Anne Wilson: Trading Stars for Songs

“I grew up wanting to be an astronaut,” Anne Wilson told the American songwriter, “and work for NASA.”

Growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, Wilson found she had a knack for math and science; she had a natural aptitude for STEM disciplines. She enjoyed making sense of the world around her and gazing at the stars on clear nights. As a practicing Christian, Wilson also wanted to explore God’s creation, such as space.

His path through life seemed almost decided until an event changed the trajectory of his life. In 2017, Wilson’s brother Jacob died in a car accident at the age of twenty-three. Following her death, Wilson began singing in her honor. And, as it turns out, Wilson was pretty good at it.

A few years later, Wilson released his debut single, “My Jesus,” to huge acclaim among the Christian music community and the community at large. The song reached No. 1 on the US Hot Christian Songs chart, the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, and while racking up millions of streams. The song itself describes a faith that comforts and consoles when the weight of the world seems too heavy. It’s also a faith for anyone in any phase of life, Wilson explains, and that’s why so many have resonated with his message.

Have you passed the stage of weariness? / Is your burden heavy? / Is it too heavy to carry? / Let me tell you about my JesusWilson sings on the track.

And just over a year after its initial release, “My Jesus” still carries the same, if not more, significance to Wilson. “When I wrote this song, I was proclaiming what God had done in my season of mourning was to lose my brother. But this song has meaning and every season of life,” she explains.

“People are so drawn to the song… [because] we can proclaim these words and sing this song, no matter what we’re up against, what we’re going through,” adds Wilson. “And that we can be sure that Jesus is going to get us through this and pull us through the depths of our pain and suffering.”

Encouraged by the results of the “My Jesus” release, Wilson set her sights on bigger releases. In August 2021, she released a five-song EP titled My Jesus (live in Nashville). The EP features Wilson’s favorite song she’s released to date, “No Place Like Home,” which she wrote with songwriters Jeff Pardo and Matthew West. “No Place Like Home” also appears on Wilson’s latest release, his full album also titled My Jesus. The record features new facets of Wilson’s artistry and new collaborations, but the same graceful Wilson country grit we all adore.

The album opens with an epic 58-second prelude (aptly called “Prelude”) that seamlessly extends into the record’s next track, “Scatter”. When explaining the progression of these two tracks, Wilson recalls that it stemmed from his live performances. “We would still want an intro track so I could come out,” says Wilson. “And so we started playing that [‘Prelude’] to the shows, then going straight into “Scatter”.

“I’ve always been one of those artists for whom I want to set the stage, the atmosphere and the aesthetics,” she adds.

Once you’ve been drawn into the wondrous depths of this record, you’ll inevitably hear ‘Mamas’, featuring Hillary Scott, the co-vocalist of country band Lady A. ‘Mamas’ is definitely my second favorite song. ‘ve ever written,” says Wilson. “I think ‘Mamas’ is a song that really speaks to a lot of different people. I think mother-daughter relationships are really good for some people, and they’re often not for others. There’s a lot of rupture in every mother-daughter relationship. And I wanted to write a song that was obviously a lot about my mother [because] she’s amazing, but she’s also been able to love those who don’t have a good relationship with their mother.

Along with “Mamas,” songs like “Mansions” and “Sunday Sermons” fill your soul with feelings of absolute connection. Wilson therefore likes to call this collection of songs “country, deep and light.”

“I think those songs have definitely gotten me through some really tough seasons over the last two and a half years,” Wilson said. “I think it’s cool because the 14 different songs speak to me in different seasons of my life and have spoken to me and I know they will probably speak to me again. It’s just cool to be able to see how God uses your own songs that you write not just to give to others but to bring you back to life. I think that’s a really sweet thing.

The 14 songs are taken from 130 songs Wilson wrote between 2018 and 2021. So if that’s not a strong indication of Wilson’s new career path, we don’t know what is.

Photo by Cameron Powell

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