Anne Wilson, a 20-year-old popular singer/songwriter whose powerful song, “My Jesus,” reached number 1 on the Billboard charts joins us to share her journey of enduring and worshipping through grief after the loss of her 23-year-old brother at the age of 15. Losing friends and family members we love and care deeply about is an inescapable part of this life and can be earth-shattering.
Anne shares how worship helped her to endure the loss of her brother and led to an unexpected music career. She offers encouragement and empathy for anyone walking through grief and missing their loved ones. Anne also reflects on the lies many young women believe and inspires girls and women to find their worth and identity in God alone. Her mountain-moving faith will inspire you to celebrate the joy found in a life with Jesus. May our conversation with Anne bring you hope and remind you that God is working all things together for your good.
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Worshiping Through Grief — With Anne Wilson
Before I dive into our conversation, I’m so excited because we have a special co-host with me. I have my niece, Addison, who also manages our social media for our ministry here at the show. Addison, welcome. Will you share a little bit about yourself and how you have been a part of this show growing up and what you’re doing for us?
I live in East Tennessee. We relocated here years ago from Southern California. I love baking, swimming and anything that involves water. I’ve always been surrounded with the words wonderfully made and only about a couple of years ago where those words truly applied to my life. As you get older, you struggle with image and feeling loved. The verse, “I praise you for I’m fearfully and wonderfully made,” the whole chapter of Psalms 1:39 helps me understand that I’m God’s masterpiece.
Those words are more than just words on a t-shirt or sticker. They’re special words. I’m a Wonderfully Made Social Media Manager, which means I create the post, schedule them and all of that stuff. I first went to the Anchored in Love conference in seventh grade. I was super excited to finally be old enough to go with my mom. It was such an amazing experience to be surrounded by all of these girls who were worshiping God and hearing all of those words at such a young age.
It’s fun having you be such a big part of the team. You’re doing such an amazing job. It’s been special being your aunt and your sister, Augusta’s aunt and seeing you guys grow up. I’m proud of you. We are grateful for you, Addison. Our conversation is called Worshipping Through Grief. I want to ask you if you have ever experienced the sting of death when you lost someone that you love.
Losing friends and family members we love and care so deeply about is an inescapable part of this life. It can be so earth-shattering. Nothing can prepare us for the grief we will experience. Our guest knows the pain of grief firsthand yet she has kept her hope in God and lives with great joy. We are talking about enduring and worshiping through grief.
We are going to be talking with one of my favorite singers, Anne Wilson, who was named Christian Breakout Artist of 2021 and who sang, My Jesus, topped number on the Billboard charts. Anne has experienced immense grief in her young life and has had an unexpected path toward her music career, which she’ll share about. With the mesmerizing voice and a hunger for Jesus, she relies on her journal entries and time spent in nature for songwriting inspiration.
Let’s dive into our conversation with Anne Wilson.
Anne, welcome to the show. How are you?
I’m good. It’s so good to be here. Thanks for having me.
Addison and I are so excited to have you. You finished your tour with Zach Williams. I saw that you had 62 shows in 99 days. Tell us what it’s been like.
It’s been probably the hardest season I’ve ever been a part of with very busy schedules. We’re gone 74 days out of 99 days out of town on the road. It’s been a great season though. A lot of incredible memories made so much fun. It’s been cool to be able to perform 62 shows and be able to watch, over the last few months, as God has moved through each night and impacted many lives at these shows. As an artist, my favorite part is getting to perform live. It’s been a fun season. I’m grateful for all of it.
I married into a family of singers. Addison’s dad sings Southern gospel. It’s a running joke in our family about how incredibly toned up I am. When I first heard your song, My Jesus, like so many people, I could not stop singing it at the top of my lungs and tone-deaf but with no shame because it was pure worship. The song, your music and your story have touched millions of lives. We’re talking about worshiping through grief. You are no stranger to grief. Can you please share your story of loss and how it led you to where you are?
In June of 2017, I lost my brother, Jacob, in a car accident. He was 23 years old. He was my best friend and was everything to me. Losing him was traumatic and hard for me and my family. I have an older sister and then my parents. It was difficult. I remember there would be days where it would feel like we couldn’t even get through, where we wanted to go to heaven and be done with this life.It's not about what the world or the enemy says about you or speaks over you, but truly, your identity is in Jesus. Click To Tweet
There were many moments where it felt like giving up was the easiest thing to do but we chose at the beginning of losing Jacob to trust God. I remember having this moment right after we found out that he had passed away and having this realization that I had to choose either am I going to grow closer to the Lord through this or turn away from him, be angry with him and all that kind of stuff.
My family and I as one chose to trust God and walk this whole journey with the Lord. From that first moment, Jesus was all that we had and all that we went to. On the days that it would feel like we couldn’t keep going, we would go to the Lord and turn to him. He was faithful to giving us what we needed during that time. What led me to music was the whole process of losing Jacob. I remember there was a couple of days after the funeral when I was downstairs on my piano playing and worshiping.
My mom was over her knee and I had never sung in front of anyone before, never was in the music or anything like that. I was worshiping God. She asked me if I would be willing to sing at the funeral of my brother. I decided to sing and that was what led us into music. The Lord called me to music on that stage when I was performing in front of everyone for my brother’s funeral.
