Finding my voice – with a little help

Aaron Strumpel poses for a photo shoot with Shekinah, who is an art major at George Fox with an emphasis in photography.
Nationally known musician Aaron Strumpel joined George Fox during the fall 2012 semester as artist in residence. He offered guidance and inspiration for various student music ensembles, including the chapel band and Shalom worship team, but also spent a good deal of time working one-on-one with students. Below sophomore Shekinah Davis recalls her experience with Aaron.

By Shekinah Davis, Class of 2015

It was the first Shalom gathering of the semester when Aaron Strumpel announced that he would be leading a singer-songwriter class. At first I felt a little nervous about joining because I don’t often sing in front of people. The last time I performed for an audience was for a talent show in high school that didn’t go so well. I thought, ‘If singing in front of my high school friends was nerve-racking, just think about trying to sing in front of Aaron, who is such an amazing worship leader and musician.’

I spoke with Aaron after Shalom and he encouraged me to join. A couple weeks later he sent me a Facebook message reminding me of the class. I thought it was great that he made an effort to keep me posted on the status of the class, as he did with many others. He is so talented, yet so incredibly humble and friendly. With talent like his he has the right to be boastful, but he isn’t at all.

Going into the first meeting I was a little nervous about what to expect. I didn’t know what the evening would look like or who would be there, but as soon as I walked into the room all of my nervousness and apprehensions about participating went away. He introduced us to the Spiritual Life office’s new Keurig coffee maker and offered each of us a mug. We sat and listened to a couple a songs just to warm up and get inspired. I loved how down to earth Aaron was. It was so casual. Like, let’s just be inspired together, encourage one another in song writing and singing. It was quite refreshing.

I began writing a song toward the end of Aaron’s class and time at Fox, but had no idea what kind of melody I would sing it to, considering I play no instruments. I took it to him and within an hour we had finished the song and given it chords. We even had time to record it on his cell phone! Later that week Aaron asked me to share my song at the Fall Retreat, and also invited me to sing it in his last Shalom at Fox.

Aaron is such a kind heart and beautiful soul! He is passionate about Christ and about sharing with others. He also has a great sense of humor. It was great getting to know him this semester! I can genuinely say that I have a friend in Aaron, which is a blessing. He gave me the confidence to finish a song, sing in front of 60 people, and because of his advice and singer-songwriter class I am definitely excited about writing more songs. Working with Aaron Strumpel was such an honor.

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About the author
Shekinah Davis is a sophomore art major who works in the university’s Marketing Communications office as a student photographer. See more of her photography on her blog.

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About Aaron Strumpel
Strumpel is a nationally renowned songwriter, artist missionary and worship leader. From 2002 to 2006, Aaron performed with The Restoration Project. In 2006, he launched his solo career with Chair & Microphone: Vol. 2, a collaboration with the creative worship collective, Enter the Worship Circle. Since then, his prolific and creative energy has been at the center of seven full-length albums and four EP’s.

In 2009, Strumpel released a series of albums marking a bold departure from his earlier, stripped-down approach. The first of this defining series, Elephants (2009), won Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Arts. The second, Birds (2011), earned him a feature in the first Relevant Magazine issue of 2012. Both have received high praise from Christianity Today, Paste Magazine and Relevant Magazine. Strumpel completed the series with his November 2012 release, Buffaloes.