others into worship of Jesus online, but he's also made connections with people, building relationships and praying for them. "It's been a blessing. Whenever I follow people back and I get to interact with people and direct message with them it's just such a wonderful opportunity to talk to other believers. If there's any struggles going on, like I started a bit of a prayer list with a bunch of people that I started following on TikTok."
Keys says he's hoping to be able to put out an entire album in the new year. He's continued to write original music and now has an album's worth of songs ready to go.
He's going to start slow, though. "I've got it in the works anyway, that I'll be releasing a single next year and then based on how that goes, I've got an album of songs that I've got finished that I'd love to post that." He's recorded music in his home studio but he's hoping to be able to record in a professional studio.
In the meantime, you can follow him and make your own duets with him on TikTok, or find him on other social media platforms by searching for Nathan Keys Music.