A Team Of Two

A Team of Two

A candid look inside the life and thoughts of two of

Christian music’s most faithful servants; Carl & Leann Albrecht.

by Aimee Herd

 

Together for over 27 years, this Christian couple has shared their musical gifting in the recording studio and on stage with many different worship leaders and musicians, striving to present the heart of a servant each time.  Drummer-songwriter; Carl and singer-songwriter; Leann Albrecht, share from the heart, on marriage, worship and what it means to be a musician for the Lord.

 

Aimee Herd: Carl and Leann, you’ve been together in music ministry for a long time…did you start out together – or did you each meet while pursuing your own separate ministries?

 

Carl: Leann was singing at Grace World Outreach Center in St. Louis and I was just finishing my studies at Webster University.  We’d heard about each other from mutual friends.  Specifically, producer Tom Brooks, who we were working with, kept trying to get us to meet.

 

Leann: Our paths hadn’t crossed prior to that because typically tracks for band and vocals are recorded on separate days.  The day we met, I was recording lead vocals at the studio and Carl happened to be in the kitchen area writing horn charts.  I went back for a cup of coffee and that’s where I ran into the mystery man…the one everyone else thought should be the “man of my dreams”.

 

AH: Love at first sight?

 

LA: No!  (Laughing)  It was not.

 

CA: It was for me.  But Leann wasn’t really interested when we first met.

 

LA: Because he was in school…. taking a full load of courses and also playing every night of the week.  A “poor” musician wasn’t anyone I was interested in.

 

CA: I was pretty rung out…I didn’t look cool.  I was just the college guy who was working too hard.

 

LA: Carl prayed to go out with me for two years.  He would never call me for a date because I was always dating or engaged to someone. I was pretty fickle as a female. Not knowing what I really wanted, I was engaged three times before Carl and I had our first date.

 

AH: So how long have you two been married?

 

CA: Twenty-seven years. I guess nowadays it sounds like a long time.

 

AH: Married life can sometimes be challenging in itself, but when you’re in a ministry together I’m sure there are challenges that are unique to that situation.  Can you share some of those; how you’ve both learned to overcome them and the assets that come with being a married team in ministry?

 

CA: I don’t think it’s hyper-spiritual to say, it’s really all about our commitment to the Lord; to live in a covenant marriage and to honor Him with that.  We laid that groundwork from the get-go because we were serious about the things of God.  It’s a struggle at any time, but in the time we’re living, it seems marriage is really under attack.  Being committed to making it work was the primary thing; there were no other options but to work through our differences.  We agree to resolve it; to honor the Lord and try to make it work.  It’s all by grace.  Who knows why some couples don’t win that battle and others do? We don’t feel like we’re special but I do think because we were married in our mid-twenties, we were ready to make that decision. We’d already established adult lives and the seriousness of our walk with the Lord. It seemed natural to pursue things together.

 

LA: I had gone through a lot of boyfriends and by that time, I knew what I didn’t want or couldn’t live with.  Then I met Carl.  He was so different from anybody else I’d met. His heart was so deep and he had a steadiness that I had not seen in any other guy.

 

I would say the biggest struggle we always face as a married couple, is to stay connected to each other. In ministry, we’re continually giving and pouring out time and energy to others. Many times, when we get back to your hotel room at night, we’re so exhausted, we have no energy for each other. Over the years, I think we have learned not to take that personally – we know it is part of the territory. However, the way we survive is to get out our calendars and mark off days of “Sabbath” (complete days devoted to the Lord and each other).  Now, we commit to those days off as religiously as we would a paying gig.  We’ve gone through some of our worst times, when our relationship was dark and love was distant, when we had neglected to take that time with each other.

 

CA: I think men can go on and on because we’re not as emotionally driven . . . then one day you’re wife is saying “I’m gonna leave” and you didn’t even know there was a problem.  I think one thing that has helped, is that I’m willing to communicate and allow Leann to be the barometer; to tell me when there is too much “distance” between us. For me, it was just allowing the Lord to remind me that the husband has to live with his wife in an understanding manner and to lay my life down for her.  My job is to see to it that my household is flourishing.  A lot of times, I think men put their family second to their calling or ministry. I  don’t think it’s supposed to be that way.  To live in covenant and to honor our wife, is our ministry.

