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Inside Mormon Music: Ryan Innes: From med school to the music industry

Ryan Innes.
Ryan Innes.
Russ Dixon

For a long time, music was something in the background for Ryan Innes.

In high school, he could only play football under the condition that he played the piano.

Innes graduated from Eastern Arizona College with an associate's degree in pre-medical science and was planning on going to medical school to be a pediatrician. During school, he fell in love and was engaged.

But the engagement was broken off three weeks before the wedding.

"I was completely devastated and miserable," Innes said. "I hated my job. I started to reassess why I was going into medicine. Did I really have a passion for it? No. I was just doing it because of the money and status and nobility of it all. I started to really look at why I hadn't considered going into music. It was because I didn't want to teach — that's all I thought there was.

"Then, through a friend, I discovered the media music program at BYU and realized that was exactly what I wanted to do. I applied to BYU and got in. I auditioned and made it into the school of music. I took the aural skills test (having never taken anything like it in my life), and somehow passed. The doors opened up and I was on my way to BYU to study songwriting and contemporary voice — neither of which I'd ever done before."

All of the high school choirs and battles with his mom about practicing the piano have paid off. Innes developed his solo voice in the a cappella group Vocal Point. He has honed his voice and songwriting to where listeners can sit back and be confident he will deliver.

"I share my music (because) I can't help but not," he said. "It just comes out of me. It's how I mourn, rejoice, cope, laugh, love. It's my primary emotional outlet. That being said, it's not just therapy. I love the craft of writing amazing and clever, but concise and emotive lyrics. I love the concept of creating something that never existed before. I love always having my antennas up for new ideas, lines, phrases. My goal is to make people feel something — to help them let loose and jam, to help them love a little more, to be confident in chasing their own dreams, to attempt the difficult."

From personal experience, I can say that you can't help but fall in love with Innes' soulful voice and lyrics. It's as though music is just running through his blood.

And it literally is in his blood. One of his ancestors, Peter Howard McBride, was called by Brigham Young to promote singing and music in the Gila Valley.

Although Innes may not have received a call from the prophet to go into music, he has had many experiences in life that have led him to follow this passion and this path.

"I've had specific instances where it was confirmed that I should do this, and I've never looked back or second-guessed since," Innes said. "This is what I'm supposed to be doing; it's what I was born to do."

Innes has been putting his heart into recording an EP. On June 24, he will have his CD release concert at the Velour in Provo, Utah, with Truman and Jarrett Burns as opening acts. For more information and to check out his soulful tunes, visit his website.