Jacob’s Ladder Blog is thrilled to welcome the artist Marianne Paluso to our Artist’s Page!
When l first discovered Marianne’s artistic creativity, I could immediately see her love for children through the sweet and whimsical characters she painted; they evoked memories of the toys l had played with as a child, and the fun l had in dreaming and creating my own artwork. I was also drawn to Marianne’s attention to detail and the combination of soft and vibrant hues she uses, as well as her application of varying mediums such as watercolors, acrylics, and pastels.
Upon increasing my acquaintance with her, l was moved by Marianne’s gentle, humble nature and her incredible heart to help others. It is Marianne’s fervent desire to bring clarity to those who question their purpose in life and to make them aware that God has a good plan for them. Life is full of seasons, Marianne states, and what doesn’t make sense to you in this season, God will use for your good in the next with His perfect timing. You are gifted, blessed, and His precious child, and His grace will always be with you.
We hope you enjoy viewing Marianne’s artwork and listening to her songs, and that her story touches your heart as it did mine!
Blog banner: “Showers of Blessings”
Who l am
My name is Marianne Paluso. I live in East Tennessee very near the Smoky Mountain National Park. I am a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. I am a retired nurse of 42 years; however, presently, I work as a stay-at-home artist.
A life bridge and the truths l learned from walking across it
I am so honored to be asked to participate in the Artist’s Page for Jacob’s Ladder Blog.
I want to share some of my story that built a bridge between what I had hoped to become and what I eventually became.
I have learned 2 valuable truths while walking across this life bridge:
Truth No. 1 – God’s timing is perfect.
Truth No. 2 – I believe that we have different gifts for different seasons of our lives.
An encouragement for those of you who are asking themselves, “What am l doing here?”
I do hope that the life lessons l share with you in this space will speak to someone who may be reading this and asking themselves, “What am I doing here?”
My childhood and how l discovered my love for the arts
Let me start my story with my childhood.
I had a wonderful time growing up on a farm in Ohio where I could wander about, enjoy nature, reach out and touch a dog, a pony, or a lamb. However, something was missing – other kids! I was very lonely and somewhat introspective. Out of this grew a great imagination. From early on, I was drawn to the arts.
Music and painting were my love and my friend. In fact, l first colored and painted with my grandmother. Therefore, when I graduated from high school, l enrolled in college to study art.
A career change
However, during this time my dad became critically ill and died. My mother decided to pull me from art school and enroll me in a nursing program. She reasoned that an artist “would starve in a ditch”.
I was a nurse for 42 years. I did not resent the career change, because I learned to look at nursing as a healing art. The recipe for nursing includes skill, perseverance, much compassion, and sometimes even a pinch of humor.
Additionally, I learned great empathy, which I have drawn upon many times in my writing and art.
Music and incorporating God’s Word
While working as a nurse, I needed a creative outlet. Therefore, I began writing and performing as a singer-songwriter, which I did for about 10 years.
At that time, I wrote folk music from a Christian perspective. All of my songs are stories full of truth and symbolism, which point back to the gospel of Christ.
My husband and I produced 2 albums. The first, Greener Grass, was very direct in its Christian message, and most of the songs were straight from Scripture. I will be re-releasing Greener Grass on my website Little House Treasures in the near future.
The following is an audio recording of one of the songs on the Greener Grass album, “Tiny Baby’s Majesty”:
The second album, Miss Lucy’s House, was more indirect in its scriptural nature; however, the symbolism is heavy between home and heaven. This album can be purchased on my website Little House Treasures.
The following is an audio recording of “Miss Lucy’s House”, which is the lead track from the eponymous album Miss Lucy’s House:
I also had a small music ministry in surrounding states visiting colleges, festivals, and churches. I always felt that I wanted my music to reach everyone but especially those who did not know anything about Jesus.
One time, I was doing a Passion Play pre-performance, where a group of high school students were attending. I overheard one of them ask, “Who was Jesus?”
I couldn’t even imagine it at first, but yes – there are folks who don’t know who Jesus is!
It became my mission to reach these people: I wanted to teach them about Jesus through my story songs.
What happened to the music?
At this point, I lost my brother. This affected me deeply, and I lost my way. As a result, I locked up my music studio and never went back.
It took my heart a very long time to begin to heal. I battled anger and depression. I couldn’t listen to music, because it was too beautiful, yet too painful.
My spirit was crushed but God knew me. He had plans for me. He was holding me up, as I walked across life’s bridge.
What healed me?
