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Introducing Holly Starr
by Cara Fisher
Contributer on 2010-10-20 19:02:22
Holly Starr talks with CMADDICT Contributor Cara Fisher about her latest release “Tapestry”

You come from a small town in Washington. How did you get discovered?

I started playing on my worship team when I was in seventh grade at our youth group in town; it’s just a small church. They needed a musician and they heard that I played the piano. And I was really scared about it but I joined. I started playing the piano, without singing, and just started doing that. And then in the middle of being in youth band, my seventh and eighth grade year, I started taking voice lessons from my piano teacher. She was a songwriter, so she actually encouraged me to write songs and taught me how to accompany myself.

So I started writing songs and since I was in the youth band they just kind of wanted to play the songs for me with the band. That was really fun- hearing the songs for the first time. So, eventually our youth band, we played together so much every week and it was just the same group all the time that we ended up deciding we could travel and do music if we wanted to, the little bit that we could in Washington. So there’s a couple of small churches in the Seattle area that wanted some help leading worship at their church because they were new. They knew me through this website that I was on called Track 10. And so I was on there and they heard about me and we went over and led worship. So we started calling ourselves the Holly Starr Band because we were playing the songs that I wrote and we were a youth band and stuff like that.

So I started doing that and then a producer from Seattle, his name’s Brandon Bee, he heard about me and was like “Hey, I’m interested in helping you further your career if you have an interest in continuing in music.” He actually heard me on Myspace. So that was kind of crazy. We had put Holly Starr Band on Myspace, so that was fun. So he heard me on there and he’s just really into helping young artists grow and learn more. And so that was really, really cool- just having someone believe in me. And so my parents and I went over to Seattle and met with him. And that’s when my first record was recorded- over in Tacoma when I was seventeen.

Through that project, I started meeting more people in the industry through Brandon’s leadership and help in my life- just telling me what conferences to go to, who are the people to meet, and other things. Long story short, I ended up in Nashville, met lots of great people and other people who believed in me. So that’s how that all happened.

What are some of your musical influences?

When I was younger, Nicole C. Mullen had a huge influence on me. I just really loved her passion, I guess?It just came across so much in her music. And I’m a real passionate person, so I love that about her. One of the first songs I ever sang in front of my church was “My Redeemer Lives,” when I was in fifth grade. It was much too big of a song for me but I loved it [laughs]. So that was really fun. So definitely her.

Chris Tomlin had a huge influence on me- musically, I guess, not really because I don’t listen to his music a ton, but just what he does and what God has called him to is really kindred to my spirit. I really look up to him. I was able to meet him at Creation a couple of years ago and he just blew me away- his heart and just the freedom of God over him was really powerful. Those are a couple of the main influences over the course of my life.

I really admire Jon Foreman; he’s really amazing.

You’re about to release you second album, Tapestry. Why did you choose that title?

I was trying to figure out a title that I could call the record that would express the fact that this is a picture of the last years of my life. In summation, these are little threads, I guess, little pieces of my life that God has been moving in. A couple of years back, when I started writing songs for this record (which was a long time ago), He started to reveal Himself to me in the Bible, in a way that I couldn’t have even expected or imagined and it’s so powerful to me how intimate He is through a book, like, I don’t even know how to describe that but it’s like these are His very words and the God of the Universe is right in front of me all the time. So, that just became really, really powerful in my life. And so I started writing songs about how humbled I was at God’s power and His greatness, and His simplicity, and my heart just totally wanted to surrender to Him.

So this whole project is about that, I guess you could say there’s a theme of that going through it. But really, I want to capture that’s where it came from, this is a picture of all the stuff that’s happened since God revealed Himself to me, in the Word of God so powerfully. And so one of managers, she was like “Holly, why don’t we just call it ‘Tapestry?’ Like how cool is that?” In relation to that, the definition of tapestry is two threads coming together to create this picture, and the horizontal thread and the vertical thread, and the horizontal is held by the vertical. And I’m very much, like,the thing is our life is so horizontal but our relationship with God is so vertical and that continually leaning on Him, the picture that can be created is more beautiful than we can ever imagine. So that’s kind of where that came from.

Hear "Tapestry" on iTunes

Could you share the story behind “What Is Love?”

