Ellie Holcomb

Host & Executive Producer – Latasha Morrison
Senior Producer – Lauren C. Brown
Producer, Editor & Music By – Travon Potts
Transcriber – Sarah Connatser

Links:

Land acknowledgment in reference to the conversation around the Grand Canyon: ‘Guardians Of The Grand Canyon’: The Havasupai Tribe’s Long Connection To The Canyon’s Red Rocks

Ad: https://betterhelp.com/bethebridge

https://unitedstreettours.com/

https://www.anniefdowns.com/podcast/episode-223-mike-kelsey/

http://www.thenewrespects.com/

https://cornertocorner.org/

https://eji.org/

https://ellieholcomb.lnk.to/canyon

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Podcast link: https://podlink.to/BeTheBridge Social handles/links: Instagram: @LatashaMorrison  Twitter: @LatashaMorrison

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LatashaMMorrison/  Official Hashtag: #bethebridge

About Ellie Holcomb

For eight years, Ellie Holcomb recorded and toured full-time with her husband’s band, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, before stepping off the road when her first child was born. Her solo debut, As Sure As The Sun (2014), landed her a Top 10 hit at Christian radio with “The Broken Beautiful”and a GMA Dove Award for “New Artist of the Year.” Her critically-acclaimed sophomore LP, Red Sea Road, followed in 2017. In subsequent years, Holcomb has released two children’s books – each with a companion EP of original music written specifically for kids, the second of which earned her a Dove Award for “Children’sAlbum of the Year,” in 2020. Holcomb is also part of the special album Faithful: Go & Speak.





The full episode transcript is below.

Narrator  0:01  

You are listening to the Be the Bridge podcast with Latasha Morrison.

Latasha Morrison  0:06  

[Intro] How are you guys doing today? This is exciting!

Narrator  0:09  

Each week, Be the Bridge podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.

Latasha Morrison  0:16  

[Intro] …but I’m going to do it in the spirit of love.

Narrator  0:19  

We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.

Latasha Morrison  0:56  

Be the Bridge audience, I am so excited just to have with me today a new friend. We met several years ago, and we’ve been in a lot of the same spaces, we have a lot of the same friends. And so we are so excited to have this musician before us: singer songwriter Miss Ellie Holcomb. And I’m so glad just to have you here! You just never know why you meet people or how you meet people or how people are watching and listening. And you don’t even realize that they’re watching and listening sometimes. But that’s why this work is so important. So for our audience who’ve maybe never heard about you. Tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do, and the work that you do. And then we’ll go into how our stories kind of connect and align.

Ellie Holcomb  2:05  

Yes, friend, well, it’s such an honor to be here with you. You have been a very powerful and beautiful voice in my life for a lot of years, but especially last year, which I know we’ll talk about later. So, my name is Ellie. It’s so good to be here with you. And I am a I’m a fan of you and as a listener of this podcast. So I feel very honored to be talking with you today because I I tune in all the time. And so I’m really, really glad to be here. And I am a singer songwriter, like you said. I’m married to Drew; he was my best guy friend that I swore I’d never date. And I also swore I’d never marry a musician. So I think God has a sense of humor. Because I ended up marrying Drew, and I’m so grateful for him. We live in Nashville, Tennessee with three, we’ve got three kids – eight, five, and almost three. He’s our joy tornado, the little one. We are both singer songwriters; we tour together and separately. So we each have our own separate music careers. But then we also play and sing songs on the road together to bring your kids on the road. And then I’m also an author. I’ve written two kids books, and then getting ready to release my first sort of devotional this fall.

Latasha Morrison  3:26  

Oh, great!

Ellie Holcomb  3:27  

Yeah, lots of things happening.

Latasha Morrison  3:30  

We got the scoop! You see that was insider news for the Be the Bridge audience that she’s about to write a devotional. (laughter)

Ellie Holcomb  3:38  

That’s exactly right. So it’s a beautiful thing for me. I think my favorite thing about what I get to do is, a lot of what I do is I sit in God’s Word and I let songs come out. Because for whatever reason, the way that God made me, I’m wired to where if I can sing, it helps me believe it. I think a lot of us might be wired that way. It’s very like God tells us to rejoice a lot. But it has been a really beautiful thing to get to write and sing my way through this last year. So, I just released a record that came out kind of in the wake of everything that we’ve been through this last year. So it feels very fun for that to be in the world now.

