People who are born to make music will always do so. Whether they are in the spotlight or shadows, when someone has a song in their heart, they just have to share it. Fans of pioneering husband/wife country duo Jed & Claire Seneca have had a long wait, but will be happy to know they are back with a new album, Carry You Through, a potent collection filled with the insightful lyrics and compelling vocal performances that have become hallmarks of the Seneca sound.
Though they’ve been out of the spotlight for some time, the duo has been anything but idle. “We actually never stopped doing music; We just changed the platform,” Claire explains. “We started helping churches and were on staff over the years with various congregations in multiple states.”
Prior to stepping away from the music industry, Jed & Claire, then known simply as Seneca, earned acclaim with their self-titled debut album on Ransom Records. Released in 1994, the project was at the forefront of a new genre of music that combined country music instrumentation with faith-based lyrics. Seneca’s debut spawned four singles that charted in the top five, among them three that became #1 hits for the husband/wife duo. CCM Magazine touted Seneca among the “New Faces of the Year” and their song “The Real True Love Can Wait” become an anthem for the teen purity movement. In 1996 they were voted Vocal Duo of the Year by the Christian Country Music Association. They toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe, and quickly earned an enthusiastic legion of fans.
“We had been trying to get a straight up country deal and of course God had a different plan for us,” Jed recalls of their career breakthrough. “When the record label contacted us and it was a Christian label, it changed our course and whole paradigm of what God was going to do with our music. That was not the plan, but we were like, ‘Okay this is what God has for us!’ At the same time, we were getting personal revelations about what our calling was in life, and I went to Bible school. Things happened spiritually that gave us an awakening, so it all kind of came together.”
At the height of their popularity, when it seemed their rising star was at its brightest, the couple felt God leading them in an entirely different direction. “We just chose to leave the artistry mode of things because we really felt we were being pulled more towards ministry,” Jed explains. “In 1997, we took a position in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, at a church plant as worship pastors, and then in 1999, we moved to a church in Austin and were on staff there with an athletic organization called Champions of Christ. The ministry focused on college and professional sports, and we were very involved in the musical side of their work with athletes, as well as church planting.”
They were fulfilling times for Jed and Claire. “The first church plant was really exciting because we’d never done anything like that,” Claire recalls. “We started a Bible study out of our home and just a few people came at first and then it really grew.”
During the next season in life, the couple followed God’s leading to Indianapolis and then back to Tennessee before they moved to California where they’ve been since 2009. Each move was a uniquely rewarding experience for the couple who had met in their native Louisiana back when Claire was singing six nights a week in local venues. Jed was the first to leave the Bayou State to begin pursuing a music career in Nashville. Claire followed. “We started working together and a few years into the business relationship, we both realized we were getting closer,” Jed shares. “That’s when we started to come together as a duo. It was just a natural path for our relationship to take.”
Claire adds, “We started writing songs together and then we started changing. I was originally more of a pop singer and when we started merging into a duo, the songwriting took on a more country feel, so it just naturally gravitated into where we are today.”
Where they are today is on the comeback trail with Carry You Through. Earlier in 2018, they teased new music with an EP titled Re-ignited that demonstrated the couple’s writing chops and vocal gifts had only improved with time. “We never lost the desire, but God had us so busy and so occupied with the other path that we didn’t really miss the artistry side,” Jed says of the years they dedicated to church planting and leading worship.
The couple has always been attuned to seeking God’s will and following His lead. So when He opened the door for this new chapter, it was clear. “It was a spiritual awakening that brought us back,” Claire reveals. “God woke Jed up about two and a half years ago in the middle of the night. He literally had this song on his mind that we had written in 1995 called ‘Takin’ A Stand.’ He said, ‘I just feel like God is speaking to me that we need to bring this song back to light and rework it a little bit.’”
“God is showing me that it’s so relevant for this hour we are in today,” Jed continues. “It’s about taking a stand by getting on your knees to change what’s happening in our culture and country. That’s what the song was written about back then, but it’s even more relevant today.”
Recorded in Nashville, Carry You Through is filled with songs that inspire as well as challenge, and there’s a pervasive sense of hope that leaves the listener encouraged. Bridging elements of contemporary and classic country, Carry You Through spotlights contributions from many of Nashville’s most renowned studio musicians, including Buddy Hyatt, piano (Toto); GRAMMY®, CMA and ACM Award-winner Brent Mason, electric guitar (Blake Shelton, Shania Twain); Bobby Terry, acoustic guitar (Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson); ACM-winner Lonnie Wilson, drums (Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw); Steve Hinson, pedal steel (Kenny Chesney, Dolly Parton); and Kevin Grantt, bass (Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash).
Claire sings lead on “Gracefully Broken,” a song penned by Matt Redman and originally recorded by gospel hitmaker Tasha Cobbs Leonard. “From the first time I heard it, the song mesmerized me and we believed it was something special that we needed to record in our own style” Claire says.
“She’s Holdin’ Her Own” is a celebration of strength in the face of adversity. “The song is about a single mom and her son,” Jed says. “It was supposed to be on the first album back in 1994 but we decided to hold off releasing it then, but it feels like the right timing now. With all the single parents out there, it feels just as relevant today.”
“Help is on the Way” was inspired by Convoy of Hope, a faith-based relief organization. “We heard the song and said ‘Yes!’ Claire enthuses. “We love what the song stands for. It’s a privilege for us to help draw attention to Convoy’s important work, as well as the plight of victims around the globe.”
Another song on the album that holds special meaning for Claire is the poignant ballad “Always Have.” “It’s one of my favorites because I need the constant reminder that God loves me always and that He’ll never stop chasing me,” she says. “He’ll never stop wanting me even when I don’t feel like He’s even there or remotely close. I just have to rely on what the Word says: He still loves me and He always will love me; He’s chasing me and always pursuing me. I just love the words … It’s so simple and powerful.”
Jed takes the lead on “Just Things,” a tender reminder of what’s truly important in life. “It really does reflect how I feel about things that we can live without, all the material things that the TV ads and internet are trying to make you buy. Everything is so materialistic right now and really you don’t need any of that to have a great marriage or a great life. Back in the day where I grew up, lots of families hardly had anything anything, but they loved each other.”
The songs on Carry You Through showcase Jed and Claire’s warm, evocative vocals and espouse the values they hold dear. “We write and sing country music that is traditional with a blended contemporary feel and a modern edge,” Jed says. “Our songs have a message of hope, love, family, marriage, faith and God.”
It’s a new day for Jed and Claire as their long-awaited album bows on Innovate Music Group, and they prepare to share songs that are a part of their lives with fans—both old and new—across the country. Much has happened since they stepped away from the mic and they are ready to put what they’ve learned and experienced to use in this new season God has them in. “The blessings of what we have learned and the people we have met over the years have made for a phenomenal journey,” Jed reflects.
“Whether we are leading worship at a church in Dallas or entertaining at a country music club in Orange County, it is always our desire to encourage listeners right where they are, and help to lighten their load,” Claire concludes. “Ultimately, through not only the music, but our words—and most importantly, our lives—we want to point people to the Hope we have in Christ.”