Allison Speer is a much sought after vocalist for the famous (and bestselling) Gaither Homecoming Videos and Tours. Over the years, Speer has also released her share of her own records. "Writer" her latest recording finds her returning to Southern/country Gospel; and as the titular indicates this contains 12 of her co-writes. We are very honored to be able to catch up with her for this exclusive interview.
Hallels: Allison, congratulations on the release of your album "Writer." "Writer," I guess, highlights many of your own compositions. Being a veteran songwriter, what makes a good song?
Allison: I, unfortunately, have no idea! So many song writers strive to discover this unknown factor but we are still completely at the mercy of God's blessings to write a great one. Many songwriters write hundreds of songs that you never hear. If you write song after song all your life, just normal odds will tell you that you will eventually write one that has the disired effect on an audience. God blesses songs for His glory! Who knows why He choses the ones He does to promote?
Hallels: What is the role of Scripture in your song writing?
Allison: My study of the Word of God is an ongoing routine. As an online student at Liberty University, I don't just read it, I study it. This changes who I am from the inside out which makes my songwriting ever easier. My purpose for songwriting is "retelling" the stories of scripture. If I don't know scripture my songwriting is powerless.
Hallels: Many of the songs on this record are inspired by your own stories. I was most touched by "She's Better Now" and "The Light of the Kerosene." For our readers who may not be familiar with the stories behind these songs, do you mind telling us how these songs came about?
Allison: Kerosene was written about Dr. Ron Blake who is a District Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene in Indianapolis. He told me his story years ago and I never forgot it. He was raised by his grandmother who was blind. She insisted that he read to her from God's Word each night by the kerosene lamp light. He fell in love with Jesus at her knee reading to her, which was her intention. The song was written about them. She's Better Now was an idea that Joel LIndsey had when and old friend asked him how his mother was doing. She had been dead 7 years and the first thing Joel thought to reply was "She's Better Now" that she is with Jesus and out of pain. We struggled this song for several hours because we knew it was very special to the both of us. I wrote about my dear grandmother and he wrote about his mom. We made sure the song could be sung about any loved one man or woman and have found that it rings true with everyone who has known the loss of a beloved one.
Hallels: Many of your songs were co-written, many of them even with notable writers such as Joel Lindsey, Sue C. Smith and Kenna West among others. What's the value and advantage of co-writing?
Allison: I find the process of co-writing one of discipling. We share spiritual things, heart matters, emotional struggles and Biblical truths and promises together as we sculpt the song to fit our story telling. I adore my co-writers and lift them in prayer daily. God uses them to train me, guide me and strengthen me in faith.
Hallels: Some of our readers may be upcoming and aspiring songwriters, what advice do you have to give to them?
Allison: There is a great conference called Write About Jesus that writers of all levels should attend. It is directed by Sue C. Smith, a wonderful and highly decorated Gospel music writer. Sue holds the conference at her church in Saint Charles, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. It is the best collection of gospel writers of all genres teaching classes on songwriting. For three days you can take every class available from the professional writers. It is a wonderful conference that gives you a broad overview of publishing, pitching, rhyme, meter, melody, editing, co-writing, and every other bit of information you could need to further you career and ability as a writer.
Hallels: For our readers who may want to purchase "Writer" or learn more about you, where can they find you?
Allison: AllisonSpeer.com is my web site or you can download it from iTunes.com We also have soundtracks available on my web page for those who sing and are looking for new material. My husband is a Gospel music producer and is also available to produce recordings for those out there who need the tool of a CD to advance their ministry into new territory. You can reach him for information at firstname.lastname@example.org