"Du Bist Nicht Allein"--easy
for you to say if you are Germany's top export to the Christian music scene.
Recently, singer / songwriter Sarah Brendel and I were discussing her top
ten German chart stopper. The name of Sarah Brendel’s top ten German chart
stopper, "Du Bist Nicht Allein," may require extensive knowledge of a foreign
language for most North Americans. It is a good thing Sarah’s skills for
songwriting and performing in English are also very good North American
music fans would be missing out on a terrifically talented acoustic guitar
player and singer.
Brendel, whose musical influences
include people as diverse as Coldplay, Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash
and Larry Norman, fuses styles that sonically reflect Sarah McLachlan,
Lisa Loeb, Superchic[k] and fellow German artist Christina Sturmer. She
can do it all; slowing the song down to a gentle ballad, easing the listener
into a light pop tune ("Turn"), provide an ethereal ambience in "Babel
Towers" and then rocking out with the best of them on songs like "Commodity"
and "No More."
Brendel is a self-confessed
fan of highly regarded Xavier Naidoo, an East Indian / South African singer
living in Germany. Naidoo’s commitment to meaningful lyrics has inspired
Brendel to pen thoughtful, but provocative poetry. Her words challenge
her listeners to think about the dynamic of living a life for Christ.
Brendel says, “In Germany,
you will find a lot of Christian singles in the mainstream market. In Germany
there aren’t really any Christian music radio stations so the artists are
forced to compete on mainstream radio to sell their CDs and develop a fan
following." She says as long as one writes and produces good music,
the stations will put it into their regular rotation.
Now isn’t that an interesting
thought? Do you think just maybe we might have a slightly skewed perception
on this side of the pond?
Most of the songs on her
self-titled Inpop album were co-written with longtime friend and band mate
from Germany, Jorn Schluter. Brendel says about Schluter, “He’s the person
who really understands my music. A few years ago we started writing songs
together and found out we are on the same wavelength. His lyrics are awesome.”
Brendel finds audiences
respond to her differently in North America versus Germany. “Here in America,
everybody is very open and they aren’t as critical as the Germans are.
In Germany, the people are standing in front of the stage and watching
everything you do. Germans are more serious than Americans so I find it
easier to play over here.” She goes on to say she finds North American
audiences to be more receptive to her.
Brendel and husband Stephen
set up house in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this year and for the most
part plan to live in the US until her career is over. At first, she found
the adjustments difficult and as one would expect, she was homesick.
“To be honest, at first it was really hard because I left behind my family,
my home and my house. People tried really hard to welcome us here.
I like it over here a lot, the people are awesome.” She says she
found traveling and seeing so much of the country really exciting and she
soon got over her homesickness.
Other adjustments have included
getting used to the rigorous tour schedule to promote her newly released
album. Although it helped her get over her homesickness and there was the
thrill of seeing so many places not previously experienced, the demands
on her time forced her to come up with new ways to find quality time for
“I try to get up early in
the morning so I can have time alone with God. I try to spend one or two
hours with him before everybody is awake. On the other side of things,
when I am traveling, I feel surrounded by God. I know that his love and
mercy is there for me every morning no matter what I am doing. He loves
us and I don’t have to work for that (love). In July, we traveled so much
and I was tired but then God said to me, ‘Sarah, my mercy should be enough
for you so enjoy my mercy. I am enjoying being surrounded by God’s mercy
every day,” she says.
Sarah Brendel was signed
by Inpop Records after performing at several artist showcases. “We liked
the people at Inpop. They have a lot of young people (artists) and they
seem to be really learning from what they are doing. We decided to
sign with them and I am very happy that we made that decision because I
think it is an awesome record label and an awesome team. I like everybody
there. It is really nice.”
Her debut CD was written
in English first, but the songwriting and production took place in Germany.
“We did one mix for the European market and one mix for the American market.
The European mix was done in Germany and the American mix was done in Nashville,”
she says. Brendel was returning to Germany for two weeks in August to visit
with family. At the time of the interview, she was thinking about recording
another song for German release.
Brendel is a big fan of
emerging band Sparklehorse because they create a more unique style of music
rather than just piggybacking on the most recent trends. She considers
her talent to be “a gift from God,” and has been writing songs since she
was sixteen. Her top ten hit "Sign of the Times" was featured on Germany’s
equivalent to MTV.
This blonde haired, soft
spoken rocker is on a mission, “I want my music to touch everybody, whether
or not they are a Christian. When I’m writing and singing these songs,
I want to aim straight for the heart and use my experience and my faith
to draw the audience in. I want to move them in a way they’ve never felt
before. My hope is that as time goes on, Christ would enter their lives,
just like He did mine.”
"King I Love," the number
five track on this melodic orb, is Brendel’s sonic missive to a lost world.
Never has a song combined such easy going melody with lyrics that lay out
so simply why Christ came to earth, why he died and as the singer looks
forward with anticipation, “Here comes the king I love.”
If someone were to question
Sarah Brendel about her faith, it is probable her response would be familiar
words from her pop / rock tune "Pardon Me,"
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights
I’ve been to weak to
make it on my own
I’ve left the road where
mercy is unknown.
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.