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Like the twists and turns of a mountain road, Laura Story's life has held its share of unexpected moments - some exhilarating, some terrifying, and some simply beautiful to behold. Leaning solely on her faith in the sovereignty of God, Story has learned that no matter what comes around the next bend, it's going to be an incredible view.
Set to release her label debut on INO Records (Sara Groves, MercyMe, Derek Webb) in 2008, Story is
still learning that God's plan is far deeper and wider than she ever thought possible.
Once an aspiring symphony conductor, Story didn't even know she could sing - much less write songs - until she was in her early twenties. Today, Story is not only a gifted vocalist and worship leader but also the composer of one of the most beloved worship songs of our generation: "Indescribable." The song has topped charts and been recorded by multiple artists, but most importantly, it has helped people all over the world experience our magnificent God.
So how did a string bassist and YoungLife leader from South Carolina end up penning a worship anthem
known and loved by millions? It all began with a providential moment in the class registration line her
sophomore year at Columbia International University. There she met Shane Williams of the popular indie pop-rock band Silers Bald, who asked her to join his band.
Five years and many road miles later, Story found herself being led a different direction musically, just as Silers Bald was on the brink of signing a deal with Essential Records. When her manager suggested she record an independent album with the songs she had written while in Silers, Story was still unconvinced her vocals could stand on their own. Besides, she was out of money and didn't have enough songs for a full record.
But those challenges were overcome when God provided more money and more songs. In 2002, Story began recording her first independent album, trusting that last song she needed would come. Soon after, she was driving down a mountain road, eyes fixed on the majesty of her Creator, when she started worshiping and singing, "Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name…." Story added verses on the piano and finished the song while reading God's own description of His power and might in Job chapter 38. Her first record was now complete. "Indescribable" was the perfect title track.
What brought "Indescribable" into churches all across the U.S. and the world was when Chris Tomlin recorded it for his 2004 release, Arriving, produced by Ed Cash (Caedmon's Call, Bebo Norman, Bethany Dillon). "Laura has a genuine understanding of a well crafted lyric," says Chris Tomlin. "She carries herself with true humility as well. Laura is a wonderful songwriter and artist, and through the song â Indescribable,' I am honored to be a small extension of her ministry." Immediately, the song flew up the AC Charts, where it stayed #1 for 7 weeks and in the top 15 for 50 weeks. The song was also included on the Passion CD/DVD in 2005, Tomlin's 2006 release, Live From Austin Music Hall, and performed by Avalon for WoW Worship 2006. The list of accolades goes on, but Story takes no more credit for writing it than she would for creating the Appalachian Mountains. "I always think the last song I wrote was my last song. Just when my mind is completely blank and I don't know if I'll write a song again, God surprises me. The songs are His. I'm just the first person who gets to hear them."
"I'll never forget meeting Laura Story," says producer Ed Cash. "I was behind the dining hall at a YoungLife camp in North Carolina, and she played me the song "Grace." I still remembered the words and melody to that song after years of not seeing her. Laura has an awesome anointing on her life for writing songs that call me closer to Jesus. She is a true worshipper of God and a joy to be around."
In 2005, Story released her second independent album, There Is Nothing, produced by Ed Cash and Mitch Dane (Jars of Clay). That same year she married her high school sweetheart, Martin Elvington, and moved to Atlanta to become the worship leader and women's pastor for the arts and music community at Perimeter Church.
Shortly after inking the deal with INO Records in 2006, a trial entered Story's life that would not only
provide her with a deeper understanding of God's sovereignty. After one year of marriage, Story's
husband was hospitalized with a brain tumor.
"There was a time he was on a breathing machine and we weren't sure he was going to make it. I spent my whole life singing, â 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,' but until Jesus took me through something where my only option was to trust Him, I didn't really know that sweetness," reflects Story. While supporting her husband through surgery, radiation, complications, and intense physical therapy, Story composed new rubber-meets-the-road songs to reaffirm God's presence in her darkest hours.
"It's hard to understand why God would allow us to go through this, but I know He works all things together for good, and I feel my new album is reflecting that. Though He leads us through valleys, that's when we get to trust Him and draw closer to Him all the more. Though I've doubted, His grasp has never released, never slipped. He's remained completely faithful to me. He has proven that He really is my foundation and my hope."
Bless the Lord oh my soul, all that's in me bless your name,
Forget not your power untold, not your glory or your fame
For you came to heal the broken, to redeem and make me whole,
Bless the Lord, bless the Lord, oh my soul…
Story's new project titled Great God Who Saves, produced again by Ed Cash, declares her tried-by-fire
confidence in God's faithfulness in unforgettable, utterly infectious songs like "Mighty To Save," "Immortal, Invisible God," "Great God Who Saves," and "Bless The Lord." Melodic, piano-driven worship imbued with the peace and joy that comes only on the heels of suffering. Faith rising up from uncertain times, glimpses of the majestic in the ordinary.
Immortal, you are not bound by death, you're the living God of every breath
Invisible, you are not bound by space, but your glory is filling this place…
"On this last record," Cash says, of Story's label debut, "I wanted to make sure to highlight the authentic, organic nature of Laura's music. It's well worth preserving."
On a regular basis, Story gets to share this hope with the 100+ women she ministers to through her job
at Perimeter Church; and it's not a job she's giving up anytime soon. After all, the opportunity to pour into others' lives and treasure each moment reminds Story that she is just a passenger on this remarkable journey.
"Mine is not the perfect voice or the perfect life. My life is as messy as the next person's, and God is using me to speak to the church. For this season of my life, God has really blessed me with some insight into who He is and what that has to do with me. For some reason He just gives it to me in song form."
With the way inspiration comes to Laura Story, it's exciting to wonder what will be around the next mountain bend….