February 15, 2011
Last March, Eastridge Christian Assembly celebrated its grand opening with a performance by Matthew West, one of the top artists in Christian music today.
This year, on the Northwest end of the “Story of Your Life” tour, West and guest performer Josh Wilson will perform Feb. 20 at the church again — but this concert will strike a more memorable note.
West had invited his fans to send in their personal stories last year. The response was overwhelming with more than 10,000 letters, e-mails and online messages received as inspiration for his new album.
One of the letters he received was from Melody Christensen, a Klahanie resident and Eastridge church member, who sent in her story after seeing West perform.
“Melody’s story is just one of those that represented hundreds of letters that I received,” West said. “Out of 10,000 letters, many were about people’s battles with cancer, so I felt like I needed to write a victory song about the topic.”
Christensen’s letter inspired West to write the song “Survivor,” a tribute to the courage and strength she has displayed throughout her battle with cancer.
December 7, 2010
The letter from Klahanie recounted a familiar story: a bombshell cancer diagnosis, strength-sapping treatment, but also, interlaced among the sentences, hope.
Melody Christensen, breast cancer survivor and Klahanie stay-at-home mother of four, offered the candid account as inspiration to contemporary Christian musician Matthew West.
Christensen liked the authenticity West imbued in songs about faith amid personal struggle, but as she prepared to send the message on a spring day, she had no expectations.
“I felt like it was time for me to share — even if it didn’t go anywhere — what I’d been through,” she said.
Christensen received a surprising phone call months later. West had used the letter as a springboard for a song about cancer on a soon-to-be-released album.
The album — the aptly titled “The Story of Your Life” — mines intimate and often-heartrending stories from Christensen and other fans.
“Through the years, I’ve been so inspired by the people who would send me an e-mail or share with me at a concert how a song has found its way into their story and inspired them in one way or another,” West said in a phone interview from Nashville, Tenn. “I just started thinking, ‘What if I turned the microphone around?’”
The concept compelled the performer — and songwriter for country stars Rascal Flatts and Billy Ray Cyrus — to act more like a storyteller.