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!
Written by Madeline Twooney
“Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
when he delights in our way;
though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the Lord holds us by the hand.“
Psalm 37:23-24 (NRSV)
Education was always an important theme for my parents when l was growing up. I was born in England, but my parents, who are Sri Lankan, moved with me to Melbourne, Australia, when l was three years old.
From an early age, my parents instilled in me the significance of studying hard and acquiring good grades. It was their fim belief that the only viable career path for me was to become a doctor or a lawyer; not only would these professions assure finanicial succes, but they would also bring prestige to our family.
However, my dream since childhood was to become a writer. Netherless, parental pressure obliged me to view writing as a hobby and pursue their dream instead.
When l was 13 years old, my parents took me out of the government-funded high school l had been attending and enrolled me at an Anglican private school. My father was a chef and my mother an artist, so their earnings were somewhat modest. For that reason, l appreciated their financial sacrifice in investing in my education and was determined to study hard and make them proud.
For the 2 years l visited that school l was very unhappy. The other kids in my year level either bullied me or completely ostracized me. What made my time in that school more bearable was the kindness my teachers showed me and the interesting lessons they taught.
One subject l particularly enjoyed was Religious Education. The lessons were taught by the school’s chaplain, Reverend Mc Chrioch. The chaplain was funny and entertaining, and I looked forward to his weekly teachings of the Bible.
Apart from teaching, Reverend Mc Chrioch fulfilled other pastoral duties at our school. Every Monday, when the entire school gathered for its weekly assembly, Reverend Mc Chrioch would speak a prayer over us and lead us in singing hymns. Over the course of two years, l learned a variety of beautiful hymns such as “Amazing Grace”, “Be thou my vision”, and “Jerusalem”.
On one particular Monday, Reverend Mc Chrioch asked us to sing a hymn titled “One more step along the road l go” by Sydney Carter. As soon as the lyrics reached my ears, they resonated with me immediately:
“One more step along the world I go,
One more step along the world I go;
From the old things to the new,
Keep me traveling along with you:
And it’s from the old I travel to the new;
Keep me traveling along with you.”
That Monday morning, God became very real to me. He was more than the omnipotent, omnipresent Almighty l had read about in class – the God who had released a great flood upon the earth, made the walls of Jericho fall, and spoke from inside a burning bush.
Instead, He was a sympathetic God who knew l was feeling rejected and alone in school. He was my Father who saw how my parents tried to make me into being somebody l wasn’t and could never be.
And yet, God accepted me for who l was. In fact, He loved everything about me because He had created me and declared that His work in me was good, right down to the last hair on my head.
Sitting in that school auditorium, with the hot December sun streaming through the large paned windows behind me, l learned who God was to me: He was my comforter in my pain, my guide through the darkness, and my hope for a better future. l believe that it was on this day that God sowed the seed that led to me giving my life to Him 20 years later.
I left the school at the end of that academic year. Though my time there had been fraught with trials, my parents were content with the extensive knowledge l had acquired through my studies.
However, the most important lesson l had learned was the revelation that God had given me about Himself through the words of a song. That information was life-changing, not the training l received for a life of financial prosperity and prestige.
As a further outcome of my encounter with God, “One more step along the world l ago” became my means of seeking Him when l was confronted with change and adversity. During such times, I would sing the song and walk down the street, imagining that Jesus was holding my outstretched hand as l took one more step on my life journey.
I ended up finishing my secondary education at another private school, where l was very happy. However, in my senior year, I didn’t make the grades to qualify for a place at a law or medicine faculty at university. Instead, l ended up studying German, English, and English literature at a university in Melbourne, which l enjoyed.
My parents were disappointed that l wasn’t going to become a lawyer or a doctor, so l did a minor in Economics to appease them, but it wasn’t what l was really interested in studying.
I never ended up using that Economics minor, though my languages degree proved to be very useful. I moved to Germany where l reveled in immersing myself in a new culture. Additionally, God provided me with a position as a German teacher at an English private school. As l stood in front of my first class, Jesus was by my side.
“Round the corners of the world I turn,
More and more about the world I learn;
All the new things that I see
You’ll be looking at along with me.”
Being a teacher was rewarding, however, 14 years of working 80-hour weeks under immense performance pressure took their toll on me. Three years ago, l had a breakdown and was diagnosed with burnout and depression. I was forced to leave my job in order to convalesce. Again, Jesus was there, comforting me when my life as l knew it irrevocably changed.
“Give me courage when the world is rough,
Keep me loving though the world is tough;”
Today, as l go through the ups and downs of recovery, God is with me. He pulls me out of the dark, miry pits of depression when they want to envelop me; His love is my shield, my glory, and the lifter of my head when l feel overwhelmed and afraid. He guides me through the valley.
“As I travel through the bad and good,
Keep me traveling the way I should,”
Furthermore, God has given me a new direction for my life. He has put it in my heart to spread His Word by becoming a Christian writer and blogger. I may not have met the university requirements to study medicine or law, but God has qualified me, as He has qualified all of us, to be a disciple for all the nations (Matthew 28:19).
“Where I see no way to go,
You’ll be telling me the way, I know.”
Looking back, l can see how God has been guiding my steps throughout my life, to get me to where l am now. My childhood dream of being a writer has come to pass, something that l would never have had the courage to pursue in my own strength.
How glorious that God had set my path before l was even born, and neither man’s expectations nor societal pressure could deter me from it! How reassuring to know that all things work out for good by Him! For when God is for us, who can be against us?
May God continue to guide me, and may l continue to travel along the world with Him, for He is a good, loving, and merciful Father!
“You are older than the world can be,
You are younger than the life in me;
Ever old and ever new,
Keep me traveling along with you.”
About the author:
Madeline Twooney is a Christian writer and blogger. She has written articles for SheLoves, Converge, and Ruminate Magazine and is a contributing writer for Crosswalk.com, Christianity.com, and YMI Magazine.
In her spare time, Madeline gets creative as a freelance Special Effects Makeup artist, and she loves dancing to Sister Sledge and Stevie Wonder whilst cooking. Madeline is British but lives in Germany with her husband and their one-eared pussycat. You can contact Madeline at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet her at @MTwooney.