A few weeks ago I was invited by Chris Story to his radio program “Alaska Adventure Radio” to talk about my new album “Red Sky“. It was a fun interview that I enjoyed immensely with a very entertaining host!
I live in Homer, Alaska so this program showcases the local flare.
It was on a missions trip to Italy in 2009, that I met Manuel Luz. Manuel, and his wife Debbie, along with their four children live in El Dorado Hills, California. Manuel is the Pastor of Worship and Creative Arts at his church called Oak Hills in Folsom, California. Through the ministry of Bob Kilpatrick, I with Oikeo Music, Manuel, and several other musicians, worship leaders, and technicians converged together in Rome, Italy to teach, lead, and support the ministry of worship in the churches there.
Manuel has been a Pastor of Worship and Arts for over 20 years, and most of those years at Oak Hills Church. He is an accomplished jazz musician, composer, singer, songwriter, author, aerospace engineer, husband, and father of four. You can read more of his bio here which tells the story of how he, an engineer turned rock star, became a pastor of worship and the arts. With a discography of contributing to over 50 albums in his career, I was thrilled when Manuel offered to produce my album “Red Sky“.
Manuel took my words and lyrics and together with a group of talented musicians from the Sacramento area: Kent Peterson, Steven Randal, David Holcomb, Elissa Benguerel, and Michaela Nassello, created the soundtracks that communicate each song for the album. Guitar, cello, bass, drums, strings and keyboards come together to create the settings. Some songs are fast-paced and full of energy, others are contemplative and peaceful. Manuel worked with me to create both the feel and energy for each song to give it its own “voice”. Once the soundtracks were completed, I flew down to Sacramento to record in his studio. Three days later the recording portion was complete and the mixing and editing began.
I love to discover what another person “hears” when they listen to what I have written. By adding their own ideas to what I have created, the songs become so much more. That is the joy of collaborating, and that was my experience in working with Manuel in creating this album.
Beyond the music collaboration, Manuel is a dear friend that I appreciate and admire. Those who know him and have worked with him in ministry concur that he has a gift of encouragement and invests his life in the art, and spiritual development of others. He brings experience, expertise, sensitivity, and a heart to serve to every artistic endeavor he participates in. I am honored to call him a friend.
As I mentioned earlier, Manuel is also an author, and his book Imagine That: Discovering Your Unique Role as a Christian Artist, Manuel Luz expresses how the relationship between God and the artist, and the artist to his art, finds it’s greatest fulfillment–in community. Our collective stories “written” in our art tell the Greater Story of our fall and God’s Redemption. I recommend his book to all artists–from painters to organizers. You will come away with a better understanding of how your art and desire to create is not just a hobby or occupation but is an expression of the character of our Creator God.
Manuel also has a blog that I subscribe to called “Adventures in Faith & Art” where he records his journey in faith through the arts.
In just a couple of weeks, my album “Red Sky” will finally be finished. It has been a journey for me that has traversed the past four years since the release of my first album “From Here“. In those four years I have written more songs about what God is teaching me. Some songs I wrote with my children in mind–hoping to leave them with some of the lessons I have learned. While this album will be six songs instead of 10, I am excited to finally have it complete and add it to my music journey.
Have you ever started out to do something with great ambition and high expectation only to be caught up in a crisis or trouble that you just didn’t see coming? I sure have. Even as I am writing this blog, I am mopping up the remains of a storm that beat at my heart just this year. If you are familiar with the phrase: “Red sky at morning, sailor take warning. Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” then you know that the saying refers to the warnings that the sky gives to the sailor about storms coming. If the morning dawns red, the sailor knows a storm is on its way and he needs to take cover. If as the day concludes and the sun sets red, the sailor knows that there will be peace.
This album is a collection of lessons I have learned over the years after facing various storms and crisis. The song “Red Sky” describes the storm and the fear that wants to take hold in the midst of trouble and pain. It’s a prayer for help and it’s a promise of comfort. I hope that the words of the songs work in cooperation with what the Holy Spirit would like to say to you and sing over you in your storm. I pray that you will find that even in a storm, Jesus will be that “Red Sky”.
“Better Than Life” was a song I wrote after studying the idea “Can man live without God?” My conclusion is that there is no way to live without him that has meaning, purpose, destiny, or direction. Somehow contained within the love of God was the justice that paid for my sin, the grace to see me through my tomorrows, the healing to mend my heart, and the truth to expel all of the lies. Yes, I find that His love is better than life!
“Forgiveness” is another song from the album. I wrote this song to express another life lesson I have been learning. It’s based on the idea that “Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free and finding out that the prisoner was me.” It’s one of the hardest lessons to learn, but one of the most freeing experiences to embrace. When I finally cancel the debts of others and allow God to meet my needs, I experience the joy of forgiving.
Out of the many broken places in my life, God continues to bring redemption. He takes my messed up places and pieces and makes something beautiful out of them. It is this among many other things that cause me to fall deeper and deeper in love with Him, and out of my heart came the song “I Love That About You“. This song is a love song about the beauty of the Lord that I see as He interacts with my life and the lives of others around me.
My friend Paul Wainamo also wrote a song a few years ago dealing with the way God redeems our lives and makes sense of all of our confusions and imbalances. I loved the song from the first time I heard it and I asked him if I could record that song on this album. “Only You Can Make Sense” is a song that describes my life as an artist/songwriter and the way God writes my story and my “song”. Paul just recently placed in the “Top 5” in a songwriter’s competition with this song for Worship Northwest/Hope 107.9 and will be recording this song as well!!! Congratulations Paul!!!
Finally, my most intimate song that I included on this album is a song called “Solace“. This song is an invitation to you to listen in on my quiet time with the Lord and hear what I hear. I have found that the peace and hope to be found is in the presence of my Creator God. He is the only one who sings my hope. I hope you can hear Him singing over you as you sit in His presence.