The themes of restoration and recovery run through Natasha Owens’ debut album, I Made it Through. You can see it in the song titles -- Let Go, Heal Me, The Cure, plus the title track . And you can hear the hope in Owens’ pleading, pure voice.
The Christian singer, who was raised partly in Arlington and is now based in Dallas, designed the album to be uplifting, but she had to be lifted out of a pretty dark period of her own before recording it.
In May 2010, Owens’ parents were in the process of moving from their Colleyville home. As they packed, her father, Michael Harlow, was cleaning his guns.
“He was cleaning a Glock,” Owens says. “With those, there is no safety, and you can pull back the chamber to see if there’s a bullet in there. If there is one, it will put it in the chamber without you even seeing it. But you have to pull the trigger in order to take off the slide. He was sitting at the table doing that, and when he pulled the trigger to take off the slide, there was a bullet in the chamber, and it just hit him right in the heart.”
Owens was on her way to have lunch with her parents when she got the call about her father, who was 58. “I was running late,” she says. “So he just continued to pack and clean ... until I got over there. I was actually five minutes away from the hospital when I got the call from my mom.”
As Owens recounts this during a phone interview, her voice is steady, and she emphasizes that it’s important for her to explain the genesis for her album. The road to get there was filled with anger at God, guilt, and unexpected turns -- such as the pastor at her church asking her to lead the music ministry shortly after the accident happened.
“I was in a depression when I came off that shock,” Owens says. “It was hard for me to get out of bed every day. My first question was, ‘I don’t understand how I can help other people when I can’t even help myself.’ He told me, ‘That’s the funny thing about God. Sometimes he calls us when we’re the most broken in order for us to reach out to others so we get our healing.’ ”
Owens accepted the music ministry post, but admits she was struggling with a crisis of faith.
“I questioned if there was a heaven, I questioned if there was a God,” Owens says. “I was so angry, and every week I was getting up and leading people into praise and worship. ... I dealt with a lot of guilt, because I felt like I was being hypocritical.”
Owens says she didn’t realize it at the time, but every song she chose for the choirs was about healing and restoration. In trying to give others comfort, she was finding a way to comfort herself and renew her relationship with God.
But she was running a business and raising children, and her life became too busy. Reluctantly, she resigned from the music minister positionand prayed for a sign.
The next morning, she got a phone call from Jacob Lowery, a Nashville-based producer/songwriter who had worked with such contemporary Christian stars as Michael W. Smith.
“I had crossed paths with him a couple of times,” Owens says. “He said my name came up in a production meeting that day, and he wanted to know if I was interested in making a CD. I told him that it had to be a project of restoration, because I wanted to give people hope [that] God would never leave them.”
Lowery solicited help from other Christian songwriters, and he and Owens whittled down a list of 30 songs to I Made it Through’s 10 tracks.
“The ones that we picked, it was almost like God had given the writer a glimpse into my emotions [and] words that described what I went through,” Owens says. “And the pathway from beginning to end. If you put them in a certain order, it’s the beginning of a trial all the way to making it through one.”
I Made it Through is already available on Amazon and iTunes, and Owens opened for Smith during an October show in New York. Other dates with Smith and with Christian star Jason Crabb are in the works. But the official record-release concert will be Saturday, Nov. 30, at Heartland Church in Carrollton.
Owens says she is also getting some attention from Christian radio, and she and her band are scheduled to appear on the Tuesday, Nov. 26 edition of Good Day, KDFW/Channel 4’s morning show. She has also been working on a new single that she plans to release to secular pop and country radio as well as to Christian stations.
Says Owens: “God just opened so many doors.”