Individualistic. A free spirit. Untraditional. In junior high those labels are a death sentence. In adulthood, they usually describe people the rest of us wish we could be – creative, intriguing people like Audrey Assad. Truly one-of-a-kind, this intensely honest singer-songwriter is carving out her own unique path in the music industry and opening hearts to God along the way.
Audrey stood out even when everyone else was trying desperately to blend in. “Middle school was horrendous for me because I loved to study, loved school and loved band,” she recalls, adding, “and kids don’t let you get away with that at all.” It didn’t help that one of the instruments she played was the xylophone.
Then, following high school graduation, Audrey left the suburbs outside New York City and relocated with her parents to Florida. There, amid the sun and sand that lures so many young adults into a life of nightclubs and partying, the longtime Christian took her spiritual life to the next level.
“I was 19 when I started to fully understand the idea of surrendering my life -- not just as a concept, but the daily hopes and dreams and disappointments -- and giving that away to God,” she says. “That’s when I first started to realize He had gifted me with music.”
Shortly after that spiritual epiphany, Audrey set aside the notion of pursuing an English degree or studying fashion design and began leading worship in the foyer of a church she didn’t even attend. Standing by her lifelong conviction to “bloom where you’re planted,” she set out to do whatever God put in front of her that let her use her gifts.
That led to local gigs, worship events and a four-song demo, recorded by a friend with Garage Band for several hundred dollars. Along the way, Audrey struck up friendships with 10th Avenue North and Phil LaRue. Next came a move to Nashville and a five-song EP, Fireflies, recorded in 2008 with LaRue and Paul Moak. It was that recording that caught the attention of the A&R department at Sparrow Records, but not before Audrey joined Chris Tomlin on his Christmas tour and album, covering her song “Winter Snow” as a duet.
“Worship leading is a big part of what I do. If I’m not opening believers hearts, then I’m not doing what I want to do,” she explains. “Of course, I want to evangelize and change people’s lives, but really I just hope it opens them up a little bit more to God.”