Yeah, I’m a Compassion advocate and they invited me on a trip to El Salvador. It was because they were interested in me becoming an advocate for them. And so I went on a trip with my younger brother Luke and we were down there and we were with the kids and it was an amazing time- being with them, serving them, and to see what Compassion does, and being blown away by that. God really taught me about the simplicity of the true joy that there is in serving those who can be served.

Our human nature is to look for things that are satisfying and to find joy in things, and God was showing me, “Holly, you’re trying to find joy in all these things, whether it’s music, or whether it’s relationships with people, or whether it’s just pleasurable things that you think are good in your life. You’re trying to find joy in those things, when you haven’t even asked me where joy actually comes from.”He’s like, “If you really love me, I want you to start to love the things that I love and there you will find joy.” And so it was kind of like alright, so we step out this door and trust God and ask Him to show us what true joy is like. And He brought me to El Salvador to teach me, you know, this is where joy is- the joy that you’ve been looking for is in this. Don’t be scared of it, don’t run away from it- just like trust me.

Being a Christian is like learning to love and to grow in love, and letting love run through us and so the song is like “what is love if it’s locked up?” We can’t do anything if we’re standing here in our culture and not seeking it, you know? The trip toEl Salvador was really that for me.

What song on the album means most to you and why?

I would definitely say, overall- over the course of every song I’ve ever written, a song I wrote called “I Love You Anyway,” it was on my last record and it was on the Holly Starr Band record. It was one of my very original songs that I’d written a long time ago. It’s kind of just grown up with me.

It was about a girl who was in my life who was very close to me. And actually we spent so much time together so she was like one of the only friends I had at that time in my life because I spent so much time with her. We were really, really close. But God had different plans for our relationship that I wasn’t expecting.

She started doing things that I didn’t agree with, and so our friendship started breaking with her changing, obviously. And I didn’t know what to do; I was like “Okay, God what’s going on with this relationship?” And it got so bad and to the point where she actually put a death threat on my life. So it was a really scary, hard time for me. And I was like, “I don’t get this, that somebody I love so much and so deeply would have even done this to me, and I don’t get it, I don’t understand.” So I was confused, and I was just like crying out to God.

But in the middle of all that I had community members in our town telling my family that we need to get a restraining order against this girl because she has major problems, and blah, blah, blah. So it was really a community wide issue that was going on. And so I just sat there and thought about the situation and there was just a love for her that was overwhelming in my mind and overwhelming in my heart for her. And it was a love that I could tell wasn’t coming from me; it was coming from someone else, obviously Christ. But I just didn’t understand it. So I sat down, kind of just to vent about this situation and wrote this song, “I Love You Anyway” about that. The more that I sing it- I truly wrote this song just about my friend and our situation,

I had no understanding of Christ’s unconditional love at that point I was young. So it’s just about a situation of what God has been showing me, even today. He had me write this song not only for that purpose, but to teach me about His unconditional love and it’s unfailing- no matter what you have done, Christ died for you before you were even born to cover the things wrong that you have done and to tell you how much He loves you. Christ loves you so much, more than we could ever comprehend or imagine- to know that anything that we will do or have done has already been paid for, and so there’s no reason to like be trapped in bondage to those things but to live the life that Christ has given us.

It blows me away that I get to share that with people all the time now about the Gospel because of that song, and I never expected that. That song has taught me more than I ever expected. And so that’s a song that I hold really close to my heart.

What do you hope listener’s take away from Tapestry?

I just really hope that God uses it in a way that’s glorifying to Him. Like everything that I do, I strive to keep it real and people to see that my life is real, and that I struggle, and there’s hurt, and there’s pain. I really just want people to see that I am real too, but it’s how my relationship with Christ influences that situation. You know, when you’re struggling with something- how am I reacting to it with Christ in my life, how am I different from the world, you know? We all experience pain; there’s no reason to act like we don’t. Even as Christians, you know, I think sometimes it’s easy for us to pretend like we have it all together, but it’s not true, you know?

I feel a real big passion in my life to be really honest and transparent. And so, with the project I just hope people realize the truth of how beautiful Christ is in my life. You know, we can’t do anything without Him; we need Him so badly.

Any special plans for the day your album releases?

Oh man, that’s Tuesday! Well I have my first CD release concert tonight actually. I’m actually getting ready as we speak, so it’s been a good day; I’m excited. But for the release day, I think I’m just gonna have a good dinner with my family.

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