There were many tears after my brother passed away. However, what healed my heart was God’s continual quiet voice whispering, “Keep going, you are worth it.”
I also was blessed by a godly husband, who stood by my side even when it was rough waters. When I was sinking, my husband was my comfort, my confidante, and my support.
Further down the road, the birth of my first grandchild also healed my heart. Now l have a second grandchild! All are blessings and promises of God’s love.
I want to say this: Never underestimate the prayers of your grandparents and the effect of those prayers on your life. Paul addresses this to Timothy in 2 Timothy1:5 (KJV). I know I was prayed for by my grandmother, and I pray for my children and their children. Those prayers live on.
If your heart is broken today, go ahead and release your tears, for they are precious to God. In Psalm 56:8, King David says, “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”
Your tears are so precious to the Lord.
Why did I start painting?
After I retired from nursing, I had to do something as a creative outlet. It is hard leaving a highly regimented job and to then move forward in life “allowing my whimsy to run free”. I felt like I was being frivolous and naughty!
And yet, I was acutely aware that I was venturing into a new season.
I started doodling and painting and found that my granddaughter loved what I was doing. She and I had so much fun painting together!
However, I struggled with the idea that to be godly meant l shouldn’t be having fun, which isn’t true. If you are struggling with such thoughts as an artist, please knock it off! God loves you and has called you with a holy calling (James 1:17)! You can enjoy your life while you exercise the gifts He has given you!
So, that is what l did. As a result, I have built a cottage industry of designing patterns for my simple paintings that allow others to recreate them. My desire is for grandmothers, mothers, dads – in fact, anyone who wants to create – to find joy in painting, especially with the children in their lives.
Living in God’s perfect timing
The full circle of life is not lost on me. God knew the desires of my heart, which was the arts. He knew the perfect time and the perfect seasons to grant me these desires. It took many years, but He allowed me the privilege of experiencing both music and painting and to help others enjoy them too. Such an act of God’s grace causes me to weep with joy and gratitude. What a mighty God we serve!
If you feel you are wandering in the desert and are crying out, “What am I doing here?”, God hears you! He’s protecting you as He waits for the perfect time and the perfect season to bless you.
Trust in Him!
My most endearing art project – The Puddin’ Pie Girls
As a child, I played with paper dolls. I loved them. I particularly loved the sets which were the Lennon Sisters. I know most of you are asking, “What??? Who????”
Inspired by my childhood toys, I had in my mind a design for wooden dolls that could be painted and played with. Hence, in 2017, I designed the “Puddin’ Pie Girls” series. This started as a fun project with my granddaughter.
For some reason, I submitted my first Puddin’ Pie Girl to Painting Ezine, an online digital download painting magazine. And lo and behold, it was on the cover of their October issue in 2018!
Meanwhile, I have 5 Puddin’ Pie Girl designs and am just completing my 6th.
The painting patterns and step-by-step instructions for painting the Puddin’ Pie Girls, as well as my other pictures, are available for purchase on my website Little House Treasures. I also offer completed works for purchase and wooden painting surfaces.
All my products can be viewed in the gallery on my website.
Biblical inspiration and advice
Matthew 18:3-4 is very compelling to me. Jesus tells us to become as little children and to humble ourselves.
This is my goal as an artist. I try to look at things through a child’s eyes. Whatever is wholesome and pure, innocent and playful, whimsical and fun – this is my outlook on the things around me.
I believe the Holy Spirit whispers an idea and the child in me takes it and runs with it! Just when I think my work is complete, He whispers, “Go a little further.”
I never go with my initial finished work, because I know more will come. A word of advice is to sleep on it!
If you are inspired to start writing or painting, I would advise you to always write down any and all ideas, no matter how big or small: snippets of songs, sketches, things you have seen, ideas that you may want to refer back to – whatever comes to you. Keep them always! You will return to them again and again.
Why do that, you ask?
At times, my creative cup bubbles over; other times, it waits to be filled. That’s when I am thankful for the things I have jotted down along the way!
Challenges as a Christian Artist
Having done both music and painting, the pressure is great to go the way of the mainstream industry.
You will have well-meaning friends, publishers, and others giving you advice to change a lyric, shorten a song, create a new hook, or make your art more appealing to a wider audience by compromising on your original concept. I gave in to some of these things in the past, and it left me feeling sad and regretful.
I encourage you to stay the course. Some advice is instructional, but some is going to take you off your path. Pray for discernment always.
Stir up the gifts of God
2 Timothy 1:6 says to “stir up the Gift of God which is in you.”
God knew you before time began and laid out a plan for your life, bestowing special gifts upon you.
