Book and Songwriting Projects with Loretta Lynn Provide Pinnacle Career Moment for Three-Time Trevecca Grad Kim McLean

| Alumni

In a life defined by faith and songwriting, Rev. Dr. Kim McLean will always count her close friendship and co-writer relationship with Loretta Lynn among her greatest and most memorable career moments - and she believes her Trevecca education played a big part in arriving at that opportunity.

Together, they authored a devotional called A Song and A Prayer: 30 Devotions Inspired by My Favorite Songs which includes music from Loretta’s catalog, hymns and original material written with McLean. The lyrics are each followed by an encouraging devotional. 

Kim McLean headshotMeeting Loretta

McLean was first introduced to Lynn by Lynn’s daughter, Patsy. After an initial conversation, Patsy called McLean to ask if she would be willing to sit and talk to Lynn about her faith. As an ordained minister, McLean was eager to meet with her, and they read scripture, prayed and took communion together. 

“Patsy said, ‘Mama needs someone to talk about God with, because that's all she ever wants to talk about. She loves God so much, and she only wants to read the Bible,” McLean recalled. “Patsy said, ‘Go and pray with her and minister to her. Maybe you guys could write a song because she just loves to write.’ So it was just a match made in heaven, literally.” 

They began with one country song detailing what was going on in McLean’s life, and Lynn invited her to stop by weekly and start writing songs grounded in the faith. “I want you to help me write some gospel songs. I want to tell everybody about my faith,” Lynn had said. 

“She wanted this to be her legacy,” McLean said. “She had all these ideas waiting and God was giving her the titles. So we wrote them and she just kept emphasizing, ‘I want my name to be used to exalt Christ.’” 

A Three-Time Treveccan 

Wanting to go even further than developing lyrics, the two began writing short devotionals to go with each song, 30 in total. They accompanied songs ranging from the new ones the pair had written together to Lynn’s classics such as “Coal Miner’s Daughter” to hymns like “Amazing Grace.” McLean also recorded an album after Lynn had passed away of all the songs the two had written with this project in mind. 

When it came to building camaraderie with Loretta Lynn and co-authoring the devotional, McLean’s education and the theology she learned paved the way for new opportunities and a friendship that lasted to the end of Lynn’s life in 2022. 

“Trevecca honed my writing skills and gave me a biblical base and the Wesleyan holiness theology that got me in the door with Loretta Lynn,” McLean said. “That was a big piece of us getting the publishing deal for the book, along with her name. It mattered to the publisher that I had that education. And it mattered to Loretta and of course, it matters to me.” 

McLean discovered Trevecca after years of wanting to pursue her bachelor’s degree. 

“I got married when I was 18 and had my first child, and then I enrolled in a composition program in North Carolina,” McClean said “I had an illness and had to withdraw. Decades later, my children were grown and I had had success in the music industry. I said ‘I've got some hits on the radio right now and I don't need a different house. I don't need a jet ski. I want my education.’”

McLean’s first degree was in music business, and she added minors in religion and guitar and piano performance. In earning her degree, she also discovered another dimension to her calling. 

“They required biblical faith courses, and I had always felt this calling of my life for ministry and I had always seen my music career as ministry,” McLean said. “As I was taking those courses, they woke me up to a hunger for the church and a desire to minister in a new way.” 

This eye-opening experience led her to complete her masters in religion at Trevecca in 2008, and the following year she became ordained in the Church of the Nazarene. She continued her education and received a third degree from the Hill, completing the Doctor of Education in leadership program in 2018. 

Throughout these years, she was also leading Trevecca’s songwriting program. “Some people say you need to diversify your degrees from multiple universities but I'm really happy with the choice I made,” McLean said. “The faculty works hard to keep it well-rounded and open-minded.”

The Finished Work

McLean’s education, life and songwriting experience and her interactions with Lynn all came together, and in 2023, A Song and A Prayer was published.

“A Song and A Prayer has gone to number one on three different book charts,” McLean said. “It is a devotional book in the style of Oswald Chambers with similar formatting to Jesus Calling, except with song lyrics.” 

Ultimately, Lynn and McLean hope that love is at the center of their message and their readers will encounter God through a fresh lens with this unique medium.

“I'm safe to speak for Loretta in saying we hope that people come away knowing that God loves them beyond anything they could ask or imagine,” McLean said. “We hope that they come away seeing the world through God's eyes and they recognize the goodness of the Lord. We hope they find comfort.”