Audrey Assad – Interview

Sound Byte

Audrey Assad’s music has an angelic and ethereal quality that will inspire and touch your soul, to say the least. Lauded by The New York Times, Assad is a multiple Dove Award nominee, an iTunes Christian Breakthrough Album of the Year recipient (2010); and her newest album Inheritance (2016) has already achieved five-star status and hit No. 1 on iTunes. As the daughter of a Syrian refugee, she holds a great passion for people who have been unfairly displaced. Assad shares her passion for the refugee mission, and talks about achieving freedom through Christ in her own life.

PM: We read that you started playing piano at age two! How is that even possible? Is that when your love for music began?

AA: Even earlier, honestly. The church I grew up in always sang vigorously. We had a big hymnal tradition and we used no instruments and sang acappella. I grew up in a church where everyone was singing for sometimes 30 to 45 minutes at a time, several days a week. I really just grew up in it, in a culture of singing and of praying with music.

Then my mom bought a piano when I was two and I took to it immediately. She said I hopped up there in my diaper and started playing songs that she recognized, and she said, “Well, I guess we have a piano player in this house!” I’ve always been around it and I’ve always loved it.

PM: Who are your musical influences?

AA: My mom picked out most of the music I listened to growing up. We listened to a mix of 70s music like James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel and John Denver. There was a lot of country music in my house growing up. I’m influenced by the folk songwriting tradition, so that’s probably the biggest influence I have. Even if I’m not making that kind of music, it’s certainly influenced my chord structures and the way I like to phrase things.

PM: We also read that rather than write lyrics about God, you write lyrics directed to God. Can you tell us a little bit about your songwriting process?

AA: I typically am inspired by little phrases I come across in literature or in spiritual writing. I’ll usually elaborate on an idea that I’ve found in a book by whatever author I’m reading, and it’ll spawn an emotion in me and then an idea based around the words I’ve read.

On the Fortunate Fall record there’s a song called “Lead, Kindly Light,” and it’s one of my favorites that I’ve ever written. It’s basically a paraphrase of a little poem by a priest that I read. It’s an old piece of art that I found and thought, “This is so the cry of my heart right now, I’m going to put this in my music.” I tend to be pretty inspired by spiritual writing and literature.

PM: That’s beautiful. Your story behind your song “Even Unto Death” was incredibly inspiring— speaking to Philippians 2:5-8 and Christian martyrdom. What do you hope your music inspires other to do?

AA: First and foremost, I hope that my music facilitates a place for someone where they can encounter not only a Jesus who atones for them in some way, in some kind of transactional legal sense, but a Jesus who heals their wounds and who brings them to life again.

I really hope that it inspires a parallel to my journey, which is a journey out of a fundamentalist rule-based approach to religion and Jesus and faith, and into a dynamic and healing and electric relationship with the God of the universe. That’s what I hope. That’s been my journey 100% and honestly, even in recent years, have I just begun to really understand how much my first half of life has been about the law. I want people to experience freedom in encountering Jesus through my music.

Audrey Assad’s full interview is available at youngsalvationist.org/young-salvationist-online or in the September 2016′s print issue. Subscribe Today!

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Captain Pamela Maynor, Editor, Young Salvationist