AUDREY ASSAD: Angst, Art, and Songwriting (Encore)

Here’s the thing… Each of these episodes have SO MUCH GOLD in them that it’s hard to digest it all in one listen. So, today we’re jumping back to our conversation with the amazing Audrey Assad.

Audrey Assad is, by her own admission, a very opinionated person.

Of Middle Eastern descent, yet raised in a small cult-like expression of the Plymouth Brethren denomination in New Jersey, she was not allowed to sing or read Scriptures in front of males and suffered tremendous personal repression as a child. Ironically, the very things she endured became the fuel of her deeply layered artistry that blends ancient-future influences into her uniquely beautiful music.

Her debut album The House You’re Building (2010) was named Christian Album of the Year on and the Christian Breakthrough Album of the Year on iTunes and she has worked and toured with other great CCM artists such as Chris Tomlin, Tenth Avenue North, Matt Maher, and Jars of Clay.

In this episode, John Chisum and Audrey discuss the role of pain in art, literary influences in lyric writing, how the historic Christian traditions of beauty and literature are sometimes lost on the evangelical church, as well as:

  • How she came to Nashville with the help of Mike Donehy, lead singer of the band Tenth Avenue North
  • Being who you are as a singer-songwriter and how to use “discovery tools” like Spotify to build your own following
  • What it means to walk away from the “established” Christian music industry over artistic control and financial accountability
  • Writing religious music for the people who would never buy it or want to listen to “Christian” music
  • The role of catharsis and lament in art and how pain shapes our worship
  • Her “non-Christian” band called Levv and her foray into EDM
  • Contextualizing pain and how to redeem it in songwriting… “You can’t heal from a wound that you don’t know is there…”
  • Why she always writes the songs that she needs first in order to “preach the Gospel to herself” every day
  • The literary influences in her writing such as Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Rohr, Merton, John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Madeleine L’Engle, and Mother Teresa
  • Her musical influences from 70’s folk/rock music, despite the strictures of the Plymouth Brethren beliefs
  • How to resource yourself through reading, imagination, and creativity to avoid rehashing Christian music from a decade ago
  • Approaching hooks with simplicity
  • How she wrote the song Restless from her first album, still one of her most popular songs
  • Setting poems to music
  • Her favorite exercises to add creativity and uniqueness to your music and to break out of ruts by intentional disruption

You can check out Audrey and her music at, on Instagram @audreyassad, Twitter @audreyassad, and her EDM band Levv at and on Facebook at

For more information visit and join the Successful Christian Songwriters Group on Facebook!

John Chisum

John Chisum is a pioneer in the Christian music business, serving alongside people such as Bill & Gloria Gaither, Twila Paris, Paul Baloche, Don Moen, and many more. As President of Nashville Christian Songwriters, John seeks to empower Christian songwriters worldwide to discover and fulfill their call to write.

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