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Indie Artist Spotlight
33 minutes | Mar 24, 2019
Defining Inheritance: Audrey Assad
Sitting atop a piano in my home is a collection of handwritten lyrics adorned with handdrawn images - all suitable for framing. Each page, each image, each string of well-arranged words serve as a constant reminder: each of the songs I welcome into my life come at the expense of the laughter, tears, joy and pain of the author. Please step forwardI first met Audrey Assad in 2008. She was a polite figure in the background when singer/songwriter/worship leader Matt Maher arrived to conduct aworship seminar hosted by our radio station. Shortly thereafter, she shared some of her music with me. Her songwriting was nothing short of extraordinary. Words and phrases that flowed more like fine poetry than song lyrics filled each song. I wasn't the least bit surprised to learn she signed a deal with Sparrow Records in 2009, which lead to the critically acclaimed, "The House You're Building", released by Sparrow Records in July 2010.Words are more than letters strung together, just as people are more than a collision of cells or strands of DNA. For, as every human derives his being from Christ, in whom all things hold together, each word derives its particular essence from the Logos - the Word - Christ. ~ Audrey AssadAudrey went on to release two more projects under Sparrow before parting with the label on good terms. The end of the agreement was by no means the end of her musical career. In 2013, she produced released "Fortunate Fall" as an independent artist, funded by a Kickstarter campaign.Claiming InheritanceAudrey Assad is a worship leader and musician who writes, in her own words, “soundtracks for prayer.”She has penned her contemplative songs of worship with (and for) Matt Maher, Christy Nockels, Brett Younker, Sarah Hart, Meredith Andrews, and others—Audrey’s passion is to write fragrant, prayerful music that truly leads to encountering Jesus Christ, even in the silence of the heart.Inheritance, slated to release in early 2016, is a collection of hymns and original praise & worship songs that pays homage not only to her Plymouth Brethren childhood heritage, but also to her Catholic faith and charismatic spirituality. “I grew up in a church where we didn’t use any instruments on Sunday mornings,”Assad notes. “I learned to sing there, from the old hymnbooks, in four part harmony, with my family and my neighbors. It was multi-generational, it was deep and rich and beautiful, and like most of my favorite worship music, it was steeped in community.”The record blends these influences and infuses them with a truly modern sensibility—Inheritance is Audrey’s best effort at honoring her roots and, inspired by them, crafting something fresh, fragrant, and new.Even Unto DeathAssad began to compose Even Unto Death (co-written with Maher) after hearing yet another story of martyrs in today’s Middle East. “I thought of the many martyrs around the world, but especially those in the Middle East, and wondered to myself what would be running through my head if I knew my life was about to be taken because of my faith,”Audrey explains. “And so I began to write the song that became Even Unto Death, praying for the martyrs and hoping for even a shred of their courage. That’s something I would want to sing about on Sundays.” “Lover of my soul even unto death, with my every breath I will love you,” is a chorus both fragile and confident—two words that happen to aptly describe Assad’s personal faith.At several moments during the course of Inheritance, Assad delves deeper into that very fragility, intoning lines like “Jesus’ blood never failed me yet” with a mixture of boldness and Christianity’s proverbial ‘fear and trembling.’The song, arranged by composer Gavin Bryars, was sung originally by an unnamed homeless man recorded on the streets of Britain by Bryars—and it i
27 minutes | Mar 17, 2019
Getting Drenched in August Rain
Music is an incredibly powerful medium for sharing a message. Often when I hear a song, the first thing I want to do is share it. Sometimes it's the story, other times the music itself. In the case of August Rain's "Grace," it was both.Arriving on a Friday afternoon, the song completely interrupted my end-of-the-week tasks I hoped to complete before declaring myself off for the weekend. I had never heard of the band, and honestly didn't expect much, but was completely bowled over by the gritty, rootsy sound that came rolling out of my speakers.I quickly sent a note back to the band, and ended up in a conversation that resulted in my having the complete album "American Jesus" in digital form to enjoy over the weekend. And enjoy it, I did.Matthew Janzen's voice is a perfect match for the band's sound, which seems to straddle a fence oddly erected between Southern Rock and Americana. He is able to draw the listener in to get the whole story, and that is exactly the point of August Rain's music - there's a story to be told.Nothing short of a straight-up preacher, Matthew was delightful to listen to during the interview. His polite-but-direct southern drawl leaves no question he means what he says. Be sure to stop in and listen. The interview, including several songs from the latest album, "American Jesus" is available on the Indie Artist Spotlight page for the band. You'll also find links to connect with August Rain, plus videos and more.
37 minutes | Mar 11, 2019
Josh Gilbert: A Tennessee Treasure
From the first time we listened to Josh Gilbert's song, "Separate Us" I was hooked. I could hear congregations singing along in my head, and was excited about adding the song to WCLN's on-air lineup. A little digging online confirmed my suspicions: this guitar-slinging, soulful singer is the real deal.Still, I sent the song to a trusted circle of friends for their feedback. The technical folks thought the music was too simple, while the performing and worship leading folks were more interested in where they could get the charts for the song.Within a few weeks, the song was added to the station's playlist, and was well-received. Shortly thereafter, I invited Josh to join us for an episode of Indie Artist Spotlight. Summer was upon us by that time, and he was obviously in high demand at festivals and events across the eastern US. So I waited.When we finally got a chance to sit down together, I quickly realized it was well worth the wait. Josh is a pleasant and grounded musician, and a humble man after the heart of music for God's ultimate glory. As you listen to his interview and music, I hope you'll agree. “Throughout the years I have strived in pursuing music for God, oftentimes taking the less glorious or lucrative routes, all in effort to stay true to the calling of sharing the music and message of Jesus Christ. The musical road I’ve traveled has led me outside the church to many broken people and places, and my journey has not always been easy one. I’ve learned to trust in Christ and not in myself and I’ve been blessed to see God do many miracles in my life and enable me to overcome things that I had no power to overcome on my own. Remember friends, He is always Faithful.” Josh GilbertFor videos, links and more, you can visit Josh Gilbert's artist page now on the Indie Artist Spotlight Website.
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