Who Is Andrew Peterson? (Author of “On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness”)

What an audacious title for this post! As if I could sum up a person and put them in a box so you could look at them!

And why would I want to even attempt this? Having not read his book (which appears to be excellent from every account I have read on this CSFF blog tour), I honestly don’t have much more to talk about! However, once I started looking into his life and music, I was intrigued.

Andrew Peterson

So … who is this author? I started my quest by going to his website at www.andrew-peterson.com and here are a few facts that I have picked up:

  • He appears to be about 33 years old.
  • He is a storyteller extraordinaire—both spoken, written, and sung
  • He lives in Nashville, TN
  • His first album came out in 1996, and he has put out eight more since then.
  • He is married, and has children (whom they homeschool)

If you want to get a sample of his music, I would suggest listening to his song All The Way Home on his Carried Along CD. If that wets your ears, you can go to his music page where he has lots more available, including lyrics.

The interesting thing is that after hearing his music, for me, I instantly compared him to Rich Mullins. After Rich died in 1997 I pretty much dropped out of the Contemporary Christian Music listening scene. I felt his death and the loss of his creativity so strongly that I was keenly aware and saddened anew at the 10th anniversary of his death last year. How can it have been ten years?

I had eagerly hoped that after Rich died that Mitch McVickor would take over Rich’s mantle, much as Elisha did for Elijah. But, for me at least, this was not to be. I have prayed a lot for Mitch and I greatly respect him, but his music was not where I was at.

So am I the only one comparing Andrew Peterson to Rich? No … and here is a quote from Andrew’s bio page. I know this is long, but it was an interesting read, and there is a lot here that gives insight into Andrew.

It was an unforgettable evening in April 2000 when Andrew Peterson stood with his guitar on the Ryman Auditorium’s historic stage, a long velvet curtain behind him and a humble regard for this sacred ground. With the ghosts of yesteryears’s Grand Ole Opry dwelling among the rafters, Peterson performed what was then his top ten single, “Nothing to Say,” and left the audience overcome.

After applause subsided, industry veteran Gary Chapman who was emceeing the showcase wiped away tears, admitting that not since the late Rich Mullins had he been so moved by an artist, and that Peterson was indeed following in Mullins’ footsteps.

Almost five years later, Peterson’s keen eye for lyrical detail and endearing (if occasionally foot-in-mouth) sincerity with his listeners are not the only things that liken him to Mullins. More than ever, he’s been poring over the Bible stories he learned while growing up a preacher’s kid, and making them into songs.

Comparisons aside, Peterson’s October 2004 release of Behold the Lamb of God represents a truly original accomplishment. Though his songwriting has always been Scripture-based, Peterson wanted this album to be even more focused. A departure from typical Christmas recordings that center on holiday classics, his album peers deep into the Old Testament, walking chronologically through the historic events that culminated in the birth of Christ, and conveying them artistically.

“I love stories—everything from movies to paintings to novels. And the thing is, the rest of the world is pretty much the same way. That’s why we pay eight bucks to go to the cinema. That’s why we love to cry and laugh and root for the underdog. That’s why Boston loves the Red Sox,” Peterson contends. “My hope is that my music captures a hint of the beauty of God’s story. With this album, I tried to squeeze it into about ten songs. “

Never one to shy away from a challenge, this thirty year-old artist has spent his eight-year career making the kind of records that turn songwriting into an artform. His last three national releases on Watershed/Essential Records, Carried Along (2000), Clear to Venus (2001), and Love and Thunder (2003) have established Peterson as one of Christian music’s quintessential storytellers. Behold the Lamb of God promises to continue that tradition. The songs on this distinctive project (distributed by Fervent Records) have been crafted by Peterson over the past five years, and feature the musical contributions of Jill Phillips, Ron Block (of Union Station), Ben Shive, Andrew Osenga, Todd Bragg, and Garett Buell (of Caedmon’s Call), among others.

It’s no surprise that Peterson’s story-style songs connect with audiences, young and old. His own solo tours continue to draw crowds, while past opportunities to open for Fernando Ortega, Caedmon’s Call, and Nichole Nordeman have only broadened his reach among fans. But successes aside, Peterson admits that the most satisfying part of being an artist is the stories he hears in exchange for his own.

It is not uncommon for people to approach him after concerts to share how his songs have impacted their lives. From a woman suffering with depression who found hope in “After the Last Tear Falls,” to the older married couple inspired by Peterson’s musical account of Sarah and Abraham… “When I hear stories like that, about how a song actually made an objective difference in someone’s life, I marvel at God’s ability to use a goofball like me for His own ends,” he says.

“When I first started writing, I hoped that somehow God would affect someone through me the way I was affected through the life and work of Rich,” continues Peterson. “I don’t know if that’s happened, if it’ll ever happen, or even if that’s still what I want. All I know is that I’m sinful, prideful, capable of all sorts of things, and God has still remained faithful. He uses my lyrics for things far beyond the reach of my intention or ability, and shows me daily that it isn’t me or my songs doing His work, it’s Him.

Oh! And don’t forget to stop by the Rabbit Room. This is a community sort of blog that Andrew began after visiting Oxford and the pub room where JRR Tolkien, C.S Lewis, and others met to discuss their books. Lots of good stuff!