I am a sinner; if it’s not one thing, it’s another—caught up in words, tangled in lies.
But you are a savior, and you take brokenness aside and make it beautiful.
The story of All Sons & Daughters begins with artist David Leonard wanting to spend less time traveling and more of it in real relationship with his local church. After experiencing the music business rush as front man in the acclaimed band Jackson Waters and then as touring keyboard player with NEEDTOBREATHE, David felt called to write songs for the spiritual community he and his wife belonged to in Franklin, Tennessee. At the same time, Leslie Jordan was part of the creative staff at Journey Church where they worshipped. Her passion for singing and writing was likewise rooted in being there to live out the story of faith with her husband and a close group of believers. Neither was expecting to find a path that would spread these efforts both near and far.
But God is so good at making things beautiful.
Introduced by one of their pastors in the summer of 2009, David and Leslie soon wrote several songs with ease, realizing they shared a similar style of leadership and the desire to foster authentic connections in the church through a transparent form of worship. David was still working on the road, but Leslie would share their collaborations at Journey while he was away. And in short order, the tunes caught the attention of someone in the congregation with ties to Integrity Music, known for providing resources to churches worldwide. Without trying to start a band and get a record deal, an opportunity just presented itself. When they led worship for the label’s chapel service a few weeks later, it was only the third time David and Leslie had been on a stage together.
Adopting the name All Sons & Daughters in reference to each other but more significantly the listeners who are vital to this active fellowship process, the duo first contributed to Integrity’s Know Hope Collective, a new worship endeavor led by former members of Audio Adrenaline. They then proceeded to record their own debut project, the six-song EP entitled Brokenness Aside.
David and Leslie entered the studio with producer Paul Mabury (Hillsong, Brooke Fraser, One Sonic Society) and a team of players whose credits include Mat Kearney, Chris Tomlin, and Third Day, setting one definitive ground rule in place: for Brokenness Aside to contain only real sounds performed by real people without any computerized tricks. Raised in Arkansas and the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee, these two southerners do exude an all-natural, no-frills honesty in their strikingly harmonious musical creations. So amidst tender melodies and chiming acoustic instruments, you will hear handclaps and foot stomps, heavy sighs and hearty hallelujahs—genuine souls singing with unflinching candor about the peaks and valleys of the Christian life.
This is a call to all the dead and disappointed, the ones who feel like they are done.
This is a word to all the ones who feel forgotten that you are not.
Brokenness Aside breaks open with “Alive,” a sunrise-like song bathed in bells and distant strings that All Sons & Daughters wrote to awaken and encourage those in the church who may be struggling to accept God’s grace, to live unchained from past sins or spiritual wounds.
Leslie explains, “We’ve got to go deeper into the love story of Jesus and dig in the dirt of each other’s lives together. In churches everywhere there are people who still feel dead inside. We have to get past the surface level and walk in relationship with each other and with Christ.”
“Let It Shine” echoes that intensity and moves forward in the journey, calling believers to come clean (let the dirt fall, get on your knees), break free, and become the light of the world Jesus talks about in Matthew 5. Toward the rhythmic worship song’s denouement, a choir has broken into the mix, excitedly singing of a spiritual community’s true purpose:
This is the battle of our time now. We can’t afford not to cry out.
Shake the earth from the ground. Rescue souls from the darkness around.
Leslie found inspiration for “All the Poor and Powerless”—a simple yet epic composition whose delicate individual parts later become a magnificent whole—in a series their church did on the Psalms that helped provide an especially clear image of Heaven. By sharing the song through social media websites, other churches are already singing this stirring piece around the country.
Another ethereal tune, the meditative “Your Glory,” also came out of the Psalms study, but Brokenness Aside’s title track was born of this broken world and a time when Leslie was reminded we are never really whole until Heaven. A sweeping selection that begins as a whisper, transitions into an anthem, and includes a beautiful classical coda, it captures every unique charm All Sons & Daughters has to offer.
“A lot of different struggles were happening at church, and we were just walking in that tough reality . . . If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” she recalls. “So the lyrics ask an honest question of God: Will your grace run out if I let you down? It’s a very honest song about the reality of what separates us from God.”
Church families will also certainly enjoy “I Am Set Free,” the EP’s most jubilant sing-along and a proclamation that David and Leslie hope will resound in their community and beyond.
“While we do sing a lot about brokenness, writing songs that meet people at their greatest point of need, we also need to be progressing and singing in our freedom as believers,” says Leslie.
Indeed, All Sons & Daughters knows the story and relationship being shared with its church is dynamic and evolving. That’s all the more reason for David and Leslie to stay in close touch with all that’s happening there on a regular basis, even as they receive the gift of reaching beyond their local spiritual home.
“First and foremost we want to be grounded here in our church,” concludes David. “Without it, All Sons & Daughters doesn’t exist.”