If you ask Christian music fans why they love this genre, one of the top answers would be because it ministers to them in their worst moments. Over and over again, the stories flood in of difficult times that a song was able to bring some peace to. It makes the case for the incredible power of music, that when we combine honest lyrics with creative melodies, heartfelt stories and the connection to Christ, music has the ability to impact lives like nothing else.
But it's not just the fans that are changed by these songs--it's the artists too. For the songwriters that pen these comforting tracks, they often come out of their own painful circumstances and play a therapeutic role in helping them cope.
As one artist who allows her personal experience and emotion to bleed through into her songs, Alisa Turner will quickly tell you that music has played a huge role in helping her through some of her worst moments with Lyme Disease. In honor of her brand new Integrity Music debut, we're taking a look at the stories of Alisa and other artists who live with a chronic illness, sharing how music has been a balm to them in their battle and how sickness has shaped their songs. These are our Christian Music Fighters.
1. Alisa Turner
Alisa Turner is a songstress very familiar with singing through the relentless battles of an illness. From a young age, Alisa has suffered the debilitating difficulties and endless effects of Chronic Lyme Disease, a tick-borne infection that nearly killed Alisa after leaving her bedridden for several years. Even at her worst with this disease, music never stopped being a solace that she could turn to and find rest: "I think the Lord created me this way, drawn in by the emotion that comes with music. When I sit down at the piano, He always uses it to draw me back, to awaken the dreamer, and I always leave different than when I came," Alisa explains of how music has often saved her. To make the impact unmistakable, she penned it in her earlier work: "This is why I'm singing / it's gonna keep me breathing." Like you would expect, Alisa's story of unwavering faith and hope through her battle with illness now leaves its fingerprints on everything she writes and sings. Heard powerfully in every word of her new Integrity Music debut self-titled EP, these songs feel authentic and heartfelt from beginning to end-- the markings of an artist who has held music as her closest companion on her darkest nights.
2. Tim Timmons
Nearly sixteen years ago, singer/songwriter/producer Tim Timmons was given five years to live. Faced with an incurable cancer diagnosis, Timmons decided that how he lived out the rest of his life would depend on one answer: did he believe that God was God and he was not? With a resounding "yes" that has carried him the past decade and a half, Timmons allows that steady, inspiring assurance of Christ in the midst of uncertainty to remain at the forefront of everything he does. "They still say I have four tumors on my liver and that's wearing out my heart, but Jesus keeps waking me up every single day and I'm still blown away by that," Timmons says of living a life of faith despite the cancer. On his blog, at a live show or even just on his records--you can't hear Tim Timmons without hearing the story of a fighter.
3. Luke Smallbone of for KING & COUNTRY
If you've heard a new for KING & COUNTRY tune on the radio in the past year or so, chances are it was in some way inspired by co-frontman Luke Smallbone's serious battle with illness. After being diagnosed with a severe form of Ulcerative Colitis in late 2012, Luke's condition became life-threatening, and he was forced to miss several months of touring because he was too sick to leave his home. Though it is a chronic disease he still struggles with to this day, Luke has made great progress towards getting better and is now back on the road giving 150% to the music again. "I think the most valuable lesson I learned is that I did know that I had that hour, that minute, that day I had with my son and my wife, and I was going to do my best to laugh and to dance, even figuratively, and I was going to live with hope," he says of the fresh perspective he gained through the illness. Much of their latest album, Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong., was shaped by this experience. Listeners can hear the personal emotion in songs like "Shoulders," "It's Not Over Yet" and most of all "Without You," a track that features Luke's wife Courtney and delves into the vulnerable fears that accompanied his journey through illness.
4. Jamie Grace
Grammy nominee, Billboard Award nominee, Dove Award winner, YouTube Silver Partner, host of her own show and podcast, actress--there are many titles that Jamie Grace could easily boast, but none more than the one she has carried from a young age: fighter. Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome as an early teen, Jamie has dedicated her life to encouraging other fighters like herself through YouTube videos, her #FighterFriday podcast, an organization that raises awareness of the illness and a website (ImAFighter.org) that acts as a community for fighters around the world to share their stories and encourage each other. Her health struggles also bleed into her music (check out her brand new album '91here), giving Jamie a platform to share her fighter spirit with the world.
Tiffany Lee, known to the world best by the name Plumb, is another fighter who has been refreshingly open about her struggles with illness over the years. Plumb, who suffered from IBS and ADD in addition to depression and anxiety, often talks vulnerably about the panic attacks that inspired her hit song "Need You Now (How Many Times)." "I struggled with anxiety attacks since I was 13, and they would manifest through really paralyzing, lower abdominal cramping and stomach aches. I would be hiding in my high school bathroom just literally praying to God for help, and that was really my only source of hope or peace or strength," she says of the battle that led to a career-changing song for her.
6. Trip Lee
In the middle of his career, Reach Records rapper Trip Lee was sidelined by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, an exhausting disorder that does exactly what its name suggests and makes handling a busy schedule such as Trip's nearly impossible to keep up with. "I can't remember the last time I woke up feeling rested," Trip says honestly of the struggle that comes with CFS. Putting a strain on his life, pastoral plans and music career, his chronic condition heavily influenced 2014's Rise, most notably the album's second single "Sweet Victory."
Caitlin Lassiter is a North Carolina girl that loves Jesus, music, concerts, writing, C.S. Lewis, and sweet tea... She's also a worship leader dreaming of traveling the world to share God's love.
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