Wednesday, May 24, 2017

#41 SEASONS OF THE SOUL by Michael & Stormie Omartian (1978)

SEASONS OF THE SOUL by Michael and Stormie Omartian (1978)
Myrrh – MYR 1073

Ms. Past, she's such a wicked lady

Ms. Past, she's always there waiting

She's the devil's favorite tool

She'll play you like a fool

She'll try until she rules...

She wants you paralyzed by all she knows


At the time, I had no idea. 

I thought Ms. Past was just the latest in a long line of catchy pop songs by Michael and Stormie Omartian

It was much more. 

Ms. Past is one of several songs on Seasons of the Soul that deal with overcoming a troubled history, a fairly common theme in Christian music. But few of us knew at the time just how personal these songs were to the Omartians. Stormie is a best-selling author now, and the intervening years have brought great transparency. We're now aware of the horrific difficulties that were a part of daily life for these two throughout childhood and beyond. We're also happily aware of the mercy, grace and power  of God that brought them together and healed them completely - body, soul and spirit.






Born November 26 in Evanston, Illinois, Michael Omartian latched onto music at an early age, playing piano at age four and drums a year later. He studied percussion, composition and theory as an adolescent, composing and arranging original songs by age sixteen. He played in clubs with several bands in the Chicago area and attended two colleges before relocating to California in 1970 to pursue a career in music. 





The Beatles had became a huge influence in my life,” says Omartian, “and that opened the world of pop music to me. I noticed that all of these albums, which I studied in minute detail, were recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and different parts of England. Since very little commercial recording was done in Chicago, I boarded a plane for LA as a 20-year-old, with $3,000 in savings, no prospects of any kind and just the idealistic enthusiasm of youth.”

After arriving in the Golden State, Omartian worked with Campus Crusade for Christ. He had become a Christian on Christmas Day, 1965 at the age of 19, so it was quite natural that faith and music would intersect for him through working with groups like New Folk and Armageddon Experience. He arranged much of the music and assisted in training the singers. 


Jimmy & Carol Owens (1970s)

Omartian was roommates in LA with Paul Johnson, a burgeoning composer/arranger who later married Kathie Lee (of Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee fame). Jesus Music visionaries Jimmy and Carol Owens paid for both Michael Omartian and Paul Johnson to record their first studio demos of their own music and employed Omartian as a vocalist with the Jimmy Owens Singers

A little later, Omartian landed a job playing piano for a group called Gator Creek, which had a singer by the name of Kenny Loggins. After Loggins hooked up with Jim Messina, Michael Omartian became more or less a permanent member of the Loggins and Messina band, playing on the duo's first three albums. He declined an invitation to tour with the group, preferring session work in the LA area. 


It wasn't long before Michael Omartian had truly made a name for himself, in both the secular music industry and the fledgling Jesus Music genre. A highly gifted musician, singer, arranger and producer, Mr. Omartian had already found success as a founding member of the 70s disco/funk band Rhythm Heritage, and as a session keyboard player for acts such as Jerry Garcia, Billy Joel, Larry Carlton, The Four Tops, John Lennon, Steely Dan, Lee Ritenour, Johnny Rivers, Boz Scaggs and others. He also dabbled in the early Jesus Music world, playing on records by Barry McGuire, Pratt & McClain, Mike & Kathy Deasy, Jamie Owens, the 2nd Chapter of Acts, and Richie Furay among others.  Having earned a Keyboard Musician of the Year award from NARAS, the Grammy Award presenters, he also served as a staff producer with ABC Records and later with Warner Brothers. "I just made myself available from the very beginning," Omartian recalls, "and was taught by veteran musicians and producers who went before me to be humble, willing to work for nothing in order to get started and have a cooperative attitude." 

He recorded two amazing Christian albums marked by exceptional production values and top-shelf musical performances in 1974 (White Horse) and 1976 (Adam Again). The Jesus Freaks were ecstatic. They had a spy (so to speak) on the inside of the mainstream rock world. And, in Omartian, they had a king-sized talent of which they could be quite proud. 