Keep your focus on the gifts God has given you. They are special, precious, and unique, and the world needs them.
I hope that in some small way, my words have encouraged you to keep your eyes on the course that was set before you by the One who created you.
When you find yourself asking, “Lord, what am I doing here?”, be assured that there will come a day when it will all come full circle and be made known.
God wants the best for you, His child. He is eternally patient with you and has good things in store for you. His timing is perfect and just because you are doing plumbing today, in the next season you may be doing electrical wiring! Not to worry, because you are still building a house for Him!
Life is not static but remains fluid until the end. Go with God’s flow!
P.S. Dear Mom, I am not starving in a ditch!
Special words of thanks
I thank God for the gifts He has laid upon me, special gifts for different seasons of my life.
I thank God for my husband, who has always supported me and stood by me during rough sailing on choppy waters.
I thank God for my children and grandchildren, who are bright stars in the sky and influence me daily.
You can also purchase my CD Miss Lucy’s House from my website, Little House Treasures:
Feel free to write me an email!
Email address: email@example.com
About Marianne Paluso:
Jacob’s Ladder Artist’s Page is a space on our blog, which we have dedicated to showcasing Christian ministries that express themselves through creative mediums such as music, literature, photography, painting, and more.
We are humbled and thrilled to be able to come together with the British duo Land & Salt and share their music ministry with you.
We hope you enjoy learning more about them and their missional call to spread God’s Word, and we pray that their music will provide you with further revelation of God’s love, grace, and mercy.
Jacob’s Ladder: Thank you for being a part of our Artist’s Page. We are so grateful to have this opportunity to get to know you!
Charlie: Thanks for inviting us! (laughs)
Let’s start at the very beginning: Who is Land & Salt?
We are husband and wife – Charlie and Marie Collis. Music was the beginning of our relationship and we began playing music together long before we were married.
What does Land & Salt mean?
Land & Salt was a gift to us; in fact, it actually has a few meanings for us. We prayed for a name that was grounding and strong. ‘Salt’ was the first word that God spoke to us. Where we live, we can see an estuary that fills with thousands of tonnes of seawater each day. The land literally shifts and changes twice a day. ‘Land and Salt’ are the backdrop to our lives, so it seemed fitting.
Also, salt being the preservative and flavoring described in the Bible sat well with us. We felt the term ‘Land and Salt’ really was our calling – to go out into the world carrying the Good News from place to place and then to ‘land’ and add ‘salt’ to each life we come across.
I like how God spoke your band name into your hearts. So, how did you and Marie meet?
We met at music college; music really was the beginning of our friendship and our lives together.
What instruments do you both play?
Our core is acoustic guitar and vocals, but we both play other instruments. We like our songs to be able to ‘stand alone’ as good songs without having to add anything at all, so we begin with guitar and vocals.
When we record, we might add some concertina, banjo, piano, extra guitar, or percussion. We worked with a gifted violinist Robyn Welsby on our last EP Salve, and we love working with other musicians. Our time with Robyn was an incredibly blessed time of prayer and worship, and we are so thankful for these sessions.
When did you and Marie start playing music?
We are both from musical backgrounds. Our heritage spans from opera singers and orchestral players to Irish singers and country pianists.
Marie began singing in public at the age of 11, with her father’s traveling Irish and country band. She had a very raw introduction to having to capture people’s attention quickly.
As for myself, l became enchanted by music the day my father bought me a harmonica from the fair at the age of four.
How early on in your musical career did you feel God’s influence?
All in all, God began a work of creating music in us long before we could even begin to perceive how He would bring it to fruition.
We both worked for many years as musicians in the secular music industry doing session work and writing for projects, until we set up our own label for independent artists. Although we were thriving, we were unhappy musically. Our lives had become self-driven. We were striving and playing for the wrong reasons, and we knew that something was wrong. We were burnt-out and longed for peace.
After taking a break from touring, we discovered that we were expecting our first child and this incredible news began a work in us that would very soon lead us to meeting Jesus in a powerful way.
And how did your encounter with Jesus lead you to your current ministry?
As I explained, we were musicians working in the music industry well before we became Christians, and we had well and truly given up music for what we thought was indefinitely. Music was driving us to compete with others, drive ourselves, and sell ourselves, and we didn’t like it. The more success we experienced, the further we drifted from our own sense of integrity.
We feel that the moment we gave up music all those years ago was ironically the moment our calling began, which sounds very upside down. However, our striving for our own ends was the thing that was holding us back from God.
