I remember the moment that I first heard contemporary Christian worship music: a friend of mine was sharing a song he was planning on playing at his youth worship services that coming Sunday. I listened out of politeness—I wasn't expecting to feel anything. Before the song was even halfway over, however, I was feeling something— something that moved me deeply. That friend and I spent hours talking about the similarities and differences in our faith over the weeks and months that we worked together. I grew to respect and understand that his faith ran as deeply in him as mine did in me.
Several years later, I found myself in a musical (and spiritual) funk. My mother was dying from cancer. I had always felt that my testimony was unshakable. I had spent so much time reading and studying and trying to live the gospel—nothing (up until that point) had ever shaken me. And yet, faced with the reality of losing Mom, I found myself floundering. I avoided people in the hallways at church, desperate to escape their questions and massively inadequate words of comfort; eventually, I avoided church altogether.
I had always loved listening to my EFY albums or MoTab, but they had begun to only remind me of happier days before the dark cloud of cancer. I felt horrible and guilty for cutting myself off from things that I knew would bring the Spirit into my life, but it felt impossible to stay connected with those things without going crazy.
One night, after spending the evening in the hospital with Mom, I scanned through the radio stations, frustrated as I skipped song after song, none of them able to give me the comfort I needed. Right before I turned the radio off, I came across a Christian worship music radio station. I felt, for a moment, less alone in the world.
The lyrics and the music reached out and spoke to me that night—the way they had spoken to me all those years ago. I felt something I hadn't felt in weeks, maybe even months; I felt hope.
Finding that radio station that night on my drive home was a major turning point in my faith. I began listening to contemporary Christian worship music every single day. The energy and the message in each song gave me the strength I needed to take the broken pieces of my testimony and begin to build my faith up again—with a new perspective, a stronger perspective. I felt that Heavenly Father had put it in my heart to share what I was learning, to become a part of His mission to reach the broken and downtrodden through music. Realizing that calling during that time helped me begin the grieving process in a new way; I was able to grieve with hope being the lens through which I experienced that intense loss. I tried to capture that sense of hope in each song on my debut album, The Waiting Place.
Listen to Calee Reed's latest album, which mixes an exciting folk-pop sound with gospel messages. These songs will help you see and enjoy more in life; it’s the perfect album to keep you dancing and singing through the summer. Available now at deseretbook.com.
It's been four years now since Mom passed away. During that time, some pretty major things have happened in my life: I got married, I gave birth to my first baby, I moved to two different states, and I journeyed through some major health challenges with my child.
There have been countless times that I've wished with all of my heart that Mom could be here. The grief of losing her isn't gone, but my grief has changed with time and experience. What once was a smothering, suffocating, paralyzing sadness has morphed into a sense of loss that I carry with me every day—the constant, albeit sometimes distant, awareness that I am incomplete without her, but, because of the Atonement, I can be whole again with my family one day.
As my faith and perspective have grown over time and with experience, my music has changed as well. WhileThe Waiting Place was very much a reflection of my deep desire and need for peace, my newest project—What Heaven Feels Like—centers around the challenges and joys of my current life: motherhood, marriage, changes in family dynamics, and learning to appreciate and embrace happiness and loss as necessary parts of life. Each song is written as a reminder that Heavenly Father is aware of us and our needs.
I'll be forever grateful to my Savior who knew I needed to be reached through music as I was falling apart, and who brought that music into my life in the exact moment that I needed it the most. My deepest wish is that my music will reach out and lift someone who may be struggling in the same way that I've been lifted and healed through music. I know that the Lord isn't done challenging me yet, and I look forward to continuing to share His message of hope through music for years to come.