Alisa Turner releases her Integrity Music debut EP on July 28. This new self-titled debut EP captures the lilt and innocence in Turner's voice and the heartbreaking, but hopeful truth of her story. Produced by Grammy-nominated, Dove Award-winning Michael Farren, Alisa Turner inextricably weaves her very personal story of grief and suffering with hope and redemption through unfettered, unfiltered worship.
For Turner, who has battled the debilitating effects of Lyme Disease since childhood, music has always been her connection point with God. This includes painful seasons after the unexpected death of her worship pastor dad, hospitalizations brought on by the ravages of her disease and losing her infant son only minutes after he was born.
Q: Alisa, thank you so much for doing this interview with us. My heart just breaks reading what you have had been through; from having Lyme Disease to the death of your dad and losing your own child at birth. How did you cope with all this heartbreak?
A: Truly honored you guys reached out. Thank you so much for wanting to know more of my story and taking the time to write out this interview! With each situation I went through, I think my coping looked different. The loss of my dad was the first big shake of the ground on which I had stood for so many years. He was the light of my life, rock of my family. Losing him did send me into a downward spiral if I'm being honest. A long season of broken-hearted denial, and just lost. I am thankful that even in those times, the Lord never lost sight of me. Even when I felt most alone, He was protecting me, providing for me, never leaving me to walk this alone. What I learned from that journey, I carried with me closely and it has helped me through the years of battling illness and the loss of my baby boy.
Q: What's the role of worship in the face of suffering? How does worship help us when we are heartbroken?
A : In times of suffering, worship reminds me to keep my eyes on Him. By doing so, I quickly remember no matter how bad things are, that this story is still being written, and He truly does have a beautiful plan for my life. He may not have prevented suffering, but He never let me walk it alone. And I will praise Him all of my days for that goodness. No matter what, He has been good to me.
Q: What would you say to our readers who may going through trials and testings now?
A : I would say, reach out. Whether it's silent, tear filled prayers to our Heavenly Father, or reaching out to loved ones around you. Reach out. And when others reach in, let them. It's so easy to isolate yourself in hard times. But I promise you, we are meant for community, friendship, relationship. You are stronger when you walk through the fire with the Lord and with the ones the Lord has placed in your life.
Q: Your dad was also a worship pastor. How old were you when he passed? Being a worship leader yourself, how did your dad influence you?
A : Oh my dad had a tremendous influence on my life. Yes, he was a worship pastor. LOVED the Lord, loved people and loved music. I was 20 years old when he passed. He still called me his baby girl, though. My dad truly lived out loud the Lord's love for others. I don't think I ever saw him not tear up during leading worship on Sunday mornings. Whatever he did, he did with his whole heart. If I could choose one way to be just like my dad, it would be to always do everything with my whole heart. Whether that's loving others, giving grace, asking forgiveness, walking with friends through trials, leading in worship, seeking to know the Lord more. Do it all, with your whole heart. Be all in.
Q: How did you get to work with Integrity Music for the release of this EP?
A : I started leading worship at my church, Gateway Franklin. Michael Farren is the worship pastor there and pulled me into his crew of writers. On a writing retreat, Michael, James Galbraith and I wrote a song called "Lift My Eyes" that was later released as a live version that Integrity caught wind of. I sat down with the marvelous Adrian Thompson from Integrity and talked through my story, my vision, and we decided, let's make this record together. Quite amazing how it unfolded, thankful for all the ways the Lord prepared me over the years for it.
Q: You co-wrote all the 6 songs on your new EP. What was the most challenging song on the EP to write? What was the easiest song?
A : I actually wrote only 5 of the 6 songs. (Michael and a writer named Jessica Campbell wrote "My Prayer For You" and I'm so glad they shared it with me!) Hmmmm, I would say the most challenging was "More Than Gonna Make It." The style and even tempo and feel of it was not something I had been used to writing, but of course I love the message of the song and it absolutely holds a special place on the EP! The easiest song was probably Psalm 13. Not necessarily because it came straight from scripture, but between the scripture and the journey I had walked along these many years, it was a song my heart was quite desperate to sing. So, it came out quickly, and peacefully.
Q: I love the song "Psalm 13" for a number of reasons. First, I love it when songwriters use scripture in their songs, there's something powerful about the Bible. Second, Psalm 13 isn't a praise psalm, it's more a lament psalm, so this is very refreshing to take a lament psalm and turn it into a worship song. Tell us your thoughts about the use of laments and scripture in worship music.
A: For me, lament is simply being honest about our grief, our pain, even confusion. But every single time you find lament in the Psalms, no matter how deep that lament may have been, it always resolved with someone still declaring that God is good! A lament that doesn't end with some declaration of his unfailing love or kindness, is just a sad song. And though I have a story that is marked with some sorrowful chapters, I'm not just a singer of sad songs...I am a singer of songs that declare that through all of it, His love for me is unfailing.
Q: What's next for you? I must say I don't like EPs, they are too short. Can we expect a full album soon?
A : I am not sure yet if we will be doing a full length or more like a part two to this first EP. What I can promise is that there is a lot more music to come! What's next is me getting on the road and taking these songs straight to people's hearts. I absolutely love music, but I love people more. So, the fire within me longs to be with people, spending time out on the road with them, sharing with them and getting the great honor of listening to their story too.