Latasha Morrison  4:22  

Wow. And I know that takes a lot of vulnerability. Because after I wrote the book and people were coming up to me saying stuff, I’m like, you feel so naked. Because it’s like all your business is out there. You know, your family’s business…my family’s still alive. And you know, my dad has since passed. But it’s like, oh my goodness, they know all my stuff. Well, not all of it. But you know, a lot of it, you know. But I think about that, you know, when you talk about songwriting, I think those are, that’s the authenticity that we love about certain songwriters is when you’re writing from that place and that heart. We had a conversation before this conversation and I was just talking to Ellie about I’m taking it I’m getting ready to take a trip to the Grand Canyon.

Audio Clip  5:11  

[Playing Ellie Holcomb’s song Canyon] “There’s a river running through my deepest sorrow. There’s a river running through my deepest pain. There’s a river running through every dream that never came true made me a canyon. But there’s a river running through (I’m a canyon, I’m a canyon). There’s a river running through (I’m a canyon, I’m a canyon).”

Latasha Morrison  5:39  

I did not know she had written this whole album about her trip to the Grand Canyon. And so I’m definitely going to be listening to that. And just the, you know, this is a place that my dad had always wanted to go. And I was going to Vegas with another friend for a trip, and her parents are coming and this is something that they wanted to do. And I was like, oh my goodness, I get to have this experience for my dad. So I’m gonna take this song with me and it’s so special.

Ellie Holcomb  6:16  

Tasha, I love that you’re going. I just cannot, I couldn’t believe it when you said that. Because I, can I tell you what happened on our trip?

Latasha Morrison  6:26  

Yes! Tell me, tell me. I’m gonna have to get your information because I want to hear some some things that you recommend. And it’s gonna be hot. I’m nervous. I’m more nervous about it being hot.

Ellie Holcomb  6:40  

Yes, you will be hot. Get one of those little fans that hangs around your neck, one of those spray bottle fans. It is so, it is hot. And we actually went almost a year ago; we went in August. Like you’re gonna even be there at around the same time of year. But I will never forget, we actually did this when the numbers were lower with COVID. So we were still trying to be like pretty thoughtful about not being in a lot of indoor places. So we actually went on like a camping trip, which was wild. We camped on the Northern Rim and we went down into the canyon, rafted the Colorado River, slept on the riverbanks, and then rafted out. Which is crazy! So, but here’s what happened.

Latasha Morrison  7:30  

This will not be that type of trip. (laughter) Mine is the bourgeoisie type of canyon visit for this trip but I am inspired.

Ellie Holcomb  7:46  

Isn’t that crazy? So it was a crazy adventure. But I will never, and it was so hot. It did feel a little bit like, I don’t know, it just was like 117 degrees. But here’s what happened. When we were at the bottom of that canyon our guide told us – and I love that you’re getting ready to go see this – our guide told us, “If you look at the canyon walls, they tell a story.” And really it’s a story. It’s layer upon layer. It’s disaster upon disaster upon disaster. Landslide, mudslide, volcano, drought. And you really can see it. And then there’s this huge divide in the middle of it. And I was just down there Latasha after the year that we just all went through. I’ve been on, which we’ll talk about, I’ve been on an awakening journey of racial reconciliation, and walked through your book, I’ve been lamenting, acknowledging the truth, repenting, grieving all of these things. And I just thought, man, this feels like such a picture of where we are right now, especially after this last year. Things feel maybe more divided than they’ve ever felt. We all have sustained trauma and loss upon loss upon loss. When you look at the the racial story in our country, there’s loss upon loss, wound upon wound, wrong upon wrong. And I just thought, man, this is just what it looks like to be human, this picture of the canyon. We all know what it’s like for our hearts to be split wide open like a canyon. But there Tasha, at the very pit of that canyon there was a river running through. And I just had this epiphany. I’m like this is the gospel. This is the gospel. As it turns out, there is a current of living water that runs deeper. Water always moves to the lowest place. If you’ve ever been in a flood it moves to the lowest place in your house. And so does God. He moves to the lowest place. And there’s a current of living water, there’s a current of God’s love that runs deeper than our deepest ache and sorrow. And that will carry us when it feels, if we’ll only let it, it will carry us when it feels like we can’t carry on any longer. So I just, it is, so I cannot wait for you to see it. And I think to, for me, what your book has been for me, it’s been an invitation to join up with that current of living water. And it’s the invitation that Jesus gives to all of us to join up as like molecules of little water joining up with that current and that moves to the lowest places and brings life and refreshment even to deep places of pain and ache and division.