 

LA: Carl, through the years, has been really good at listening to me.  When I’ve said,  “Honey, I really need to connect with you,” he’s taken that request seriously and not disregarded my feelings.  As a wife, his attentive response has been a key to having a healthy heart and emotions.  Another thing is that we never look at our “callings” in competition with each other.  We’ve learned that the best way to grow is to have that steady home-base of security; we are each other’s biggest fan and cheerleader.  In the world of artistry, you’re vulnerable anyway, but if your partner’s there to say, “It’s ok, you’ve got what it takes, trust the Lord in you, put one foot in front of the other,” it makes a huge difference.

 

CA: I feel the Lord has blessed us in that we’ve been able to do a lot of conferences, tours, and seminars together.  It’s definitely in that realm; “one can put a thousand to flight but two can put ten thousand…” It’s a multiplied effort and we definitely approach it like that.  As a covenant couple, we’re knitted together for godly purposes.

 

AH: Both of you have worked with many different worship leaders and artists over the years, Leann, vocally, and Carl, playing drums and percussion.  You’ve had to adapt yourselves to differing styles of playing and leading.  Can you pass on some of the most important things you both have gleaned in learning to do that?

 

CA: Well, musically as in any setting, it’s all about serving people.  As a musician and artist, I’m always trying to get “inside the heart” of the worship leader or the artist; to get to know what they like or need, to build relationship.  I’m very comfortable as they share their heart and give instruction.  As a drummer, I love the music. I also love serving the Lord and the artist; accepting the challenge of adjusting to what each person needs.  Strictly from a business aspect, I always want to make sure they are pleased with my work.  Bottom line is; I’m there not to promote my position as an artist but to serve their vision.

 

LA: Vocally, when I sing back-up, I always try to blend with the artist and adapt to their tonal variations; making every effort to become one sound. Not just musically, but spiritually too; where is their heart?  Besides singing, how can I better support what they are want to accomplish in that event? I often feel like a sentinel; watching and praying for fulfillment of God’s purposes.

 

AH: Have you experienced times where things just didn’t gel, no matter what you did?

 

CA: I’m sure we have, but it’s been rare.

 

LA: You and I are pretty much “grace extenders”.  When people are hard to get along with, and we’ve done everything we could possibly do to make things work, we have to release it to the Lord. When situations are out of our control, we realize that we can’t take it personally. God is our manager.  If He closes a door because it’s not working or our assignment there is finished, He’ll open another one.

 

AH: And it’s so important not to take it personally.

 

LA: Oh yeah!  Or else you’ll be beating yourself up for days.

 

CA: It’s moving graciously in your calling.  There have been many artists who have said, “I’m so glad you both are here. Now I know everything’s gonna be alright.” They know that Leann and I are there as co-laborers in their ministry.  (Laughing) Occasionally we’ve been called The Stabilizers. We have learned that life and ministry can be so much easier and much more powerful when nobody’s trying to gain glory for themselves. There’s only One who should receive the glory.

 

 

AH: Leann, as you see many young Christian vocalists just getting started in the world of worship and contemporary Christian music, what are some of the qualities you would look for and desire to enhance, if you were going to mentor someone?

 

LA: Number one . . . “delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  The second part of that verse used to be my favorite part because I wanted my desires met!  As the Lord has carried me on this incredible journey, the best part of that verse has become the first part; it says “delight yourself in the Lord.” There is no greater pleasure in this life than getting to know your Maker and be in His presence.  Once you discover that thrill and place of peace, with your identity resting in Him, everything else pales in comparison. My advice: if you will seek the Lord and put Him first, everything else will be added to you in His perfect timing.  You will not miss one thing you are to have in this life. Your future is secure in Him.

 

AH: And the same thing for you, Carl, you would give the same advice?

