by Kevin Burton
Evie Karlsson has one of those voices I can’t confuse with anyone else’s. I may have confused you though, by using her last name.
I am answering the “album challenge” by writing on Tuesdays about records that influenced me as a youth. This is my second such post.
Professionally Evie only used her first name. Her maiden name was Tornquist, married name is Karlsson. She was just Evie though, to all the DJs who spun her tunes on Christian radio in the late 70s and early 80s.
In 1979 she released “Never The Same.” on Word Records.
Evie was born in Rahway, New Jersey to Norwegian immigrants. Her music career started during a family visit to Norway when she was just 14.
She was wildly popular at the beginning of what we now call Contemporary Christian music. She won Dove awards as female vocalist of the year in 1977 and 1978. Her message then is her message now.
“The treasure I hold dearest to my heart is knowing Christ and experiencing the joy of making Him known,” Evie writes on her website, “www.eviemusic.org.”
I was a new Christian in the late 70s. Evie’s music stood out as clear, heartfelt and catchy. Her message was very straightforward, which is what I needed. The purpose behind her music was to spread the gospel. She never strayed from that. The style is medium rock, not real heavy but far from cheesy.
The set leads off with “Live For Jesus.” The title alone sets a tone. The opening lyric is, “Oh I want to be remembered as the girl who sang her songs for Jesus Christ.” The chorus includes the lines, “Live for Jesus, that’s what matters, that you see the light in me and come along.”
I have not read anything about Evie that mentions “Special Delivery” as one of her best songs. To me, it’s easily her very best.
The song is written in three/four or waltz time. The pace of the song invokes a mother on a porch swing with her child, telling stories. The song is about how Jesus came into the world by “special delivery.”
In the last verse there is a chord change and a wonderful twist. Evie talks about her own death, but by now the song and the listener are bathed in comfort. So there is something thrilling in the telling. “When I’m called, I will go gladly….for I know where I’ll be going and I will be going to see Him at last.”
“I’m going special delivery. wrapped up in love, bound by a promise, sealed by a dove…”
One intriguing song on the album is “Home.” Evie attempts to define the word home. At first you can feel a road weariness in the music and the vocals.
As the song goes on a strength and quiet confidence become more prominent, until she sings the last line “home is where the Lord is, that’s where I belong.”
If most of the albumis an invitation, “Don’t Run From Reality,” is a warning. It’s the closest thing to a rocker on the album. In it she says Jesus Christ is the one reality and warns listeners to face every day as it is.
The song “Hold On” speaks to perseverance in Christ. But it also reminds me of a rock and roll cliché.
How many times does a singer says something like “your sweet love is the only thing that keeps me holding on?” A relevant question is, “Holding on, to what? What are you holding on to?
Evie has that answer and in her music it’s unmistakable.
“Never The Same” is one of three Evie records to be nominated for a Grammy in the category “best contemporary gospel performance.”
She retired from music in 1981 to pursue other forms of ministry, according to her Wikipedia entry.
She has been inducted into both the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Christian Music Hall of Fame.