Nashville-based worship leader, accomplished musician and recording artist Becca Bradley has returned with her brand new album Heaven Come Down. Moving to Nashville and graduating with a Music Performance degree from Belmont University, Becca Bradley has played alongside such notable artists as Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and various other accomplished bands and artists.
She spent a year on tour with Francesca Battistelli, playing and singing in the background-making appearances on national shows like Good Morning America and Fox & Friends. Bradley also had the opportunity to perform with other artists on the nationally televised CMA Awards and several CMA Country Christmas specials, before connecting with fellow music artist Jason Gray for a Christmas tour in 2014.
Q: Thanks doing this interview with us. Besides being a great singer and songwriter, you are also an accomplished cellist and you have also played the cello for many artists. How did you first become interested in the cello, and on whose records have you played the cello?
I started playing the cello when I was 8 years old, but it was actually my older sister, Melissa, who first introduced our family to the instrument. We were living in Des Moines, Iowa at the time, and our school had an orchestra program beginning in fourth grade. At the end of each school year, there would be a presentation for all of the third graders where the instruments were demonstrated and kids had the opportunity to sign up for orchestra. Melissa came home from school one day and announced that she wanted to play the cello, so my parents signed her up for fourth grade orchestra. I thought it looked so fun that I wanted to play, too! My sisters and I all played for a number of years, but I was the only one that stuck with it. Recently I've played on projects for Tauren Wells, Passion, Micah Tyler, Alisa Turner, and more!
Q: You also sing and write your own songs. How would you describe your own style of music?
I do! I would describe my music as singer-songwriter/pop. My parents raised us on great singer-songwriters like Cat Stevens, Carole King and Bonnie Raitt. I love the way these artists' lyrics and melodies work together to evoke deep emotion from their listeners. I also always had an affinity for pop music and knew I wanted to write the types of catchy melodies and hooks that I heard from bands like Maroon 5, OneRepublic and Coldplay. And, being a cellist, I naturally decided to fill my music with big string arrangements. I love combining organic elements like real strings and guitars with synthesized pop sounds. To me, it's like having endless colors to paint with!
Q: You also have a new album coming out. Briefly tell us how did the journey of making this album start?
My album actually released on February 1st, so it's now available on all major platforms! It's definitely been a journey to get this album recorded. I hadn't released anything since 2015, and I'd written so many songs since then that I knew it was time to record some new music. But I had to do some real soul-searching over the past few years to figure out who I was as an artist. I felt like I was being pulled in ten different directions by various record labels, producers and artist managers. Everyone else had a vision for my music and career, but I found myself getting more and more confused and slowly losing my own vision for my music. I remember being asked in a meeting if I wanted to be a singer-songwriter, a pop artist, or a worship leader and thinking to myself, why can't I be all of those things? I felt trapped inside the confines of all of these rules and boxes, and I finally decided that I'd had enough. I chose to ignore every "rule" that I'd ever learned and instead just make music for the Lord. When I did that, I finally felt free to make the music I was created to make, and I believe this album is my best work to date.
Q: How many songs did you write and record for this album? How do you narrow down your choices?
My new album Heaven Come Down is 11 songs total, but I probably had over 100 songs written that I needed to narrow down. There were about 20 that were obvious standouts over the rest, but to narrow it down from there was really challenging! It ultimately came down to finding the sound and direction that I wanted this album to take on, and then choosing songs that fit that vision. There were a few that I was pretty bummed didn't make the cut, but they might fit perfectly on a future project!
Q: Who are some of the key songwriters and musicians you worked with on this record?