 

CA: Yeah, Leann nailed it.  Trust the Lord with what He’s called you to do.  I also believe in the discipline of being a musician or singer.  It’s important to learn new things and practice your craft.  I also believe in the discipline of your walk with the Lord.  I will sometimes ask a wanna-be, “What are you doing with what the Lord’s given you right now?  Can you be faithful with the little things so God can trust you with something bigger?” Leann and I have done the recording sessions, secular stuff, movie soundtracks and tours. We’ve also played in home groups and other small gatherings. Whether it’s ten people or ten thousand, if the Lord is present—that is the big gig!

 

LA: Another note about singers . . . Carl, what did that ski instructor tell you?

 

CA: (laughing) Oh yeah, after taking a few skiing classes, the instructor came up to me and said, “Carl, you’re gonna be a really good recreational skier.” In other words, he could see that I would never make a career out of it. The same is true with music. There are certain requirements as far as talent is concerned; the ability to deliver a certain level of excellence is required if you want to take your gift to the marketplace.

 

LA: If the Lord has put desires in your heart to be more than a recreational singer then you must prepare for that.  Being an accomplished singer takes intensity; getting into shape spiritually, mentally, and physically. It’s not something you approach casually especially if you’re going to lead out with your gift. If you want to be a great singer, find a great vocal coach and prepare so you’re ready when that door opens.

 

AH: I think when you belong to a worship team and especially in a leadership or eldership position on that team, it can sometimes be difficult to – when you’re not singing or playing that day – just let go and enter into God’s presence, without being distracted by deciphering the techniques and musical aspects of the worship.  What are some of the ways you’ve found to be helpful in overcoming that?

 

LA: It’s a decision.  You can decide to sit there and be critical and pick apart everything that you like or dislike, which will completely steal any moment of intimacy with the Lord.  Or you can go to that zone where you decide to press into the Lord.  If we can press into the Lord in the middle of a life crisis; we can press into the Lord even in the midst of the worst musical setting.  It takes “shutting off” your technical ear and “turning on” your focus to the Lord. Simply engage your heart, not your head.

 

CA: I think having been involved with so much recording that there are times when I just want to rest and soak in God’s presence.  We’ve been fortunate to be in home churches that were strong worshipping churches, and the bar was set pretty high musically.  But even when that isn’t the case, I’m still there to pursue the presence of God.  It becomes less of the technical stuff and more about connecting to the lyrics.  I remind myself, this is family, and I want my heart to be right. The Lord really does meet me there.

 

AH: Is there a style, or a type of music that either of you haven’t yet explored, but would like to?

 

LA: Yes, Jazz.  I love Jazz, but I don’t know how it fits into the worship scene.

 

CA: We’ve done a lot of different types of music, but yeah, I guess you don’t hear jazz in worship very often.

 

AH: You could always do a little “Charismatic scat!”

 

LA: (laughing) I’d love it!

 

AH: As you both travel and participate in different times of worship around the world, is there a common word God seems to be speaking to His Church – have you sensed that at all, and if so, what would that be?  How do you see Him moving among us in these times?

 

CA: Well, the first thing I’d say is intimacy.  It seems like wherever we go, people are desperate to experience the presence of God.  I think it’s about the church making time for Him to move in our midst. It’s different for every believer, but I think we know it when we experience it.  This is what we sense from the Lord, “Come closer, give Me time to respond back to you in worship.”  We need to be aware that He is present and worship Him like He is!  That is what He’s wanting; He’s wanting intimacy with us.

 

LA: Even in traditional churches . . .

 

CA: It’s no longer a Charismatic or Pentecostal thing; it’s every denomination, every group.  People just want to experience the Lord.

 

LA: Yes, people are hungry to experience God but sometimes they are not sure how to get there.  It’s an honor for us to host the presence of the Lord and be able to linger in that place.

 

AH: You both have worked on so many different projects, is there one that stands out a little more than the rest?

 

CA: It seems that every project has carried its own vision.  Definitely some of the Ron Kenoly and Don Moen projects were historical in the magnitude of them.  They were a lot of work, but at the same time, a lot of fun.