He used grief, loss and all this stuff with Jacob to give me the career that I have. Grief is one of the most important parts of my story and one of the main things that I talk about. Why people resonate with my songs so much is because every song is written out of the place of what I’ve gone through with my brother and how the Lord has used that to impact many people.
What do you want to say to someone who’s walking through grief and missing a loved one?
Grief is the hardest and most unexpected thing. Some days you’ll wake up and be so happy. You’ll look back on the memories of your loved one and be joyful. Sometimes you have this moment of pure heartbreak. You don’t want to do anything that day and you’re heartbroken. Grief is hard to get through because it’s unexpected but I would encourage people that are walking through it to take one day at a time. I feel like that’s a piece of advice I’m giving out a lot but for me in my life, especially with this season of being super busy, it’s hard to try and manage all the outcomes.
I remember when I first lost my brother, I would always think about the future. “Am I going to get through this? Am I going to make it through this year? Am I going to be able to have a life without being brokenhearted all the time?” It’s about taking one day at a time and trusting God. Everything is in the Lord’s hands and realizing that God has a plan in everything that happens. Another thing is the Lord will use everything for good. You might not see it in your life but he does not waste tragedy and a loss. I would encourage you out there that are struggling with that to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
He is the only one that can bring you true comfort. You can try and fill those parts of yourself with the world and things of the world. That might last for a little bit but you’re going to realize eventually that the only thing that can fulfill you is Jesus and life in him. I would encourage you to pursue him and keep your eyes fixed on him as you walk through grief. I would get frustrated a lot when I would have a bad day but have patience for yourself that we weren’t designed to have to walk through grief. God didn’t design the world to be the way that it is. Have a lot of grace for yourself in that area.
Anne, we’re sorry for your loss. Your story makes me think of the verse in Corinthians 1:4 that says, “God comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others with the comfort we have received from God.” I want to talk about your song, My Jesus. It reached the number one spot on the Billboard charts and you were named Breakout Christian Artist for 2021. This song has well over 100 million streams. How have you seen this song impact people? What do you think about it resonates deeply with many?
It’s amazing to see how God’s moved through the song. My Jesus was written out of the place of losing my brother. I wanted to write this song as a personal invitation like, “You can have the same Jesus that I call mine and have a relationship with him.” For me, when I became a Christian, what changed everything was the realization that I can know God intimately and have a personal relationship with him. That was the heart behind this song but then we related it to my story of losing my brother. The testimonies have been cool to see how people have said, “I lost a loved one but when I heard this song, I was healed of that. I was able to get a relationship with the Lord again.”
What people are resonating with is the fact that it’s a real vulnerable song written out of a real place in my life. People can 100% tell when an artist doesn’t believe in a song. For me, I don’t ever put out a song nor will I ever put out a song that I don’t fully believe in and stand behind. When we put out My Jesus, I was like, “This is my song, my testimony and my journey.” Being able to see how that resonates with people, it’s number one. Everyone walks through loss, especially in the past couple of years. It’s been hard on the world. Everyone walks through loss in some type of way. Also, it’s an invitation song. I’m inviting people to know and experience the Jesus that I have experienced. There are a lot of different ways that people resonate with it but those are some of the top ones.
It’s such a powerful song. I want to read some of the lyrics here in case any of our readers haven’t yet heard it. I want to invite them to especially watch the music video of the song. It shares your story. It’s powerful. In this song, it says, “His love is strong and his grace is free. The good news is I know that he can do for you what he’s done for me. Let me tell you about my Jesus and let my Jesus change your life.” When your life has been radically or genuinely transformed by Christ, you can’t help but want to tell others. It’s such a worship song that inspires us to want to share Christ with many people so their lives too can be transformed and they can be comforted through whatever they’re going through.Becoming a Christian is not just about going to church. It's about walking day-to-day with the Lord, and there's so much beauty in that. Click To Tweet
You share our mission to see girls and women walk in their God-given values. Your song, Hey Girl, is an anthem of girls’ worth. What is one lie you see young women and girls believe? What do you want to say to them?
I love getting to speak to young women. I’m still young myself so getting to speak to my generation, women of all ages. In my specific journey in my life with my friends and groups of people, I see the lie of many girls. Number one is the whole social media comparison game. Comparing yourself to other girls, looking a certain way and following the ways of the world. Also, I see many girls put their worth in a guy and what a guy says and thinks about them. I’ve watched many girls fall into those ways of defining their worth in what a guy says about them and having him be the one that takes them down this horrible journey and path.
I remember being in that stage of going through some of that and having all these mentors speak so much life into me. I’m grateful looking back that I had women to speak over me, guide me in that area and go, “Your identity is not in a guy but in what the Lord says about you. You’re a daughter of the highest king.” That’s an honor that we get to be that. To be able to be that for other girls, my hope and desire are to be able to lead girls closer to Jesus and remind them of their worth.