Latasha Morrison  10:34  

Wow. Yeah, I’ve been reading up on just even the Indigenous Tribe that are there and that, you know, that took care of that land. And so I’m reading up on that before I go so that I’m going there with this other sense of responsibility of land acknowledgement. And just to hear, cause I told my dad, it’s so funny, because I’ve seen pictures of people who go through the canyon on donkeys and stuff like that. So when we were talking about it, I said, and I have this fear of heights. But my dad was in the military, he jumped out of airplanes, and I’m like, “I will go, but let me tell you what kind of trip this is gonna be.” (laughter) Even when we visited the Hollywood sign, my dad went all the way up. Like he drove this Jeep all the way up. If it would have just been me and my friend, we would have turned back around, because I’m afraid of heights, even driving in a car. And my dad did it. And we got out and I was like ahhh. (laugher) Just even on the street I’m afraid. And so I told my dad, I said, “Now, I love water. And I love boats.” And so I said, “I will canoe through it. But I could not, or kayak through it or whatever, but I could not like climb anything.” And so that’s gonna be a trip. But I think if I can look through it through a historical lens, and also this lens that you just painted for me, this being, you know, I mean, God on display and the story about the living water running through. I’m like wow! That’s great! (laughter) Cause I probably would go there and say, “This is beautiful. It is high. I cannot breathe. It is hot. There are bugs out here. And let me get a picture for my dad.” You know?

Ellie Holcomb  12:39  

And then I’m gone. Let’s go to a restaurant with air conditioning. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  12:44  

Yes. So thank you for sharing that. And I definitely will be in touch about some recommendations. But you know, you talked about, I know you’re reading the Be the Bridge book, how did you discover Be the Bridge? Let the audience know, and then tell us about this journey that you’re on toward racial righteousness. And I’m using this term racial righteousness, because, you know, it is so biblical. And you know, when you start talking about righteousness and justice, they go hand in hand. And those things righteousness and justice, they can produce reconciliation. And so you know, sometimes when I use the word reconciliation, some people forget about the righteousness and justice that comes before that, that is the essence of the God that we serve. You know, that is, I mean, Jesus came to bring about justice for us, his redemption. And so restoration, the repair, all of that equates to the ministry of reconciliation. And so sometimes we can miss that, or we can detach or disconnect this work of racial justice, racial righteousness, racial healing, racial reconciliation from the work of the Cross and all the brokenness. So tell me a little bit about your journey and how you’re making these connections now. And how in the world did you discover…well our paths have crossed, so you knew about Be the Bridge…but I think this last year, what was this pivotal moment or a catalytic moment that kinda like, “Okay, I gotta get in the game. I gotta make some moves. I gotta make some transformation.” What was that? What What was that event? And then tell us a little bit about the journey.

Ellie Holcomb  14:54  

Yeah, absolutely. So we met at IF:Gathering maybe four or five years ago, and I’m not sure Tasha but I feel like it might have been one of the first years that y’all introduced Be the Bridge. I feel like you were kind of explaining what a bridge builder group might be. And I remember there being a table on the stage.

Latasha Morrison  15:16  

Yeah. That was the first year!

Ellie Holcomb  15:18  

Ok! And you and Jennie Allen and a group of diverse women were sitting around a table having a conversation. I had to sing right after you. And I was sobbing from stage.

