In only a few years life has changed dramatically for Kim Walker-Smith. Two
children have been born into her world. The new mama's identity as a person
and artist has had to be redefined. Post partum depression descended like a
heavy blanket on the worship leader's day-to-day life. Overwhelming
responsibilities swirled within and without, and a sudden death devastated
her already weary heart. In her weakest most vulnerable moments
Walker-Smith was left asking the question familiar to us all: "Jesus, are
You really for me?" His answer birthed a tale of hope woven into her new
album, On My Side.
Walker-Smith is considered one of Christian music's top female worship
leaders as well as one of the founding leaders of the Jesus Culture
movement. For seventeen years, she has travelled the world leading worship,
sharing at conferences, and recording numerous live albums with Jesus
Culture (most recently Let It Echo, 2016), associated with such
worship anthems as "How He Loves," "Spirit Break Out," "In the River," and
many more. In the midst of all of Jesus Culture's momentum, Walker-Smith
launched her solo career with This Is My Song (2008) followed up
by Still Believe (2013), as well as an album with her husband ( Home, 2013). It's been four years and a lot of life has happened
since Walker-Smith's last solo album. For one, she became a mother.
"Becoming a mom was a huge transition for me. I've always been a
career-minded person, so becoming a mother didn't feel natural right away,"
remembers Walker-Smith. "I really struggled for a while and had bad post
partum after my second baby was born. We're on the road, traveling,
recording albums, and I have two babies 14 months apart. It was a lot in
every sense of the word: mentally, hormonally, logistically and
emotionally. I also struggled with what it looked like to have a
relationship with the Lord as a mother. You're not the same person anymore
when you have a baby, so suddenly, I'm trying to relate to the Lord in the
same way I used to but as a different version of myself. I had to work
through my new identity as a mother."
As Walker-Smith's family grew, Jesus Culture as a movement decided to move
from Redding, CA to plant a church in Sacramento, CA. Kim and and her
husband Skyler found the additional transition an added challenge as they
adjusted to life in a big city, while trying to find a home and putting in
extra hours to get their new faith community up and running. Then
Walker-Smith received the phone call she would never be ready to receive.
"In the midst of this big move and trying to find a home and planting a
church and becoming a mother, my stepdad, who was dad to me, passed away,"
shares Walker-Smith. "He had been sick for a long time with Parkinson's,
but even when you know someone is dying, it doesn't make it any easier. It
felt like a shock. I thought that maybe I'd be prepared, but I wasn't. This
is the stuff that tests our faith and our journey, the kind of stuff that
acts as a litmus test for where we are in our relationship with Him. You
think, 'Ok, I know that You're good, I know that You love us, I know that
You can heal, but what I'm seeing and what I'm experiencing doesn't line up
with what I know of You right now.' What was so amazing though, in spite of
it all, is that my dad never stopped asking the Lord to heal him, he never
stopped praying, and he never stopped believing
in the goodness and the kindness of Jesus. He held nothing against the Lord
in the midst of the torment he went through, and that was a huge testimony
The grieving has been a process, and one that takes time. Kim credits her
stepfather for bringing spiritual leadership and consistency to her family
after marrying her mother when she was 12, which led to her decision to
follow Christ as a teenager.
The last four years have not been easy, but Kim has emerged from the valley
with a strong desire to share the story of God's goodness and presence in
the midst of overwhelming circumstances. On My Side is the result,
a string of beautifully woven worship songs merging the sentiments of her
early faith with the depth of devotion found only with time, experience,
and a teachable heart. With so much to say, Walker-Smith ended up being a
writer on almost every song on the album. She also decided to step into new
territory by recording each song in the studio, a departure from the live
album experience for which Jesus Culture is so well known.
"I wanted people to feel like they are hearing and feeling the emotion that
I have felt in these songs," describes Walker-Smith. "In a live setting
it's kind of hard to capture that emotion, but in the studio you can
capture the subtleties, nuances and inflections a lot better. It was really
nerve wracking and uncomfortable because I'm not used to going into the
studio at all, but these songs felt like they needed to be done that way.
People will still hear spontaneous worship, big vocals and a full band with
a lot of energy, but overall it's a different sound, with different types
of songs and a different feel."
On My Side
successfully captures Walker-Smith's vision, declaring adoration and hope
with every synth-filled melody and soaring vocal. From the opening lines of
"Brave Surrender" to the closing prayer of "Fresh Outpouring," Walker-Smith
proclaims that Jesus is always enough, regardless of the situation. Now
expecting her third child, the worship leader was motivated to create music
that conveyed transparency and honesty, desiring for her children to
understand life in all its seasons, including the tough ones.
"Yes, it has been a really difficult season, but it was never without hope.
Jesus has been here in the midst of all of it with me, walking through it
with me, refusing to leave me alone in the mess. Not once has He made me
feel ashamed that I'm even in the mess or that I need to fix it or
clean it up. Instead, Jesus has given me complete freedom to be myself in
all of this, to let all of the emotions come out, whatever they may be.
Jesus never ran from the emotions, never made me feel bad about the
feelings I was experiencing. Now there's this new depth in my relationship
with him, one of deeper trust and a renewed faith. I came out of this
season feeling the need to tell a story and this is the one I want