Although Michael's wife Stormie had written the lyrcis to all the songs on White Horse and Adam Again, and sang background vocals, she was seen as peripheral. After all, it was his name on the album cover. She was just that beautiful girl in the pictures on the lyric sleeve. That all changed in 1978. If White Horse and Adam Again were about an artist, Seasons of the Soul was about a marriage. Stormie Omartian had been promoted.






They first met when Stormie was engaged to be married to another man, a man that she knew in her heart she did not truly love. But she had decided that marriage just made sense at that particular intersection of her life. Michael Omartian has written that he thought Stormie was "a babe" the first day he met her. She had been asked to contribute background vocals to a Jimmy & Carol Owens musical titled Show Me!; Michael Omartian was there, singing and playing keyboards for the album. Stormie was smitten. "He was the cutest guy I'd ever seen," she writes in her autobiography Stormie. "He had thick, dark, curly hair, beautiful olive skin, and large, expressive brown eyes that confirmed his Armenian heritage. He had an intensity about him and a sense of purpose that was very attractive to me." The two were inseparable over the next several days and, according to Stormie, never ran out of things to talk about. 

Now, Stormie was not yet a believer. In fact, she was extremely wary of Christians, considering them to be either insensitive and obnoxious or bland and boring. Michael attempted to share his faith with Stormie but was rebuffed; he also tried to talk her out of marrying a man that she didn't love, but failed to persuade her. The two went their separate ways, and Stormie Omartian entered into a marriage that was doomed before it even began.

Stormie grew up in rural Wyoming, but the family moved to Southern California during her junior high years. A motivated student, Stormie threw herself into her school work and acted
Stormie (far right) on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour
in school plays. She ended up studying music at UCLA. From there, she found steady work in show business...but found herself barely able to function on a daily basis. She made a living as a background vocalist at the various LA area recording studios and as an actress, playing what she described as "dumb blonde comedienne roles." She'd been a regular on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, one of Glen's "on-camera-blonde-blue-eyed-size-eight-singer-dancers," living in a tiny two-room apartment. She was a workaholic, lending her talents to national TV shows every week, such as The Dean Martin Show, The Mac Davis Show, and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and singing on as many albums and commercial jingles as she could, and working with established stars like Neil Diamond and Ray Charles


Despite living the show business dream of millions, Stormie was perpetually depressed and waged a daily battle with suicidal tendencies. "I awakened every morning to the thought 'Should I kill myself now or can I make it through one more day?'" She kept drugs close but kept friends at arms length. "I did find that drugs helped," she revealed in her 1986 autobiography. "Because it was the late 60s, drugs were everywhere. In fact, they were almost difficult to avoid. Simple marijuana was good enough for me. I found that as long as I was working or stoned I could survive life. I smoked and drank, and marijuana was a part of every gathering." She also lived dangerously on the relationships front by intentionally dating married men. A particularly dark detail from Stormie's pre-Christian life is the fact that she underwent two illegal abortions, resulting in depression, hopelessness and disgust. An entire chapter in her book is dedicated to reliving those nightmares. 

At this point, if you know Stormie Omartian only from her Christian recordings or as "that woman who writes those prayer books," you're probably wondering where in the world all of this horrible negativity came from. The answer is that she experienced what has been described as a hellish childhood, due primarily to an extremely dysfunctional relationship with her mother who suffered from mental illness. When Stormie was a child she had no way of knowing that her mom was an undiagnosed schizophrenic; all she knew is that her mother would literally lock her in a closet for hours on end as a form of punishment. Or sometimes for no reason at all.

Stormie's mother was verbally, physically and psychologically abusive toward her; meanwhile, her father worked long hours and was very passive, failing to protect his daughter or rescue her from her tormentor. This very painful and confusing start in life is what resulted in the busted relationships, drug abuse and suicidal thoughts of Stormie's young adult years. "I drank impressive quantities of alcohol, took dangerous amounts of drugs, went deeply into eastern religions, the occult, and unhealthy relationships," Stormie recounts on her website bio. "But these things gave me nothing more than a temporary relief, after which I was worse off than before. I wanted to die. I planned to kill myself with sleeping pills, as soon as I could get my hands on enough of them to do the job right."

