From Chapel to Canyon Worship, her ministry heals
Second of a series featuring the 10 student artists who wrote the songs for Canyon Worship 2021, scheduled to be released in September. Today: Nicole Raum.
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Even if they didn’t know her by name, many of her peers in the Grand Canyon University student body felt as if they knew Nicole Raum.
She was a singing member of the Worship team at Chapel for the last three years before graduating in April. Her many solos, sung with such grace and passion, had as much of an effect on her as they did on the audience.
“I think it’s really cultivated a love for me for all of our students,” she said. “You can’t be up there almost every week leading people in worship and not care about them.”
It led to situations where someone would see her on campus and couldn’t resist saying, “Hey, aren’t you on the Worship team?” With that simple question, she started her own little ministry.
“It’s a really cool opportunity to care about our students and to feel almost like a shepherd,” she said. “It has given me a broader scope of seeing GCU as a ministry and caring for the spiritual growth of our students.”
Raum’s own spiritual growth culminated in her selection, with Elaina Marchegger for “Forevermore,” as one of the student artists on Canyon Worship 2021.
It’s the first time for Raum, after years of trying. But there wasn’t an it’s-about-time-I-made-it element to it. Just joy.
“It was, honestly, really sweet and not like, ‘Finally, my moment,’” she said. “I’m grateful for all the times where I didn’t get a song on the album because it really set me up for this moment, to not be self-gratified but to be like, ‘I really hope God uses this.’”
Raum stayed on as an employee after graduation – funny how often that happens with students who just can’t bear to leave. She also was on campus last summer to record her own album, “The Crown is Upside Down,” which can be heard on Spotify and Apple Music.
“Nicole’s voice is beautiful and clear, reminiscent of Joni Mitchell,” Recording Studio Manager Eric Johnson said. “And her songwriting is introspective and captures the mystery of connection between God and His people. I can imagine listening to Nicole’s songs while reflecting on God’s Word.”
The genesis of “Forevermore” was an impromptu worship session in March 2020. Students had just been told that they would need to leave campus early and take the final four weeks of classes online, and it was such a shock that Raum and her friends decided to find an empty classroom on a rainy night and just sing together.
“While we were singing, this chorus popped into my head and I started singing it,” Raum said.
It was simple and powerful:
You are the same yesterday, today, forevermore.
You never change yesterday, today, forevermore.
A month later, Marchegger contacted her and said, ‘Hey, remember that thing you sang? I think we should turn it into a song.’”
Marchegger had an idea for the bridge, and in a one-hour Face Time session, they combed through their Bibles and soon had the two verses, too.
It’s not as if Raum never had a role in previous Worship Arts projects – she was a frequent guest singer. But getting her name on Canyon Worship 2021 also was joyful for Dr. Randall Downs, Worship Arts Coordinator for the College of Theology.
“She submitted great songs throughout the years, so I was really happy to see her song get selected,” he said. “The two of them working together was a really nice combination. Their vocal blend is beautiful.”
It’s the kind of teamwork Raum saw often during her four years completing a double major in Worship Arts and Christian studies.
She has made numerous friends while spending much of her spare time at the Recording Studio – “All of my closest friends are from this program” – but the twice-a-year Songwriters Showcase is where the depth of those friendships truly resonates.
The Worship Arts students could act triumphant or bitter during the Showcase, in which students are chosen to perform their songs before their peers and whoever else wants to come. But that’s not what it’s about.
“I think one thing that Worship Arts does really well is celebrating each other and championing each other,” Raum said. “There’s definitely an opportunity for competition to arise in this program, but I think that we’re not interested in that. Even in Showcase, you see everyone there just celebrating each other’s songs.”
Raum is perfectly happy to be celebrating her time at GCU a bit longer as an employee. Eventually, she would like to be a worship leader at a church, but what really interests her is women’s ministry.
“Growing up, I never had a female worship leader. It brought about a passion in me to fill that gap,” she said. “I’m more passionate about the relational side, one-on-one discipleship.”
Just like those spur-of-the-moment sessions she had with students on campus. Now her ministry is forever emblazoned on Canyon Worship – for all the world to hear.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
Related content from Canyon Worship 2021:
GCU Today: The music of Canyon Worship is all grown up
Related content from previous Canyon Worship albums:
GCU Today: ‘Amazing’ Canyon Worship album released