As I finally settle down into a chair in the Nashville airport, exhausted by flight confusion and a week of nonstop teenage creativity (more on that in a second), I can’t help but think how appropriate my location is. Beyond the immediately apparent Music City connection, Nashville speaks to me as a metropolis of opportunity. Even in the airport, strains of live music echo through the terminal, made louder by the acoustics in the restaurant hub.
It’s a place of dreams where passionate people work ordinary jobs waiting for their chance to be extraordinary. And yet, so many of them already are. There is talent around every corner. And more and more, this talent is being used to glorify God.
It was an honor to be in Nashville for the week at TobyMac’s Camp Electric, where creatives aged 13 to 19 can hone their skills under the instruction of some of the best Christian musicians. If I sound like a commercial, I’m not. It’s simply because Camp Electric is the best week of my life every year, and all who benefit from the experience. To get back on track, through my past three years of attendance, I have learned from and witnessed some of my favorite women in Christian music in concert. As we have finally arrived at the article’s main idea, I invite you to sit back and prepare to be inspired.
My all-time favorite songwriting instructor and an incredible artist in her own right, Rachael Nemiroff, is familiar with the Nashville scene. As a songwriter for the music label Curb | Word Music, she regularly collaborates with notable musicians in the industry, birthing some of our favorite tunes.
Under her name, she has released songs including “SOS” and her most recent release, “God of Wonders.” In “SOS,” she sings of struggles I relate to, then gently reminds listeners, “Help is coming.” Even better, she sings, “Heaven is coming.” While comforting in its own right, the first phrase could be interpreted as a general announcement of assistance. Based on my past experiences, I have noticed that these statements can be too broad and lack action. Therefore, she must mention Heaven and acknowledge God as our Savior. Her swift transitions, incredible vocals, and praiseworthy lyrics cement her as an excellent musician with a heart for the Lord.
A smile crept across my face as I sifted through videos of contemporary artist Riley Clemmons‘s performance last year at Camp Electric. More than just her jaw-dropping voice, I could hear many audience-voiced “I love yous” and my deliriously-happy laughter in the background. And Riley handled it all beautifully. She infused us with even more joy and was just as personal off-stage as when speaking into the microphone.
It completely slipped my mind that I cherished her song, “Headspace.” The catchy bridge had the audience listening with rapture as they counted along to Riley’s belted breakup declaration. She broke out of the singing voice into a gleeful proclamation on the final line, “I’m done!” I was struck by her ability to command attention with her personality, and I deeply admire her for that talent. Recently, Riley released her single, “Church Pew,” with an accompanying visualizer on YouTube. I highly recommend checking it out.
Fast forwarding to Camp Electric 2023, contemporary-country star Anne Wilson opened her set on our themed Rodeo Night with her song, “Scatter.” Even those who were unfamiliar with the lyrics caught on quickly, singing about repelling the evil of Satan with the power of Jesus’ love. “There’s a victory I already know/Stand back, watch the enemies scatter,” she proclaimed. The energy in our makeshift general admission “pit” was palpable. Numerous “Oh, my gosh” exclamations could be heard as they were exchanged between me and my best friend.
Anne took the concert arena by storm, and we were captivated by her musical storytelling. When it was time for the show to slow down into the ballad section, many were in tears as she recollected her walk through grief and how that brought her closer to Jesus. Accompanying this part of the evening was her newest single, “Seventh of June.” It is full of tear-jerking descriptions of a brother-sister bond torn apart by his death too early. Her ability to weave the goodness of God through her history, even in pain, roused a new wave of faith in me.
I will forever be grateful to Camp Electric for these opportunities. Even more so, the week spent around other aspiring musicians so acutely teaches us how our talents can be used to further His kingdom. I wouldn’t put anything past Jesus, but I don’t see myself becoming the next Riley Clemmons. And yet, there are so many ways for women and men to serve in this industry (and in different ways for Him as well). One of these stories may be inspiring to you. God can do anything He puts His mind to. We only have to be open to letting Him work.
Selena Schulz is NRTs youngest staff contributor. She loves God, music, reading, and writing.