By Mariah Secrest
Amy Courts is one of those musicians whose songs you can put on repeat, and hours later still be enjoying the tunes like you were playing them for the first time. After doing just that, I found myself intrigued by the depth that ebbed just below the current of solid progressive rock. Amys voice swells with a ringing resonance, spreading out to the most delicate of edgesa perfect contrast of power and intricacy. Her sweetly ornamented stylings add a tinge of silver lining to the shadowy undercurrents of melancholy underneath.
If you get the chance to hear her in person, you will discover that Amy is fully present in her live show, revealing how much her craft comes straight from her heart. Her songs are a candid expression of life as it is and life as it could becontaining the type of honesty and lucidity that made me suspect she would be a perfect person to sit down with and just talk about life. So I did just that.
I discovered that Amy moved to Nashville after college on a whim, essentially having no semblance of a music career in place when she came. But her background in guitar and poetry fused together as she began to garner attention from the music community. Now just a few short years later, she has completed an EP as well as her debut full-length album and has been featured in such publications as Christianity Today and CCM Magazine, who referred to her as a female Derek Webb.
I would venture to say that the resemblance to Derek Webb is not merely musical. Amy, like Derek, is also deeply committed to world justice and front-line involvement with current affairs. She advocates for the improvement of conditions in Africa, even giving away her CD to those who join the African relief agency she partners with. But she also is involved at the local level, believing that relational interaction is so crucial to really understanding the scope of service and community. She volunteers for the Sudanese Center for Refugees in Nashville, hoping that this will eventually prepare her to go to Africa herself.
Read further for a glimpse of conversation with Amy.
WRECKED: Your CD These Cold and Rusted Lungs was released this past summer, and is already generating a lot of attention. Whats been most exciting to you?
AMY: Well, I have to be honest: seeing the review post to CCM Magazine’s website calling me a “female Derek Webb” was the high point of a few months! He’s one of my absolute favorite writers and artists, with such an inspiring set of work that I was flattered and quite humbled to be compared favorably to him. Other than that, I think just seeing the process come together from start to finish – and seeing finances and songs and production and players blend to create such an awesome album that so closely reflects my heart and music – is terribly exciting. I loved making my EP, but this was a whole new level cause it was my heart and soul on the line. It’s relieving to be able to feel proud of it, and to know others are already getting something out of it.
WRECKED: Youre a big advocate for Mocha Club. For our readers who are unfamiliar with Mocha Club, can you explain what it is and the incentive youre offering to encourage people to participate?
AMY: Mocha Club is an amazing African Aid orginazation with projects all over the African continent developing orphanages, universities, medical facilities, and rescue villages to bring people out of poverty and disease and equip them with the resources they need to rebuild themselves and their countries from the inside-out. But what set Mocha Club apart to me – given the hundreds of Aid organizations out there who’re serving Africa – is that they do all this with just $7 per month: the cost of two mochas. When I learned that $7 could provide 7 people with clean water for one year, and provides 2 Angolan farmers with seed and farming supplies for an entire crop season, and pays for life-saving Malaria and AIDS treatments for multiple people, I knew they were the organization I wanted to partner with. It brings the need – and the ability to make a MAJOR difference in peoples’ lives – to a child’s level and leaves no one with an excuse not to be part of the effort. We’re called by God to care for the orphan and the widow; Mocha Club makes it irresistably simple by asking for just $7 per month. And they do so much with that money.
WRECKED: If it werent for music, what would you be doing with your time?
AMY: You know, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gifts vs. talents. I’ve thought for a long time that my music was my gift, and without it I’d have nothing to do and be useless to the Kingdom. But it’s been encouraging to realize that my spiritual gifts – mercy, evangelism, and exhortation – can be exercised in so many ways, and right now they’re best exercised and most effective through song. But down the road, if I decide my time is over for music-in-the-public-eye (though I’m sure I’ll always be a musician in some capacity), I know my gifts will be effective elsewhere. And right now, my growing passion for Africa and specifically Uganda makes me believe we’ll end up living in Africa and serving the Kingdom there. At least, that’s where my dreams take me when I let go of the reigns…
WRECKED: What stories stand out in your mind from people youve come in contact with, that make the difficult challenges of music worth it to you?
AMY: I’ve had so many great experiences talking with people after concerts and hearing about how some song or songs really spoke what they were feeling or thinking. And it’s such a humbling realization to know that we’re not alone in our frustrations and hopes, but also that God would use me – me! – to reach others…that makes all the frustration and sleeplessness of touring, all the energy poured out in writing a song from the depths of who I am worth every drop of sweat.
WRECKED: What has music in general, and your music in particular, taught you about the nature of God?
AMY: That God is a relational Being. He has existed for eternity past as Three-in-One, the God-head persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and that’s how He created us to relate to each other, and it’s He relates with me now. Not on a slave/master level, or even on a Mentor/learner level. But on a Creator/Created level…and I think there’s so much more intimacy in that thought, because it implies He knows exactly who I am in and out, because He made me. He knows my flaws and strengths, every minute det
ail, and He longs to share the details of Himself with me. And so we relate. And, as with any relationship involving humans, we butt heads, there’s tension, frustration, joy and peace. But in the end, whatever it is we’re doing boils down to simply being in relationship. In writing and singing and listening to music, that’s the greatest Truth and greatest hope I’ve found: God’s not about me being perfect; He’s about me being His.
Amy Courts is an artist whose music gets into your head and whose conviction gets into your soul, fusing art and action into a powerful force of culture. To learn more, visit her official website or MySpace.
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Mariah has currently landed herself in Tucson, Arizona, where she just finished a philosophy degree from the University of Arizona. She thought life was supposed to get easier after college, but she’s keeping way too busy working as a musician, editor for this magazine, and occupying other sundry roles. She enjoys writing almost as much as she enjoys making music. Almost. You can hear her music on Myspace.