Worship artist Sarah Brusco has an incredible testimony of restoration and healing. She was able to take what was an extremely challenging and painful trial in her life and turn it into something that exclaims the glory of God. Brusco chatted with BREATHEcast about her journey and the release of her worship album The Woven Whisper.
BREATHEcast: Sarah you have an incredible story. Could you briefly share your testimony with our readers?
Sarah Brusco: I came to the Lord when I was 19, and in the first year or two I began to learn what it was to "worship." I had always sung, but it was so exciting now to know who had given me my voice. I began leading worship in the first small group I became a part of in the Vineyard in Columbus, Ohio, and entered my journey into worship leading.
I married my husband at 24, and then at 28 became pregnant with my son Luca. During my pregnancy I developed a tumor that engulfed my ovary. There were many side-affects, including the hardening of my vocal chords. The doctor told me I would never sing again. My voice was gone for about three years. I continued to press into Jesus, knowing He was willing to heal me. It was a gradual healing, but indeed Jesus has healed my voice. The work He has done in my heart is even more precious to me than the restoration of my voice. I have a true joy and gratitude now for the gift He has given me. My relationship with Him is more intimate than ever before.
BC: When faced with the prospect of possibly losing your singing voice, what were some of the thoughts that ran through your mind, and what helped you through it?
SB: Goodness, a lot was going through my mind...I was mostly sad. I was mourning the loss of a gift I had had my entire life. I was sad that I could not sing over my new baby boy. I kept thinking of what I had done for the Lord to allow this to happen to me...now, eight and half years after the initial loss, I know that it was not the Lord who took my voice away-it was Him who restored, redeemed, and healed my voice. The enemy is who comes to rob, kill, and destroy-Jesus has come to give life and life abundant! Jesus healed me, because that is who He is! He is always healing. He is always willing!
BC: How does someone uncover a "heart for worship" and how was your heart captured by it?
SB: I believe that someone captures a heart for worship in the presence of the Holy Spirit! The more we experience Jesus' presence the more we're drawn into worshipping Him. I remember the first time I ever stepped into His presence; it was at Joshua House, the young adult ministry at Vineyard Church of Columbus. At the time I was not a follower of Jesus, and was invited by my friends. As I walked in I felt something, and I was blown away that a bunch of kids my age were all together singing songs to God-and enjoying it! They were raising their hands, stretching out their arms, and singing with all their hearts! My only context for this was all the concerts I had gone to. I would do this while at a concert for one of my favorite rocks bands that I knew all the words to their songs. So, this drew me in. I continued coming back to Joshua House, and that was where, one night, I was overwhelmed by the love of the Father, and gave my life to Him. My heart began to over-flow with love for Him!
BC: Your music is certainly unique and a bit more experimental than the normal realm of worship. What do you hope your music conveys and how did you come up with this method?
SB: I have really been influenced a lot recently by Julianna Barwick who is out of Brooklyn. Also, Sigur Ros and Jonsi have been huge musical influences. The layers of harmony, and space they leave in their music to "take you somewhere" is what I fell in love with, and wanted to convey in my music. Worship music these days can be so busy, and full of words...I have found it difficult to really enjoy the peace of the Lord in it, so I wanted to create something that would allow folks to rest, and engage the Lord in a fresh way during their time of worship.
BC: Explain the meaning of "The Woven Whisper." Is it a play on the soft looping vocals you do, or is there more?
SB: My husband's grandmother passed away last year, and after her death, we received a beautiful tapestry that was woven by her sister, Marie Kelly, an artist in 1930's Pittsburgh. The piece is so dear to us, because it always hung in her living room. The tapestry really inspired me, as it now hangs in our home. It got me thinking about "being woven", and how our lives are woven together by our Father. After playing around with the word "woven," I started thinking about how the Lord speaks to me in whispers...I mostly hear His voice in gentle whispers...then one day putting together "The Woven Whisper."
BC: Can you tell us a bit about the production work on your album. There are some incredible instrumentals and production work. Did you write to the music or did things come organically and spontaneously?
SB: Our dear friends at the Campbellsville Vineyard Church (Promises of Wonder) helped us by taking The Woven Whisper to a new level. Bobby Spangler produced and mixed the album. Bobby is a genius, he understood the dreamy, washed out, reverb heavy vibe we were going for and I think he accomplished it beautifully. We are very fond of our friends in Campbellsville, and have found a kindred tribe in them, so whenever we worship together it's really special. They value many of the same things in music and in worship - that sense of creating space. Most of these songs came spontaneously, while worshipping. While others, music was written, but no words or vocals. I would just soak in the music, and then the words and melodies would come. It seems like songwriting is huge business these days. People spend months and years on one anthemic chorus for one worship song, which is fine... there is something to be said about dedicating yourself to your craft and honing a melody until it is just right. We wanted there to be childlikeness to The Woven Whisper. We wanted people to identify with what the album felt like to them, to sink into experiencing the album at a deeper more emotive level.
BC: Your music is said to be somewhere between sleeping and awaking. Do you think it is within those moments of our day that we are most receptive to the voice of God?
SB: I think those moments are when it is easiest for us hear the voice of God. My hope is that my music will usher that into someone's day at any time, whether waking or sleeping! Musically, we wanted The Woven Whisper to communicate that idea of God speaking to us in our dreams as well.
BC: Nice work mixing in a little hip-hop flair on "At Peace." It brings in some diversity. Are there any aspirations to experiment with other kinds of music outside of your own worship?
SB: Haha, thank you! My husband and I lived on the south side of Chicago for three years, and have had a heart for racial reconciliation for over 12 years. My husband created a multi-ethnic worship band in Chicago, called The Kingdom Sound, with our friend Steve. They made beautiful music. We love Steve, and love his heart for the Lord and worship. The song "At Peace" musically plays on '90s hip-hop, and dream pop, we call it "dream-hop." Steve really made that song come alive. There is a lot of life in what Steve is communicating through his music and we wanted to share that with others.
BC: Why do you think music is such a powerful platform to touch and evangelism with people?
SB: Just like how it was worship and music that captured my heart for Jesus years ago, it still is a powerful tool to communicate beauty and truth and justice and God's love. Music reflects God's love to us, and then we reflect back to Him in worship. It is such a gift, to know that when we sing God likes that. He actually enjoys hearing his sons and daughters sing out in melodies and harmonies. And then not only that, He doesn't just play the cool part standing off in a distance listening; He comes and engages His kids in a loving embrace. He inhabits or lives in the praises of his people.
Culture is a powerful thing. When we reflect God's beauty in song, we play a role in releasing heaven's culture to folks who are looking for the Kingdom of God. A dear friend of ours has said that people in general are "looking for a sound, not an echo." Once they hear music that is infused with a sense of presence, there is something there that draws people and makes them wonder, "Could there be more to life than what I'm experiencing? Could there really be a God who loves me?" We believe that God has given us the gift of music in order to answer in folks hearts some of these questions.
BC: What are your New Year's resolutions, and how can our readers pray for you in 2015?
SB: That would be so kind. Please pray that my family and I would step into the impossible, and that we would step into ALL that God has for us in the New Year.
BC: Anything else to add?
SB: Thank you so much for taking time with us! We hope folks out there are able to connect with The Woven Whisper in a fresh and unique way. We pray it draws folks into Jesus' presence. We pray that it communicates God's love to those who are searching for Him, and those who need to experience him afresh. We hope that it provides a safe place for people to experience God's love, and express their hearts back to Him!
Purchase Sarah Brusco's The Woven Whisper here.