Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Cheri Keaggy began as a worship leader at a small church in Southern California. She was discovered by industry veteran Charlie Peacock. He has production credits on her wonderful first two albums CHILD OF THE FATHER (1994) and MY FAITH WILL STAY (1996). The former garnered Cheri a Dove Award nomination for New Artist of the Year. Her bio states: “Often with her Bible and journal close at hand, Cheri takes a teachable approach to life, looking for the lesson in every experience. ‘If God can use our challenges and heartaches to build character that makes us more effective for the Kingdom, then that’s what I want. He can use me however He sees fit.’” Cheri’s latest album SO I CAN TELL (2012) was largely influenced by the end of her nearly twenty-three year long marriage to her high school sweetheart. She shares: “I feel like God has given me some gold and now is the season of pouring out everything He’s poured into me.”

Cheri’s eighth release and first new CD in five years begins with an inspirational ballad that starts with these words that speak of sharing God’s goodness with others: “I was shown grace/So I will be gracious/I was shown mercy/So I will be merciful and kind/I have been loved/To be lovely, yes, but that I might love well/I have heard the Truth so I can tell.” It’s a great title track! Revelation 21:4 says: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” ‘There Will Be One Day’ is a song that builds in momentum and makes good use of a Holy Ghost Choir. The song looks forward to a blissful eternity in heaven: “Oh, God of Love what love we’ve known/Mercy keeps falling from Your Throne/Still we are waiting for that trumpet blow/When You will come to call us home…/There will be peace just like a river/Joy like we’ve never known/We all will be delivered when we get Home.”

Of ‘When You Were Jesus to Me’, Cheri writes: “For Sara and Joan Del, two special women who prayed, mentored, and held me up.” It begins with these blatantly honest words of one in despair, ultimately divinely encouraged by a fellow pilgrim: “I made it to church/Though just barely there/When the music began it was all I could do/To sit slumped in my chair/How can I worship/In all of this grief?/You said ‘Friend, you don’t have to’/And then you said ‘it’s O. K. just to receive’/You led the way to belief/When you were Jesus to me.” Isaiah 43:19 reads: “Behold, I will do a new thing,/Now it shall spring forth;/Shall you not know it?/I will even make a road in the wilderness/And rivers in the desert.” ‘Starting a New Year Today’ was written on the one year anniversary of her divorce. It includes these refreshingly vulnerable lyrics: “Staring at a clean page/Putting thoughts down on paper the usual way/I may not know where this might lead/But Your Word is the lamplight in front of me/Here’s where I pray a lot/Thankful for all I’ve got/Doing the best that I can/I reach for Your Hand.”

‘Air, Food, and Water’ is an upbeat ukulele based number. Cheri writes: “Inspired by Pastor Michael Easley’s sermon on the three things we need to survive. Proof God CAN turn mourning into dancing.” These words find her victorious: “I’m praising God in the valley/And lighting candles at night/And if you ask me how I’m surviving/I have all that I need/He’s been so good to me/If you’re not sure you can trust Him girl/Then come talk to me.” ‘Hello, God’ is a nice song that has Cheri putting her total confidence in her heavenly Father: “For there’s nothing/Nothing You cannot do/There is no one/No one You can’t put together again/That’s just what You’ll do/And there’s nowhere/Nowhere You can’t get to/And there’s no one/No one You can’t pull through/If we’ll only let You.”

Philippians 1:21 says: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In the poetic song ‘To Live is Christ’, Cheri petitions her Lord: “Lord, clean slate me, make me new/Wake me, shake me, even bait me/Consecrate me just for You/Know me, judge me, reign above me/Covenant Love me like You do.” In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” ‘Come to Me’ is a particularly strong song that finds God calling out to the heavy hearted: “If you’re scraping by, but just can’t get ahead/Always more month/At the end of the money/When you’re running out of options/Can’t see how, don’t know when it’ll end/Come to Me/When you’re weary and you’re burdened/Come to Me/When your future seems uncertain/Come to me/Before they pull the final curtain/Come to Me/And I will give you rest.”

‘Bind Me to You’ features these words where Cheri cries out to the Lord: “Loving and Faithful are You, my Lord/Covenant Keeper/Love’s True Reward/Knight in Shining Armor/Prince of Peace/Stay with me now, my Lord/Quiet me with Your Love/My True Companion to have and to hold/Will all Your warmth to me, conquer this cold/Stay with me now, my Lord (2X).” ‘Romans 15:13 (Benediction Song)’ follows. A benediction, according to Wikipedia, is “a short invocation for divine help, blessing, and guidance, usually at the end of a worship service.” The song here is very pretty and contains these words of encouragement: “May the God of hope/Fill you with all joy and peace/As you trust in Him/So that you may know and overflow/With hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The album ends with ‘Postlude: Invitation to Hope.’ It is a beautiful instrumental continuation of the previous song, and features the talented acoustic guitar playing of Phil Keaggy.

In the liner notes Cheri writes: “This is more than just another album to me. It is a testimony of how God can bring beauty from ashes as we walk in Him.” Her bio calls her a modern day Psalmist and describes her music as accessible folk-pop. On this project Cheri has really reinvented herself as an artist. The album is full of emotion. You can hear country tones in her voice. People who enjoy Cindy Morgan’s HYMNS AND SPRITUALS and Clay Crosse’s EVERYTIME I FEEL THE SPIRIT will enjoy this effort. I’m rating SO I CAN TELL 86.5%. Fans of Patty Griffin, Dolly Parton and Laura Story should also check this one out. The producers are Scott Dente from Out of the Grey, and Ken Lewis. Cheri is also available to speak on topics such as ‘Overcoming the Pain of Divorce’, ‘Biblical Foundations for Worship’, and ‘Learning How to Forgive’. For more info visit www.cherikeaggy.com.