When Christian artist Natalie Grant was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2017, her existing framework of identity was shaken, and she found herself walking through a rediscovery of God.
Grant told American Songwriter that her diagnosis and the following years of recovery brought her to a deep realization that being a singer wasn’t ultimately who she was, but rather an outpouring of who God was in her life. This season primarily inspired the content of Grant’s latest album, “No Stranger,” released September 25.
“The Bible talks a lot about how God is near to the broken hearted, that He’s near to those who are crushed in Spirit,” Grant emphasized. “For me, it’s one thing to know those verses and that concept, but it’s another thing to experience it for yourself.”
Grant explained the songs came from understanding that God is acquainted with human experiences and He is not a stranger to earthly hardships.
“I’m not a stranger to Him,” Grant continued. “He invites me into His presence. He’ll be with me, and He’ll never leave me. That’s a mind blowing concept that I’m not sure we’ll ever fully understand in our humanity, but that we still can use as an anchor in our life.”
While writing the title track “No Stranger,” Grant said the world wasn’t even aware of the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the lesson she was learning then carried into the current cultural moment in an unexpected way.
“I think about how people are needing that peace, in the midst of no solution and no end in sight you still can have an anchor of peace in your life – that’s really where these songs came from,” Grant explained.
Grant said while writing the songs on the record she felt an immense sense of peace from God that allowed her to be re-awakened to hope. Rather than worry about making the perfect radio single, Grant noted she simply wanted to figure out how to translate the peace she felt into a musical experience.
Through soaring orchestral arrangements all the way to powerful ballads, Grant said her goal was to feel the sound in a way that connected listeners to God’s presence.
Grant referenced the Old Testament story of the Isrealite nation and how they were being led to the “promised land,” but in the midst of their rebellion against God they were denied God’s presence. The “promised land,” according to Grant, was not where God’s presence was found, rather His presence is actually the end goal.
“In that story, Moses says ‘what good is the promised land without your presence?’ [God’s] presence is the promised land,” Grant said. “Moses prayed this prayer where he says ‘show me your glorious presence,’ and I think that story, which I had never really studied before, became my prayer walking through cancer, writing these songs, and in this season.”
Grant emphasized her prayer is that through this record her renewed understanding and experience of the presence of God will translate to listeners and they too will feel the reality of a living and active God.
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