In her first solo project in over a decade, Lisa Weyerhaeuser (pronounced "Ware-house-er") drew upon an assignment at one of her artist retreats a couple of years ago. She asked all the songwriters to write about one word -freedom-and then share their songs later that day.
That simple task birthed songs for several of the artists in attendance, who went on to record them on their own individual projects. And the bulk of the 14 songs on Weyerhaeuser's new CD, Growing Light, revolve around that same theme. The new CD also gave Weyerhaeuser the opportunity to work with someone she has known for many years - renowned Christian singer/songwriter Randy Stonehill.
"I had mentioned to Randy last time I saw him that I wanted him to sing on my next project," says Weyerhaeuser, "and so when the song 'You're Beautiful to Me' came together it seemed like it was the right one for us to sing together - his voice representing the Father and mine representing the child. It's a beautiful interplay of the Father reassuring the child that He thinks she is beautiful (and what child doesn't need to hear that from a father), and then the child letting the Father know how beautiful He is to her."
Stonehill was an artist-in-residence at one of Weyerhaeuser's retreats which are held each spring and fall and open to any singers and songwriters who wish to hone their craft. Weyerhaeuser began the StrongTree initiative back in the 1990s to help emerging Christian artists learn how to communicate their faith through music.
The goal is to help artists grow in their walk with Jesus and in their ability to communicate their faith through the arts, as well as help connect them to other artists and venues. Weyerhaeuser began hosting retreats in 2007 and brought in artists-in-residence so that up-and-coming songwriters and vocalists could glean wisdom and knowledge from seasoned artists. In addition to Stonehill, former Artists-in-Residence include Glenn Kaiser, Nancy Honeytree Miller, and Andy Gullahorn.
Although Growing Light is the first solo project for Weyerhaeuser in over ten years, she has kept busy with several other creative ventures. She recorded a children's CD under her youth camp moniker "La La Lisa," as well as a Christmas CD with a madrigal group. She re-released a project that Larry Norman produced for her back in the 1980's, and was executive producer on a project for the worship leader at the church where her husband serves as pastor. Add to that being a pastor's wife, the mother of three boys, and an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, and it is conceivable she might have other priorities. Plus, she says, the wait turned out to be necessary.
"Some of the songs on my new project I actually started writing about 30 years ago, and I honestly could not have fully finished them in the same way without 30 years of life happening in between. As difficulties and temptation and grief and life and children and relationships happen, we are faced with new challenges and decisions that were never in the picture in our heads of how life was supposed to be. Learning how to fit our orthodoxy into our orthopraxy is a life-long process."