I have been a fan of Sandra McCracken since 10th grade – that makes 15 years as a Cracken-head. (I just made that up. Pretty terrible, isn’t it?)
I found Sandra around the same time I found Indelible Grace music and RUF music in general, which Sandra has been a part of for years. I fell hard for hymns and theology proper in 7th grade, and Sandra’s non-church music still comes from that . I haven’t seen any other act in a bar as many times as I have Sandra McCracken – she and I seem to think similarly about the fact that, while Jesus is a really glorious and worthy subject to sing about, He’s not the only subject worth singing about. So she has plenty of songs about friendship and love and angst and fun things and grief and history, not just Jesus.
I used to see her perform whenever physically possible, occasionally taking trips for the purpose. But after I left Charlotte in 2009, it never worked out for me to see her play. Until last Friday. And y’all, it was incredible.
Sandra McCracken has been through a lot of life changes in the last few years. She produced and released an incredible album called Psalms a year ago, and we sing a lot of the songs she wrote for it at church. I love them. She talked about how these are songs she has lived and breathed and eaten and slept for the last few years. Personally, I can sympathize: many of her songs – including more than half of the ones on that new album – have become huge, essential parts of the soundtrack of my life, the liturgy of my heart, and an incredible tool in clinging fast to Jesus.
So the concert was fantastic, musically. But it was amazing to see her play again after 6 years and appreciate how far she’s come as a performer. She is much more confident, skilled at leading people in singing, and, more than anything, free. I can’t explain the winsomeness of the free way she handles herself and invites the crowd to relax and be where they each are individually. It was beautiful. The Gospel is stamped all over this woman and the way she exudes grace.