MINOOKA – On July 25, at contemporary Christian artist Carisa Jurgens Turner’s pre-release Extended Play party at Minooka Bible Church, patrons will hear songs to stir a variety of emotions.
But then, Turner – who also plays the guitar, piano and ukulele – feels a concert should be more than a collection of songs strung together.
“I like my shows to be something where people walk away and say, ‘That was a really cool experience,’ ” said Turner, 29, a former Shorewood resident now living in Georgia. “There should be good music, yes, but [it] should leave people inspired, too.”
Turner had already received recognition from her first Extended Play (EP), “Stop the Noise” at the 2013 CWIMA (Christian Women in Media) Songwriting Contest. Noted songs were “Lost At Sea” (grand prize), “What Would I Do” (Top 10 finalist) and “Stop the Noise” (Top 10 finalist).
Turner wrote two new songs “Forever Home” and the title track “Come Down” off her latest EP in response to the stillborn birth of her sister’s first baby, Daniel, at 36 weeks.
“One of the cool things about being a writer,” Turner said, “is that the written phrase helps me heal a little bit.”
Turner said the incident caused her to feel abandoned by God, struggle with her faith and ask herself, “How could this happen to my family?” even as she knew in her heart that God was good and that a baby, who never took his first breath, was somehow still with them.
Nevertheless, Turner felt compelled to leave something tangible behind.
“I wanted to create a song that my sister might have sung to Daniel,” Turner said.
“Forever Home” sounded angry when Turner first tackled it, but as she worked through turbulent emotions, she felt the sorrow – and even the sweetness – of a short life lived.
“It’s a little different than many songs in the contemporary Christian genre because it’s so raw, but I wanted to go there because everyone in life, at times, goes there,” Turner said.
“When I tried talking to people about [the stillbirth], I’d get these weird looks with, ‘Well, you just have to believe that God has a plan and his plan is good.’ People need to know how to ‘go there’ when other Christians are grieving.”
Turner’s songs have a variety of origins: scripture, exciting ideas, snippets of conversations and wise words from her pastor. A few appear in her head seemingly from nowhere. The same goes for music. Turner will often play at the piano until the perfect melody begins forming in her mind, she said.
After singing an original song while on a mission trip to St. Lucia with other Minooka Bible Church high school youth, Turner began receiving requests to perform at churches and community events, she said.
At those concerts, Turner said, people would ask, “How can I purchase your music?” And that led to Turner financing and recording, “Stop the Noise.” For “Come Down,” Turner used Kickstarter to raise the necessary funds and surpassed her goal.
Still Turner felt anxious when she first posted the request.
“You’re putting yourself out there saying, ‘Hey, this is what I believe in. Would you believe in it enough to actually support me?’ It’s a big risk. So scary, so vulnerable,” Turner said.
“When we went over what was originally asked, I was just incredibly blown away; I did not expect it, at all. My heart felt so happy and loved. It was really, really cool.”
Three years ago, when Turner released her first EP, her goal was to eventually wean away from public relations and pursue music as her full-time career. Now that Turner is more experienced with the music industry, she has softened that goal.
“I’ve realized not everyone makes it full time,” Turner said. “At the end of the day, this might be something I do alongside another profession. I do it because I love the opportunity to share and minister.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Carisa Turner free pre-release concert
WHEN: July 25. Doors open 6:30 p.m. Concert begins at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Minooka Bible Church, 412 N Wabena Ave., Minooka
ETC: Although “Come Down” will not be officially released for another month, Turner will have copies of both her EPS at the concert.