Welcome to Day 1 of “Girls of Christian Indie!” Now, before you go and get your minds in the gutter, this is gonna be a clean list. I was thinking about it the other day how most bands are fronted by guys, and this is especially true in the mainstream market. Girls who don’t like to lip-synch or dance around half-naked (or do this) have a harder time than their male counterparts in making it in the mainstream market. Indie, though, indie is a different story.
Sort of. There still is an over-abundance of guys in indie music, but I feel there is more of an openness to girls who wanna make some noise. For the next week or two, depending on how you all like the theme, I’ll be posting about some of the women of indie music who I think deserve your attention. This will not be a best-of list – just a list of some musicians you shouldn’t skip past.
First off, meet Lori Chaffer. With a voice that can go from soft and soothing to loud and powerful to high and dreamy, all in the same song, Lori’s got a vocal range that’s impressive. Ever since I heard her singing with Waterdeep, I was hooked. With so many copycat dancing Christian pop girl bands (nice imagery, huh?), Lori Chaffer is a nice alternative.
Lori Chaffer is probably best known for her work with the roots rock band Waterdeep, though she released an excellent solo album 1Beginning in 2003. Like I said earlier, she’s got an amazing voice. At times, she can be almost harsh sounding, definitely not “pretty,” yet at other times her voice is as soft and sweet and dreamy as could be. Sometimes her voice will crack or hit a note a little off, but it’s all because she’s singing with such intensity and emotion.
The band Waterdeep began way back in 1992 when Don Chaffer (Lori’s husband) played some music at a coffeehouse. Lori married Don and joined the band in 1996 and has been around for 13 albums (some Waterdeep stuff and some side and solo projects) and 12 years of touring.
A lot of Lori Chaffer’s and Waterdeep’s songs deal with broken people in situations where they have to call out to God for help. Says Don Chaffer here:
Our need for God is revealed in our brokenness, whether it’s physical, spiritual, emotional or whatever. Life can knock people to their hands and knees and be very humbling and painful. And yet it’s in those times when we’re on our hands and knees that we’re most likely to realize our need for God and to crawl towards him.
Another interesting aspect of the band is the “Waterdeep Community.” Don, Lori, and other band members have fostered a real friendship with fans, encouraging them to share music, record live shows, and hang out and talk during and after the show.
And what are these shows like? I don’t know from first-hand experience, but here’s what they say about themselves on their bio:
The five piece band is known for taking chances, for improvising on the fly, for sailing out into uncertain seas, and somehow finding their way back to dry land. Tapes of their live shows are a hotly collected item because of the fluid approach they take to their music; songs are seldom performed the same way twice, and completely new musical exchanges are generated spontaneously as they go. This gives the music a living, breathing, rooted feel, with very little pretense and a welcoming vulnerability, especially when their voices and instruments begin to brood and soar in a creative act of worship. There’s a pregnant sense that anything could happen.
It’s too bad they stopped touring in 2004, but maybe they’ll get back into it sometime just for fun. If they do, I’ll for sure check them out.
Anyway, I just love Lori Chaffer’s distinct voice, so I couldn’t resist putting up three songs instead of my usual two:
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