At this point God intervened. And He used a friend and a famous Bible teacher to do it.


Pastor Jack Hayford

The friend's name was Terry. She invited Stormie to meet with her pastor, a man named Jack Hayford. He pastored what was then a small church called Church On The Way in Van Nuys, California.

Pastor Jack talked with Stormie, gave her some books to read and asked her to come back to see him. A week later she made Jesus her Savior and Lord. "I left his office feeling light and hopeful, though I didn't know what it all meant," she later wrote.

Stormie began to learn more about Jesus and started reading the Scriptures and fellowshiping with fellow believers. Church On The Way became a literal Sanctuary for her - a place where she would go to seek safety and refuge from the pain that had plagued her for so long. During church services, she would just sit and weep. She smiled and told her friend Terry, "I think I'd better not go to Church On The Way anymore without waterproof mascara and a box of Kleenex." In her book, Stormie writes about experiencing strength and a "supernatural presence of love" inside the four walls of that church. 

But she soon realized that all of her issues had not magically disappeared. 

Depression and suicidal thoughts returned from time to time; Glen Campbell's television show was cancelled and Stormie was dropped by her agent because she refused to act in commercials that involved liquor, cigarettes, or skimpy costumes; and since her then-husband wanted no part of this new God trip she was on, Stormie was unable to save her first marriage. "She had been so wounded and bruised, so injured, she was broken at all points," Jack Hayford remembers. "Yet she was remarkably gifted, with a ready heart and a quick mind. There was a childlikeness in Stormie's heart toward God that she has always maintained."

Time for Michael Omartian to re-enter Stormie's life.

The "hot new piano player in town" visited Church On The Way on a Sunday morning, and the two got reacquainted. "He looked wonderful," Stormie noticed. "His hair was too long and in need of a good shaping, but he was still the best-looking man I'd ever seen."





Michael and Stormie began to see each other almost immediately. After a year of dating, praying together, and attending church together, Michael asked Stormie to marry him. And so began a partnership that would bless so many people, both inside and outside the Kingdom of God...through extraordinary music and intelligent lyrics, full of depth and substance. 

But like many marriages, theirs got off to a rocky start. 

Michael was wrestling with some issues of his own that were hold-overs from his childhood (more about that later). Meanwhile, Stormie continued to battle depression and thoughts of harming herself. "The problem of depression was never completely eliminated," she revealed in her autobiography. "I could not understand why. I had the gift of eternal life and total forgiveness from Jesus. I had a loving pastor who taught me much about God and the Bible. I had a wonderful husband and financial security, so I no longer had to work to survive. Yet I still felt like I had nothing to live for. What was the matter with me? Was a part of me missing, just like with my mother? I was afraid that I would end up crazy, just like her."

As suicidal feelings increased, Michael suggested that Stormie seek counseling help at their church. After talking with a pastor's wife, it was determined that she needed to go through a spiritual process known as deliverance...which, frankly, scared Stormie half to death. "It sounded like a strange activity with red-eyed demons and whirlwinds," she worried. But she was assured that it was a simply a way of removing past brokenness and bondage from a person's life, a Biblical process of releasing them from spiritual oppression. 


I'll not go into the details here -- they're all laid out in Stormie's book -- but suffice it to say that after some intense prayer, fasting, a literal renouncing of a long list of sins, and, perhaps most importantly, a true forgiving of her mother, Stormie reports that one by one, spirits that had tormented and oppressed her were forced to flee. 

One of the counselors began to speak prophetically to Stormie: "My daughter, you have been locked in a closet all your life -- first physically and then emotionally. but I have the keys. I'm giving the keys to you." The depression and suicidal thoughts left that day and never returned. "I had gone into that office knowing Jesus as Savior," Stormie says, "but I came out knowing Him also as my Deliverer."

At this point Stormie began to discover that she had a way with words. "I had always written songs," she recalls, "but now I began to take my writing seriously as more and more song lyrics about Jesus came to my heart and mind. I could barely write them down fast enough as they came stream-of-consciousness style. I rewrote and pared and honed until I had the right word with the right note and each song said exactly what I wanted it to say."

