From our first breath to our final sigh, music soundtracks our lives. Verses benchmark our greatest successes and deepest regrets. Melodies map our highest hopes and most harrowing heartaches. A symphony of sound inaugurates our living and memorializes our dying. And perhaps more than any other form of communication, the medium of music recognizes, clarifies and provokes the spiritual realm -- where Heaven meets Earth.
Texas-based singer-songwriter Micah Peacock can attest to music's potent play in our spiritual lives. As worship leader for The Well at St. Andrew United Methodist Church, a 2000-member congregation located in the sprawling Dallas suburb of Plano, every week Micah witnesses the impact music can have in the day-to-day life of a Christ follower. "To see people embrace fresh ways of worshiping the Lord," Micah relates, "and what that kind of encounter with Jesus can mean for our lives, is amazing."
"When I lead worship, I see the light bulbs turn on in people's minds as we discover the power that true worship can have in our lives," he explains. "I am witnessing a desire to crack the veneer of Christianity and push beyond to a more through-and-through commitment."
As stories of fresh spiritual awareness began to surface in his life and the lives of his fellow congregants, Micah started journaling the best way he knew how -- by writing songs. Those songs comprise his first full-length recording, Shadow to Sunlight.
Beginning with the slow burn of the title track's awakening anthem, Shadow to Sunlight musically imprints the personal, yet corporate, cry of disciples eager to dive into the deep end of faith. "When light hits an object, a shadow is cast. You can't have one without the other," Micah says. "I want to have eyes to see all the glimpses of God and His Kingdom that are infused throughout our day-to- day lives. I think the Lord is ready to give us a new lens to look through. We have a choice to participate and dive in.
That may not be comfortable, but I've found that it's by far a more rich and dynamic way of living."
The lyrics of "Mystery" follow the track's musical transition from the verses four-on-the-floor alt- country pulse to the chorus' half-time backbeat, prompting movement from open-ended questions to openhearted surrender as we chip away at the incomprehensible character of God. "We, as the church, use our blocks of theology to build a framework for our understanding of who God is and even for our encounters with Him," Micah explains. "That's natural and good. But sometimes we use these intellectual blocks to erect walls around our hearts that harden us to the truth that our thoughts are not His thoughts, that some things are meant to remain a mystery to be explored and enjoyed, not an equation to be solved."
As Micah waded through challenging emotions in his own life, the vulnerable balladry of "Stop Your Striving" was born. Gentle acoustics, tender mandolin and sweeping strings emphasize Micah's newfound lesson in grace. "I have always struggled with feeling responsible to right my own wrongs," Micah confesses. "But recent seasons of life have proven that God has been the Author all along. I never could have imagined or manufactured the life He's given me. That awareness frees me from carrying around a lot of guilt and shame."
Growing up in a musical family in Friendswood, Texas, melody and verse were foundational ingredients of Micah's growing years. Performing together with his father at local churches and other venues provided the young musician ample opportunity to hone his prowess on guitar. Studying music at the University of Houston further developed his gifts, and upon graduation, Micah set off on a journey that has led to worship positions in Kansas and Texas; national touring opportunities with Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter Matt Brouwer; and the release of three EPs: 2010's What Surrounds Us; 2011's Anywhere But Home; and last year's love song collection, Unnamed Shades.
Several years ago an opportunity to interact with GRAMMY® Award-winning producer/songwriter/musician Michael Omartian--whose talents have shaped iconic recordings by Donna Summer, Rod Stewart, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, among others--proved significant when time came to record Micah's new project. Impressed by Micah's musicianship, Omartian welcomed the opportunity to produce Shadow to Sunlight. "Micah's lyrics are steeped in prose and poetry," the musical legend reflects, "and transcend the more mainstream worship themes of today's CCM market, which I find completely refreshing. The themes are approached so creatively."
For Micah, the admiration is mutual. "Though I was familiar with his astounding portfolio, it was such a thrill to see how expansive his creative pallet really is and to watch that experience poured out on this album. Here's a guy who has achieved just about everything there is to achieve in music and he truly counts it all as loss compared to knowing Christ."
Sonically speaking, Micah says Omartian's recording wherewithal, paired with his long-time mixing and engineering partner Terry Christian's expertise and A-list players, accomplished the musical outline he desired for this journal of songs. "I wanted the album to sound analog with classic rock band instrumentation, minimal programming elements and limited overdubs," Micah explains of his vision for the record. "You can almost visualize the band playing the record together at a venue. I'm proud of the dynamic journey each of the songs takes."
Song by song, Micah seizes the opportunity to connect spiritual dots through music for his local congregation and burgeoning national audience. It is his hope that through an illuminated connection to God, followers of Christ will be motivated to more lovingly, wisely and carefully connect with their neighbors.
To that end, Micah is utilizing Shadow to Sunlight as a resource to benefit the work of Project Transformation (PT), a Dallas-founded program to help low socio-economic children reach their potential, engage college students in the call to ministry and aid in the renewal of urban churches. The program's start has been so successful that city centers across the nation are beginning to implement their own PT model.
"The idea of 'living into our potential' as children, as students, and as churches resonated with what this record is all about," Micah shares. "I come from a family of educators, I 'cut my teeth' with regard to ministry in college, and am deeply committed to renewing how churches engage the Lord and what He's doing, so those three areas are close to my heart."
An extraordinary musical journal from a passionate singer/songwriter, worship leader, and follower of Christ, Shadow to Sunlight is much more than a statement in song. It is at once perspective and poetry, lived out in community and forged in the fire of everyday faith--faith which Micah Peacock has found to be true on his own journey from shadow to sunlight.