Interview - When I Called On You
An interview with Answer Hymn in March of 2000 by Lee Ploski, host of "Home Word Bound" aired on AM 1390 "WDCW" (New York) between 3pm and 7pm weeknights and Saturday.
[Lee] How long have you been involved in music and ministry?
[Lisa] I've been involved in music ministries for the past 12 years, but I was involved in choirs and other types of music since I was in grade school.
[Ann] I've been involved in music ministries from singing in choirs to playing for other bands for years.
[Geoff] I was involved in a group in Southern California during the Jesus Movement called "Foundation." The record is no longer available, however we perform some of the songs from that time, such as "Through the Veil."
[Lee] How long have you been performing and composing together as Answer Hymn?
[Lisa] Geoff and I have been writing together and singing for the past 7 years. About five years ago Ann joined us and Answer Hymn was born. Since then we've written nearly 60 songs between the three of us.
[Lee] Who thought of the name Answer Hymn? What is the significance of the name?
[Lisa] My husband, Craig. He's also the one who programs our webpage at www.answerhymn.com. We chose the name because we are actively answering God's call to ministry through our music, and hymn is a play-on-words for Him - our Lord - and hymn - the music one finds in many churches.
[Lee] What artists and composers have influenced your music?
[Geoff] Artists like Enya and Maire Brennan going back to when they were with their uncles in Clannad. The Beatles, Moody Blues, the artists in the Jesus Movement.
[Lisa] Capercaille and Ceili Rain, John Rutter, Jeffrey Rickard, another San Diego composer - Gregory Funk, and Michael Card, Steven Curtis Chapman and I love the annual WOW CDs. I like all styles of music, so it's hard to pin down just a few artists.
[Ann] Glen Campbell, Alabama, John Denver, Michael Card and Amy Grant.
[Lee] Your new album is called "When I Called On You." It has quite a variety of musical styles incorporated in it. How do you see yourselves in the overall Christian music genre?
[Ann] We each have unique styles of music that we played before creating music together, so it was bound to show up in our music. I have a folk/country background, Geoff a Celtic/electronic background, and Lisa a classical/folk background. It's been exciting to create music that is fresh and yet understated.
[Geoff] The lyrics sometime govern the style. We like to make music that a person can use to meditate on God's word as well as praising Him openly during a church service, so I guess we're "Anglican-Celtic-Blues-Popular-Melodic" music. We try to be eclectic. That's how you end up with a blues song like "Blues in 14" on the same CD as a pop song like "Declare His Name," or a meditative song like "In This Heart." Three very different styles that all come together because we've contributed a piece of ourselves to the music.
[Lee] What is the significance of the CD title? Why a photo of the phone booth laying on its side?
[Lisa] Craig and I were visiting Scotland to see the Abby of Iona. We were walking after dinner in Tobermory (Isle of Mull) and saw this old English phone booth, all rusted and laying on its side. I thought it would be a great cover photo, because it seems like there are a lot of times that I'm really down, calling out to God. The title came out of the idea that we are calling on God, and unlike the downed phone booth that is us, God is always there to answer. The idea of calling goes with the name of the band, as well - God calls, and it's up to us to answer him.
[Lee] The back cover has a beautiful photo of a candle being lit. Is there a story behind that?
[Lisa] That is from the same trip to the Abby of Iona. A friend of ours has cancer, and that actual candle was lit with a prayer for her. At that time she'd been given 6 months to live.
[Ann] That was nearly three years ago! We were all involved in a prayer chain for her. What a testimony to the healing power of prayer and how God uses all of us to His glory. Lisa & I are both involved in healing prayer ministry, and this has been a wonderful success story. Our friend is still in treatment, and she is currently in remission. Praise the Lord!
[Lee] Do you all write music, or do you each have different roles?
[Geoff] I write both lyrics and music, but for the past few years I've written more music because Lisa keeps handing me lyrics. Piles of lyrics! There have been other times when we have all been together in the studio and have written songs together because the Holy Spirit is using us. That's what happened with Sing, O Saint. We were all together at a convention. Lisa had the lyrics mapped out, but Ann and I worked with her to put them into a pattern for music, then the three of us started singing the song, line by line. It was fun, and the song was written in about 45 minutes!
[Lisa] I write both lyrics and music, although my lyrics outweigh the "both" category. I'm always handing Geoff and Ann something and say, "Here, this needs music."
[Lee] Ann, I hear that you are related to another Christian leader, D.L. Moody. Tell us about that.
[Ann] Yes, D.L. Moody is a great-great-uncle. I was raised in a Christian family, and we were always surrounded by good music. My Mom was a music teacher, and my brother plays guitar and sings. I have been blessed with a wonderful, spiritual family.
[Lee] What kind of touring schedule are you working on right now? Do you have any plans for another CD?
[Geoff] We are planning our schedule now for this coming summer. We have about 8 stops planned for concerts, however they are all in Southern California and Arizona. We're definitely up for a northeast tour, and enjoy playing at churches, including church services (hint, hint).
[Lee] What is God teaching you through your ministry with Answer Hymn?
[Lisa] It's really humbling to be a part of a ministry for Christ. There is a lot of responsibility involved, and a call to live what we preach. Every time we play it is an opportunity to give. There are so many lessons in life, and we often learn them from and with each other. Geoff and Ann have been there for me during some tough times, and have always prayed with me. I used to suffer intensely from stage fright, but through this ministry and Christ's love, I've been able to overcome most of it. Dignity and strength come from the adversities we rise above through Christ's help and love.
[Ann] I've been encouraged to get into the Word in different ways through our music, and have received a lot of comments about how our music touches others and draws them to God's Word. There are some songs that I can listen to over and over, and meditate on what God is saying to me through them. Especially "Here I Am," my parent's favorite, has meant a lot to me.
[Lee] Have there been any special moments when you were playing in a church or during a concert?
[Lisa] We were singing for a baptism last year. We were singing "Come With Us." One woman was crying while we were singing. I had no idea what was going on, but guessed that she was moved by the baptism. After the service, I asked a friend who knew the woman if everything was okay. She said that the woman was so moved by the lyrics that she had decided to give her life to Christ. I was completely stunned. It was at that moment that drove home the reality that this is more than just music; it's a ministry, and we have a responsibility to that end. It's also a wonderful and amazing honor that our Lord is using our talents for His purposes.
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