Her songs began to be recorded by a Christian artist by the name of Ron Harris. And then came White Horse and Adam Again. Since then Stormie's lyrics have been sung by The Imperials, The Katinas, Debbie Boone, Evie, Dave Boyer, Russ Taff and others. "The thrill of hearing these songs recorded by Christian artists, and knowing that God was using them to bring happiness to people, was a privilege that I valued highly," she says.

After writing all of the words for her husband's first two solo recordings, it was time for Stormie to assume a greater role. "My husband and I had been recording albums together since we were married," she recounts. "On White Horse and Adam Again, he was the soloist while I sang background and wrote all the lyrics. However, on the next three albums, Seasons of the Soul, The Builder and Mainstream, he insisted that I sing a solo or duet with him on some of the songs."

Stormie also reveals in her book that she wasn't nearly as comfortable in the spotlight as her somewhat-famous husband. "Those albums, plus the concerts we did together, were all very frightening," she admits. "The only way I got through them was with praise. Every time fear came over me, I began to praise and thank God for all He had done in my life and for the voice He had given me. More and more I had success in that area and saw myself and my circumstances being transformed."

No longer a solo act, the Omartians' first offering as a full-fledged musical team was Seasons of the Soul. It exhibits the kind of quality, sonic excellence, sparkling production, and attention to detail that we had by now come to expect from anything that had the name Omartian on it. Seasons of the Soul was a bit of a departure, however, in that it moved away from the progressive AOR style of White Horse and Adam Again and toward a more accessible pop/rock framework. Reviewer Ken Scott describes the album, overall, as a "bouncy, sometimes lightly jazzed-up Steely Dan style." He rightly assesses that Stormie's solos seem to be aimed more at airplay on Christian radio stations that were beginning to switch from preaching to all-music formats all over the country at that time. "It ain't rock 'n roll but it ain't bad either, and it sure beats 90% of the gook coming out of those softie stations," Scott wrote.





As usual, Omartian assembled an amazing cast of characters to play the instruments: fusion-jazz band Seawind members played horns, legendary studio player Abraham Laboriel was on bass, Paul Leim sat behind the drums, and last but certainly not least, Phil Keaggy brought his electric guitar to the party. With Omartian himself on keyboards, there was no way this record was going to be anything but amazing.



Abraham Laboriel & Michael Omartian


Michael Omartian's distinctive piano playing kicks off the album with the aforementioned Ms. Past, a pop gem that encourages the listener to stop allowing the past to dictate the future. Stormie's voice is the the first that we hear as she sings...

Don't look, don't look back, just let her go
Lately all she's done is lay you low

Considering all that she'd experienced, the temptation might've been there for Stormie to blurt out all of the answers and tools she'd discovered as ways to effectively overcome the devil's schemes and put down the demons of the past; she wisely avoids that temptation and takes a more subtle approach, urging the listener to simply stop looking back, let it go, and avoid falling for that trap. She tells us what to do but doesn't tell us how to do it. Of course, it's just the first song on the record...and how much can you say in one 3 and a half minute pop song, anyway? By the way, kudos to Michael for some nice synth work on this one.







Next up was Travel On With Me, one of the record's standout tracks. The Omartian production style is on full display here -- described by author Mark Allan Powell as "distinctively slick with an emphasis on synth-pop and rhythms." Phil Keaggy's lead guitar shares an instrumental break with Michael Omartian's synthesizer, and the incomparable Matthew Ward can be heard lending background vocals. The lyrics of Travel On With Me are very poignant and telling in light of Stormie's history. It's written from a male perspective, and Michael sings this one more or less as a solo, but the message of total reliance on the Lord is definitely from Stormie's heart.

I lived long enough to know that I couldn't look back
And short enough to be confused
Sailing on a sea called compromise
I didn't have a lot to lose

So I gambled with my soul for security
But all I ever won was pride
When the tide came in and the devil won out
Something told me deep inside

I was dying...

I went sailing further down to the eye of the storm
Knowing I was being used
The Someone took my hand as I started to sink
And said "Now boy, it's time you choose."

"How far, how far will it get you?
How far, how far will it get you 
If you don't travel on with me?"