Looking back, God had been tapping at our door for a long time. We both experienced very thwarted religious upbringings, we both came from homes with difficult marriages, and we both experienced the painful and sudden loss of a parent by the time we were teenagers. But through these difficulties, God gave us two constant things to cling to – the ability to cry out to Him in prayer and the ability to play music. We hadn’t yet met Jesus, but we knew there was a God.
When we finally gave our lives to Jesus, it took a few years to discern what the calling on our lives was. We looked into missionary work, ordination, and other spheres of ministry, but in our hearts, we knew it would be music that God used in our lives.
Can you describe Land & Salt’s sound to us?
We are English hymnals. We are folk and blues – this is the genesis of our sound. Really, ‘folk’ is a stretch of the musical term, because our sound is more ‘cooked-up’ than that. We blend blues, fingerpicking, folk, and early gospel together to create an accessible way of ministering to the community around us. We like to describe ourselves as ‘gospel led folk for gospel led folk’, because we really are living a ‘gospel led’ life.
Folk music has always been an aural expression of our surroundings, our past, our purpose, and above all, our culture. This is what Land and Salt is born from – we are just allowing God to use what He has shaped us into so that we can spread the gospel through music.
What creative roles do you and Marie assume in Land & Salt?
We both love using all of God’s gifts and so we balance out lots of creative roles together. Marie generally writes the melodies over guitar parts that I string together. We do our own artwork, photography, and filmmaking.
What is your music influenced by?
Foremost, Jesus. (smiles) We are so grateful that He has chosen us – firstly to know Him, but also now to create in His name. It’s mind-blowing that we get to play and sing to His glory, and He is honored by it.
How does the Holy Spirit inspire you creatively?
The Holy Spirit is so creative. We get to explore this every day in so many ways: We have six children, who inspire us; we live in a wood on the banks of a river, which inspires us; we have so many good people in our lives, who give and share even though they have little or nothing, which also inspires us. Also, seeing friends, who are facing a crisis with calm and love – well, that inspires us as well. All of this fills our songbooks, knowing that the Holy Spirit is the author in all of this.
Do you have a key Scripture that motivates you to create?
God speaks through His Word in so many areas. Of course, the Psalms are our best friend for ancient lyrics, but we don’t have one scripture in particular – it is all thirst-quenching.
What are the creative challenges you face?
We are challenged by the practical parts of bringing our music to people’s ears and finding the time to spread our music so that it can reach new people and minister to people in the right places. The internet can be a blessing and a burden in this area, and it takes a lot of our time promoting and approaching radio stations and magazines.
But we are very blessed to be able to do all our own management from home so that we can balance out the calling of family and ministry.
What is the name of your latest album?
We released our debut EP – Salve in August of this year.
Salve is a beautiful name – so soothing. Can you tell us a bit about the EP?
Salve is a work of grace. It was written on our hearts for many years as we lived out our lives. This album really became a ‘salve’ for us: We were wounded from our former musical lives, and it took many years for God to convince us that we were being called back to create music once again. Salve is the culmination of this calling.
What song from Salve do you feel has made the most impact on your listeners?
‘Homeless Hearts’ certainly has had some amazing responses – from being played in hospitals for the terminally ill to receiving airplay in Bible colleges in America. We have had some very warm invites to visit the USA and certainly feel it has a role to play.
Additionally, “Homeless Hearts” has reached the UK top ten charts and receives a lot of airplay on the radio.
That’s amazing how God has been working in the lives of so many people through “Homeless Hearts”.
Absolutely! It has been a real gift from the Lord.
Do you have any upcoming material?
We have just begun recording our first album, which is due for release early next year. It’s all about being a follower of Jesus in today’s world, and how we can look beyond ourselves – even when facing difficulty – to bless those around us, by the blessings given to us.
Your new album sounds inspiring – I believe that people will be greatly encouraged by your new music.
It’s all in His word – we just proclaim it, set it to harmonies, and add the rawness of ‘gospel folk’.
What is the inspiration behind your new album?
It is a calling. We simply feel the Holy Spirit has inspired this new album. Each song is a gift, and we are still amazed that we have such a huge body of work ready to record. We even have the next album written! (laughs)
All of a sudden, we have been able to write, write, write….in the car, whilst cooking, or tending to the children, whilst working, or driving, or sitting waiting outside the library or shop. We can’t not write at the moment and that is the Holy Spirit at work in us.
What message has the Holy Spirit put in your heart to spread with your new material?
