The beloved children's book, The Velveteen Rabbit is subtitled "How Toys Become Real." Written by Margery Williams, the book could just as easily have been written by one of Christian music's most respected singer/songwriters, Cindy Morgan.
"What is real?" asked the rabbit one day … "Does it mean having things that buzz inside of you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the skin horse, "it's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the rabbit. "Sometimes," said the skin horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are real, you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" "It doesn't happen all at once," said the skin horse. "You become. It takes a long time."
Cindy Morgan is on the journey to becoming real. And since 1992, she has given us the tremendous honor of walking beside her on that journey. From the outside, Cindy's journey has been paved with accolades and admiration for her work as both an artist and songwriter. She has had six highly acclaimed albums, 12 #1 radio hits, six Dove Awards, including New Artist of the Year in 1993 and, most recently, Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year for a cut she penned for Rachael Lampa, "Blessed." In the spring of 1999, she received a special invitation to the Miles Copeland Chateau Marouate in France for a unique songwriter's retreat, the "Printemps de Troubadours." The exclusive retreat is open just to a handful of songwriters each year, and is known and recognized worldwide throughout the songwriting and music publishing communities. Cindy has written songs for award winning and best-selling artists like Michael W. Smith, Michelle Tumes, Sandi Patty, BeBe Winans, Rachael Lampa, and many others. She has also been invited to participate in countless tours and national television programs. Most recently, she has rounded out her artistry by becoming an author.
Yet from the inside, Cindy's journey looks entirely different. Thankfully, one of her trademarks is that she has always written in a way that shares her perspective with her listeners. Cindy has given us a glimpse past the honors and awards, courageously and honestly inviting us to be a part of the real journey. Listening to any one of her albums or picking up her book, Barefoot On Barbed Wire (Harvest House, 2001), the struggle and the sadness that have marked her journey are clearly seen. Also apparent are the constant reminders of the hope that things will one day be different.
In 2001, Cindy's journey has turned a new corner. Her latest album has most definitely made The Best So Far, her previous album, earn its title. Elementary explodes with a new sound and a new Cindy. The first track, titled "The World Needs Your Love," comes to life with an attitude and energy that is characteristic of the majority of the album. The song's chorus line, "From the bottom of empty, you reached for me and gave me a song," is a theme for the album—from beginning to end, Elementary is about healing. It is about many of those long-held hopes becoming realities. "For me," says Cindy, "it's not only about coming into a good place, but leaving a bad place. I'm leaving a part of my life that was really fearful. I've learned that fearfulness tends to make things seem a little darker, like everything has a cloud over it."
It's more than ironic that seven out of the thirteen songs on the album speak of the sun and of light. One such song is dedicated to Thelma, a neighbor of Cindy's for many years, whom Cindy refers to as "my ray of sunshine when I needed it." As only Cindy can do, she captivates us with Thelma's endearing story.
Thelma's my neighbor. • She is a sweet little cutie, a silver-haired beauty. • And there's pancakes at her table and she tells a million stories of older days and glories, • How her husband is with Jesus, but he's having such a fine time dancing in the sunshine.
The song goes on to talk, as does much of the album, about the sweetness and goodness of life. How did Cindy's journey take her from there to here? The answer has a great deal to do with a few significant steps along the way. In June of 2000, Cindy and her husband, author Sigmund Brouwer, welcomed their first child, Olivia, into the world. "The joy that Olivia brought into my life has given me a whole new perspective on the way I feel about living and about God. The way you love a baby is so overwhelming, complete, and unconditional that it gives you an idea of how we're loved by God. For me, that introduced a much deeper understanding of grace. Grace is grace because God loves us that much, and I don't think I really got it until I felt that kind of love myself."
Not only does Elementary reflect the changes in Cindy's perspective lyrically, but also musically. "I lived a long time thinking that I was not supposed to enjoy life. Several years ago, when Sigmund and I were dating, he asked me to pull out my Bible and read John 3:16. I had read the verse millions of times, but I had never really understood that God so loved the world. I really believed God hated the world, and that I should, too. I didn't make the separation between the amazing beauty of the world He had given us from the sin that existed within it. I now know that what He wants us to do is enjoy the world, but to strive to be holy, like He is. I wanted this record to reflect that. I wanted it to be the kind of record that you put on in your car with the windows rolled down, singing along at the top of your lungs."
One of the most energetic songs on the album was a last minute addition. "Good Thing" came along after the record was completely finished," Cindy explains. "Alex Alzamora, the co-writer on the song, and I had been working on it for about a month, and actually had another group in mind for the song. Then, three days before I was leaving Nashville to go back to Canada (where Cindy now lives with her family), we completed the song, and I was so excited about the finished recording that we decided to put the song on my own record. What I liked so much about the song was that it carried out exactly what I wanted the album to do—it made me feel good. I could listen to it ten times back to back, and I liked it just as much the tenth time as I did the first time!"
Elementary is an album reminiscent of so many good things: sunshine, love, relationships, faith, even grape soda. It also recognizes that all good things are not happy and perfect. "In These Rooms" is a song that paints a vivid picture of the sadness in which Cindy was raised, and the value that can be found in tears. "I still struggle," she says. "There is still contention within me. 'In These Rooms' is a part of this album, just like there will always be a tinge of sadness in all of my joy. My dad, to whom I was very close, died just five months before I became pregnant with Olivia. This week, Olivia has started walking. To see her walk is amazing and gives me such joy, but to know that my dad will never see her walk is sad to me. I am trying to learn to celebrate the joy in the midst of the sadness. I just hope that I've reached some sort of balance between the two."
Cindy's lyrics in "Love Is Waiting" explain that balance—and the album—best:
How long have you been velveteen? • Tell me, wouldn't you like to be real? • So let down all those ivory walls and show me how you feel. • I know it's a risk, but I know you're brave o Into the new frontier of a sunny place • Out on a limb that's likely to sway • But love is waiting … for you."
To listen to Elementary is to be invited to a new place. Cindy Morgan uses the tremendous gifts God has given her through story and song to invite us to be a part of her journey. It is a journey of tears, warmth, enjoyment, sunshine, and courage. It is the journey to becoming real.
Source: Word Records