Well, I learned to live the way that He wanted me to
I could see that He was boss
And anything I tried outside of His will
Would come to be a total loss
But just about the time I was riding high
I tried to take control again
When goin' my own way began to get me down
Somethin' told me deep within: 

I was falling...

It wasn't 'til the dark and unanswered prayer
Began to give me great concern
That He broke my fall with the palm of His hand 
And said "Now boy, it's time you learn..."

"How far, how far will it get you?
How far, how far will it get you 
If you don't travel on with me?

Gonna Write Me A Song was Stormie's coming out party as a soloist. She has what sounds like a trained voice...polished diction, phrasing, enunciation. She doesn't necessarily sing with a lot of grit or emotion (think: the opposite of Ashley Cleveland). Most of her solos on this and subsequent albums were ballads that had more of an "inspirational" feel. These songs were high-brow stuff compared to, say, Fat City or Wachersign or Mr. Trash Man. Over a bed of strings and acoustic guitar, Stormie sings...

Gonna write me a song
Gonna be about You
I can sing it when I want to
Lay it down inside when I'm through

Gonna write about Your love
Keep it fresh on my mind
When my soul needs a love song
It will be there all the time

Of course, her personal testimony was never far from her mind...

All along I thought life had no song for me
I was wrong, You were there with a symphony
You loved me when no one could
And when the pain went on and on and on
You held me close 'till all the fear was gone

So I'll write me a song
To keep in my heart
When I feel the dark around me
The melody will start

More Like You wraps up Side One of Seasons of the Soul. It's a catchy pop song that was also covered later by The Imperials (and by The Bachmann Brothers Band on our self-titled custom recording in 1981...but I digress). This song was basically a simple prayer set to music. The sax solo and some "tuned percussion" add interest.

Seasons Of The Soul was recorded at Buckskin Studio and engineered by Buck Herring and Wally Duguid. It was mixed by Jay Graydon at Garden Rake Studio






Harry Langdon took the photos of the Omartians for the back cover and inside sleeve. By this time, Michael's hair was under control. He's sporting a no-collar shirt (popular at the time) and a thick patch of chest hair (also quite acceptable in 1978). And he's right on the money when he says that his wife has always been "a babe"...although few people use that word anymore. But that's alright, we know what he means. I've never seen a bad picture of the always-photogenic Mrs. Omartian. 

Bob Anderson was responsible for the front cover photo/illustration. Seasons of the Soul continued the Omartian tradition of using conceptual artwork or illustrations for album covers, rather than photos of themselves. Not sure if the butterfly cover helped sell many albums (I'd guess not)...but it was different.

Michael Omartian produced and arranged the record. In addition to the aformentioned players, Bud Nuanez contributed rhythm guitar, and Myrna Matthews helped out with backing vocals. Matthews has sung on projects by everyone from Aretha Franklin to Dolly Parton, from the Captain & Tennille to Olivia Newton-John

The "Seawind Horns" were played by Larry Williams (sax and flute), Kim Hutchcroft (also sax and flute) and Jerry Hey (trumpet).





Side Two of Seasons of the Soul opens in rip-roaring fashion with what is easily the most rocking track the Omartians would record on this album - Where I Been. Before the first word is sung, we are treated to twin-lead, harmony guitar parts from Phil Keaggy and some synth parts by Omartian that are reminiscent of some of the work he laid down on the Adam Again record. Michael sings with authority here...with a bit of a chip on his shoulder...

Well I may not be far along as you
But I started way behind
While you were makin' choices
I was tryin' to survive
While you were feedin' from your mama's hand
I was tryin' to begin
Before you start in judging me consider where I been

Think about it
Think about where I been

We've talked about Stormie's troubled past, but what about her husband? He'd turned his life over to the Lord at 19 and his young adult years seem to have been quite stable...but he also had much to overcome early in life. In her book The Power of a Praying Husband, Stormie reveals that Michael had been raised by a strict, overbearing, controlling mother. An undiagnosed dyslexic, he struggled in school and failed to live up to his mother's 
expectations. 





