First Lutheran Church, Nashville, Tenn.  

I believe God’s love sang all of life into being, each with a voice. I believe each voice is vital, and meant to be shaped and shared in the word that brought us to be. 

Living in India as a child with my parents as missionaries was a most wonderful beginning that continues to influence the way I see the world. I learned the beauty of Jesus’ love listening to the Indian people sing Tamil hymns, and seeing how my mother and father found Christ residing there among the Hindus and Muslims that lived near us.  

I pray that we continue to listen and grow in service to our God-given identity, rather than be named by each current schism, fear, anger or fad. 

As the lead guitarist for Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band since 1988, I have learned through Jimmy that terror is the absence of humor and vice versa, and never to claim full ownership of the source of God’s grace and delight. 

I pray that we continue to listen and grow in service to our God-given identity, rather than be named by each current schism, fear, anger or fad.

Performing and touring with my son Brendan has changed my life in so many ways. He’s taught me that giving up my notions of perfection may be the surest way to step into a better idea and a livable life. 

In my solo career, my faith comes into my music through unexpected ways. We were told often in our 20s while searching for a record deal to “be more edgy, be something else, be more Christian or less Christian.” In other words: “What you’re doing is not the rave or sellable.” It was utter failure on that plane that got me writing songs that my heart and soul were drawn to, whether it was desire, humor, grief, praise or rock ’n’ roll. They’re all motivated in the spirit that we’re connected to God’s persistent uprising, beyond what we suspect. 

Leading the house band at past ELCA Youth Gatherings was an amazing experience. I’ve never been so glad to work that hard and walk away feeling like a new man, full of hope for our kids in this world. 

I struggle with worry and fear of not measuring up. 

A bit of advice I’d give to aspiring musicians is to live that which you seek to be. If you’re a songwriter, guitarist or singer, do it every day. Let those voices seeking a home know that yours is available. Do the practice, playing of gigs, writing and rehearsing more than you talk or post about it. Fail at least as much as you succeed, and you’re on the discovery trail. 

I share my faith by knowing that when with friends or strangers I’m in the presence of God, and by trying to be a good listener. 

I stay connected to my church when I’m on the road by talking about it with audiences and friends. I get online updates about its work around the world and pray for its continued steps.  

I’m a Lutheran because I’m called to be part of that vital choir of service and rejoicing that speaks and listens to a world that needs a song, and needs to know and experience this mighty love of God in Christ.  

My favorite Bible story is … oh, that’s tough, but one that comes immediately to mind is the Luke 1 account of Jesus’ birth. There are angels, there are Zechariah’s, Elizabeth’s and Mary’s beautiful songs—and this wasn’t even a multimillion-dollar production of Hamilton. It touches two great themes in my life—fear of not measuring up, and God’s gift of presence, purpose and a voice for each of us. Emmanuel, “God with us.” 

Having worked in the music industry for a few decades, I’ve learned that (journalist and author) Hunter S. Thompson was right when he said (I’m paraphrasing) that it was a den of thieves, thugs and lowlifes—and then there’s a negative side too. Having been employed by that industry for more than 40 years, I can say that every single one of those lowlifes was just like me, trying not to forget that they do it all for the love of a song. 

People are surprised that I sing in elevators. 

A cause I’m fighting for is to support women, children and families through work by International Partners in Mission and Lutheran World Relief. 


Megan Brandsrud
Brandsrud is a former content editor of Living Lutheran.

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