For Worship Director Erin Deuel, "Heirloom: Reflections on the Psalms" is much more than theHeart's first music album. This collection of 10 original songs was produced by our church family, for our church family. She shares more of the story below.
An heirloom is something of great value that is passed down from one generation to the next. We believe the ancient songbook of the Psalms is just that—an heirloom for the people of God, passed down to us through Scripture. It is always inviting us to reflect on our shared humanity, past and present, and the deeds of an everlasting God through expressions of grief, doubt, victory, anger, love, remembrance, and ultimately praise of the Almighty One.
Throughout 2017, theHeart spent 150 days journeying together through the Psalms. We were invited by this beautiful book of the Bible to explore and experience the complexities of the human soul intertwined with the reality of the living God—all through the medium of poetry and song.
"We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done." —Psalm 78:4
Over the course of that 150-day journey, something happened for theHeart that has happened for generations before. These ancient songs inspired many of us to create. The connection with the heart songs of the people of God for thousands of years inspired new songs, art, and more.
And so we decided to make something beautiful with it. Musicians in our church family collaborated to make an album. In March of this year, we released "Heirloom: Reflections on the Psalms".
"I'm so happy that the album is coming out. I just know it will be beautiful." —Claudia
By Family, For Family
All of these songs were written and performed by attendees of theHeart. And they were produced, recorded, and mixed here in Boone, North Carolina, by my husband and long-standing member of our worship team, Glenn Deuel.
Every song was recorded almost entirely in our home, between work hours, on weekends, between sips of hot tea, and gatherings over chicken tacos. This album was made by our church family, for our church family.
The beautiful part was the collaborative process of each songwriter opening up and trusting the team to take their song and make it come to life.
The by-product is a piece of art that continues to inspire our church family and so many more listeners.
Treasured Both Here and There
I’ve received emails from people across the country who have listened to the album and want us to know how it’s blessed them. Digital media has made it possible for so many people to stream our songs.
On Spotify alone, 748 different people have listened to "Heirloom" since it was released in March. Over the last month, 127 different people from eight different countries have listened to our songs. It’s humbling and beautiful to know that so many people have somehow found their way to this heartfelt album.
"I have listened to..."Heirloom" so many times—the intuitive selection and interpretation to sound has brought me to meditation and weeping and laughing. Thank you for nurturing your voices, visions, and such a gift into the world." —Kate
Investing in Something of Great Value
Here’s the part of the story that can be difficult to talk about: making music is a financially risky decision. Producing an album not only takes hours of time, but it also is a significant endeavor to get the songs distributed to a large audience.
Yet, when we proposed this idea to the leadership of our church, they made it clear that they thought this was a project worth investing in to bless the Church, no matter what. They also supported the potential of us reaching people in the High Country and beyond through the power of music.
We were fortunate to create the album for a much lower cost because we made it in house (literally, we made almost all of it in my actual house). Further controlling costs, our talented volunteer musicians on the worship team donated their songs, time, and musical skill.
But the fact remains, making an album costs money.
There are the hours upon hours of time that a producer and sound engineer spend on pre-production, scheduling, and executing tracking sessions with the musicians, and editing and mixing the tracks. There’s the studio fee to rent out a space to record tracks like the drums that we couldn’t track at our house. There’s the cost of sending the audio out for mastering. And then there’s the distributor fee that gets the album on to iTunes, Spotify, and other channels.
Our 10-song album cost us less than $5,000 to make. And yet, we still haven’t covered the production costs through album sales and streams. Mostly, this is because people now stream music more than they buy it. Each song streamed earns only a fraction of a cent ($0.004594513354 to be exact).
If everyone who has already streamed the album on Spotify purchased the album once on iTunes, we would earn more than what it cost to make the album.
Stuff Stockings with An Heirloom
As you consider how you might give this holiday season–whether it’s a gift for a friend or toward our church—one practical way is by purchasing "Heirloom" on iTunes for just $9.90. You can even gift the digital album to a friend via iTunes.
Your purchase of "Heirloom" will not only go back to supporting theHeart’s budget, but it also allows us to dream and plan the release of more music birthed from the heart of our church family.
Letting the Music Speak for Itself
There is so much more to say, and so much more that cannot be put into words. But that is where I believe the power of music comes in.
I hope these songs spark your imagination and bring a fresh perspective to the words that inspired them. I hope that they inspire you to continue to reflect on the Psalms, and to experience God's love and power through them.
Mostly, I hope we get just a glimpse of the kind of beautiful things that can come when we do all of these things in community.