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Chester student CD release success

English student Esther Humphries explains the inspiration for her EP It’s Not All Black And White

Hey C.E.L.L.MATES readers! My name is Esther, and I am in the final year of my undergraduate English Language degree at the University of Chester.

I’ve recorded an EP (Extended Play) called It’s Not All Black And White which has been released as a CD.

Here is a transcript of me being interviewed about the release:

You’ve written and recorded your first EP! How does it feel?

To put it simply, it feels amazing! I only started songwriting in 2019, and I never anticipated that I would record an EP, but it’s been a fantastic process. My faith is a big part of my life, and songwriting is one of the ways I connect with God and worship Him.

I am also incredibly thankful to Voice Youth Choir and Orchestra and its director, Simon Smith, who have given me this incredible opportunity. Voice is a Christian charity which runs choir groups across the country, bringing children and young people together to worship, grow in faith, and be a voice in the world for God. I attended the choir as a member for several years before joining the team as a supporting leader.

So, with funding and support from Voice, Simon and I recorded my EP, It’s Not All Black and White. The CD contains five tracks I have written myself and a further track which was co-written with two of my wonderful friends.

The title of the album is It’s Not All Black and White. How did you come up with this and what does it mean to you?

Sometimes I wish there was a lightbulb moment for how I came up with this title, but I’m afraid there isn’t! When I first started songwriting, I added a folder to the Notes app on my phone titled It’s Not All Black and White (followed by a little piano emoji!). This was mainly because most of my singing and songwriting happened at my piano, so naming the EP after that folder just felt right.

As I began choosing which of my songs were going to feature on the EP, the title gained more significance, reflecting not only my passion for the piano, but also the reality that life isn’t always straightforward.

Although the album gives a glimpse of my journey over the last three years, the true message is about God’s love and faithfulness to me through it all – from deep hurt and struggle to incredible joy and healing. Recording and releasing this album has created a way for me to use the gifts God has given me, not only to praise and glorify Him for what He's done in my life, but also to share the testimony of that journey.

If you had to pick a favourite song from the EP, what would it be and why?

This is a tricky question…and actually, my answer to it has changed during the process of preparing and releasing the EP. Before I confirmed which songs were going to feature on the album, I asked my sisters to listen to all the potential songs I was considering and suggest which ones should make the final track list.

Their lists both included ‘The Storm’, which wasn’t initially at the top of mine. But in hindsight, I’m so glad that I decided to add this song into the final track list. I have received so much encouragement about this song, and that’s usually because people can relate to the experience of being in a difficult situation – in a metaphorical ‘storm’. This song shares how Jesus has been with me in my storms, and the fact that God’s presence in my story has encouraged others means so much to me.

You co-wrote ‘Loved’ with Annie White and Cai Grimshaw. Tell us more about the process and what the experience was like.

Writing ‘Loved’ with Annie and Cai, who are two of my best friends and truly beautiful humans, was a wonderful experience! We actually wrote the song over Zoom (and across two different countries!) during one of the COVID-19 lockdowns, and the day that we recorded it was the first time we had ever sung it together. That was such a special moment, and it’s a memory I will never forget.

Although Annie and Cai had written songs together before, I had never really tried co-writing, so the experience was entirely new to me. Despite that, it was so encouraging and inspiring to bounce ideas together, and I really enjoyed writing the different harmonies and parts in the chorus and the bridge.

The lyrics centre around Psalm 139, which is about the presence of God in our lives as love, joy, light, life, and everything else we could ever need. And yet He knows us deeply – our thoughts and our strengths, our downfalls and our weaknesses. He delights in us and calls us by name. By Him, we are known, forgiven, and treasured…by Him, we are loved.

You recently launched your EP with a concert at your church. How did it go and what were the highlights for you?

My EP launch was a fantastic evening! I really enjoyed sharing my songs and the stories behind them, and the encouragement and support I received from everyone who came was genuinely amazing.

I have two highlights which stand out for me, and the first was singing ‘You Are Enough’.

It features as the fourth track on the EP, and it was the first of my own songs that I ever performed for a live audience. That was back in April 2022 at a Voice open mic night, and someone approached me afterwards and encouraged me to put the song on a CD. Because of that encouragement, I started considering the possibility of releasing my own album.

The second highlight was singing ‘By Your Side’ with Annie, Cai, and my eldest sister Abbi. This song was written by a band called Tenth Avenue North, but it features on one of the choir’s albums ‘This Is Living’, which was released in 2016. The experience of singing it together again in three-part harmony was such a joy.

Thank you for reading – if you want to listen to the album for yourself, it is now available to buy on CD or to stream digitally on Amazon, Spotify or Apple Music.

Written by Esther Humphries

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