When she began her first song as the artists sang in the round, I leaned over to my wife a few seconds into the song "Marvelous Light" and said, "I don't know much about her but I'm pretty sure we need all of her music."
At the end of that song, for a few reasons, I knew I needed to connect with her regarding the Shame Revolt. I'm thankful she was gracious enough to take time out of a busy album release tour to talk about a subject near and dear to us both. Hope you're blessed by her words below!
Rusty: I've been writing about shame and faith lately (you can check out Shame Revolt Intro here). Your song "Marvelous Light" is a fantastic song about becoming free from shame. Can you tell us what inspired that song?
Ellie: I love what you're writing about. It's beautiful. This song was inspired by a wonderful character in Andrew Peterson's fictional series, The Wingfeather Saga, Podo is an old sailor with a peg leg who spent most of his life running from his past. There comes a point in the story, when his past is exposed in front of the very people he wanted to hide it from, his family, and I love this quote about Podo after this happens.
"And he moved about his days with wonder and ease because he found that his whole story had been told, & he was still loved." -Andrew Peterson
This resonates with me deeply. I spent the better part of my life not knowing that it was ok to NOT be ok. Hiding any weakness, hurt, or doubt and living in fear and the shame of my past. I landed myself in intensive counseling and discovered that "Where there's truth. There is freedom." So this is an anthem about walking out of the darkness & into the light, & I wish I could sing it with Podo & dance for the joy that comes when you finally figured out that you are both fully known, & fully loved!
Rusty: Shame has a great deal to do with fearing we're "not enough" (good, smart, talented enough). Have you battled that fear in your work as a singer/songwriter or human? If so, can you tell us how that has looked for you?
Ellie: I'm a people pleaser at heart, and you put a people pleaser in a career path where it is literally her job to perform, and you have a person who is in need of intensive counseling! I've learned over the years that when I place my worth and my identity and my "not enough" in Jesus, I am met completely with acceptance and mercy and love. When I talk to young people who are wanting to pursue music as a career, I always tell them to anchor their worth in something that won't change, b/c this job is a roller coaster. The highs are high and the lows are low, and it really helps me to anchor my worth in Jesus and live out of that place of being fully loved and having something beautiful to offer the world instead of needing the approval of everyone you meet or perform in front of.
Rusty: "As Sure as the Sun" is your first full length album and has been funded by an incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign. I'm guessing this approach to creating an album had a different, more personally vulnerable feel than working with the band Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Did you have to battle any fear and uncertainty when you began your full length solo album? How did you work through that?
Ellie: Absolutely. It felt very vulnerable to leave the band I've been touring with for 7 years to make this record. I was hesitant the whole way, but God kept opening doors and I kept thinking that if I could be any part of bringing refreshment or encouragement to weary hearts, I wanted to be a part of that story. I remember wanting to throw up the night before we launched the Kickstarter campaign. It's hard to ask for help, to admit you can't do something on your own, and if we didn't hit the goal, everyone would see that publicly, but I think I believed in the songs enough though to take that risk. Kickstarter will always be one of the most beautiful stories I'll have to tell about my journey as an artist. What a sweet thing to see a community surround these songs and say, "We believe in what you're doing. We're for you. And we want to be a part of your story." I will be forever grateful that fear didn't keep me from walking forward into the places I sensed Jesus calling me.
Rusty: As a singer who infuses scripture intentionally and beautifully into your lyrics, what do you hope someone who struggles with feeling smart, pretty, successful, or forgiven enough hears in your songs ("Marvelous Light or other songs)?
Ellie: I hope they hear that they're accepted, loved, and held by the God of the universe. The thing I love the most about writing His promises into songs is that I know that His word doesn't come back void...I've seen it to be true in my own life as I've clung to His word, so to imagine how He will encourage weary hearts through this music makes my heart beat fast!
I think I hope more than anything, people will know that the promise in Hosea 6:3 is true. "As surely as the sun rises, He will appear." Knowing that God is with me, that He loves me, and that I belong to Him is a game changer. It seems like we all just want to belong, so when I find my rest & my worth in belonging to God, so many of those other insecurities begin to fade away. I hope songs like "The Broken Beautiful" , "My Portion & My Strength", and "Marvelous Light" will speak mercy and freedom over the places in our lives that are a total mess.