"Michael's family had lived in Armenia," Stormie explains,"where most of them had been killed by the brutally oppressive Turkish army. Michael's grandmother had been forced to watch her children be tortured and murdered right in front of her, a situation so horrendous I can't even bring myself to write out the details. After the slaughter of her family, Michael's grandmother escaped to America and eventually started a new family, into which Michael's mother was born."

Stormie says the terrifying memories of what had happened, and the dangers and consequences of being poor, uneducated, and part of a minority in a hostile country permanently marked the hearts of Michael's mother and grandmother. They were certain that education and hard work was the only way to ensure that this kind of devastation would never happen again. "Any member of the family who did not do well in school was an embarrassment," Stormie wrote. "And being a musician was not considered a real job that had any kind of future." 

In his late teens Michael Omartian experienced what today would be called a "nervous breakdown." With the help of a family doctor, Michael's mother actually had him committed to a mental hospital for a period of several weeks. "That experience did more to damage Michael than it did to help him," Stormie reports. Michael's mother eventually acknowledged that she was far too hard on him, overly critical, and that the mental institution stay had been a huge mistake. She passed away from cancer at age 50, not long after Michael and Stormie were married.

The strife and turmoil in Michael's home growing up and the mistakes that were made by his family of origin resulted in an anger problem for him as an adult. Yes, he was a Christian. Yes, he loved Jesus and Stormie, in that order. But criticism, harsh words and judgment were too often part of how he dealt with those around him.





"He could be rude and he had a frightful temper," Stormie revealed in a 2004 interview with Christianity Today. "He would rather watch sports on TV than have a conversation with his wife. He came home late for dinner and didn't apologize. He often seemed to care more about his golf game than his children. My husband would not do something he didn't want to do. And if he ended up doing something he didn't want to do, his immediate family members would pay for it. We do not have a perfect marriage. We had gut-level struggles, and we almost lost it."

But they didn't lose it.

For much more information on how they kept it together -- and continue to hold it together -- consult one of Stormie's books (such as The Power of a Praying Wife or The Power of a Praying Husband). They're definitely overcomers, these two. But their testimonies are also a powerful witness to others who find life's twists and turns difficult to bear.

It all makes lyrics like these much more powerful:

But if you think compared with you
I don't hold up quite as well
Well, Jesus had a lot to do
When He brought me back from hell

Think about it
Think about where I been

Before you think of things to say
Think about where I been
Before you write my life away
Think about where I been

The power and intensity of the performance of this song really helps to drive the message home. This is another song that features both a guitar solo by Phil Keaggy and a synthesizer solo by Michael Omartian. It doesn't get any better than that.





Stormie's Side Two solo was up next, a MOR ballad titled It All Comes Down To You. This one was a little more generic, although it's a fine "testimony song" that presents Jesus as the ultimate answer for those who are searching for meaning in life. I'm a little surprised they didn't pitch this one to The Imperials. Jim Murray would've also done a fine job on it.

Kim Hutchcroft's sax leads the way on Heaven Will Wait For Me. Loaded with an Omartian-esque rhythm, an Omartian-esque melody, and plenty of Omartian-esque chords, this song could've been a big hit on mainstream Top-40 radio...if that sort of thing had been allowed in 1978.

The Omartians often ended their albums with an epic song. On White Horse it was the title track. On Adam Again, it was Here He Comes. On The Builder, it was End Times. And here, they did not disappoint. Seasons of the Soul clocks in at just under seven minutes; it glides through several different musical movements (the first vocal isn't heard until 2:10 into the song), features some amazing individual musical performances (especially from Michael Omartian on piano and Keaggy on lead guitar), and delivers perhaps the album's most memorable message. 

If you haven't heard the song in a long time, read these lyrics again in light of Michael and Stormie's testimonies)...   

Whenever summer dreams start to fade and lose their light
And when the spring in your heart seems so cold it can't be right
And you feel like you've lost control
And the valley seems so low
Well it's not forever, just a season of the soul

So when you look for the Voice that you've known and no one's there
And when it seems the Caretaker's heart just doesn't care
It's the seasons of the soul
It's the seasons of the soul
Well it's not forever, it's the seasons of the soul

Beautiful stuff.

