On the Table: A Common Thread

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Question of the Week: “Can you identify a common thematic thread that runs through your work– something that separates you from other artists in your field? Or, in regard to work other than your own, what kinds of themes are you particularly drawn to?”


eric-peters-thumb.gifEric Peters – Hope. Curt McLey once reviewed (very kindly, I might add) an album of mine, “Scarce”, and said I might as well wear the letter “H” (instead of “A”, I suppose, in reference to Hester Prynne’s own Scarlet Letter) emblazoned upon my chest since he found that same theme running throughout most every song I’ve recorded over the years. That gives me a great t-shirt idea…

What separates me from other artists in my field? I’m shorter than most every one of them.


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Matt Conner – I’ve often thought about this idea – what draws me specifically to the music that I love so much? I would have to say the dominant idea is ‘passion.’ It’s something in the emotion of the singer, the poet, the speaker, the artist that communicates the idea they are passionate about what they are singing, writing, speaking or painting about.I’ve found that it can even be things I totally disagree with or ideas that aren’t completely my own beliefs or viewpoints, and yet when they’re communicated in a passionate way, I can still resonate with their artistry.


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Jason Gray – Most times I’m aware of the person in church who feels alienated by the feel-good, sloganeering, hyped music. Maybe it’s because they’re broken-hearted, disillusioned, or that they are intellectually inclined and are put off by what they perceive as emotionalism or shallow theology. I’m talking about the kind of person who wants to hope, but who is weary of feeling disappointed. I’m aware of the weak and broken, who feel fated to be outsiders, and I want them to know that the gospel is better news than they might dare believe, and that the good news is for them. So in almost every song I write, I acknowledge doubt and try to explore the virtues of weakness.

I have a speech impediment known as stuttering, and it’s been a great opportunity for me to explore redemptive ideas of weakness with my audience. I meet people who are afraid that because of weakness, addictions, failures, depression, or any other variety of brokenness they are disqualified from doing anything significant for God’s Kingdom. But it’s my great joy to get to be someone who tells them that they are exactly the ones who should be expectant. Scripture tells us that it is in our weakness that God’s strength is perfected, and if this is true then our weaknesses are our greatest qualifications. So the virtue of weakness is a thread that runs through most of my music.

It’s also important for me to acknowledge doubt, fear, pain, and disappointment, in hopes that my music might be a tool to help my audience process their own hurt without losing their heart. I guess I’m always trying to coax out hope that has gone into hiding.

The best thing someone ever told me about my music is that in her difficult time of a divorce, trouble with her kids, and professional challenges, my record restored her worship. That is a humbling thing to hear, and something I aspire to in all my work.


evie-coates-thumb.gif Evie Coates – I feel like a bit of a loser these days on the creative front, so I can’t answer that first question or I may cry. I walked past my spare bedroom-turned-workshop yesterday and glanced longingly at my work table. (sniff, sniff.)

But the second question, I think I can handle. My answer is this: food. (The broader theme being any sort of creative hospitality.) Anything with a respectable slice of screen time devoted to beautiful goings-on in a lively kitchen, I will watch. I know they’re not the Oscar winners, but “Chocolat,” “Amelie,” “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Babette’s Feast” and “Spanglish” are all on my shelf. The other night when I caught a glimpse of a scene from “Chocolat” on television, I couldn’t turn it off because I knew what came next: the party scene. Or rather, the party preparation scene. (Since I own the movie, this is a little silly.) In the film, Via