Latasha Morrison  15:31  

Okay, that was the first year. That was in 2015. And when Jennie wanted me to have this conversation on stage, it was a whole back and forth of me not wanting to do it and all this stuff, but we did it. But I gotta correct you. Jennie was not on that stage having the conversation.

Ellie Holcomb  15:54  

She didn’t even join you! (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  15:55  

No, no! She was supposed to introduce me, but she was filming something else somewhere else. And I didn’t realize that she wasn’t gonna introduce, I knew she wasn’t gonna be a part of the conversation because she really wanted to highlight some other people in that conversation and really wanted to give women of color a place to lead this conversation. And so she wasn’t in it, but she was supposed to introduce it. And I didn’t find out until right before we were going on she wasn’t. That’s a running joke we have – you left us hanging. I’m glad it went well, but you left us hanging. I didn’t realize, you see this is the first time I’m hearing this. Because I don’t know what happened afterwards. I remember everyone coming up on the stage. Jennie did come up and pray for me, Jen Hatmaker, all these women came up and surrounded and prayed. And just remember, Be the Bridge was not an organization at that time.

Ellie Holcomb  17:03  

That’s right. That’s right.

Latasha Morrison  17:04  

I was just a local church girl doing this work in the community.

Ellie Holcomb  17:12  

Tasha, it’s amazing talking to you on a podcast called Be the Bridge right now thinking about those early days. And that is, I will say that is my memory, actually, of Jennie being up there, is her praying over you. So I was thinking she was part of the conversation too. That’s hilarious that that’s something you joke about.

Latasha Morrison  17:31  

She prayed, I’m telling you, she prayed me through a lot of this. People just don’t know, people just don’t know.

Ellie Holcomb  17:37  

And it’s good to know that we need prayer through this.

Latasha Morrison  17:39  

And you had to sing after this?

Ellie Holcomb  17:41  

I did. Yes. So, I am sure you don’t remember my song because I can’t, it was so powerful. And I remember thinking that day. I remember thinking, I would love to be a part of something like that. I have no idea how. I don’t know how I would, I don’t know how I would do that. And so I think that racial reconciliation, the idea that race has been an issue in our country has been something that’s been like I’ve been aware of. I read, probably the first book that I read that sort of helped me understand a little bit more systemic issues was Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I read that several years ago. I read The Warmth of Other Suns.

Latasha Morrison  18:30  

A beautiful book by Isabel Wilkerson. One of my favorite books ever. It’s beautiful.

Ellie Holcomb  18:36  

Same. It feels, and it felt like, Tasha, it felt like reading fiction. I mean, she writes it like a story. And I’m like, oh my goodness, this actually happened. So that was a really big deal for me to understand somebody else’s experience that is totally different than mine because of the color of their skin. So that was an eye opening book. So I had been aware that this was obviously like an issue, a thing. And in the same breath, I kind of maybe rose colored glasses just was like, “But we’re moving forward, you know, in general.” You know, just this, like, I don’t know, maybe I’m bent towards hope. I’m a seven on the enneagram. I don’t like pain. I don’t like, I mean, not that anybody likes pain. But I just, I avoid hard things very well, like that’s sort of, I avoid pain. That’s sort of a big thing for me. And so obviously, this is a painful conversation to have and hard to have. I understand why people, why people avoid it. I’m not excusing that at all. But in the wake of COVID I think there was a silence, there was a space in a way, and space to listen in a way that we never had before. And so in the wake of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, it was sort of this, it was it was a wake up call for me. And I heard Annie Downs on a podcast with Mike Kelsey, who’s a pastor, Black pastor outside of DC, I think, having a very intentional conversation about, they talked about Be the Bridge, they talked about how we are called to listen and to more intentionally listen and to be…it’s sort of that, it reminds me of that Isaiah 61 that we are to be a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor to rebuild the ancient ruins. And I just thought, okay, I don’t know, repairers of the breach. And I just thought I feel like a baby toddler. So that conversation that Annie Downs had, she mentioned your name in that conversation with Mike Kelsey. And she also talked about how there were people who had talked to her about how she didn’t have a lot of voices from people of color on her podcast. And people had reached out to her about that. And she had been on a journey where she was just like, “I want to be more intentional about this.” Because I think it’s so easy to stay safe and comfortable with what we’re familiar with. And I think actually, we’re missing out when we do. And that’s where I started realizing I’m like, oh my goodness. This has been my loss from not intentionally listening to my Black and Brown brothers and sisters. So I just started a journey of listening and really trying to educate myself. I felt like a baby toddler in all of it. Learning as I started reading, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi. White Supremacy I read. I just went down sort of deep dive. I took a course led by a woman here who does these Nashville walking tours.

