Upcoming artist Aryn Michelle is, in her own words, “a faith-based, eclectic pop artist from Dallas, Texas.” Aryn, who’s been releasing music since 2015, has a goal of spreading light in the darkness of secular music.
Her newest project, Pariah Pt. 1, is a concept album about various people of the Bible. Each song is inspired by someone significant who found themselves as an outcast, a pariah, at some point. The experiences of these characters spin-off into morals we can apply to our lives today. She says it’s a “project of honesty and empathy for walking in faith through times of rejection.”
I had the chance to talk to her about her musical inspirations, as well as the story behind several of her songs.
Share a story or two about a few of the songs from the new album.
"Pariah" means a lot of different things within this project because each person that inspires each song has a very different set of circumstances. In the song "Honest," Ruth and Naomi find themselves to be pariahs because of tragic loss. In "Making a Way,” John the Baptist chooses the life of a pariah because of the unique calling God has placed on his life.
One of the most personal and difficult songs on the project is "Secondhand Love," which draws inspiration from the life of Leah, Jacob's wife from the book of Genesis. I chose to write this song specifically to connect with anyone who has had the experience of not being loved the way they hoped for.
The song acknowledges that God will never leave us or forsake us while we simultaneously face the hard truth that sometimes people on this earth will never return the love we hope for or deserve—no matter what we do.
You’ve been writing for the church for seven years now. What compels you to continue this journey? What are some of your musical inspirations and why?
Even though I’ve been a committed follower of Jesus since I was eight years old, I didn't pursue creating explicitly faith-based music until I was sure that it was a calling that God had placed on my life. As a preacher's kid—and someone who has been around the church and its people my whole life—I know God has equipped me to speak creatively to people of faith.
However, I also feel called to create music that's a little "different" and outside the norm of what's the "expected sound" from a Christian musician. So, many of my musical inspirations come from outside of the realm of Christian music.
I grew up listening to music from the ‘60s and ‘70s (and still do today) so I draw inspiration from artists like Stevie Wonder, Carole King, and Elton John. In terms of more contemporary music, I've got to be honest with you that I just love anything that sounds different, doesn't matter the genre. Unique sound design and fresh musical perspective really speak to my soul as a creative that loves connecting to our creator.
I enjoy the alternative pop sounds of pop artists Kimbra and Billie Eilish. I love what Christian artists like Jonathan Ogdon, IMRSQD, and John Mark McMillan are doing. I'll basically listen to any style that's taking chances musically.
What’s next? How can we be praying for you?
I'll be releasing a Christmas song called "Merry and So Bright" in November and then continuing to release the last four songs from the Pariah project every six weeks or so starting in 2022. I would love for people to follow my artist profiles wherever they stream music so that they can catch the rest of Pariah as it comes out.
I already have ideas brewing for concept projects to write and record after Pariah, so I would love prayer that God would use me to write songs that speak the truth, bring Him glory, and engage people's hearts. And, even more so, I'd ask for prayer that God would give me boldness as a writer and a follower of Jesus to take creative risks while keeping my eyes fixed firmly on Him.
Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
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