Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter Cheri Keaggy has been hard at work in the studio producing and recording her ninth album, No Longer My Own. The project is slated for release to retail on Friday, August 7, 2015 from Psalm 91 Records and Elevate Entertainment.
Hallels: Congratulations on the release of "No Longer My Own." Why did you choose to fund the album via Kickstarter rather than the traditional route of going with a major label?
Many independent artists are going this route. It's a great way to allow fans and supporters to be involved in the ministry and feel some ownership with the project. God provided so beautifully for my last album, So I Can Tell, via Kickstarter. And I sensed His nudge to believe Him again for this one. But, inwardly, I was resisting the idea as we often do with anything that takes a lot of work and courage. I also didn't want to presume upon God to provide in the same way He had before. During that time of seeking and wrestling, I read Seth Godin's book called Tribes - We Need You to Lead Us. He talked about how leading well requires generosity and bravery. And I knew I had to step out in faith. Sometimes faith looks like pressing "go" even when you're a little scared! It definitely kept me on my knees.
Hallels: You have said that this is the "most bold recording to date," can you tell us why?
Yes, because I think there are some bolder lyrics on this album. Songs like "Lead Me to Your Love," "Overcome," and "Be My Sabbath" come to mind, even "You Save Me" with it's opening line from Psalm 119:71 - "it was good for me to be afflicted, that I might learn Your decrees." That's a pretty bold sentiment. We don't really think of our afflictions as good, and yet through them we learn obedience.
Hallels: On your previous record "So I Can Tell," many of the songs deal with healing and restoration. What would you say are the major themes of this album?
One of my longtime friends listened to several of the rough recordings and felt it conveyed a feeling of surrender. That certainly applies to the title cut, No Longer My Own, which was inspired by the 'Covenant Prayer' popularized by John Wesley. But, I feel it's also about emboldening the saints, especially as the Day is fast approaching.
Hallels: One of the songs I really like is "Be My Sabbath." There aren't many songs dealing with the issue of a Sabbath rest. What inspired you to write this song? And why is the Sabbath important for Christians today?
I wrote this song after a serious burn out I experienced following a particularly demanding season of work and ministry. You might say God broke me open and I realized I was at the very end of myself and had nothing more to give. Nothing. One morning I scribbled out jumbled words and emotions on a yellow note pad in some sort of desperate attempt to sort through it. Phrases like "I'm not a machine!" and "if faith without works is dead, I need to die for a day" eventually became song lyrics as I cried out to God for help. I later had the opportunity to do Priscilla Shirer's Bible study called 'Breathe - Making Room for Sabbath' and felt convicted by her statement "overwork is a form of unbelief." God gave us the Sabbath as a gift, a healthy boundary, and a form of protection for us. Too often busy Christians are running on empty because we've neglected this important commandment in our lives.
Hallels: Another favorite of mine is "I Love Your Company." Tell us more about what this song is about and how you came to write it.
Though this song could certainly be about a parent/child relationship, I wrote it from the perspective of what I believe my Heavenly Father would say to me. It came out of the tension of always going and doing and serving the Lord, while longing just to be with Him, for no other reason than to enjoy Him. In the hurried pace of life and full time ministry, I have to guard my time with Him. Though I'm a doer, His acceptance of me isn't wrapped up in my productivity. The line "you don't have to do a single thing" is music to my ears. I needed to come back to the simple joy of fellowship with the Lord and the wonder that, first and foremost, He thinks I'm pretty special and desires the pleasure of my company. Everything else flows out from that.
Hallels: One timely song, in the light of the ISIS crisis, is your new single "Overcome," a song that speaks of Christ's victory over pain, tragedy and persecution. What was going through your mind when you penned this?
One afternoon I had carved out some time for songwriting, only I didn't know yet what I would write about. The horror of Christians being beheaded was the top news story of the day and I was becoming more and more burdened by the evil and moral decay in our world. I had also been wrestling with what our role is as Christians in a world where persecution is becoming more of a reality. When do we have a responsibility to speak? When is it better to be silent and pray? As I stared out the window to my backyard, I remember asking God what He would have me write, then went straight to the piano and wrote "Overcome." He doesn't want us to be afraid. Jesus gave us some very comforting words in John 16:33 - "I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Hallels: You have mentioned before that your dad really loves this album. Is he also a singer or musician? Has he been influential on you as a singer and songwriter?
Yes, after he had listened to the new album he called me all choked up saying "I think this is your best one yet!" It meant a lot. My Dad, really both of my parents, have always been very supportive of me and my music taking me to countless piano lessons growing up, coming to all my recitals, driving me to gigs, even selling CDs at my concerts. Dad's not really a singer, but he does play a mean accordion. And I grew up listening to him play all the time. When I was little we used to visit convalescent homes and play for the elderly. He'd take me to a coffee shop called Bob's Big Boy and we'd do our music theory together with a cup of hot cocoa. Through the years we've had a lot of thoughtful conversations about the Bible and spiritual things. It's hard to measure the impact of one person on another. All I know is Dad has had an impact on me and I'm grateful every day for him.
Hallels: What are your plans in promoting this new album? Are you embarking on a tour? And where can our readers catch up with you for upcoming shows and news?
First, thanks to Hallels for the opportunity to share via this interview. You help get the word out and I appreciate what you do. It's my joy to go and minister wherever God opens the door. I love doing women's events where I have the chance to speak and sing. I will continue to do that in promotion of this album, along with radio and TV interviews coming up. Keep up with me via www.cherikeaggy.com, @CheriKeaggy, www.facebook.com/CheriKeaggy. Thank you and God bless!
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