Tony Cummings quizzed worship leader and bright new recording artist SARAH REEVES
Not many worship leaders release their first CD - an EP - and find that four songs have been selected for the Cross Rhythms playlist. But then 19 year old Alabama native Sarah Reeves is a truly exceptional talent and her debut release 'Sweet Sweet Sound' has been heralded by radio stations and critics as an absolute gem. Written in conjunction with Nashville's most sought after songwriters including Jason Ingram (Brandon Heather, Rush Of Fools), Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Laura Story), Matt Bronleewe (Rebecca St James, Plumb) and Mark Bird (Leeland), 'Sweet Sweet Sound' was produced by the All Star United man Ian Eskelin and Matt Bronleewe. Cross Rhythms asked Sarah whether she had much say in the selection of the six songs which finally went onto her EP. She responded, "Absolutely. I was very involved on every song. All together, I had about 75 fully written songs for this record. It was definitely a long, tough meeting to just choose six, but I believe we chose the right ones and hopefully you will hear some of the ones that didn't make it on this album on the next one!"
Although a recording newcomer, Sarah hugely enjoyed making her CD. "I have some great memories recording this record. Most of my memories are just the many laughs that we had in the studio. I had the privilege of working with Ian Eskelin. There was definitely never a dull moment with him! Also Matt Bronleewe was one of my producers who made things easy and chill. We all had great times."
One of the most powerful songs on Sarah's CD is the rocker "Fresh Anointing". So is she a bit of a rock chick? She responded, "Yes, I am a rock chick at heart. Those rock songs are my favourite to do live. . . rock worship would be a better term. I find that the more rock, edgy worship songs connect well with my generation. My greatest musical influence is worship leader Jeff Deyo (former lead singer for Sonicflood). Every time he would lead worship around town or in Nashville, I would be there. I looked up to him for so long, and now he has become one of my spiritual fathers. He is absolutely the same off stage as on stage."
Sarah was born into a family of musicians. Said Sarah, "My dad worked with Brian McKnight, Take 6, Kenny Rogers, Shenandoah, Dizzy Gillespie, Oak Ridge Boys and many other prominent artists and bands. He also taught engineering at Full Cell in Orlando, Florida."
As well as music, the young Sarah was surrounded by Christianity. Said the singer, "I went through the sinners prayer and got baptized when I was eight years old, but the only reason I did it was because my friends were doing it. As I got older I began questioning my salvation and lived life not caring about God. God really began tugging at my heart and I rededicated my life to him at age 14."
From her early teens Sarah had harboured dreams of making it in music. She admitted ruefully, "I wanted to become a famous rock star. At age 15, God humbled me at a youth camp and called me to be a worship leader. He completely transformed my life and immediately opened the doors for me to lead worship at my church's youth group. God humbled me. He filled me with the Holy Spirit. He called me to be a worship leader. He told me, 'Life is not about you, Sarah. Life is about me. From this point on you will live to glorify my name, to reach people and lead them into my arms.' My life has not been the same since that day."
Sarah explained how her breakthrough into the world of CCM came about. "My band and I got the opportunity to record a full length CD at a studio my dad helped start in Huntsville, Alabama, called Sound Cell. We got to record it for free which was a huge blessing. I wrote a song called 'You Are King' which was the first track on the album."
After performing an opening set for singer/songwriter Plumb, the recording found its way into the hands of Plumb (otherwise known as Tiffany Lee). Said Sarah, "The next day she called the house. She and her husband introduced me to Sparrow Records and the rest, as they say, is history."
Despite her growing reputation in the Christian music industry, Sarah is still very rooted in local church ministry. She said, "I lead worship for my youth group every Thursday night in Decatur, Alabama. I'm also at my church on Sunday mornings when I am not on the road. I think it's very important for artists to stay connected with their local church. It's time where we can be refreshed and get poured into after we have been pouring into others on the road."
Sarah finished her Cross Rhythms interview by talking about an encounter she had with an atheist on a plane a couple of weeks ago. She recalled, "He asked me questions that really challenged me to go deeper with God. Why do we believe what we believe? I have learned that we can't base our Christianity and beliefs off simply a sermon or reading a Scripture. God is challenging me to go deeper with him, to pray and worship daily, to take a Scripture and study it in depth, to not just read the Bible line by line but in between the lines as well."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.