Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

It was/is a very good year. As 2015 gains momentum, so too is the career of singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb whose debut album As Sure As The Sun made Buzzfeed’s list of 2014’s Top 15 Standout Albums  — calling it “one of the most uplifting albums of the year.” 2014 also saw her share the stage with Amy Grant, perform on David Crowder’s Neon Steeple Tour and make various appearances with her husband’s band Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors.

Beginning this month Holcomb is joining Third Day for their Soul On Fire Tour, visiting more than 20 cities. For the most updated schedule, please visit her tour page.  In 2014, she shared the stage with Amy Grant as well as performed on David Crowder’s Neon Steeple Tour and made various solo appearances with her husband’s band, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors.
JWK: It’s been a year since your debut As Sure As The Sun came out and has been such a success. How has your life changed in that time?

ELLIE HOLCOMB: It’s been busier than I ever imagined. Honestly, I didn’t intend on doing this as my job. It felt like something the Lord was asking me to do. The timing didn’t make sense with being a young mom and wanting to grow our family, but I just kept feeling like I wanted to say “yes” to Jesus as He asked me to share these songs and my story with people. It’s been a year of feeling like I’m stepping off the edge of cliff, and then seeing Jesus provide so faithfully. Every step I take, I’m scared, but every step the ground keeps rising beneath my feet and I’m more and more certain of His grace and provision for us as we follow Him.

JWK: When did you first know that you wanted to be singer and songwriter?

EH: I started writing songs in high school, mainly about having my heart broken, but as I played those in my college dorm stairwell, I found that songs were bridge builders. Girls would line the stair well and want to tell me their own stories of heartache whenever I played my songs, and I thought that was amazing. I knew I’d keep writing and singing songs for the rest of my life, but had no idea that writing and singing songs would end up being my job!

JWK: I understand that some of your music is inspired from time you and your husband spent volunteering for an organization called Young Life. Can you tell me about that?

EH: I learned in college that songs were bridge builders, connecting people’s stories, and it was at Young Life camp that I learned songs could also be used as a bridge to connect with someone’s story and then point them to the story and the love of Jesus. Young Life is a ministry that believes every kid, everywhere should have a chance to hear the gospel in a way that they can understand and respond to it if they so desire. They meet kids where they are, earn the right to be heard by showing up and loving them, and then say, “Come with me as I go to Jesus.” My husband and I started volunteering to play music at YL camps for 1-3 months a summer, and it is literally like having a front row seat to watching God transform hearts and lives. Many of my songs have been inspired by the precious people whose stories we’ve had the honor of hearing over the years that we’ve volunteered to sing at Young Life camps.

JWK: You’ve said that your song The Valley “came from praying Psalms 23 and 69.” Can you elaborate the inspiration of this song?

EH: I had several friends who were struggling deeply with depression, and I was reading through these two Psalms praying for them. As I prayed, it was as if this song just spilled out of me as a continuation of the prayers for them to encounter Jesus in the middle of the darkness. Two years into singing the song though, I realized that the song was for me too. It’s really just about coming to the end of your rope and crying out to God for rescue. I have to do that all the time , so I love getting to sing this song on the road.  And I really love that God always promises to hear our cries for help!

JWK: Who are primary your influences – in faith and in music?

EH: In faith, I’d say both of my parents & the many Young Life staff folks I’ve encountered over the years. Amy Grant, has been a huge inspiration and role model for me. She is gracious to everyone she meets, has an element of raw honesty in her music, and still considers getting to sing and perform the songs she writes a major blessing. I respect that so much and hope to be like her in those ways. Sara Groves, Jon Foreman, & Patty Griffin are pretty strong musical influences as well, mainly because their music has walked me through some tough seasons in my own life. It’s fair to say they’ve all been good teachers in faith and music.

JWK: What are your plans for 2015?

I’m starting to write again, which is always life-giving to me, and I’ll be on tour this spring with Third Day and then Steven Curtis Chapman and Brandon Heath. When I’m home, I’ll be enjoying our family and community in Nashville.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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