But don't take my word for it. I'm going to do something here that I've not done on any of these posts to date -- and that is to include some YouTube comments from average people. Now, you probably know that the comments section of social media sites is often described as the dark underbelly of the internet...and for good reason. But in this case, the comments are a sweet-smelling testament to the power of this much-loved song. Here's a sampling...

"...a treasured piece of vinyl. This one song helped me keep things in perspective through ups and downs."
-danjlanier

"Amazing song that has stuck in my head all these years. Got the dusty LP in another house I own. It's not forever...it's just a season of the soul!  God brings us through all in his overcoming grace through our Messiah Jesus."
-Nealix D. 

"This is the first time I have heard this song in many years, though several phrases have stuck with me through the years. 'When you feel the Caretaker's heart just doesn't care...it's the seasons of the soul.' Thank you, Michael Omartian, for your faithful use of what God gave you to share with others...for SO MANY years. That has to be Phil Keaggy on that guitar solo. No one else could do that, then or now!"
-Daryl Phillips







Michael and Stormie Omartian recorded three more albums together - 1980's The Builder, 1982's Mainstream, and a live album in 1983 with the 2nd Chapter of Acts. From there, Stormie capitalized on the 80s aerobics craze and recorded a couple of exercise albums (yes, exercise records were "a thing" in the 1980s). 



But Michael's career blew up in a huge way in 1980 when he produced the debut album of a then-unknown Austin, Texas singer/songwriter by the name of Christopher Cross. The album became a certified smash hit, winning several Grammy awards and shining a spotlight on the talents of Mr. Omartian. All in all, "Omar" (as his friends call him) has contributed his talents to over 350,000,000 albums sold worldwide as a producer, composer, arranger, artist or musician. He is the first record producer to chart #1 hits in three consecutive decades. With seventeen Grammy nominations including Producer of the Year, Album of the Year and Gospel Album of the Year, Omartian is a multiple Grammy Award and Dove Award winner. And yet, these accolades and milestones mean little to the Omartians. 





"There is really no way to measure your effect," says Stormie. "Ministry should be inspiring hearts. But you can’t put numbers to that. The only indicators are in the artists’ lives. God says that He will prosper those who are humble, and that as we give we will receive. That’s what you’ve got to look for. Michael and I are increasingly made aware of how little we have to offer apart from the Lord."





For her part, Stormie has become an in-demand speaker and best-selling author. Best-selling is an understatement. More than 28 million books have been sold that bear her name. That's a staggering number. Most of them come from her Power of a Praying series. In May 2002, The Power of a Praying Wife broke a 21-year industry record by claiming the number one spot on the CBA Marketplace bestsellers list for 27 consecutive months. It has stayed on the bestseller’s list for over 14 years. Through her books, Stormie has strengthened marriages and families, and has helped literally millions of people learn to experience a closer walk with God.





On the personal front, the Omartians have been married for more than 40 years and are parents to two adult children. They relocated in the 1990s from Southern California to Nashville.





Theirs is quite a story, the gory details of which were unknown to most of us during the 70s and 80s...but today their testimony of God's power to not only save and forgive, but also heal and set free is a vital part of their message to the world. A lot of that story was told on an album called Seasons of the Soul, for those who had ears to hear. When I think about Michael and Stormie Omartian, I'm reminded of a Bill Gaither chorus that we sang in church when I was young...



Something beautiful, something good

All my confusion He understood

All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife

But He made something beautiful out of my life


  



Fun Fact:
Stormie Sherk & Steve Martin

Stormie Omartian (then Stormie Sherk) dated Steve Martin when they were both young performers in Hollywood. Yep, that Steve Martin. In his memoir of his early days in comedy, Born Standing Up, Martin refers to Stormie as beautiful, witty and bright. In her book, she described him as bright and sensitive (not wild and crazy). She says it was her first normal, head-over-heels-in-love romance. She writes: "Steve made me feel beautiful, feminine and desirable for the first time in my life. However, our destiny did not include marriage. There was no sad parting, only an uncalculated drift. It would prove to be the only relationship in the first thirty years of my life for which I would have no regrets or bad feelings."

And, with apologies to the late Paul Harvey...now you know the rest of the story.