It’s not about what the world says about you. It’s not about what the enemy says about you or speaks over you but truly your identity is in Jesus and you’re a child of him. Especially middle schoolers and high schoolers are going through, those things are going to pass away. You’re going to realize none of that mattered and that was a season of life. God was gracious to get me out of the path that I was going down, which would have been a path of destruction. He pulled me into a path of knowing my identity in him and clinging to that. That’s an important question. I encourage every woman out there to fix their eyes on Jesus and have their identity set in him.
I see a lot of my friends and some of them are older than me too. They’re all wanting a boyfriend and feel like they’ll be happy if they have a boyfriend or somebody. I’m like, “There are already many people in your life that care about you, especially God. A boyfriend doesn’t need to be the person that gives you that attention.”
If you could go back and give your younger self some words of wisdom, how old would she be? What would you tell her?
There are two different stages. Number one is twelve years old right before I became a Christian. I remember the weight of identity, putting it in other people, insecurity and all the things that I went through. I would say, “You have no idea what God is going to do with your life. Be patient, sit back and let him lead you.” I remember before I dedicated my life to Jesus, I wanted to manage all the outcomes and control everything. I wanted to be in control. One of the things that I would always try to do is plan my future.
When I became a Christian, I realized, “I got to give all this to the Lord and let him lead my life. If I could go back, I would tell her to let the Lord lead her life and follow his ways. Also, I remember being in some rough seasons. I would need the reminder that there are going to be brighter days and beauty ahead. The second age would be when I lost my brother when I was fifteen. I would say to her, “God is going to use this in ways that you would never dream. Five years from now, you’re going to look back on this and see why this happened and what God is doing through this tragedy. He’s not wasting it. He’s bringing beauty out of it.”
Anne, if you had a chance to speak to a young woman who is unsure what she believes about God, faith, religion and spirituality, what would you want to tell her about Jesus and how he has changed your life?
Being a woman is hard and there are many layers to what we experience as women, many things that we have to go through. It’s hard, especially with identity. I feel like one of the biggest struggles is, “Who am I? Do I believe in God? Do I believe in some higher being?” Confidence is another big thing. Not having confidence in who you are in Christ and the Lord. I would encourage people in that stage. I don’t think people understand their worth, especially women, in the Lord and how incredible it is that the God of the universe would send his son to die for each of us so that we wouldn’t have to carry the weight of our sins and live in this sinful world so we could have eternity with Jesus.
On top of that, the love that the Lord has for each of you is incredibly powerful and big. The plans that he has for you are insane. If we, as women, especially those questioning your faith, take a step back and realize that when this world passes away, what are we going to have left? You’re either going to heaven or hell. There are two options there. Realizing that there’s so much beauty found in Jesus, for me, I grew up in a Christian home where my parents did not make it all about religion but that’s what it felt like for me.
Until I met Jesus and realized, “Becoming a Christian is not just about going to church but about walking day-to-day with the Lord.” There’s so much beauty in that. Women realize that when you decide to give your life to Jesus and follow him, there’s going to be so much beauty on this journey. He’s going to take you places that you never thought you would go. He’s going to bless you abundantly. There’s also the freedom that comes with it, the freedom of realizing that you don’t have to prove yourself and come perfect. You can come as you are to the feet of Jesus and at the end of the day, you are a child of God and that’s your identity. That’s what I would say for all of those out there.
It’s evident in the way that you speak, your music and the way that you worship that Christ has genuinely transformed your life. You’re passionate about sharing that hope that you have with the world. We want to thank you so much for speaking into the lives, especially of young women and for being a role model for my amazing nieces and many girls to look up to. We’re here cheering you on. Thank you for the gift of your music.
What’s one of the best ways that we can support you and your music?
Following me on social media, staying up to date with all of the events that we have coming up, shows and all that God’s doing there. My brand-new record, My Jesus, came out. I have a brand-new record out. You can find it anywhere where you stream music. It’s already had such an impact on many people. You can find Hey Girl on the record. There’s a song called Mamas. That’s sweet for women. There are a lot of incredible songs on the record that you should check out.
Thank you, Anne.
We’ll come to your show.
I would love that. It would be so nice to meet you guys in person.
Do you have any ideas or thoughts about coming out to California?
I would love that so much. We’re coming out in the fall of 2022 on my fall tour. I’m not sure exactly what cities yet but we’re going to be on the West Coast for probably 4 or 5 shows.
I’m sure I’ll hear. If you want to learn how to surf or anything like that, let me know.
I would love that so much.
Thank you so much for your time.
It’s nice to meet you, guys.
I hope we can stay in touch with you. Thank you, Anne.
Thank you, guys. Have a great rest of your day.
About Anne Wilson
Singer/songwriter Anne Wilson knows the healing power of music firsthand. The lyrics of Hillsong Worship’s “What A Beautiful Name” became a lifeline for the Lexington, Kentucky native after her brother was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 23. Although she spent much of her childhood behind a piano, Wilson sang in front of an audience for the first time at her brother’s funeral. It was at that moment that she realized what she was born to do. A video of her moving performance organically circulated, eventually landing her a record deal. With a mesmerizing voice and a visible hunger for Jesus, the 20-year-old relies on personal journal entries and time spent in nature for songwriting inspiration.