It would be easy to say that it’s all about the knowing, familiar voice when it comes to Sandra McCracken. But that would be an oversimplification. The voice wouldn’t be nearly as comforting and comfortable if it weren’t channeling such a sweet heart and generous mind. It all has to be taken together because the whole is definitely greater than the sum. And that’s a reflection of McCracken’s broader life philosophy, as well. Faith, community, music, family, and good works all converge in her to create a life lived with care and concern for everything and everyone around her.
Faith has always been a huge part of your life and work. Along those lines, what role does community play in your life — in both good times and bad?
Great question. Community is essential to human flourishing. It is one of the primary ways by which we experience God, even when relationships are difficult — community is a doorway to discover who we are and what our life is about.
For your upcoming Thistle Stop Café show, you’ll be bringing some friends along. Who can we expect to see and how do shows like that compare to your usual gigs?
The cool thing is that these friends and I often sit around and share music or dinner or drinks together for no good reason, but it’s a rare treat to get to all meet up on a stage, and especially with you guys at the Thistle Stop. Honestly, Thad (Cockrell), Greg (LaFollette), Susan (Enan), and Jordan (Hamlin) are some of my favorite people, and they bring so much to the party with their musicianship and stories.
What causes are near and dear to your heart? And how/where does Thistle Farms fit in?
I am bound up in partnership with A Rocha International, a faith-based conservation organization. We are working locally with building rain gardens, hosting songwriter retreats, and a nature camp for young kids. It’s an integration of faith, conservation, and hospitality. And I am so inspired by the work at Thistle Farms. I aspire to be more empowered as a woman, a single mom, and a musician. Learning to walk in strength and confidence in all these life roles with that kind of integration is hard. To be honest, there are so many easy shortcuts that sometimes look like a solution and are really just addictive traps. Thistle Farms is a place where resurrection is an everyday practice. I need that and crave that in my life.
Now that you’ve had a handful of years as a mother, what do the bigger picture issues mean to you that they maybe didn’t before you had kids? And how does that worldview inform your music?
The world can be a cruel place. As my friend Bob Goff says, “Live in grace; walk in love.” This is the whole thing in a few words. I want to breathe deeply and show my son and daughter that life is full of heartbreak, but there is so much good that is going to triumph over the darkness. Good wins. Even (and especially) when it seems like hope is lost. It’s not the painted smile of optimism; it’s the sunrise of resurrection. I want to help my kids see this in their lives and in the world they live in.
What all is on the horizon for you this summer?
I am enjoying the art of saying “yes” to new adventures. I am loving the pace of summer and having my kids out of school. And I’m trying to police the use of my computer and my cell phone… I find it brings so much freedom in day-to-day life. More face-to-face conversation, less face time on a screen.
I’m also working on a couple of new albums at the moment. Going to record with some friends in Brooklyn at the end of June. I’m excited to play a few of the new songs this week at the show.
This article originally appeared on No Depression.