Nicole Unser grew up on country music, from Reba McEntire to George Jones and Lee Ann Womack. Something about their honest, heart-felt lyrics connected with the Spokane, Washington native whose career has taken her on a winding journey through Nashville, Tennessee and Austin, Texas, down Mississippi backroads and around sun-dappled New Mexican mesas. Along the way, Unser has collected stories – her own and others’ – turning them into songs about the goodness of God amidst the heartbreaks of life. As she says, “In my heart of hearts I’m a storyteller… and sometimes I need to sing to do that.”
And in the tradition of great storytellers, Unser delivers insight and truth with a genuine love of people and a salt-of-the-earth manner that is all her own. Her latest story, “Fear You Don’t Own Me,” is a declaration of freedom found in Christ and is delivered in Unser’s raspy-sweet vocal style reminiscent of Miranda Lambert, Jewel and Sarah Buxton. It’s a miraculous and precious statement from a woman who lived in fear for many years, beginning with a childhood overshadowed by a parent’s mental illness. Now, as a woman standing sure in the love and healing of God, Unser sings a victor’s song, whether leading worship for her congregation, playing at cowboy churches, ministering at conferences or singing spontaneous songs over her adopted teenage daughters around the kitchen table. Unser’s story, and that of her family, is one of redemption, restoration, grace and hope told against the backdrop of the country music she loves.
“I write music about real things, hard things, that meet people right where they are but doesn’t just leave them there,” says Unser, whose musical influences are as diverse as Hank Williams’ songwriting granddaughter, Holly Williams, and rapper NF. “This is not about entertainment, it is about transformation. My prayer is that this music leads people back into the love, healing and restoration of God.”
In addition to the new “Fear, You Don’t Own Me” single now available through digital platforms, Unser plans to release a second single, “You Give,” on February 7. She will release a third single, “Wyoming,” which is also the title track to a forthcoming album, on March 6. Meanwhile, Unser has begun event planning for the new year, including worship for a women’s leadership conference at Wycliffe Bible Translators February 27-March 6 and interactive “Story Night” events that immerse small groups in worship, prayer, meditation and storytelling.