NRT's Bill Lurwick talks with Audrey Assad about the literature and life lessons behind her freshman release, The House That You're Building.
Individualistic. A free spirit. Untraditional. In junior high those labels are a death sentence. In adulthood, they usually describe people the rest of us wish we could be--creative, intriguing people like Audrey Assad.
ďI was 19 when I started to fully understand the idea of surrendering my life--not just as a concept, but the daily hopes and dreams and disappointments--and giving that away to God,Ē she says. ďThatís when I first started to realize He had gifted me with music.Ē
Truly one-of-a-kind, this intensely honest singer-songwriter is carving out her own unique path in the music industry and opening hearts to God along the way.
Her album debut, The House Youíre Building, released just days after her 27th birthday, but the depth and maturity of her songwriting will make you suspect her cake should have quite a few more candles on it. The collection of piano-driven pop also contains plenty of worship, something thatís more than just a genre of music or something saved for Sunday mornings, it bleeds into every one of Audreyís live sets.
NRT's Bill Lurwick chatted with Audrey about her inaugural album, literary inspiration, and her disdain for daily showers.
Your first project came out July 13, the same date that one of your most influential bands, the Newsboys, came out with their latest project. I read that Take Me to Your Leader changed your life.
It did. Itís so funny because I grew up in a Christian home and my mom raised me up with some really great music, but Christian music just didnít get played in our house. It just wasnít part of my parents' culture. They didnít listen to it. They didnít know really what it was I donít think. So, I never heard Christian music growing up and itís funny that thatís what Iím doing now. When I was in high school, my friend loaned me his copy of Take Me to Your Leader and I was like, "what is this heavenly music?" I just loved it. I thought it was so cool that they were playing music that I liked, but the lyrics were worshipful. I really enjoyed that. I remember my dad made me give it back; he thought it was weird. I ended up buying it, and that was my first Christian record.
If they only knew. Iím sure at some point you guys will cross paths and theyíll find out. You'll tell them the story.
Iíve got to admit to you, I met Michael Tait a few weeks ago, but I didnít have the nerve to say anything.
Letís talk about the project, The House You're Building. The first single on the radio is called ďFor the Love of You.Ē Tell us about that song.
That song was inspired by a Facebook encounter that I had. I was on Facebook one day and one of my Facebook friends who Iíve never met before posted a line from a poem on their status. I went to look up the line and see what poem this was.
It was just so beautiful and it said, ďFor Christ plays in 10,000 places. Lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not His. To the Father through the features of menís faces...Ē and it turns out to be a [Gerard Manley] Hopkins poem, "As Kingfishers Catch Fire." I love Hopkins and I never read this particular one.
I just found it really shockingly beautiful for some reason. The whole first half of the poem is about birds and about nature. Itís praising God and imagining Him in this natural setting.
So, then this line about Christ playing in 10,000 places really caught my attention. So, it came from that. It comes from talking about how you can be seen in a million places and then ďFor Love of YouĒ it just caught on fire. Iím sort of taking what nature does and applying it to what my heart does. A celebration of God.
Now, The House Youíre Building was written with Ben Glover, a pretty well versed songwriter who has been around the business for a while now. How was that?
It was awesome. We wrote ďFor Love of YouĒ and ďThe House Youíre BuildingĒ together. ďThe House Youíre BuildingĒ was the first song we wrote. I went to write and record with him, and we ended up writing this really slow, kind of emotional song. I couldnít even get to the chorus that first day. I tried to play it like six times and I started to cry every time. I donít know what it was about the line: Iím a broken stone, so lay me in the house that youíre building.
It is so close to my heart. I think thatís just how I feel. Itís plain as day. Thatís how I feel and thatís how I pray. I just love that song. Itís probably my favorite on the record. Iím so excited that Ben and I didnít write the ďbig hitĒ that day because I think we would have missed out on something really wonderful.
Youíve got a great ministry platform with what Godís given you here. Growing up you werenít your typical "I-want-to-be-a-cheerleader" kind of girl, were you?
No, and Iím still not that kind of girl at all. Actually, I laugh because I still donít even like showering. I donít like the whole grooming routine. I do it, but itís a struggle. I just want to be reading a book for three days straight. I can get lost in my own world in some ways and that was how I was in middle school, too. Not the showering part, but getting lost in my world part--and I really had trouble relating, I think.
People didnít get books. I didnít know how they could not want to read something and so, I had two or three really good friends. I didnít know the rest of the kids or even what to do with them, and they did not know what to do with me. Thatís middle school. Thatís how it is for a lot of kids, but I just know that even though it was so long ago, I think that experience really give me a sense of identity.
I think I did the right thing in that situation, which was just to be myself and I learned a really important lesson there. Now I find that that lesson is still with me. I guess major spiritual revelations came from it because I donít need to try to be somebody else. This is the way God made me and not only that, with all my imperfections, Heís ready to use me now.
Unlike any other stone work or any mason worker, he lays stones in a wall and none of the stones are fit for bricklaying. Theyíre all shaped differently and probably have cracks, but he finds a way and he made a wall with us. So, we are shaped as we grow. We donít have to be perfect now. So, I think I find that really comforting.
Talk about the last song, ďShow Me.Ē Lyrically, whatís it all about?
Well, itís about the beauty of suffering and that when Iím going through something, I know that itís best that I just continue to go through it and not run away or have God take it away.
I think I spent my whole young life before 22 or 23 trying to avoid hardships. That was kind of the way you operate as a kid, and you donít want to experience pain or suffering. But then you realize at some point that itís inevitable in a lot of ways and that thereís a reason you go through things, even if you donít ever know the reason.
Even if you look back 20 years later and you still donít know why God allowed certain things in your life, the fact remains that there's an encounter you can have with Him in those moments. Those kinds of things are so priceless for me. I know I would not trade away the things Iíve gone through. The way that theyíve brought me to Jesus has been unbelievable.
Bill Lurwick, the voice of NewReleaseTuesday.com's weekly New Christian Music Podcast, has been in radio since 1989 and is currently heard on KJIL in Dodge City, KS.
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