DECATUR — Laura Story didn’t always harbor dreams of topping music charts or winning Grammy Awards. Becoming a professional musician was never a goal she told herself that she wanted to accomplish while growing up. But exploring her own form of Christian ministry was.
“I don’t know if I ever imagined myself as a performer, but I did feel the call from a young age to help people somehow,” said Story, a Dove and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter who performs Saturday evening in Decatur at Grace United Methodist Church. “It could have been in ministry, or teaching music, or music therapy. But I wanted to help people.”
Now 34 years old, and having spent 16 years performing professionally, Story finally has access to a mass audience. Her 2011 album “Blessings” and its hit single of the same name climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard Christian charts, thrusting her into national consciousness for the first time. The song and album were recognized with numerous awards, including “Best Contemporary Christian Music Song” at the 2012 Grammy Awards and three different wins at the 2012 Dove Awards. That makes four Dove wins and 13 nominations for Story reaching back to 2006, showing the groundswell of support that eventually brought her to wider fame.
“For the most part, I thank the Lord that he gave me this platform at the same time, as I really had a story to tell,” the singer said. “If I had gotten this platform 10 years ago, I don’t know if I would have had anything worthwhile to talk about. But now I can spread the word about how we respond when life looks different than we thought it would.”
Story refers to many challenges that Christians face in everyday life, but in her own case, she also refers particularly to the illness of her husband, Martin Elvington. The high school sweethearts had been married for only two years when Elvington was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2006, and his subsequent surgery and slow recovery had a profound effect on Story’s music and faith, much of which was manifested in “Blessings.”
“It definitely came through in my music because it permeated every facet of our lives,” she said. “I wrote songs about God getting us over the hurdles. I talk about having faith in God, but I had to ask myself, ‘What does that really look like?’ ”
Clearly, Story’s musical answer to that question was something that Christian music fans could identify with. Their support has built Story up into one of the biggest names in contemporary Christian music, but still she tours and performs at small churches in Midwestern America, as she will Saturday evening at Grace United Methodist Church. She works by day as a music minister for a much-larger congregation in Atlanta, and calls herself quite content to live a fulfilling life that doesn’t make her feel like a musician first and foremost.
“Life is cool,” she says on her website. “I work at a church that lets me be a recording artist. I record for a label that lets me work at a church instead of having to always be on tour. And I love how it all interconnects. This dynamic is what makes me a healthy person. I am blessed.”
IF YOU GO
WHO: Laura Story
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16
WHERE: Grace United Methodist Church, 901 N. Main St., Decatur
ON THE WEB: http://laurastorymusic.com/