Cheri Keaggy began her career as a worship leader at a small church in Southern California. She put out her debut album CHILD OF THE FATHER in 1994 and was nominated for a Dove Award for New Artist of the Year. She has had nine #1 songs and has won one Dove Award. Three of my favourite songs of hers are: ‘Make My Life An Altar’, ‘My Faith Will Stay’, and ‘What Matters Most’. Cheri’s latest and ninth full-length album is NO LONGER MY OWN (2015, Psalm 91 Records). Cheri produced it and is quoted in a press release as saying: “I have often referred to my last album SO I CAN TELL, as my beauty-from-ashes project or my bleeding heart album. But the Lord heals. And this album feels a little more broad. Brokenness humbles you and makes you more sensitive to the world around you and, perhaps even more in tune with the Father’s heart”.
Starting things off is ‘Overcome’ which is an emotional adult contemporary song that is said to be “a response to recent news reports of believers facing persecution, even unto death, and the increase of moral decay in our nation”. In the song Cheri asks God what she should tell the world in the face of such darkness and adversity. This is His response: “Tell them I AM here/I AM watching it all/Please don’t you fear/Don’t you know I have overcome?/Tell them I AM here/I AM lifting you up/The end is near/Don’t you know that I have overcome?/Haven’t I already overcome?.../I’m coming back for you/It won’t be long”. ‘You Save Me’ is a beautiful ballad based on Psalm 119 and begins with these words of spiritual maturity: “It was good for me to be afflicted/That I might learn Your decrees, Lord/And all of those years in the desert/Kept me thirsting for Your Word on my knees/If Your law had not been my delight/I would have perished in the fight/And I will never forget Your wisdom/For by it You renewed my life/And You save me with every word/And You show me what I am worth to You/Age to age, Your truth remains/I meditate on it day and night/Your Word is light, it is life”.
‘You Go Before Me’ is a soft inspirational number that confidently declares who God is: “You are the comfort for every heartache/You were the healing before there was hurt/Doling out strength for the worn and weary/With storehouses brimming with gifts none could earn/You’re the Great King and Your Kingdom will come with sure victory after the war/Brave on the frontline of all these battles/You go before”. The title track ‘No Longer My Own’ was inspired by ‘A Covenant Prayer’ popularized by John Wesley. The former is a sweet song of complete surrender to God: “Put me to doing/Put me to suffering/Put me to what You will/Let me be full or let me have nothing/To You I wholeheartedly yield/For I am no longer my own but Yours/I am no longer my own but Yours/Let me be working/Or lay me aside/Exalted for You or brought low/All to your pleasure/I’m at Your disposal/Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/For I am no longer my own but Yours”. ‘Lucky To Be Breathing Your Air’ is the breezy pop song of one completely in love with God: “Lucky to be breathing Your air/Lucky to be filling this space/Lucky to be counted as one who gets to know amazing grace/Lucky to be one of Your own/Lucky to be never alone.../Lucky to be freed of my shame/Lucky just to utter Your Name”.
A mostly quiet gospel song, ‘Lead me to Your Love’ is next. It thoughtfully reflects on the supernatural: “I don’t claim to understand the mysteries of the spirit man/All I know is if there’s more then, Jesus lead me to it/Standing at the altar now, my hungry heart gets fed somehow/A sweet release, a sacred vow/Deep down, in truth, I knew it/The Love of God is like that, strong/It cuts you to the core/You might dread that you came early then wish you stayed for more”. ‘Be My Sabbath’ is a delightful light rock song that serves as a prayer delivered with raw passion and urgency: “I can’t do this anymore/I’m empty/Be My Source, Be My Sabbath/Take this poor and tattered life/You can have it/Come swallow me up/I’ve had quite enough/I’m ready to crash into Your arms/Be My Source, Be My Sabbath”.
‘Jesus, One and Only’ includes the chirping of crickets and is again prayerful: “Jesus, One and only/Jesus, come and hold me/For the night is getting long/Jesus, send Your Love down/Jesus, drain this fear out/For the night is getting long/Heart so tender, knees so weak/Frail against the aching need/Jesus, won’t You please just take my heart as I bring it to You?” ‘I Love Your Company’ presents God as a loving Father to us, His children: “You can sit, you can cry, or simply abide/Find your rest by My side/You don’t have to do a single thing/Peace be still, you’ll be fine/Be My branch, I’ll be Your Vine/I have loved you all this time/I just want your company/And I long to meet your need/How I love when you just...breathe”.
Cheri’s legendary Uncle Phil Keaggy plays ukulele on ‘Whatever is True (Phil. 4:8)’. It has a playful, folk sound to it and reminds us to guard our thoughts: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble/Whatever is right, whatever is pure/Whatever is lovely and most admirable/I will think on these things, Lord/I will think on these things.../Jesus, You’re true/Jesus, You’re noble/Jesus, You’re right/Jesus, You’re pure/Jesus, You’re lovely and most admirable/I will think on Your Name, Lord/I will think on Your Name”. The lyrics to ‘The Giving Song’ are adapted from Annie Johnson Flint’s ‘He Giveth More Grace’. It is a testimony to God’s goodness: “He gives us more grace when the burdens grow greater/He sends us more strength when the labors increase/To added afflictions He adds on His mercies/To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.../His love has no limits/His grace has no measure/His power no boundary known unto men/For out of His infinite riches in Jesus/He gives and He gives and keeps giving again”.
It is a rare occasion when I give an album a perfect 100% rating. NO LONGER MY OWN, is however, one such album. While listening to it, you will feel as if you are reading Cheri’s personal journal. These are songs directly from her heart that detail with honesty her love relationship with God. Her deep faith in God has been shaped by His faithfulness to her through the good and the bad times in her life. Cheri’s vocals are moving and have a depth and texture to them not found on her earlier projects. Stylistically this album falls mainly into the adult contemporary and inspirational categories. Cheri’s piano playing is wonderful. Other instruments used include: pump organ, accordion, and mandolin. Background vocals are performed by Cheri, Christine and Scott Dente, and Jason Eskridge. The photos of Cheri accompanying this project are very beautiful. I recommend NO LONGER MY OWN to fans of Amy Grant and Cindy Morgan. For more info visit: www.cherikeaggy.com.