JACKSON, Tenn. – Feb. 12, 2002 – Nicole Nordeman performed for a full house in Union University’s Coburn Dining Room on Wed., Feb. 6 as part of Union’s 2002 Homecoming Coffeehouse Concert.
Students entered murmuring in anticipation, greeting one another and exchanging jokes as they found their seats. Student Activities Council President Tonya Hale led the student body in a prayer to begin the evening. As we opened our eyes, we saw Nordeman sitting in front of us. No backup band accompanied her; it was just Nordeman and her piano. She appeared approachable and comfortable, a far cry from the showy presentation I’ve seen at many other concerts.
The concert followed much in the same pattern of honest, raw music and testimony. Nordeman’s vocals flowed like liquid silk over the piano’s sometimes subdued, sometimes intensely powerful notes that swam out of the speakers. Her lyrics reveal a spiritual maturity that has obviously evolved through the incidents that she described between songs. These stories, both humorous and poignant, let the audience learn more about who Nordeman is and the journey from which these songs emerged.
Highlights included Nordeman’s open number, a tongue-in-cheek tribute to modern life and popular culture “Is It Any Wonder?” Spotlighting Nordeman’s ability to blend stylistic elements of many musical forms, the piano came to life with a bluesy sound complimented by vocal stylings that sound like a fusion between a blues bar singer, folk rock, and rhythm and blues.
Another favorite, “Wide-Eyed,” off of Nordeman’s first album of the same name, tells of Nordeman’s encounters with various people with different beliefs than her own during the years she lived in Los Angeles. Powerfully honest, Nordeman is not afraid to reveal her weaknesses, just as she reveals her desire to grow as a Christian. Raw passion flowed on “Who You Are,” a song about trying to get to the heart of God and truly know and experience Him. Nordeman frequently clenched her fist and shut her eyes as the music swelled throughout this powerful song.
With the skill of a classical piano master, Nordeman used her lyrics and voice to tell the story of Jesus’ crucifixion through the eyes of a child, to encourage by assuring that God is there through all of life seasons, and plead for reconciliation between differences within the Christian faith. Not only playing already recorded songs, Nordeman also treated the audience to a sample from her upcoming album-in-progress, a touching tribute to God as Heavenly Father spoken to with the same loving words as an earthly father.
The evening ended with a medley of U2’s “I Still Haven't Found What I’m Looking For,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” and the chorus of “O Come All Ye Faithful” with the audience singing along. An attitude of worship prevailed throughout the entire evening, and this final set emphasized this commitment to glorifying God. The audience continued singing and praying even after Nordeman had left the stage.
Nordeman’s place as one of Christian music’s rising stars is well-deserved. Her touching stories and passionate delivery on her first two albums, 1998’s Wide-Eyed and 2000’s This Mystery, reveal her immense talent and devotion to God. Union was blessed to have Nordeman perform as part of this year’s homecoming. She most certainly has new fans among the student body.
By Jody Webster,
Class of 2004
Sara B. Horn,