Comprised of seven sisters ranging in age from 19-36 years of age, the women of the local Christian music group Shiloh Rising aren’t just singing a joyful noise to the Lord. They’re each living joy-filled lives for the Lord.
On Nov. 9, Church on the Rock in Vancouver played host to a CD release party for Shiloh Rising. The CD, Dreams, is a compilation of 12 songs, nine being original tracks written by various members of Shiloh Rising.
The daughters of Dennis and Judy Kinnunen, Chastidy Berg, Chanelle Laitinen, Carla Hunt, Crystal Mattila, Ciarra Chace, Chandra Urban and Chera-Lee Scroggins comprise Shiloh Rising. Two brothers round out the family, but they haven’t taken the musical direction of their sisters.
Growing up in Hockinson, five of the girls graduated from Prairie High School and the youngest two are Hockinson High School graduates. From singing at home together to choir participation and area competitions, the Kinnunen sisters used music as a medium to express their faith.
Notching out time in the lives of seven married women with families and jobs of their own was something Berg, in particular, believed needed to happen.
“I was sitting in church and it was just laid upon my heart,’’ Berg said. “Things have happened to our family. We’ve been through a horrible car accident. If anyone said ‘no,‘ we wouldn’t go for it. It’d be all or nothing.”
Berg is referring to the rollover car accident that Laitinen, Chace and five other family members were in just over three years ago on Interstate 82 near Hermiston, OR. So severe were the injuries sustained by Laitinen, her husband and their 9 year-old daughter, that the Laitinens were not medically-released to return home to Minnesota for seven months.
During the making of Dreams, life went on around them. Berg had a baby the second week of September. Scroggins was married the day after Berg’s baby was born. Chace returned from a mission trip with her husband in the Dominican Republic and headed straight into the studio, adding to her culture shock. Laitinen, being 2,000 miles away in Minnesota, was told what parts of Dreams would be hers so she’d practice and then come home for recordings.
Writing the songs that make up Dreams proved to be a collaborative effort for these sisters. Several of them reflected on the experience.
Chace explained, “My husband said ‘Sit at the piano until you write a song’ and I said ‘No, I sing. I don’t write songs.’ I came up with half a song, less than that. My sisters helped me with it. They really pulled it together and helped me make it more than I expected it was going to be.”
“We were planning weddings, baby showers and a CD,’’ Scroggins said. “(The CD has) a lot of different aspects of where we were at this time and where we were at this time.”
Urban said “I think the biggest thing that has been so exciting is the time that we’ve had to kind of grow together as a team. We’ve been separated by marriage, by 2,000 miles, by people going on mission trips and not really having the time and learning each other again, now that we’re all adults (has been good).”
“I agree with everything Chandra was saying,’’ said Mattila. “It was beautiful watching everyone’s creativity come out in unexpected ways. They saw it from a unique viewpoint. Kind of being able to make art together (was special).”
The song, “Beautiful” is special in that several of the Kinnunen grandchildren lend their voices to it in a precious chorale arrangement. “Be Thou My Vision“ has a Celtic feel about it. “Psalm 63’’ begins with a peaceful rain stick introduction and it is a favorite among the group and is the song that Chace started writing on her own. The operatic vocals of Mattila are featured on “Oh the Deep” and the harmonizing on this track, in particular, is powerful and haunting.
In addition to vocals, Berg, Hunt, Mattila and Scroggins play instruments on some of the songs. Scroggins’ husband, Austin, plays a few instruments, as well.
When asked what her goal for the CD is, Hunt said, “It comes back to the hope of the Father. We all hope that each song speaks to someone, that every person finds a song or two that will speak a message.”
Now that Dreams has been released and the CD party is behind them, the ladies are ready to step back and “Let go,’’ as one of their songs is aptly named.
Laitinen said, “I think we’re open to wherever the Lord leads us. The Lord’s really been telling me to be obedient to wherever he calls us to be. If this is just a one-time thing, that’s great. If the Lord says ‘I want you going to churches,’ I think we’re all open to that.”
To purchase a copy of Shiloh Rising’s CD, Dreams, go to http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/shilohrising.