Jasperse brings folksy sound to Canyon Worship
Seventh of a series featuring the 10 student artists who wrote the songs for Canyon Worship 2021, scheduled to be released in September. Today: Nicole Jasperse.
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Dr. Randall Downs, Coordinator of the Worship Arts program, marvels at Nicole Jasperse’s ability to play multiple musical instruments. So it’s ironic that one of her many songs made the Canyon Worship album for the first time thanks to a mistake she made on the guitar.
“I was like, ‘Oo, that mistake was so pretty!’” she said to herself.
It became the first note of “You My God.”
“I started building it musically first. I can’t even remember the first few lyrics I put to it. I just remember I was like, ‘These don’t fit. There’s something else that needs to go with this musical idea.’ I usually don’t step away from an idea for a while and come back to it, so that was unique in that way.
“When I came back to it, I started writing a song about waiting on the Lord. I kept repeating this ‘waiting on the Lord’ chorus. Then I found a psalm that talked about that (Psalm 62). That filled in the lyrics for the verses.”
Like so many of the student artists on Canyon Worship 2021, it grew from her experience during the pandemic, when she took a break from being on the Grand Canyon University campus and studied online.
“That was just a time of waiting for me,” she said, and she remembers praying, “God, I don’t know what my plans are for school after this. I’m not sure it’s going to happen.”
And yet so many good things have happened for Jasperse since that Discover GCU trip that took her from her home in Moorhead, Minnesota, just across the border from Fargo, North Dakota, to Phoenix.
A high school friend had told her about the Canyon Worship albums, and she wanted to go to a university that had a four-year Worship Arts degree. It was a perfect fit.
“I love this space,” she said of the Worship Arts program. “It has a lot to offer students, but there’s a sense of peace about it. It gets me excited but also has this peace of, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.’
“The Songwriters Lounge is such a great place to do fellowship with classmates. I’m so inspired by my classmates and peers. The community is incredible.”
And, like so many other students in the program, that fellowship and the access to the GCU Recording Studio has enabled her to produce an album of her own. “Life I Guess” (available on Apple Music and Spotify) has been so well received, it earned her this gig on Saturday in Fargo. She estimates that she has written about 150 songs.
“Her writing is that of a storyteller with metaphorical stylings like a poet,” said Eric Johnson, Manager of the GCU Recording Studio. “Her musical flavor is acoustic and folksy. You might imagine sitting outside on a farmhouse porch looking across the fields of grain in the long afternoon sun while the sound of her guitar fills the atmosphere.
“Nicole is an accomplished guitarist and songwriter. She has a gentle way about her, but make no mistake, there is a fire burning just beneath that calm exterior that is evident in the stories of her songs.”
Jasperse’s ability to produce such beautiful music has her torn about her future.
“I definitely want to lead worship for the rest of my life, but whether I want that to be my job forever is another question,” she said. “I love songwriting so much, I guess my dream job would be to write songs.”
No doubt she could do either one well.
“She can play so many different instruments. She has such an amazing voice,” Downs said. “Mark Huggins has shown me things she’s written for class, and it’s amazing.”
Johnson noted that “You My God” is a good example of what producers Geoff Hunker and Dave Wiley bring to the album. They stayed true to her musical stylings while offering a slightly more embellished instrumentation by adding a live string arrangement by College of Fine Arts and Production student (and now graduate) Ryan Ardelt. His arrangement was sent off to Nashville to be recorded by a string quartet.
“I love this song and the meditative sound it brings to the middle of the Canyon Worship 2021 album,” Johnson said. “Watch for more to come from Nicole Jasperse. She is still writing and recording and shows no signs of slowing down.”
There’s no mistaking it.
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