0719CarrAud-intoyourarmsHear "Into Your Arms," by Sheri Carr
Worshiping Jesus Christ is at the center of Sheri Carr's life.
Born a pastor's daughter, Carr is now a pastor's wife. Her husband, Joshua Carr, is serving his third year as pastor at Flowery Branch United Methodist Church - but he said she's as much a minister as he is.
"She does more ministry in three hours of leading worship than I do in months or years," he said.
Since Sheri Carr was a child, music has been her passion.
"I grew up singing," she said. "My dad was a pastor and I grew up singing in the church, and singing in school and actually I've been writing songs since I was a little kid."
Carr played saxophone and flute while in high school, and she said her plans for her life differed from what God had in mind for her.
"I really wanted to play in a symphony orchestra. Flute really had been my main instrument all through school and kind of my passion and what I pursued," Carr said.
She realized she was gifted at leading worship music, and began with a position as a youth group worship leader after graduating from high school.
She began sending songs to Vineyard Music, a record label known for songs like "Breathe" and "Change My Heart Oh God." The label focuses on music coming out of churches and produces contemporary worship albums.
Carr ended up recording 12 songs spread over several compilation CDs produced by the company. She also contributed her talents to conferences held by Vineyard Church, the association of churches that owns Vineyard Music, and she began to teach others how to become worship leaders.
Vineyard Music wanted to find a way to focus more on individual artists, so the company started a division called Varietal Records. They called on Carr to be one of the first artists on the label.
"Varietal, for us, is a way for us to embrace folks like Sheri that have more to contribute than just a song or two once in a while. So, to us, she was an obvious choice, because she's had such an impact through Vineyard Music," said Casey Corum, executive producer for Vineyard Music. "Sheri is one of our premier worship leaders."
The album, called "Fearless Now," features only songs by Carr and was released May 6.
Carr describes the album's sound as "worship with a rock edge."
While her songs are all about praising God, they are also honest depictions of the ups and downs of life.
"Some of my songs are very honest and very vulnerable, and some of them come from desperate times in my own life when I've really been hurting, whether it's physical pain or emotional pain or just questions and doubts," Carr said.
"And then sometimes I've had those moments where I feel really inspired and really encouraged, so it might be more of a mountaintop experience with the Lord, where it's more of a declaration of how great God is," she said.
Carr said she takes inspiration from the Psalms, a book in the Bible that is full of songs of praise as well as King David's highs and lows in his walk with God.
"A lot of my songs are very much based on just the Scriptures," Carr said. "I don't consider myself a fabulous lyricist, but a lot of times the Scriptures just really inspire me. And if there's a verse that really speaks to me, then typically I'm like, ‘Man, I just want to be able to sing that and to have my church sing that, and in a sense to really learn that Scripture deep in my heart.'"
Carr said worship songs also are a way to remember Christ's lessons that might be easier to retain than a sermon.
"Sometimes, we end up leaving church and we may not remember exactly what the sermon said, but a lot of times you might be able to recall a song you sang all week long," she said "So I think that there is such power to music - that it's a God-given thing, that it's a way for us to help put Scripture to memory and to remember things about God and about who he is and to recall those throughout the week."
Carr might be busy touring to support her new album, but her husband Joshua said there's a lot more to her than that.
"It's really a small part of who she is," Joshua said. "She was a worship leader to begin with, as long as I've known her, so she has always gone out and been called to lead people to worship and raise up leaders and invest in people that way."
Joshua said "Fearless Now" gives Carr a new way to reach people who want to have a closer relationship with Christ.
"She doesn't have any kind of secrets that she's telling people about, but she is able to lend voice to the hunger that we feel to know God and to be loved. And she expresses the pain of life, hurt and frustrations and failure," he said. "At the same time expressing that trust that God does know all and doesn't abandon us and forsake us in the end, and that we're taken care of."
Joshua said his wife also tries to be an example to girls who might be shy about using their talents in the church.
"She's a leader to young women, because there's a place for them, too, to use their gifts," he said.
"She's standing up for a voice that still isn't as well represented in the church as it can be, teaching them to embrace their gifts."