10 Questions with ... Shelly Johnson
January 25, 2016
1. Brief history, synopsis
Born & raised in Marietta, GA, suburb of Atlanta. Grew up in a private Christian school, then attended public high school. God called me to be a songwriter and worship artist when I was fourteen years old, the night my dad died from cancer. Been pursuing music ever since. Moved to Nashville after high school to study music at Belmont University. After graduation, began working in the music industry, writing, touring and recording. Blown away by how faithful God has been to open doors for ministry and to allow me to spend my life doing what I love!
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you?
It's different every week, depending on what's going on. But now that I've become a mom, many of my days consist of taking care of my 6-month old baby daughter, Mary Carson. We go on walks, play on the floor, run errands, and I sit in my home office and get work done while she naps. Becoming a mom has been a huge adjustment, but it's a sweet season of life right now. Everyone says they grow up so fast, so even though some days are kinda slow and boring and it doesn't feel like it's moving fast, I am trying to really cherish these moments with her and not wish them away.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now?
I'm a huge Taylor Swift fan, mainly because she is a great songwriter. Track 4 from her latest 1989 album, "Out Of The Woods" is annoyingly catchy, and gets stuck in my head fairly often :)
4. How much do you travel, what are the challenges? How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home?
On average, we are traveling about two weekends a month, which so far has been fairly manageable with the new baby. My husband and baby are able to travel with me, so that makes it way more fun for all of us!
5. What Artist or Pastor has had the greatest impact on you, and why?
The answer to this changes depending on the season of life. When I was in high school and early college, I would have said Louie Giglio. I used to attend 7:22 every Tuesday night, a young adult worship service here in Atlanta where Louie spoke each week. His teaching had such a profound impact on my spiritual growth as a teenager. Then, during my college and early married years, it would have been Mike Glenn, my senior pastor at the church where I served on staff, Brentwood Baptist in Nashville, TN. Mike had a unique way of unpacking Scripture that made things come to life in a brand new way for both me and my husband. And now, I would say Perry Noble. Perry is the senior pastor of Newspring Church headquartered in Anderson, SC. My husband and I discovered him online recently and watch their services almost every week. It is staggering how God is using their ministry to bring people to Him. His teaching and his vision has been a huge inspiration to us this past year.
6. What's the last book you read?
Well, this is probably not going to be the answer you'd hoped for...... The last book I read was a childbirth book. Hahaha. I haven't read a full book since becoming a mom, mostly because by the time I have a spare moment to myself, I'm either needing to sleep or needing to get work done!!! But while I was pregnant, I did my fair share of reading up on childbirth trying to educate myself and prep for the big day!
7. Funniest or most embarrassing moment on the road?
I was the guest artist at this huge conference, probably close to a thousand people in attendance. After my set was finished, the speaker came up on stage. I walked off stage behind this big black curtain, put my stuff down, and then I was supposed to ***discreetly*** exit from backstage off to the side. But when I pushed through the curtain (which was being held together by PVC piping and apparently not held together very well), the entire right side of the stage setup began to collapse. Curtains, lighting rigs, everything. But I of course didn't realize any of this was happening until I was almost out the door, and I turned around because everyone in front of me was looking terrified at something behind me.
8. Tell us about your latest project.
The title of this EP is Measureless, which is Track #5. There's an "old hymn" that I have been surprised to discover is largely unknown amongst many of my worship leader friends. It's called "The Love of God", and it was written in 1917 by a guy named Frederick Lehman. Frederick was dealing with some major financial issues and found himself working in a packing factory in Pasadena, California, moving thirty tons of lemons and oranges a day. Despite his circumstances, he was in awe of the goodness of God and began writing a song to describe the limitless love of God. He wrote the lyrics and melody but was still in need of a third verse. It was then he remembered these beautiful words he had heard quoted recently:
Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky.
Those lyrics were written on the wall of an insane asylum by an unknown inmate, but the words originally came from an eleventh-century Jewish poet from Germany named Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai.
As a songwriter who also happens to be a worship leader, I am passionate about writing songs that speak deep, profound truth. It's been so sad to me that these beautiful lyrics have been somewhat forgotten, especially by my generation. And I find it almost tragic that this hymn is rarely sung anymore in many churches.
That is the very thing that prompted me to write "Measureless". One day, my friend Sean and I were on video chat trying to figure out what kind of song we wanted to write. I had just been reading through these lyrics, and the word "Measureless" jumped off the page.
I said to Sean, "What if we could breathe new life into this old hymn? We could change some of the old English to more common language that's easy to understand, write a fresh new melody that's easy for people to sing and maybe add a bridge or something."
That turned into the next two to three hours chasing ideas and crafting what would become "Measureless".
9. What organization/service group are you affiliated with?
For the past few years, I've had the privilege of spreading the word about Compassion International. My husband Jack and I went to El Salvador in 2009 on a Compassion trip where we visited some Compassion projects and got to see first hand the incredible work they are doing. We got to stand in mud huts with families and hold babies and pray with grief-stricken moms - it was a truly eye-opening experience. I saw for the first time how sponsoring a child was not just some charitable thing that helped kids, but it was a literal and tangible way that families and communities in villages all across the globe are meeting Jesus for the first time and having their lives changed forever
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question
Mary, mother of Jesus. I'd love to hear stories of what it was like parenting Jesus.
1. Favorite Bible Verse....life verse?
Ephesians 3:20. "Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we could dare to ask or hope".
This has been my life verse since I was fourteen, the night my dad died from cancer. That night, I felt like God had failed me, like all my hopes and prayers had come crashing down. But that verse reminds me that God is always at work in ways we don't understand at the time, and he can accomplish infinitely more than we could even imagine. That verse has given me hope in every circumstance.
2. How & When did you become a believer?
I prayed to receive Christ when I was six years old. But that was just in a basic way. I understood the basics of who Jesus was and what He had done for me. I knew what it meant to be a Christian. But I didn't truly start following Christ with all my heart until I was fourteen. During that season while my dad was battling cancer was when God really got my attention, and for the first time, the faith I had grown up with became MY personal faith story.