There’s something to be said about an anointed artist who diligently lays down the groundwork for her emerging music ministry, while setting a higher standard of excellence that goes ‘By The Book’. That’s code for the Word of God, as far as Aloa Harris is concerned.
Aloa is a striking female figure who has the ability to simultaneously serenade an inspirational message, while delivering a dynamic word of divinity that effortlessly connect with the listener. It’s who Aloa is. From her earliest recollections as a child of a Pastor, she was groomed and nurtured to be an emissary for the Kingdom.
And now, in the season of her latest CD release – Portraits From A Storm – Aloa Harris takes another sanctified step in the direction of Heaven, as she applies her blessed gifts in songwriting and singing to reinforce the message of hope and deliverance, even from the ‘storm’. We recently spoke with Aloa Harris about her literal journey from the islands to the West Coast and her spiritual journey from sidelines to the Mainline.
Christopher Heron: Aloa, are there any particular biblical texts or stories that define your mission, your life and your calling to fulfill the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Aloa Harris: Wow! There are so many biblical stories & texts that have impacted my life and brought me to this point, but I’d have to say that the book of Acts is a great source of inspiration & encouragement to me. In it, you find a group of believers who accepted the call to be “witnesses of Christ” beginning in their local areas and taking it “to the end of the earth.” The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has spread around the world and is still being preached today as a result of their faithfulness. I believe that Acts 1:8 still applies to us today and when we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit, he does extraordinary things thru ordinary people, just as He did with the early church.
CH: You spent your formative years in Freeport, The Bahamas. What are your early memories of living on this lavish island? And how different was your home and church experiences after you relocated to America? And what are the valuable lessons you’ve learned from both cultures and homes?
AH: Although my parents moved our family to the U.S. when I was an infant, we returned to the island when I was in grade school and resided there at least a year or so. It was more of a culture shock for me to return home since I’d only known California up to that point! But I enjoyed the simplicity of life there. I have fond memories of catching our dinner with my dad on the boat and returning to the smell of fresh baked bread that my grandmother & aunts would make. (Ok, my mouth is watering here…)
Church life was a completely different experience. My dad was called to pastor a non-denominational church in Compton, CA which was a predominantly white congregation at the time. When we moved back home to the Bahamas, he co-pastored a Baptist church on the Island. Needless to say, the worship experience was very different!
AH: Ultimately, I learned that despite cultural differences, people are basically the same everywhere; in search of significance, hope, love and acceptance. Our job as believers is to let them know that the true fulfillment of those desires can be found in Christ.
CH: For many Gospel music fans and Christians, your music and ministry will come as a revelation. Tell us the evolution and journey of your ministry. What were the critical stages that kindled a fire in you for ministry?
AH: Well being that I grew up in the church, it seems that I have been singing and involved in ministry for most of my life. But I did face many challenges during my early years which taught me to depend on God. It was through these experiences that I learned to draw closer to Him not only in times of trouble but also for guidance, direction and strength in my day-to-day life. As I began to grow in Christ and develop a stronger relationship with Him, it was a natural progression to employ the gifts that He’d given me for ministry. When you truly experience God, you can’t keep it in. You want to share it with everyone.
CH: Your new album is entitled, Portraits From A Storm. It’s an intriguing title. What was the inspiration for the song and title of your new album?
AH: Well the saying goes “you’re either coming out of a storm, headed into a storm, or you’re in the middle of a storm”. Most of the songs were written during a rough time for my family. We’d relocated to a new state, and were having a hard time adjusting, connecting and even finding a church home. So we were feeling pretty isolated which was very different for both my husband and I coming from large families. We also lost Rod’s father unexpectedly during that time. Many of the songs capture some of the thoughts & feelings that we were experiencing at that time. Regardless of how low we felt, we held on to the hope we have in Christ. For Jesus Himself said that we will have tribulation while in this world, but that we can take hope in Him because He has overcome it, Hallelujah!
CH: This is your sophomore album. What are the common themes and distinguishing qualities between Portraits From A Storm and your original recording - By The Book?
AH: By the Book was basically a musical translation of biblical stories and scriptures. Its intention was to not only share the Gospel message but to stir up an interest in the listener to want to find the story and read it for themselves. We saw this happen over and over with the song “Give Me a Drink” which is the story of the woman at the well. A lot of people were trying to figure out what the line “Five before and the count is on” referred to which opened the door to share this powerful story of redemption.
Portraits from a Storm, is more along the lines of a diary conveying some of the feelings and struggles that we face, particularly during challenging times, but a message of hope is laced throughout the album.
Often times, believers are ashamed to admit that they struggle with feelings of despair, fear, depression or loneliness because they feel that it indicates a lack of faith in God. We forget that as human beings, these emotions are a part of our make-up. Even Jesus, while in His earthly body experienced these feelings. While on the Cross He asks God “Why hast though forsaken me?”
David also penned his feelings of frustration, fear & even depression, but he always redirected his focus back to God, and recalled the past victories that he accomplished with the help of the Lord, which restored his hope in God and helped him overcome those negative feelings. We as believers need to know that it is ok to experience these emotions, we just can’t allow ourselves to remain in that low place. We have to hold on to our faith and keep our hope in Christ, which is the message that you hear throughout Portraits from a Storm.
CH: Your husband and producer - Rod Harris - has been an intimate part of this journey in music and ministry. Tell us what he brings to both the project and your artistic expression in faith? And how do you successfully balance the sensitive roles between husband and artist / producer and artist?
AH: Rod basically creates the blue print for each song; from creating the melodies, to penning lyrics and recording & producing each song. From there we collaborate on the vocals. Being that I don’t play any instruments, he’s great at listening to my ideas for melodies & lyrics and bringing them to life.
Rod is very focused and takes more of a no nonsense, “let’s get it done” approach, where on the other hand, I’m a bit more laid back (most likely my Island genes kicking in!) So I think our personality types (and a lot of prayer!) help in balancing not only our music ministry but also our marriage as a whole.
CH: Finally Aloa, what is your prayer and desire for those who will encounter your music and ministry for perhaps the first time, as they listen to Portraits From A Storm?
AH: My prayer is the same as it’s always been for each recording or live performance; that the listener will not so much hear my voice, but that they will hear the voice of the Savior speaking to them. Whether it be a call to salvation for the lost or word of encouragement to a believer. He said that if we lift Him up, He will draw men all men unto himself. Of course Rod and I both hope that they enjoy the artistry of the music but it’s all a means to an end; that we may be “witnesses of Christ…unto the ends of the earth.”