Sarah grew up in Oklahoma, where she, her parents, and her two younger sisters made music a way of life in a very musical family. She spent her childhood participating in music lessons, tagging along to concerts, performing in various groups, and ultimately pursuing a couple of music degrees. While in college, Sarah stumbled upon and fell in love with contemporary worship music. Since then, she has played, sung, and led people in worship in various churches, retreats, etc.
Along with various worship music opportunities, Sarah also works as a Music Therapist where she uses music as a tool to help kids with developmental disabilities build skills and gain independence with their various difficulties. She has a passion for music that has purpose and, whether itís helping kids find Godís image within them, or pointing people to worship the One who puts that image there, she feels there is great purpose.
The Interview Transcript
Shon: Hi, my name is Shon Stewart and I have Sarah Studebaker with me, and weíre going to be talking a little bit about her musical career.
Jorja: Iím also with Shon and Sarah, here. This is Shonís mother, Jorja Stewart.
Sarah, we were listening to your song, ďThe BlessingĒ, and we were very much touched by it. Even though you shared a bit about it on your video, why donít you give us a quick overview of how you came to write it.
Sarah: It was really kind of a cool experience. I was playing at a retreat, doing some worship for a church group. I remember showing up at the retreat kind of wondering why I was there. It was an interesting mix of people. I was by far the youngest person there and I just thought, ĎMm, I wonder what this is about.í It was great watching God unfold the week-end.
These were all church-goers and believers and they loved the Lord, and yet, I was seeing God free a lot of people from some of the junk that the world kind of piles on our shoulders. I remember going into my room the night before the final worship time and I thought, ĎWhat can I send these people off with? I donít have advice or wisdom or any of that kind of thing to impart to these people. What do I do?í
Then it dawned on me. What better way to send them on their way than with a blessing, reminding them that theyíre walking away with Godís blessing, and that He will keep them, and that He will smile on them and give them that peace that just makes no sense in this world. So, itís fun. I thought the song was just going to stay at that retreat, but it has been really fun to see how this little chorus has just popped up, and Iíve sung it so many times at so many different places.
Jorja: Thatís great, and Iím sure the Lord will use it on this program to bless many people, and itíll be fun to hear their comments.
Sarah: I hope so.
Jorja: We noticed that your email address had Ďcelloí in it. Do you play the cello?
Sarah: I do. I grew up in a musical family. My parents were both professors of music at the university. I grew up around music a lot, tagging along to†different concerts, hearing music at home, and grew up playing music and singing, all that kind of stuff. So, I ended up doing a lot with music and played the cello as one of those instruments for many years growing up. I still play it occasionally here and there.
Jorja: Oh, thatís great. Shon, tell her what one of your favorite musical instruments is.
Shon: One of my favorite musical instruments is the saxophone. I love the† the saxophone. But I actually have a cousin who played the cello, so thatís kind of neat, too.
Jorja: So, where do you live, and how long have you lived there, and what do you do, right now?
Sarah: I live in Phoenix, and Iíve been here just about four years, now. I work as a music therapist with kids with autism and other developmental disabilities, and that kind of thing.
Shon: How do you like doing that? How does that work?
Sarah: Music therapy? Music therapy is using music and its different elements like rhythm and melody, or singing and creating music, different things like that, to help people build skills and build independence in moving and speaking, thinking, communicating, and so forth. Itís really fun to see music as a tool to help these folks, but really, what I love about my job is, at the end of the day, it really boils down to believing in people. I mean, when I think of this blessing challenge and the idea of passing a blessing onto other people and looking at it in my life, I think of these kids a lot.
Shon: What is your faith background? How did you come to know the Lord, and how does that apply in your current line of work?
Sarah: People often ask, Ďwhen did you accept Christ?í and things like that, and Iíve always thought that the question is sometimes a little odd, you know, a little like knowing a person for years and only ever talking about thefirst time you met. But, I grew up in the church and gave Christ my heart at a very young age. I think more what amazes me is the journeyóhow God can†use every bend in the road, every mountain and every valley, to teach me to give more and more of my life to Him in every day. Itís a roller coaster ride.
Shon: Oh yeah, I know that!
Jorja: You mentioned that you grew up in a musical family, so I gather thatís where you got your interest in music?
Sarah: Yes, I think Iíve spoken music as much as Iíve spoken English.
Jorja: Thatís kind of Shonís language, too.
Shon: Yes, in fact, Mom and Dad were asking, Ďwhatís your favorite kind of music, and why do you like musicí and I said, ĎI donít know, I just do.í
Sarah: Itís a hard question.
Jorja: Yes. Shon just recently had a little surgery on his lip and they said, Ďwe donít want you to sing for a monthí, and Shon said, ĎOh, you might as well ask me not to breathe!í
Shon: Yeah, really.
Sarah: I understand that.
Jorja: Obviously, weíve heard some ways that the Lord has used music in your life, and this wonderful way that youíre blessing all these children, and obviously, you use your gift in retreats. How, personally, would you say the Lord has used music in your life?
Sarah: Oh boy, thatís a tough question because music has just been such a big part of my life. God has used it throughout my life. I would say the words of Zephaniah 3:17 kind of ring true here. The end of that verse says something along the lines of I bathe you with love, and that He will rejoice over you in singing. Music has definitely been a place where the Lord does both of those: He quiets me down and He infuses me with His joy.
I love†listening to positive and encouraging music, and it seems to lift my spirits up. Also, writing music, especially music to share with other people, just never fails to be anything but a blessing to me. I know that thereís no greater joy in my own life than lifting my voice and worshipping God in music, and one of my favorite sounds in the world is hearing a room full of people all singing to the Lord. Itís one of the most humbling things just to recognize that God chooses to use little old me to help people worship Him.
Shon: Thatís really cool. Isnít Zephaniah 3:17 your favorite verse, Mom?
Jorja: Itís one of them, yes.
So, Shon, do you have any other questions youíd like to ask?
Shon: No, I think weíre pretty much on the same page as far as the whole musical experience. God has really used music in my life to minister. I donít know what Iíd do without my music. Thatís a big part of my life.
I think weíve covered everything.
Jorja: All right, that sounds great.
Thank you so much, Sarah, for your time, and we really look forward to seeing how the Lordís going to use this song of yours.
Sarah: Looking forward to it. Take care.