What God has brought out in this new work is really the ‘living out’ of this life that He calls us to; how as followers of Jesus, we can live and love, although every part of our ‘old self’ is still present in our being. The album also addresses how we treat one another and the people around us and what that says about Christians today.
We hope these songs reassure people of the promises God makes, the help He gives, the peace He has won, and the life to come – despite our broken ideas.
What was the spiritual journey you took to make this album?
It has not been an easy journey: We started on our knees, crying out for wisdom. There has been a lot of waiting, feeling confused, and then feeling blessed. And that is not over – it repeats itself again and again.
This week, we have just finished a song that talks about how we can drift away from prayer and talking with God, but He always waits faithfully until we come back to Him and cry out in prayer.
How do you incorporate the Word into your music?
We let the Holy Spirit be our guide and inspiration from conception to completion on all of our songs. We work on a passage of the Bible and see where it leads. The results are always interesting and often lead us in a completely different direction to what we first envisaged.
It’s worth mentioning that we really enjoy playing music as worship, and this encourages us because it’s a mark of the Holy Spirit – doing something for the Lord should bring deep joy.
I totally agree with that! (laughs) Do you believe in incorporating Scripture clearly in your music, or do you prefer to portray your message more discreetly?
It’s all in His Word! (pauses) His Word is power and we believe in using the power of God to change lives, so yes – using Scripture directly is the most precious thing we can do.
That being said, sometimes expounding the Word can be helpful to portray the meaning of it and to bring it to people, who are not really Bible readers. One of the greatest joys so far has been that non-Christians are listening to our music. Knowing that they’ve been spending time with God’s Word really amazes us.
How much does your choice of musical genre influence the Gospel that you wish to portray to your listeners?
We simply feel that God uses all that we are, including the parts of us we are personally challenged by.
Bringing Land & Salt to life meant just saying ‘yes’ to God and letting go of what we feel we should be doing musically. It’s through this trust that He can reach out and touch lives. We pray we can reach ears and touch lives with good music that speaks, especially to those who have not yet heard the Good News.
The musical genres of folk and blues speak with strength into people’s lives, regardless of the message. We really feel a call to use the power of this music to speak to folks who need to hear the Good News; whether in joy and triumph, or sadness and failure – it’s needed.
What role does social media play in informing the world of your ministry?
This is a good example of one of the things we’ve had to say ‘yes’ to, when we were called. We’ve always avoided social media, and it’s been both a learning curve and an eye-opening experience.
It’s abundantly clear that social media is a mission field in itself. We have been able to connect and have relationships with people all over the world – that’s been truly incredible.
We feel that social media should be used with caution – for all that is good with it, it can be a dark place. However, the thing is, it is essential that Jesus should be present in all places to shine light in the darkness, and social media is an effective vehicle for that.
What challenges do you face as a Christian artist, who is trying to make their mark in a mainstream industry?
Happily, we are not looking to make marks in the mainstream – we revel in being a part of the most incredible musical heritage – hymns and sacred church music of the past.
The Christian music industry only fails when it tries to mimic the secular one, which is a shame, as it doesn’t need to. We strive to encourage others to use their gifts for the glory of God and not for the glory of ourselves.
As Christians, we have our own inspired and inspiring culture; we need to be ‘culture makers’ not mimics. It is important for all Christian musicians to remember that we are building a Kingdom, not an industry.
That being said, we have seen that the larger Christian record labels and artists will get more airplay and coverage for obvious reasons, as in the secular music world, but we have also come across some really helpful people, who do want to encourage and introduce new independent Christian music.
I really like your response to this question, as this is a great reminder for Christians to keep their focus on furthering the Kingdom, and not get caught up in abiding by what their mainstream colleagues or even Christian contemporaries are doing.
What is your listener profile?
I’m not sure that we have a ‘profile’, but many people have remarked that they can happily do creative tasks like painting or writing with our music on. And many have remarked that they use our music to ‘soak’ in God’s presence in their quiet and prayer time. We have also had people from all corners of the world listening and contacting us.
We are told in the Bible to ‘encourage’ each other, so along the way we try to always encourage other Christian musicians, and we appreciate and treasure any encouragement and comments we get; nothing is wasted.
How do you interact and respond to your audience?
We love to perform, but in this season of our lives with young children, we are concentrating on recording and releasing music. However, we feel that in the future, God is looking to use us in a setting of intimate worship and fellowship that gives glory and brings people closer to the presence of God.
That’s great that God is calling you to go out and reach people through live music in future.
