Conversations With Sara Groves

By Jasmine McNealy

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The music industry has something called the “Sophomore Slump,” an album that doesn’t do so well after an artist’s debut is lauded.  This idea is so prevalent that some lie in wait for it.  Sara Groves defies this theory with her new CD.

 

With “All Right Here,” the follow up to her acclaimed album “Conversations,” Groves shows all of who she is as a musician.

 

 “I want “All Right Here” to reflect my whole life,” Groves said in a press release.  “I wanted to be a mother and a wife and a friend and a foe, and I wanted to be a child of God in the middle of all of these relationships, to give voice to the whole human experience and not just a corner of it.”

 

With this in mind, “All Right Here” is very different from “Conversations” in content and meaning. “On the new album we have a 50/50 mix of what you could call secular songs and Christian songs,” Groves explains. “That reflects my life—not 50/50 as in divided, but the complete integration of faith in my life.”

 

Make no mistake, however, Groves’ songs still express her beliefs.“I didn’t chose to write ‘Christian music,’” she said.  “I am an artist creating from my life, and writing from my Christian worldview.  Songs and art cannot be Christian, only people can be Christian.”

 

Groves was not always so bold.  As a youth she was quite awkward.I started out as a pretty quiet saxophone player in the band, sort of a geek,” she said.  She even goes so far as to describer her middle school experience as “too painful to recount.”  But she notes that around the halfway point of high school, something changed.

 

“Somewhere in my junior year I decided to not let life pass me by,” she said.  “So I began trying out for everything, actually made the things I was trying out for, and so ended high school in a lot of leadership positions and had a lot of fun.”

 

As her musical training began early, so did her love for God.  Her immediate family, including her grandfathers, influenced this love.  One of Grandfathers left a regular job to commit fulltime to ministry.

 

“He was a friend to the friendless and spent a tremendous amount of time investing in the people around him,” she said.  “Grandpa Snook passed away in ’96 and at his funeral I was amazed at all the people that were affected by his life.  It was a life changing moment for me that made me say I want to spend my time like that.”

 

Her other grandfather is also involved in ministry, though it is perhaps another side of him that has influenced her the most.“He has influenced my art tremendously because he creates out of a creative heart, and out of a need to create, and not out of the need for an audience,” she said.

 

 “All Right Here” demonstrates the mix of these influences, with its at times folksy, at times bluesy and sometimes-pop rhythms.  Clean delivery and sheer simplicity make this CD an enjoyable and shirks the slump prejudice.

 

Groves shrugs off her critics, even her biggest, which may possibly be herself.  This is also her advice for youth; leave the judgments to God.

 

 “I wrote a song to myself as a youth, “This Journey is My Own,” she said.  “I have spent too much time worrying about what everyone thinks of me.  I have done stupid things trying to impress the people around me.  Ultimately, their opinion will not matter an their approval is empty.  Paul says, “It is nothing to me to be judged by you or any court.  I can’t even judge myself.  Only the Lord’s opinion matters.”