Spotlight on Andrew Peterson

When contemporary Christian singer Andrew Peterson performs in concert, he is likely to a music
trailer filled with assorted instruments: acoustic guitars, a hammered
dulcimer, a mandolin, an accordion and a dead armadillo — yes, a dead

In actuality, it is a Bolivian stringed instrument called a churango.
Peterson said that after hearing them repeatedly during a trip to Bolivia,
he just had to have one. After all, who wouldn’t take advantage of the
unique opportunity to make music from something normally considered
roadkill? Peterson is just that kind of guy.

Peterson is a songwriter in the truest sense of the word, mainly because
he engages his listeners and because he truly has been given something to
say. Whether he’s sharing a symbolic anecdote about lost luggage or offering
profoundly moving lyrics about a heart being stirred to sing for the Lord,
Peterson gets to know his listeners and they get to know him. And, in the
end, his hope is that through his music listeners come to know the Lord a
little bit better.

“Sharing my music with people and translating what God is teaching me —
that’s when I feel most at home,” Peterson said. “I want to engage the
audience as much as possible and create an atmosphere where everybody is
active in the concert, and where we feel like we all got to know each other
better before the end of the night.”

When he wrote his first national single, “Nothing to Say,” his
confession about creation leaving him speechless, he had no idea that the
song would ever be heard by more than a few people. Not only did “Nothing to
Say” end up on the radio, but it quickly became a top ten single on the
Adult Contemporary chart. Not long after, his first national Watershed
Records release, “Carried Along,” was named one of the “Top Ten Albums of
2000” by Contemporary Christian Music Magazine. The album also ranked on the
Billboard Magazine Internet Sales Chart above Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting
and Backstreet Boys.

The process of writing the songs on his latest CD, “Clear to Venus,”
happened during Peterson’s time on the road. He wrote while traveling on his
own tour and while serving as an opening act for Caedmon’s Call, Bebo Norman
and Fernando Ortega. On “Clear to Venus,” listener¹s will find emotional
piano and cello woven into the vulnerable lyrics of “Let Me Sing,” layered
guitars on “Isn’t It Love,” swelling organ driving “Steady As She Goes,”
mood-defining dobro on “Song and Dance” and even the echoes of a gospel
choir looming about among “Loose Change.” All of his songs, Peterson said,
are a gift and a message from God.

“I realized recently that you, as an artist, are not your gift. You are
yourself, and your gift is what God has given you,” Peterson said. “I know
that my songs come from Jesus. They¹re not my words, but rather God speaking
through me.”

Beneath the songwriter, Peterson is just a regular small-town Florida
guy who now makes his home in Nashville, Tennessee, and performs roughly 150
concerts per year. It is his time spent traveling to places like Bluefield
College that offers him the truest sense of family. Not only are his wife,
Jamie (backing vocals), and their two small boys, Aedan and Asher Jesse,
along for the ride, but his best friend Gabe (multi-instrumentalist, backing
vocals) tours with him, too.

Peterson believes that God has given him his experiences as a musician,
travelling to places like Bluefield, for a reason. His trip to Bolivia not
only changed his outlook on the lives of children in South America, but also
his view of himself.

“There is a wisdom that comes from looking at your home from the
outside. My trip to Bolivia made me understand the church in a bigger way.
When you see Christians, un-American Christians, you realize how big God’s
plans are.”

For Peterson, those plans include travelling the country to places like
Bluefield College, toting guitars, diaper bags and a dead armadillo.
Andrew Peterson will perform live on the
campus of Bluefield College in Bluefield, VA., Thursday, February 14 at 9 p.m. in Shott Hall
as part of the school’s Coffeehouse Series. Peterson’s BC Coffeehouse show is open and free to the public.
Related Stories & Links:
Clear to Venus Music ReviewBeyond the Music: Andrew Peterson

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