318. Through a Child’s Eyes – Annie Herring
THROUGH A CHILD’S EYE (1976)
Annie Herring is undeniably one of the most important artists in Christian music history. Married at a young ago to Buck Herring, the former Annie Ward took in her two younger siblings at the death of their parents. They began singing together around the piano the many songs Annie had written. She was self taught and, as a result, the sound created by the siblings was completely original.
Famous folk troubadour Barry McGuire heard the siblings singing together and asked them to sing backing vocals on his upcoming Christian music debut, Seeds. They soon became known as the Second Chapter of Acts and became the most popular and famous group of the 1970’s in Christian Music.
Along with writing music for the group, Annie was also writing music that appealed just to her and began recording those songs as well. The first album she recorded is the album under consideration here and also marked a major moment in Christian Music history as the first release on a nearly formed label created by former Myrrh Records executive, Billy Ray Hearn. The label that debuted with this release was Sparrow Records.
The record showed marked improvement artistically from the vast majority of Jesus Music at the time. Creative lyrical twists, more universal themes and unique and original instrumentation and arrangements set this record apart. “Learn a Curtsy” is a quirky song to start the record off as it deals with the loss of innocence and the realization that we all need others in our lives. The unique arrangements shuffling back and forth between a childlike Music box” piano to a more classical and classic rock sound musically paints a great picture of this tension.
Most of the album sounds like an artist maturing in her songwriting and as a vocalist. There are times where a bit of an edge is heard busting through the normally pristine and lilting tones Herring is most noted for. A great example of this, and, as a result, the finest song on the album is “Grinding Stone.” Starting like most Herring songs with her soprano fluttering above the instrumentation changes as the chorus turns. Here a more forceful and attractive vocal style appears. This would become more present in future 2nd Chapter of Acts releases. The song also really introduced the keyboard work of Michael Omartian to the Jesus Music crowd. As the song crescendos Herring’s voice and Omartian’s keyboard work share the spotlight. If any complaint can be made it is that the song is much too short and a live version would have been great!