Emily: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it… Every, every minute?”
Stage Manager: “No. Saints and poets maybe… they do some.”
– Thornton Wilder, Our Town
The simplest phrase can unlock a world of ideas, feelings, experiences, and history. For Leslie Jordan, half of the duo All Sons & Daughters, two lines from a classic play sparked an idea that would grow into something even bigger than the new album she and David Leonard intended to make. “I was reading Madeleine L’Engle’s book Walking On Water (buy), and in one section she’s quoting the stage play Our Town,” Jordan recalls. “And she goes on to talk about these two groups of people—poets and saints. Why are they able to experience life more than [others]? What makes them different?”
This simple phrase gave a title and focus to their fourth album, Poets And Saints (buy). Seeking inspiration in the depths of church history and the work of beloved writers, their goal was to craft new worship songs rooted in the oldest of stories, highlight the humanness of the giants of our faith, and draw connections between ancient and present day believers.
A whirlwind tour of Europe wasn’t originally part of the plan. Neither was collaborating with their pastor Jamie George on a book and study curriculum, singing “Great Are You Lord” on the shores of Omaha Beach, and spending weeks in the studio creating songs from nothing but research, memories, ancient words, and legendary tales.
“It started very simplistic in its thinking, but the more we started talking about the ideas…it turned into this massive project,” Jordan says, remembering the crazy experience with a laugh. “Thank goodness it was only revealed in small pieces!”
The Journey of a Lifetime
It’s one thing to read about historic figures from an academic distance, but there’s nothing like walking in the places they called home. With St. Patrick and C. S. Lewis among the people they wanted to study, Europe seemed like the most natural place to start digging around. Before long, the idea was spreading among the artistic community of Jordan and Leonard’s home church, The Journey Church in Franklin, Tennessee.
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