It has been on our hearts for many years to find other settings to do ‘church and ministry’ and that taking the ‘church worship’ out into the world will help to reach more hearts. We have always been moved by the simplicity of the ‘Early Church’ to break bread, read God’s Word, pray, and sing songs.
We think this mode of simple itinerant worship is so powerful, for it begins in the most loved place of our lives – our homes – and pours out into the world through creativity. Where talking and preaching can fail, Art can speak.
Do you have any upcoming events?
We have a few radio interviews that we are excited about. We will post more details on our social media links as they happen.
But mainly the upcoming album is the focus for us right now. This journey is like driving in the dark and the fog with the headlights on: God only wants us to see what is right in front of us so that we trust His navigation for what lies ahead, and don’t get too overwhelmed with the view.
Where is your music available?
Our music is available to stream on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, Deezer, Tidal, iHeartRadio, and a few other platforms. We also put our videos on YouTube on our channel “Land & Salt”.
However, we appreciate our sales going through our Bandcamp page, as it is a great independent music site that needs more support.
Additionally, our website is where we have our music and videos to listen to, but we also use the following social media handles:
What advice would you give someone, who would also like to start an artistic ministry?
Seek God’s wisdom in all things, and although other people can often offer some good advice, God’s calling on your life is an intimate thing.
Pray and spend time with Him alone until you can discern your direction. And look at your gifts – not just your current ones, but those God has blessed you with since the beginning of your life.
It is often when we look back over our lives that we begin to decipher God’s plan through the footprints that we have left behind. (smiles)
I like your last comment! Finally, what message would you like to pass on to your listeners that will encourage them in their faith walk?
Choose trust. (pauses) When you face obstacles and want to fear – instead choose to trust. When you cannot see the end of a problem – choose trust. When you doubt – choose trust. When you are angry and can’t forgive – choose trust. When you are ashamed or guilt-ridden – choose trust. When you are in need of something – choose trust.
In every situation we can choose to trust Jesus, for He is trustworthy: He has proven that in His actions here on earth.
Our old self wants to trust in our own feelings and emotions, but we have been given another choice – to trust in Jesus instead of feeling fear, hate, anger, sadness, guilt, shame, and bitterness. For we are told that in ALL things He longs to ‘prosper’ us and give us hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) – but it is our choice that makes the difference.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today and for sharing the ministry that God has placed on your hearts. We wish you all the best for your upcoming album, and our prayers are with your ministry.
Thank you! We too, wish you all the best with your ministry, and our prayers are with you too!
Jacob’s Ladder recently caught up with London-based worshippers Eyes like Elijah to discuss their call to ministry, their approach to worship and branding, the dilemmas created by the social media age, and their forthcoming debut mini-album Beware Of The Wide Gate.
Jacob’s Ladder: So, who is Eyes like Elijah?
What are the creative roles that you and your wife assume in Eyes like Elijah?
So far, l’ve been responsible for most of the writing, playing the keyboards, and programming the sequenced parts of the tracks.
However, Ladidi is increasingly becoming more involved and has written a couple of songs, which we’re hoping to complete by early 2020. One song in particular is partially sung in the West African language of Hausa, and is accompanied by various traditional West African instruments, which is inpsired from Ladidi’s West African heritage.
It sounds like you guys are expanding on your sound.
(laughs) Oh yes, we do keep evolving!
Do you consider yourself a band or a duo?
Neither really. I see Eyes like Elijah as being an electro-ministry. We are the antithesis to being a musical act, with little concern for album sales, touring, or merchandising.
If you follow the format of being a band, or duo for that matter, then there is a risk that your primary focus will be on yourselves and not God. Our focus is on worshipping God, and introducing people to Jesus.
How did Eyes like Elijah come into being?
There wasn’t a particular “aha” moment; it certainly wasn’t the road to Damascus….
When the Spirit spoke to me I think I was actually on a train going to Croydon! (laughs)
The Eyes like Elijah worship has been an evolving journey: I was in various bands when I was younger, but I guess as time went by, I lost interest in making music, due to the usual pressures of a career and living in a busy city.
About 10 years ago, I started to write music again, although initially without any particular focus. Then, the Holy Spirit gave me a message: “Don’t leave them behind.”
How did you translate the Holy Spirit’s message into what is now your worship ministry?
I have a lot of secular friends that like electro music, and I do talk to them about Jesus. But I don’t think any of them has given their life to Christ yet.
I believe that the Holy Spirit was telling me with this message “Don’t leave them behind” to reach out to my friends – and others – through electro worship music, instead of relying upon conversation to spread the Gospel.
