Grammy® nominated and multi-award winning group Ernie Haase & Signature Sound are gearing up for the release of their first recording of new material in three years, revealing the cover and insight about the project via social media this past week. Clear Skies, the highly-anticipated Stow Town Records project is available now.
Fans of the talented group always expect out-of-the-box musical moments and masterful production and this release delivers with a cornucopia of musical styles and themes from the modern, "My Hallelujah," the 1975 Imperials classic arrangement of "Give Them All To Jesus," to the fresh and appealing "Sailing With Jesus."
Q: Ernie, thank you so much for doing this interview with us. We want to say we are deeply sorry to hear about the passing of Tara (Younce). How are you doing now?
A: Thanks, Timothy. We are getting better every day, getting through it one step at a time. His mercy and His grace are new every day and we are finding that to be true first hand.
Q: This new album was completed when Tara was suffering from cancer. Did the recording help you spiritually and emotionally during this difficult time?
A: You know, the project really has helped me and my family. "Clear Skies" is a song that says an old truth in a new way: "You may be crying all night, but God's gonna send down a heavenly light. I see clear skies coming and I know that it won't be long." We sing these songs to minister to other people who are hurting. Little did we know that these songs would come back to minister to our hearts and our spirits in our darkest times.
Q: Let's talk about the new record. Did you approach the making of Clear Skies any differently from the rest of your albums? And what are your hopes for this record?
A: We actually did take a different approach. After 15 years of having Signature Sound, we did not need to reinvent anything. God has given us a great platform and a wonderful ministry with a lot of people who folllow us. It's like this: the container has already been built (meaning Signature Sound). Now we need some good things to put in the container. These songs are songs that are the heart of Signature Sound more than any other project that we've ever recorded. From the beginning, we wanted a project that would be light, easy and breezy on the ears, but cause deep reflection and be heavy on the heart of the listener. Our hope is that these songs meet people where they are, challenge them, and minister to them in a way that, sometimes, only songs can.
Q: I believe one of the songs on the new record, "Give Me Jesus," is a song set to a poem written by the famous hymn writer Fanny Crosby. How did the song come about?
A: Yes, we've been privileged to look at some newly discovered lyrics of the late Fanny Crosby. We were able to finish the lyric of "Give Me Jesus" and write the chorus. There were only four verses written by Ms. Crosby, so we finished writing the lyrics and then wrote the music. Everywhere we go, that song has been blessing hearts. It's over 100 years old, but we believe that the message is timeless: Give Me Jesus!
Q: On the subject of Fanny Crosby, I believe StowTown Records is doing a new album of some of Crosby's hymns this year. Can you tell us a little about this upcoming project?
A: This is true. Because of our special relationship with the publishing company who discovered these lyrics, we've been given the opportunity to record a new project of some new songs from these newly discovered lyrics of Fanny Crosby. We've partnered and collaborated with many of our friends in Southern Gospel music to bring these songs to life. I believe that this record is going to be one for the ages.
Q: In my review, I said that the record has a vintage sound, yet many of the songs are newly written! They already sound like classics. Did the writing of these songs come easily? What was the most memorable song you co-wrote for the album?
A: I appreciate your review and what you said - that is exactly one of the visions I had for the Clear Skies project. I want to say old things in a new way. I also wanted to co-write and arrange songs so that as you are listening to it on your phone or in your car, there are no moments where you might feel that we are shouting at you - no fast-forward moments. A soundtrack to a life of faith and of hope of things better to come - that's what Clear Skies was written for.
Q: Have you already performed some of these new songs live in your concerts? Which songs do you particularly love singing live?
A: We have! "Give Me Jesus" has been performed for the last six months and, as mentioned, everybody loves that song. Other songs that people are really identifying with are "Walking Through Fire," "Clear Skies" and "Heaven Is." We're just really blessed to be able to present these songs. It is very rewarding to see the people in the audience "get it" as we are singing and then come up to us afterward and share why the song has made an impact in their lives.
Q: Many of our readers may also be struggling with diffifcult situations. How can we have "Clear Skies" in the midst of pain? What encouragement can you give us?
A: I would say this: whenever you are going through a dark time, the first thing that happens is that your mind starts to stress about the future, or finds shame or regret about the past. The hardest thing to do is to live in the moment knowing that your best memories are but a moment in time. Christ is in each moment of time - and what I believe God is doing with every song on this project is to cause people to turn off their minds from the past or future and to be present in the now allowing the Spirit of God to speak to where they are right now and trust Him with their future. That's why Clear Skies is ministering so much.