Bel Thomson is an Australian award-winning singer, songwriter, and speaker whose ministry takes her across the country to conferences, festivals, schools, camps, outreach events, and Christian Churches of all denominations. Just back from recording a new album in Nashville, USA, Bel is spreading her songs of encouragement across Australia and beyond. The title track from her new release "A New Creation" - a song that will touch many hearts with its theme of grace - features Paul Colman (Grammy nominated singer/songwriter, formerly in the Newsboys). On release, this song was in the top 30 songs on Christian radio in Australia for 21 weeks straight, and is being picked up by churches across the country to use in their worship services.
Hallels: Tell us who is Bel Thomson and how did you experience God's call to sing for Him?
I am an Australian singer-songwriter. I am passionate about sharing the love of God and am privileged to travel across Australia from the big cities to the outback, sharing songs and stories to encourage people in their faith. As I type this I am on the road with my husband driving to gigs in rural South Australia, dodging kangaroos and wombats on the road. Fun times! I first started writing music in high school, and I actually used to wonder if there was something wrong with me as I didn't know anyone else who got music in their head all the time! As the years went on I realised it was a gift that God had given me. As my faith grew, I began to get passionate about encouraging others and my music reflected this. Today I love to sing at Christian churches of all denominations, as well as schools, conferences and events.
Hallels: What's the Christian music scene like in Australia? What do you think is the great blessing and the greatest challenge as far as Christian music is concerned?
Being in full time music ministry is a real privilege, but there certainly are challenges. Australia has a very small Christian music scene, so to pave a career as an artist you really have to beat your own path and figure it out for yourself. But Australia is a great nation to tour, and I absolutely love getting to see what God is doing in different places, and it's fun to travel together with my husband. One thing I've learnt is that I have to be intentional about my growth and making sure I am being nourished spiritually on tour. We try to set aside time at the beginning of the day to spend with the Lord, and each week set aside one day to rest, relax, and be recharged. It's amazing that often at the end of our rest day is when I am most creative, with songs and writing ideas coming from nowhere! I believe rest and creativity are linked.
Hallels: On your latest album, you've got to work with legendary producer Ed Cash (Kari Jobe, Chris Tomlin). How did you get to work with Ed?
I know! I'm still blown away! I had previously released 3 cds in Australia, and for years dreamed of working with Ed Cash, who had recorded albums for some of my favourite artists. My husband Phil encouraged me to contact him and to my amazement that door opened for me to work in his studio, which was one of the very best experiences I've ever had. Ed is a musical mastermind! I wrote the songs in Australia (and rewrote...and rewrote...and rewrote..!), and then worked on the songs with the studio in Nashville via skype from my home studio. Then my husband and I made 2 trips to record in Nashville. It was a dream come true, and I will never be the same having seen God truly make a way and provide what we needed when we stepped out in faith to pursue the dream. I have learnt that our fear of failure is a smokescreen that holds us back from the abundant life Jesus promised. When we receive God's direction to move forward on a project, doors that seem closed are often not; but it's only when we step out and risk failure that we discover the joy of entering through doors that were open all along!
Hallels: Let's talk about your new record "A New Creation." What do you think is the take-home message of this album?
The album is a collection of songs inspired by real life and the ways I've seen God at work in and around me. I wrote these songs in many different places- on the beach, in my studio, in my car. Inspiration comes from many places because God is always there!
When I think about this album, I think of joy, because it's come from a season of seeing God's faithfulness in my life. My songs are usually an expression of my own journey, and my past albums were written when I was going through more difficult seasons. But this album has been written in such a season of joy. It is an album filled with themes of healing and hope, having seen God's goodness and promises prove true in my own life through a decade of following Him.
I pray that this album is an encouragement to other people going through desert seasons (which I know well!), to remember that as we keep putting one foot in front of the other and following Christ, he leads us through every difficulty to good places.
Hallels: I absolutely love the song "Dressed in White." What' the story behind this song?
'Dressed in White' is a special song to me because I wrote it for my wedding day! (I actually wrote it before we were even engaged, because I knew Phil was the man I would marry! Hehe...when he popped the question I was very well prepared!). I felt God promise when I was 17 that he had someone special for me to marry...and I was 30 when we met! So when we got married, we were beyond excited- it was so worth the wait! I could not stop smiling as I walked up the aisle to this song, and Phil bawled his eyes out as I walked toward him, with the words 'I'll be yours and you'll be mine from today for the rest of our lives'. This song is very special for us, as it's a celebration of seeing God's promise fulfilled. Our actual wedding speech is on youtube, which catches the joy of the day.
Hallels: Your husband Phil Thomson is also a leadership coach and a speaker with John Maxwell. Tell us more about his ministry. Do the two of you tour together and conduct seminars?
Yes! My husband is awesome! He is part of the John Maxwell team, and he loves to build the church through leadership training. We make every effort to do ministry together where possible, which does involve planning and compromise! He has a real heart to support me on tour with the music ministry, so he does all the bookings and admin- a real blessing. In addition, he preaches at most of the churches where I sing. We both have a passion for the local church, so we love to partner with Aussie churches, and this looks slightly different in each community depending on their needs. In the rural town we are in this week, I will do a concert at a public school, and a combined churches community concert, while Phil runs a leadership seminar with a local AOG church team, and we will share together (I sing and Phil preaches) on Sunday morning at a local Baptist church. We love to partner with churches to reach their communities, and as such have shared in all sorts of environments, everything from community meetings, farms and public halls. Together we make a much stronger team.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to purchase "A New Creation" and/or get to know more about you or your husband, where can they go?
The best place to get all the info is www.belthomson.com