Born into a family of talented musicians, folk musician Camille Nelson has had an intense love of music for as long as she can remember.
“My mom was an opera singer,” Nelson said. “Madame Butterfly was her main role, and she always encouraged music in the home. She really instilled a love and appreciation of music in my life and in the lives of my other three siblings.”
Camille Nelson's new album,"Lead Me Home," is filled with string instrumental arrangement of classic LDS hymns. | Bryce Johnson
However, throughout Nelson’s childhood, her mother became increasingly ill. During this time, the family turned to music to cope. Her father, a violist, had the idea to start a family string quartet, with Nelson starting on the violin at 6 years old.
“We would play for our mom, and she would light up and smile,” Nelson recalled. “It was mind baffling to see how powerful music really can be in those situations. I loved how songwriting was a therapeutic and artistic process for our family.”
Nelson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently released her first full-length studio album, “Lead Me Home.” Blending elements of folk, classical, bluegrass and new age music, “Lead Me Home” is filled with a variety of traditional LDS hymns. It debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard’s Classical Crossover Albums chart.
Featuring Nelson on both the violin and the guitar, the hymns are also accompanied by a string ensemble with guest artists such as Alex Sharpe (formerly of Celtic Woman), Nelson’s brother Steven Sharp Nelson of The Piano Guys and Ryan Shupe of Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband.
Nelson hopes people feel at peace and “at home” when they listen to the new album.
“There is nothing like home,” Nelson said. “It’s where love is and where relationships grow. I truly feel this album embodies all the peace and happiness that I associate with home and so for me, it was the perfect title choice. Using emotive, reminiscent and peaceful melodies, I feel that I’m able to capture that genuine essence of what it means to be home.”
Behind this “perfect title choice,” Nelson felt like she needed to pick the perfect song list for the album. However, this process was harder than she anticipated.
“It was kind of a crazy process. Nothing was really coming,” Nelson said. “I wasn’t getting anywhere, and I was waiting for inspiration. I figured out that you don’t just wait for inspiration, you have to work at it. If you don’t pray for something, you can’t really get inspiration. You have to pray for it and you have to work for it.”
In order to receive the inspiration she needed, Nelson began “praying (her) heart out.”
“Every single day, I was praying and I was reading the scriptures behind the hymns I was thinking about,” Nelson said. “There were some nights that I accidentally fell asleep with my guitar in hand.”
She related with a favorite story about Thomas Edison. As an old story would have it, Edison would never go to sleep, but he would take naps. He would hold a ball in his hand, and whenever he would fall asleep, the ball would drop.
“That’s when he would wake up and would get all of his ideas,” Nelson said. “That invigorating process of waking up is when he got inspiration. In a Thomas Edison-esque way, I would wake up in the middle of the night with my hand on my guitar and it would come right away.”
According to Nelson, creating the album was an incredibly spiritual experience. She was amazed to see God’s hand throughout the entire process. She found that “it is much more important to be in tune with his will and the inspiration he is willing to give.”
“I saw that now more than ever before. God is so generous with inspiration when you are willing to work at it, and when you have humble intentions,” Nelson said.
Throughout the recording process, Nelson remembered specific experiences she had with the other musicians. One memory that stood out to Nelson was the final string recording session. After that session, the entire room was full of tears “because of the incredible spirit that was there.” Nelson knew it had everything to do with everyone in the room “being in tune and sensitive to the spirit.”
“Coincidences are just evidence of God’s existence, and the relationships the Lord allows in our lives are to help us become closer to him and eventually lead us home,” she said.
“Lead Me Home” is now available on iTunes and Amazon.