Sarah Kelly Biography
Last updated: 11/18/2006
"What I really want, above all else, is for the songs I write to communicate emotional honesty," Sarah Kelly explains. "A song is a way to speak, a voice beyond what you can normally say in life. This music gave me voice when I had none, and my prayer is to do the same for others."
This is so much more that just a great sophomore release for Sarah Kelly. Where The Past Meets Today, releasing on Gotee Records this August 15th, is a collection of her most sincere longings, a musing about pushing through life's hardest battles. The Grammy-nominated Kelly has now risen to the surface of the musical community as a singer-songwriter with determination on this record.
And it is this new level of sincerity that has proven to be the final piece in Sarah's puzzle, a puzzle that has been growing artistically since she learned to play piano at a very young age. When asked, she will tell you her niche' on the new album is where Keith Green meets Led Zeppelin--"earthy vocals with classic rock moments." As much as these two artists would have nothing in common at first thought, this is a great description of Where The Past Meets Today. It is raw, gritty, determined, and powerful. Her voice soars delicately over grand piano on select tracks (as Green would), and roars in moments where guitar, bass and drums drive songs with heightened energy (as Zeppelin did). The result is dynamic and transforming, and many outside the CCM community have taken notice.
Producer Mike Clink (Guns N' Roses) is at the helm of the album, crafting songs with Sarah in the heart of Los Angeles. Jane's Addiction's Chris Chaney adds instrumentation. Slash even makes an appearance, to round out the all-star cast of players that includes Lincoln Brewster and Nick Lashley (Alanis Morisette). Writers include James Michael (Alanis Morisette, Meatloaf) and Marti Fredrickson.
"It's so amazing to be able to work with all of these artists; it's like a fantasy. They have been able to push me so far beyond my boundaries musically, and just being in this environment in L.A. has had a huge impact on the songs. I am truly proud of this work; I feel like I have a been a part of a record that is so much larger than just me."
Many of the tracks on Where The Past Meets Today were inspired by some very difficult experiences for Sarah, experiences which she had to confront in the process of creation of these songs. "Out of Reach," one of the focal tracks, was born out of a live show that ended with an amazing twist.
Sarah was performing with her band at a city festival in the midwest for a mixed audience of college students and young adults in 2005, one year after the release of her debut album Take Me Away. It seemed to be a normal show as she sang her songs, but something was restless inside of her. Then, in the middle of her set she stopped the show. Gripped by heavy emotions, she began to share the story behind this new song. As she spoke she reached down to her journal, which was lying next to her onstage, and ripped a page out of it. Sarah then began to read her most secret, haunting moments to the crowd. It was the first time she would ever acknowledge her abusive past to the public. Not one single person uttered a sound as she continued to tell her story. Moments passed. Her band just stood there in silence, not knowing what to do. When she had finished speaking, she asked the crowd one question: "Is there anyone out there who has experienced these things as well?"
Over twenty young ladies began walking forward to the stage independently of one another, and several men as well. She didn't give an altar call to prompt them, and she didn't even preach. They just came. The entire place was paralyzed, still. Instead of leading into a song, she went down to the crowd, praying with each and every one of them, asking God to heal their wounds. She ended her show at that point and did not play another song. It was the single most powerful ministry experience she has ever had before or since. She confesses in the song, I never knew how good life could be. So this is peace. I'm out of reach of yesterday. Far away. And I see life, yes I see life. Ahead not behind.
"I lived in place of quiet fear for so many years, keeping silent about the cycle of abusive relationships in my life. I found that my only outlet for honesty was in music. It was the only place where I felt true joy. When I started to experience that release in the songs I wrote, played, and performed, I woke up and realized that I didn't need to live that way. Once I started being honest with myself healing and peace followed."
Her words emit deep courage, and it is a courage that she plans to impart into those who need it; these are words to that will call the bruised and broken back to health in relationship with their creator. In the song "Between the Lines" the listener is comforted by one simple phrase that contains a profound insight: Beauty is broken. Sarah explains the meaning behind this phrase: "Many times the beauty in something is actually in the flaw. The song is about pulling your mind out of the problem, and seeing that you are unique.It's the flaws, the problems that are making you who you are--respect the brokenness and be okay with it."
Since the release of her first album, Sarah has been touring and pouring into the lives of others without rest. She plans to continue touring heavily through 2006, though her heart for young people today extends far beyond just performing in front of audiences. Whenever she has free time, she teaches piano to as many as she can, hoping that the gift of music can have as much of an impact in youth culture as it has in her own life. At present she has nearly 900 piano students. She is truly an example of Biblical healing who will, no doubt, continue to lead others to the same experience.
"I want to see people of every class, age, and background to be able to have the opportunity to play music or have it be in their lives. I want to take any success I have and filter that into affecting change and transformation. My music career is just a means to an end to teach kids how to allow the Lord to speak to them through song. This is an all-consuming passion, and it's why I have been placed here in this position."