Also, my wife and l both attend Hillsong Church in London, which has a strong culture of making excellent worship music, so the notion of using music to both worship God and to reach out to the world seemed to fit with what I felt the Holy Spirit had said about Eyes like Elijah.
How did you come up with the name ‘Eyes like Elijah’?
Eyes like Elijah is just another way of saying that we should have faith, or vision, like the prophet Elijah.
Could you explain how this image of Elijah is applicable to us today?
Yes of course! Imagine you have been invited to a BBQ by some secular friends. In a modern day application of (1 Kings 18:20-40), the host is having trouble lighting the BBQ, when one of the guests sarcastically suggests that you should light it because surely God would help you!
Would you lean on your faith, or would you resort to worldly solutions like adding lighter fluid to the BBQ? What if you poured water on the BBQ and then started to praise God, just as Elijah did (1 Kings 18:31-38)? I can just imagine the shocked looks on the faces of the other guests!
So, you don’t get invited to many BBQ parties then?
(laughs) Sadly not! But all jokes aside, Elijah is one of the superheroes of the Bible, and we wanted to make that central to our worship ministry.
In what way?
When people think of superheroes, they often have images of say, Iron Man – he’s courageous, equipped with extraordinary powers, and he’s an overcomer. So, we based the Eyes like Elijah logo around that type of superhero image.
What material have you produced so far?
However, our biggest achievement is our forcoming mini-album, Beware Of The Wide Gate, which is our debut.
What is the inspiration behind your forthcoming mini-album?
Well, the title is inspired from (Matthew 7:13). To be honest, the story behind the conception of our mini-album Beware of the Wide Gate is a little embarrassing! (shakes his head and laughs)
As I have previously mentioned, I started writing about 10 years ago. The songs on our mini-album originated during this time. At one stage, Beware Of The Wide Gate actually had the working title No More Procrastinating, because I had written something like 70 songs and not actually recorded any of them! (laughs)
But you obviously overcame your procrastination and recorded some of those 70 songs!
(laughs) Yes, we have now recorded 10 of them, most of which we want to use as our debut mini-album early next year. So far, 5 of these have made it onto YouTube, although it is likely that the versions that appear on the mini-album will be different mixes.
That sounds like you’ve been on quite a creative journey.
Yes, we have! (pauses) God always has a bigger plan though: All of our hard work has paid off, and we have just been asked to appear for the next 12 months at the Saturday Night Life worship event in London hosted by justworship.org.uk. They invited us after having heard just a couple of our tracks on YouTube!
It must be an amazing feeling to be able to take your music live to the public.
(nodding in agreement) It definitely is! And the great thing is, because of our extensive repertoire, we are now in the position of having quite a selection of songs to perform. Therefore, we’re currently concentrating on recording some of these, plus working on rehearsing the live performance side of our worship.
What is your listener profile?
In terms of reaching out to the world, our worship has a very retro-electro style. In fact, somebody commented recently that we sounded like one of the bands from 1982! (laughs) Lots of these bands are now reforming and embarking on comeback tours, so there’s defiantly an interest in the retro-electro genre.
That being said, we find that our music appeals to a broad age range: Some of our listeners grew up in the 70s/early 80s listening to artists such as Jean-Michel Jarre, OMD, or Kraftwerk. On the other end of the spectrum, we have younger audiences, who include secular artists such as Christine and the Queens, or Chvrches in their listening repertoire.
Regardless of their demographic, our listeners mean a lot to us. I really hope that anyone that hears our worship will be touched by the Holy Spirit and brought to Christ. It might not be an instant conversion, but I do hope that it might be the beginning of a glorious journey for some secular listeners.
I really hear your heart for ministry in your words.
Oh absolutely! (pauses) I know this will sound like a cross between a cliché and a car sticker, but it really is about “Don’t follow me – follow Jesus”.
To build on what I said about using music to both worship God and reach out to the world, I guess that the worship element should be based on the Word of God – to be pleasing to God. Most of our work quotes directly from the Bible, and I hope we are achieving that objective.
Your debut mini-album is entitled “Beware Of The Wide Gate”. What was the spiritual journey for you in making the tracks?
For me, it is always wherever the Holy Spirit leads me. Sometimes that can be with a simple riff that can be hummed or whistled; other times there can be a specific Bible verse that I feel the Holy Spirit guiding me towards, which we then marry together with a tune that we’ve been working on. Either way, I always feel guided by the Holy Spirit – even down to minute details, such as when to take a break for ten minutes! (laughs)
Talk to me about the sound of your forthcoming debut mini-album.
