Vanessa and Jason Griggs and their children Jay and Allison of the gospel group Endless Highway take on the role of storytellers on their new album, Countless. With songs that paint a picture of life's stories - the good and the bad - this collection is relatable, allowing for moments of reflection and hope. Countless, set to be released March 20, is now available for pre-order.
Q: Thank you so much for doing this interview with us. Let me start off by saying I love your new EP. It has a more country sound, which I love, why did you go for a more country sound?
A: Thank you for your kind regards! We love a variety of musical styles and variety seems to be "our style." We are all musicians and our instrumental abilities lean toward the country style. Part of the design of this project is that we would play these songs live in concert rather than using a full instrument soundtrack. We love the sound and instrumentation of 90's Country. This project allowed us to add another element of musical diversity to our music portfolio. We were able to marry the idea of a story songs project with a country sound that we can reproduce instrumentally in a live setting.
Q: I love the story songs which the EP is full of. Why are stories in songs important for you?
A: The storyline is the foundational cornerstone of any great song. We wanted this project to relay realistic events or situations that everyone encounters at some point in his or her life. Basically, the purpose was to present more of a life stories project with a positive Christian theme rather than Bible story songs, which is predominately know in Southern Gospel.
These songs are stories of birth, death, military service, children growing up and leaving home, dealing with personal significance, etc. that most of us can deeply relate to. As we've already begun to stage these songs, the response has been overwhelming! People come to us telling us their personal stories, sometimes hugging us and sobbing! These story songs seem to strike a deep chord. We've already been able to minister to folks and encourage them because of these songs. The more you listen to this project the more these stories "sink in."
Q: Talk to us about the making of this new EP, what were some of the highlights for you?
A: While I can't overemphasize the contribution of great written material, it's always amazing to witness how a producer approaches the production of a song. Since this was a project full of life stories, we were curious how each song would be constructed to compliment each story. Jeff Collins, producer, created the perfect accompaniment for each song to support the vocal, but not distract from the storyline.
Q: One song I have on repeat is "Til They Came Home." Can you tell our readers what the song is about? Why did you choose this song?
A: This song particularly spoke to Van and she wanted to sing it. Van vividly remembers singing back in the early 1990's during Operation Desert Storm. Churches would have tables set up with pictures of members and family members who were serving in the military. It was a weekly reminder of the reality of war, the personal sacrifices of war, and as a reminder to pray for those serving.
Forever etched in Van's memory are the memories of seeing family members praying and trusting God to keep their loved ones safe and to bring them back home and also seeing the brokenness of those whose loved ones lost their lives in the war. The song portrays the struggles of 3 different couples in which one of the spouses has been deployed to serve in 3 separate wars. Some soldiers make it home and unfortunately, some give the ultimate sacrifice and come home covered in the American flag.
Q: Another story song I really like is "Somebody's World Changed Today." Tell us more about your thoughts about this track.
A: Let me first say that this song is powerful and timeless. It presents two scenarios that happen every day. When we first listened to the demo that Kenna West sent, we knew that we had to record this song. The imagery in the lyric is so incredibly rich. As you hear the first line of each verse, you can literally envision what is happening and get a mental picture of the scenario. For example, "a pink bow on the mailbox says" immediately let's you know that a family has just welcomed a baby girl into their lives.
"A tent pitched in a field of stone" immediately transports you to a graveside and you realize that someone has just lost a loved one. Everyone can relate to these scenarios either directly or indirectly through family members and fiends. This timeless song can comfort and minister to the listener.
Q: I also love your cover of the Wilkinson's country hit "26 Cents." What prompted you to cover this song? Are you fans of country music from the 90s?
A: Yes, we are great fans of the 90's Country music sound. We love the harmonies of The Wilkinson's. As Jay and Ally we're growing up, they sang along with the Wilkinson's cd's a lot and especially the project which featured 26 Cents. We learned this song and staged it for a Mother's Day event.
The response was so overwhelming that even though we realize this is a country song, we decided to begin including it in our set when appropriate. At our concerts, families began to tell us that this was "their song" when their children were growing up and they were so glad we were singing it. We've had people come to us sobbing about the loss of a child or about the loss of a parent and how they wish they could pick up the phone and have one more conversation. Even though the pay phone is an obsolete part of our past now, the story in this song is a timeless message that everyone can relate to at some point in their lives.
Q: Talk to us about the current single and title cut "Countless."
A: When Kenna West sent us this song, Jay and Ally immediately felt that their generation needed to hear this message. We live in a culture where value is placed on success, achievement, and social notoriety. With the advent of social media, the youth of today are bombarded with these issues. Regardless of age, many feel as if they are alone in this world and wonder if their mere existence really matters and makes a difference.
In these moments, we have to remember just how lavishly God really loves each of us and how valuable every single life is to Him! This song reminds us that His thoughts are continually on each of us and there's never a time that He doesn't love us. We felt that this song conveyed a message that we all need to be reminded of and encouraged by.
Q: How do you wish this new EP would impact the lives of your listeners?
A: It is our hope that the listener will deeply relate to these life stories and find comfort, peace, and encouragement.