“I would just be expressing
impressions that God has made upon my heart. It’s almost like another language
of communicating with God,” says Michael Olson, the newest sensation from
Rocketown Records. He was responding to my question about what worship
means to him. His comments were reflective of a time growing up in his
parents’ home in Chicago and sitting down at the family’s grand piano.
Olson, who has been touring
with Shaun Groves in recent months, will be leaving lasting impressions
on many hearts for a long time to come with his melodic light rock / AC
music. His debut album with Rocketown is beautifully produced and has Nate
Sabin’s (Sara Groves) fingerprints all over it. It also has echoes of Olson’s
own expertise as a producer with beautifully arranged pieces.
The label that Michael W.
Smith put together has gained a reputation for attracting quality artists
and Olson certainly fits into that group. The label is not content to have
a stable of artists who follow market trends with catchy hooks; instead
they have assembled a cast of musically gifted poets who write thought
provoking lyrics. The roster includes artists such as; Ginny Owens, Watermark,
Shaun Groves and now Michael Olson.
Olson’s style is a curious
blend of James Taylor, Sara Groves and the late Rich Mullins. On Long Arm
of Love, however, Olson demonstrates the versatility to stretch the boundaries
considerably further than is contemporaries with sounds of classical, country
and blues finding their way onto this CD.
Guitarists Jerry McPherson
and Scott Dente guest on the album and provide some great guitar licks.
Bassist Matt Pierson also appears and, as always, is a treat to listen
to. Steve Brewster, who is featured on drums, needs no introduction to
those who follow the music scene and Jeffrey Roach appears on keys. His
friend and mentor Nate Sabin produced the album.
Olson met his wife Ashley
in Canada while he was traveling with one of his professors who he had
assisted on a project. His professor had at one time served as the music
pastor for the church Ashley attended.
“I met my wife on that trip.
Dave was really great friends with my wife’s parents and they scheduled
a reunion. I met my wife at her house that night. After that, we were a
thousand miles away and you ask yourself the hard questions really quick.
Is this worth it? I learned a lot not just about relational things but
about faith in general. I had to believe from a thousand miles away that
she was doing what she said she was doing and feeling the way she said
she was feeling just on her word. She had to believe the same for me. That’s
a really unique situation because when you are with somebody you can get
a sense for how things are going but when you are a thousand miles away
you have to have a lot of faith in God. I really grew so much.”
Despite the fact he solo
penned all the songs on Long Arm of Love, Olson declares, “I don’t like
the process of songwriting because it’s painful for me. For me it is a
very grueling process and very introspective. “
He says he much prefers,
“What happens when I am able to stand in front of a group of people and
share the message and the truth behind the song. I feel that there is an
impartation that happens in the live performance that doesn’t happen when
people just pop in a record. I feel much rewarded by being able to stand
up and talk, communicate and sing because I really think it gives people
a chance to dive into who I am and what God’s doing in my life and how
it might help them.”
"The Measure of His Love"
was a song that caused him to look deep inside for some answersanswers
that often were not forthcoming. A friend of his sister was getting married
and he remembers the day of the rehearsal well, “I remember the night that
the phone rang, we were in the Luxor Hotel (in Las Vegas) and we were looking
out the window. The phone rang and I remember hearing my sister’s voice
quiver on the phone and she just broke down. Immediately we were all engaged
in what was going on. She then informed us that the three younger sisters
of the groom had all been killed in a fatal car accident. We were faced
with tough questions. Why? There was so much heaviness and we weren’t provided
any answers. I remember they had coverage on the television and they showed
the mother and father standing on the platform at this funeral before these
three beautifully adorned caskets. She was talking about the faithfulness
of God. She told how she had always dreamed about the girls’ wedding days
and how now they were with the one who would love them more than anyone
ever could. She then gave an invitation for people to receive Christ. There
were literally thousands of people at the funeral and hundreds of young
people came forward to accept Jesus Christ.”
Although as Olson says he
still cannot wrap his head around the tragedy, he quoted the words to "The
Measure of His Love," a song that was born out of the death of three young
girls and inspired by the faith of their mother;
Your faith is
a treasure on display
The multi talented Olson plays
the drums, guitar and piano, although as he says, “My first love to this
day is playing the drumkit.”
So don’t go and wish
it all away
It’s in the hardest times
We realize the measure
of His love .
I asked Olson how he thought
he would respond to being under a microscope and having people who will
try and project their value systems onto his life and music career.
“We need to act in a way that doesn’t discourage people in their Christian
maturity. I believe I am responsible to the 14-year-old (in a youth group)
to set the example of purity of spirit, purity of heart and what it means
to be someone who has a heart that is open to God as much as possible at
all times. I am not one who pushes the edges or pushes the envelope in
my Christian walk. I understand my obligation to people who are going to
be listening to this record and who are at various stages in their Christian
In mid-June, the Olsons
uprooted from Minneapolis where Michael had been a pastor with a large
Assemblies of God church and moved into a new home in Nashville, Tennessee.
He says, “I never intended to move down there (Nashville). I grew up with
this philosophy just be faithful where you are at. However, when I was
on the Glory tour with the Rocketown artists, when we had some days
off, I watched the various artists who live in Nashville go home for a
couple of nights while I went to a hotel. It took about three hours of
that and I said if it means spending more time with my family, then it
is a smart move.”
By Joe Montague, exclusive
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.