By Jenny Collins '05
Elizabeth Hunnicutt ’02 has come a long way from singing out of Amy Grant songbooks as a kid. For the past decade she’s been living in “two worlds” as a worship leader and an independent singer/songwriter/performer.
Having grown up in Nebraska and Colorado, Hunnicutt moved to Minnesota in 1998 to study music at Northwestern and remained until 2009, leading worship in several well-known churches and developing her music, described as acoustic-folk-pop.
While it may seem a natural pairing, she admits it can be tricky to balance. “In worship leading, I feel like my role is to immediately turn people’s eyes to God. And that they hear from God and I am the facilitator,” she explained. “When I’m performing, I feel like my role is to capture people’s attention and say, ‘Listen. Listen to what I have to say,’ whether it’s a story or truth about God.”
In 2006, she captured the Gospel Music Association Academy’s attention and won Song of the Year for “Alright” and second place for “Drink You Deep,” both off her second album, Finding Me Here.
In March 2011 she released her fourth CD, Beautiful Love, and has been touring different cities to promote the record that features 10 original songs and a cover of the hymn “It is Well With My Soul.” The CD also features a rerecorded version of the first worship track she wrote, “Now Is the Time.”
“I wrote that in a practice room at Northwestern, probably when I should’ve been practicing,” said Hunnicutt, who plays guitar, piano and “a bit of the ukulele.”
Born from deep faith and personal experiences, her songs are honest, heartfelt, even prayerful expressions of doubt and struggle mixed with joy and hope—reflecting yet another duality of living on earth as a child of God with eternity in mind.
In late 2009 she moved from the megachurch mecca of Minnesota to the San Francisco Bay Area to be a part of a church community of 120 people, founded by NWC friends Jeremy Swigart ’01 and his wife Jackie ’02. “I’m thankful I’m at a church where I’m just a normal person,” she said. “I’ve been in that place where the worship leader is a celebrity.”
She maintains the connections to several Twin Cities churches, traveling to be a guest worship leader or play at events. Though she wrestled with the focus, she feels strongly called to the church. “I want to love and encourage believers, but also challenge them. If God is calling them into something, I want to help push them towards that, to reconsider the way they’re living their lives.”