It seriously takes a village to make an album! I just looked at my album credits and counted, and there were 24 people involved in the recording of this project. From my co-writers to the producers and engineers to the session players, every one of those 24 people played a key role in creating this album. My friend Corey Voss is one of my favorite songwriters to work with, and he helped me write "Good Shepherd of My Soul" and "It Is Well." I also got to feature my friend and talented artist David Dunn as a guest vocalist on "It Is Well." The title track, "Heaven Come Down," was written with my friend Ross King, who has had cuts with everyone from the Newsboys to Jason Gray to Jimmy Needham. We really pulled in some incredible players for "I Need Jesus." Steve Goold (Ben Rector, Mat Kearney, Sara Bareilles) played drums, Brent Milligan (Steven Curtis Chapman, TobyMac, Colony House) played bass, and Blair Masters (Charlie Peacock, Amy Grant, Phil Keaggy) played piano, to name a few.
Q: I love your single "Nothing Short of a Miracle." What's the story behind this song?
Thank you! "Nothing Short of a Miracle" was written while I was walking through a hard season in my faith. There wasn't any one bad thing that happened to get me there, I just remember waking up one day and realizing that God suddenly felt far away. Filled with questions and doubts, I cried out to the Jesus that I had once walked with closely, but I heard nothing in response. So I prayed the most honest prayer I could have prayed in that moment: God, if you are who you say you are - the God who moves mountains, parts the seas, and raises the dead - would you come perform a miracle in my life? Would you speak to me and fill me with Your Spirit? I wasn't asking for a miracle in the traditional sense but, in my opinion, a heart on fire for Christ is nothing short of a miracle.
Q: I read that you initially wrote the song "I Need Jesus" for another artist. Was there a specific artist you had in mind? And why did you decide to record it?
I did! I wrote it with my friend Ryan Proudfoot, who is a pastor and fellow indie artist based in San Antonio, Texas for his 2016 album Letting Go. We actually wrote nearly that entire record together, but "I Need Jesus" was always the standout song to me. I began playing it at a few of my shows, and I had a lot of people ask if I was going to record it, so I decided I probably should! I was a little nervous to record it myself because it was pretty different than the rest of my songs. It had almost a soul/Gospel vibe to it that I wasn't sure I could pull off, but I'm really glad we decided to try! It ended up being one of my favorite tracks on the album.
Q: "Queen of a Wasteland" sounds like it's a song close to your own heart. Tell us more about your heart behind this song.
"Queen of a Wasteland" is definitely different than anything else on the album. It is inspired by the book of Ecclesiastes which, for those readers who may not be familiar with the story, is about a man named Solomon and his search for meaning in this life. The sentiment is that, apart from God, everything we seek after is essentially meaningless. If we attempt to build our lives on any foundation other than Christ, we are essentially constructing a city made of sand. It might look impressive for awhile, but it is sure to crumble in the end. It's one of those songs that feels a bit like a punch to the gut, because it hits on something that I think we are all afraid of on some level: the notion that, in a thousand years, nearly every one of us will be forgotten. It might sound a little depressing initially, but for me it is a sobering reminder to keep my focus on things that are eternal. None of the things that Solomon sought after were bad, but if we try to find true joy and fulfillment in the things of this world, we will be sorely disappointed. True joy and purpose are found in Christ alone. Without Him, I am simply the "Queen of a Wasteland."
Q: Some of the songs like "I Need Jesus" and "Good Shepherd of My Soul" could even work as worship songs to be sung in churches. What's your own involvement in the church? Are you involved in worship ministry in a local church?
I am! I am one of the worship leaders at Church of the City in Nashville. I've been there since the church planted back in 2013. I hope to start incorporating a few of my originals in the worship set soon!
Q: Looking back at the making of this new record, what are you most thankful to God about this new album?
If I had to choose just one thing, I'd have to say that I'm thankful that people are actually listening to it! That might sound silly, but it is such a huge investment of time, energy and resources to record a full-length album, and it is a HUGE leap of faith. I poured so much into this album, and there is no guarantee that anyone will listen to it. The fact that people - and a lot of people, at that - are listening, is clear evidence of God's faithfulness.
For all the latest information on Becca Bradley go to www.beccabradleymusic.com,