 

LA: Back in those days, we were scared to death!

 

CA: (Laughing) Yea, a huge band, huge group of singers, dancers, big staging…. Those events were awesome celebrations.  Ron and Don had such a great vision for the multicultural coming together of the Church.  Integrity saw that through really well. Tom Brooks was the senior producer on those records.  Another significant project was Paul Wilbur’s “Shalom Jerusalem.” That was our first trip to Israel and  it was such a great experience.  It’s been a privilege to be involved with so many inspiring projects.

 

AH: Is there a particular ministry, aside from music, that you are, or would like to be involved with?

 

CA: Leann and I have discussed some kind of leadership thing. It seems to be unfolding in our lives already. We’re trying to hear from the Lord about it.  We’d like to host some gatherings that are “God encounters;” creating a place where people can come and experience God.

 

LA: We’re not sure where the Lord will take us in that, but we both know the Lord is moving some things in our life toward that direction.

 

AH: Do either of you have specific plans for the future, either musically or outside of music?

 

LA: I just released my first book called “Screaming On The Inside”.  It unfolds true stories of my life that built faith and character; things I’ve learned, truths I wish I’d known in my teens and twenties.

 

CA: I’m recording Paul Baloche’s new project: he’s been writing a lot of great songs.  Paul is another worship leader that I enjoy working with.  We’ve also done some teaching DVD’s together.

 

Aside from that, Leann and I do a lot more conferences and seminars where we speak and lead worship.  Churches call us to come along side their ministries to help train the “minstrels of the house.”  I still enjoy recording sessions and oddly enough, things are evolving where I am producing more. Following this natural progression, I am putting a studio in my house so I can work on projects when I am home.  I may be working on a new drum video soon as well as writing a book. The last several years, I’ve gotten good practice scripting articles for Worship Musician magazine.

 

LA: Our adventures in life are ever changing as we follow the One who never does. What a ride!

 

Permission granted by Worship Musician Magazine –

www.worshipmusicianmagazine.com


 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Having read Leann’s book and now this article, I believe this special couple show a true example of Christian marriage. Many couples in difficulty could, I believe, resolve their differences by following the guidelines in the book which not only is an inspiring account of Leann’s life but also a Christ centred
    handbook for couples.

    • Hi David,
      I am grateful that the Lord is touching you through my book and postings. That is the best compliment I could ever receive.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
      Many blessings to you.

  2. awarthurhu says

    great message, hello again, we always see you at the worship conference in Redmond and remember when you came out to New Hope Intl at Mercer Island, now leading every now and then at new north campus at Mountlake Terrace WA

    • Thanks Awarthurhu,
      We loved our trip to your part of the world….simply beautiful! Thanks for your note.
      Blessings to you.

  3. I m encouraged by this interview.It gives me a diffrent perspective of marriage.Being in Africa not all marriages last.But with 27years and still keep love going on i believe with God all things are possible.
    God bless you 2.

    • Hi Cliff….Ha….well the odds of staying married here in the US are not good either. Our ONLY hope is the put Jesus in the center of our relationship. When He is there, our love will live forever.
      Bless you!

  4. Hi,

    Am falling in love with u n ur hubby, bcos u guys are just wonderful. I believe u guys are made for each others cos this is God’s doing in ur lives. Thank God for the path u have chosen to take bcos it has really been brought out the God’s gift in you. You are an incredible person, though i v’nt met with u n i pray that it will happen some day. i hv grown to love everything about you even when i did not know ur name but know you as one of the women of faith. I know God will complete his works in you and whatever you are waiting on the Lord’s for, believe me it will locate you. I love you so much and i pray that God will make me to shine just like you, cos i love singing but i have never try to work on that. Listen to your SONGS and some other foreign SONGS has really brought the potential out from me but i dont know what to do n how to start. Seriously, i truly love you and sometime wish im related to you. Remain bless and may God’s grace and love coninue to strengthen u n ur hubby. What a love, in this our generation. Thank God for you two.

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