Beware Of The wide Gate will have a very retro-synthesizer sound. Although the retro genre of synth music is something of a niche, we feel that it is our specific calling.
Could you elaborate on that?
In the Bible it states that we are all called to go out into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).
As Eyes of Elijah, we believe that we have been sent as disciples into the genre of retro-sounding synth music.
To some, synthesizer-based worship music may seem very unconventional, and a far cry from the traditional image of worshippers strumming accoustic guitars – dare I say possibly with a tambourine or two in the mix. And that’s great that God has sent disciples into those music genres.
However, there are whole swathes of people that listen to retro-synth music in the secular world, with some of the secular acts filling huge arenas and even stadia globally. Our calling is to introduce them to Jesus.
How much does your choice of musical genre influence the Gospel that you wish to portray to your listeners?
Although the synthesizer sounds are really important to us, they are only being used as a vehicle for delivering the message – and that is the Word of God.
Hence, we always quote the biblical inspiration alongside the song title. Sometimes the title is a direct quotation, such as our track “Iron Sharpens Iron” (Proverbs 27:17), whereas others may be less direct, such as “God’s Telephone Number”, based on Matthew 6:6, which tells us to go into a room alone to pray.
So, making that transparent connection to Scripture in your songs is an integral part of your ministry?
I think it is important to give the Scriptures origin, as it enables people to read further. It also keeps us as artists in check; we don’t want to meander and start offering our opinion – we want to spread God’s Word.
In recent years, some Christian artists have broken out onto the mainstream charts with music that expresses a more discreet biblical message. What influenced your decision to compromise commercial acceptance for the Gospel?
I did initially wonder if directly referencing Scripture would make the tracks commercially unviable – which actually convinced me that it was the right approach! However, we don’t want to start making compromises – you should never compromise when it comes to God!
The whole purpose of our ministry is about worshipping God, not about gaining acceptability – especially commercial acceptability. You cannot serve both God and money (Matt 6:24).
That is an admirable approach to serving.
I think there’s a differentiation between being a musical act singing about Jesus, as opposed to being a worshipper. I’m not being critical – we all have different callings – I’m just noting the different approach.
An alternative approach would have been to introduce the Bible by stealth – sort of, “Do you like our track? Hey, great! By the way, do you know it is based on scripture?”
I think that approach is fine, and quite a few other artists take that route. It just wasn’t the way I felt the Holy Spirit lead me with Eyes like Elijah. Jesus tells us, “Those who deny me before men, I will deny before My Father” (Matt 10:33). It has to be about Jesus first.
I guess the ‘Jesus first’ guides everything about Eyes like Elijah?
Definitely! But there’s been lots of dilemmas along the way. As I say, we don’t compromise…but many decisions have shades of grey as opposed to clear black and white demarcation. For example, giving the band a name could risk taking focus away from Jesus, hence we felt compelled to have a scripture-based name. We’re not anonymous, but we’re not overly forward about identifying the members of Eyes like Elijah, because it isn’t about us – it is all about Jesus.
Deciding how and when to promote ourselves is another dilemma. For example, we do have merchandise, but it always has a strong Christian theme – and we tend to give a lot of it away anyway!
What role does social media play in informing the world of Eyes of Elijah?
Ironically, the dilemma we struggled with most when forming our ministry was social media. We recognized that this was an important way to spread God’s Word, but it is also an area of the internet filled with numerous pitfalls. There seems to be an obsession in society with obtaining social media ‘likes’. Worship is for God, and I don’t think He uses the thumbs-up icon on social media! (laughs)
So, what online platforms do you use?
In the end, we decided to only use LinkedIn for networking, and YouTube for making the worship tracks available. Additionally, we will also have links to all of the tracks on the mini-album via our own website www.eyeslikeelijah.co.uk
Where can l download or purchase your music?
Again, we were influenced by the biblical principle of not serving both God and money, so we decided to just release our tracks free of charge via YouTube, as opposed to charging for them.
We’re hoping we can maintain that approach with the mini-album – although we may have to consider how we would pay for the cost of production if we release it in CD format.
Of course, having a retro style, it would probably lend itself towards being issued on vinyl and cassette!
Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today and for sharing the ministry that God has placed on your hearts. We wish Eyes of Elijah all the best in their future endeavors, and our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Thank you for having us on Jacob’s Ladder! We too, will be praying for your ministry!
Eyes like Elijah will be appearing in London at the Saturday Night Life worship event hosted by justworship.org.uk on Saturday 19th October 2019. Tickets for the event are available from https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/saturday-night-life-tickets-65101041969