Ryan Axtell is an artist & songwriter originally from Southern California. He currently serves as the Worship Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Chandler, Arizona, where he has the honor of leading over 6,500 members every week. Ranging from congregational anthems to more intricate and eclectic pieces, Ryan’s music reflects both his creativity and passion for Christ. His first album, “This Valley,” was released in 2010 and his upcoming album, “The Beauty Becoming,” releases July 2, 2013.
Ryan and his wife Danielle have been been married for 6 years and have 2 little kids, Kingston and Stella (who can be heard “improvising: in the background on many of Ryan’s demo tracks).
Ryan grew up in the sun and surf of Ventura, Ca. He is the oldest of four children. His family was an incredible influence on his creativity and always encouraged him in his musical pursuits. Ryan began writing songs around age four, with hits like “I see the uptown, I see the downtown” and “whales’ day whales’ day, whales’day, sharks’ day shark’s day shark’s day.” It wasn’t until later he learned that songs could have more lyrics than contained in the title.
At 13, Ryan began leading worship in his church youth group. “I had incredible mentors who encouraged and pushed me both musically and spiritually…It’s one thing to write songs and play by yourself, but it’s a whole other level to integrate your sound in with a band and adapt to other musicians. You have to put in the hours woodshedding, rehearsing, and annoying everyone around you…If you aren’t doing that then you aren’t practicing enough!”
Ryan continued guitar lessons, combined with high school choir and eventually theory and ear training in college.
During his high school and early college years, Ryan played in several local punk rock and post-hardcore bands. “While I loved these musical projects and my band-mates, I am too clean cut to be taken seriously in that genre…though I still enjoy math-rock, breakdowns, and dueling guitars.”
During college, Ryan started writing, recording, and leading worship music with several of his friends. This group, called “Through the Roof” played various churches and camps around California and later Seattle when the grouped moved to finish college at SPU. “The name was taken from the story about the man who was lowered through the roof to see Jesus. It meant that no matter who we are or what our circumstances are, we all end up at the feet of Jesus”.
“My Seattle years were a blast, and really helped shape my character, creativity, and worship leading. As roommates we converted the basement of our university owned house’s basement into a recording studio. That’s where I really began finding the confidence to take what God was teaching and showing me and craft it into lyrics and songs for God’s people to sing.”
After college, Ryan moved to Arizona to become one of the Worship Directors Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Chandler, Az. He married his long time girlfriend, Danielle, in 2007.
Ryan combines honest lyrics, catchy melodies, and eclectic instrumentation to create into his own special blend of rock/pop. If you listen closely, you may the influences of his favorite band, Steely Dan.
He continues to lead worship at Cornerstone and various camps, conferences, and events. His passion for mission trips takes him all over the world. “I love worshiping with my local church. They are my family. As much as I love to write and record and travel, I hope to always lead in some capacity with my local church.”