Singer-songwriter Cindy Morgan is a two-time Grammy nominee, a thirteen-time Dove winner, and a recipient of the prestigious Songwriter of the Year award. An East Tennessee native, her evocative melodies and lyrics have mined the depths of life and love both in her own recording and through songwriting for artists such as Vince Gill, India.Arie, Rascal Flatts, Amy Grant, Sandra McCracken, and Glen Campbell.
Cindy is the author of two works of adult nonfiction—the memoir How Could I Ask for More: Stories of Blessings, Battles and Beauty (Worthy Inspired, 2015) and Barefoot on Barbed Wire: A Journey Out of Fear into Freedom (Harvest House Publishers, 2001)—and of the children’s picture book Dance Me, Daddy (ZonderKidz, 2009). The Year of Jubilee is her debut novel.
She has two daughters and splits her time between a small town near Nashville and Holly Springs, North Carolina, with her husband, Jonathan.
Which came first in your life, the desire to write words or music?
When I was around six years old my grandfather Barney, who had come to live with us, restored an old baby grand piano. It was clunky and had aged keys, but it was the first time I had seen a piano, much less one as grand as this one. I composed my first song on that piano, so that was both music and lyrics— a simultaneous event. But as I grew older, I feel that words took the lead as I spent hours writing poetry. So I would say that words are much more of a driving force in my life, and the music is sometimes the vehicle.
Just as all good novels include a plot twist, the Author and Creator of our lives often writes in a twist that ultimately blesses us more than our original plan. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?
Yes, absolutely. I believe my “divine detour” happened when I was visiting family in Ohio as a child. I went to a Greek Orthodox church with my cousins whose father was Greek, and it was the first time I ever heard a cello, and a full orchestra playing. There was something very significant about that moment for me—that connection between music and the expression of creativity and the calling that God connected me to my expression of faith through writing.
Let’s talk about your new book, The Year of Jubilee (Tyndale House, April 2023). Please tell us about it.
The Year of Jubilee is a coming-of-age story set in the tumultuous time of the civil rights movement in 1963, in the foothills of eastern Kentucky. It is a story about Grace Mockingbird, a fourteen-year-old girl trying to come to terms with her past, find her own voice in the times she is living in, reconcile the trauma she and her family have suffered, and the difficulty of the mother-daughter dynamic she feels trapped by.
What inspired you to write it?
It was inspired by my very first memory as a child, connected to the death of my brother Samuel, a week before his fifth birthday.
What do you most hope your readers will take away from the story?
I guess the best answer is to tell you what I came away with after writing it. I grew in empathy for others, people with whom I didn’t naturally connect. I learned more about people who don’t look like me or believe exactly what I believe. I also came to terms with the hard truth that sometimes suffering is the only thing that will change our perspective. I think there is freedom in accepting the fact that life will not always be happy, but there is a beautiful depth we gain through our struggles.
A few fun questions…
If someone asked you to describe yourself with one word, what word would that be?
What Bible passage or story best describes your personal journey of faith?
Luke 12:22-34, do not worry. Those are well-worn pages in my Bible.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the superheroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Definitely the little girl trying to walk in high heels. Always trying out something that feels a bit beyond me.
Thank you, Cindy! It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.
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To order The Year of Jubilee, visit the Tyndale House website.