Okay. Look at this. I love it.

It’s like a two week antiracism course. It’s not enough to be non-racist, but to be anti.

Latasha Morrison  22:16  

Not just non-racist. But how do you actively dismantle the oppressive systems and rebuild systems where all people flourish? Yeah.

Ellie Holcomb  22:28  

Yeah. So she was, United Street Tours is the thing that she does. So she does these walking tours in Nashville, where you taste really good food. And then also she gives you a history of the racial tension. And in places where there has been pain and things that need to be made right in Nashville’s history. Which is an amazing.

Latasha Morrison  22:51  

What!

Ellie Holcomb  22:51  

Yeah, it’s so amazing.

Latasha Morrison  22:52  

Ok, I’m coming. I want to come.

Ellie Holcomb  22:53  

Come on! Let’s take it together. I haven’t gotten to do the tour yet, because I learned about her during COVID. But what was so beautiful for me, is I called Annie Downs and I said, “Annie, I am waking up in a way. I am grieving.” And I understand why people, this is a really hard topic to dive into. Because if you actually really start listening to the people in your life who are are Black and Brown, who have had different experiences than you, you will grieve. You will grieve. If you start researching history, there will be and there should be grief. And so it was a deep dive and it was very heavy. And it should be if you’re really like leaning into it, waking up for it. And I talked to my friend Zandy. She was really the person who, she’s a dear friend of mine, she’s in a band called The New Respects. Beautiful Black woman. We’ve known each other for a lot of years. And I just started saying, “Would you have some intentional conversations with me? Can I just like ask you some questions. I just really want to learn from you and listen to you.” And when we talk, she said, “Ellie, it’s so interesting, because I’ve dealt with this my whole life” because I said, “What does it mean to you when I like, I feel like I was raised to be colorblind. Like, God made all people, He loves all people, we should be colorblind, and that that was the most loving way.” And I said, “How does that make you feel?” And she was like, “Well it feels pretty dismissive, actually.”

Latasha Morrison  24:30  

Yeah, right. Right. Right.

Ellie Holcomb  24:32  

“Okay. So tell me more about that.” She was like, “Well, it’s dismissive of the experiences that I’ve had just because of the color of my skin. But it also feels a little dismissive of just the way that God made me. I am, I have brown skin. And so I don’t think it’s necessarily like the most loving way to be like that.” So conversations with my friend Zandy led into a conversation with Annie Downs where I was like I need to be in a bridge builder group. I’ve heard you talking about this, I need more help. And she said, “Well, they’re not meeting they weren’t meeting during COVID.” And so because we have some Nashville groups here that are actually led by friends of mine at Corner to Corner – the Acuff’s, Will and Tiffany Acuff.

Latasha Morrison  25:19  

Oh, yeah. I had lunch with Tiffany when I was in Nashville the last time. It is time for me to, I’m sitting up here planning, like, we need to do something in Nashville. Yes.

Ellie Holcomb  25:34  

It is so, I did, I will say I was so sad that I couldn’t be a part of like an official group. But Annie was so great. She was like Ellie, “Don’t wait. Grab Tasha’s book.” She was like, “I have some extras in my office, come get them. Get a small group of women and y’all read through it together.” So I asked my friend Zandy to co-lead a Be the Bridge group with me. And we put together about eight women, diverse women. And we started reading through this book together. And I am here to say that if you were beginning on this journey, you’re like, “I don’t know what to do.” I just resonate with you. And I love that Annie pushed me to do that. Because I felt like, just, I still feel so new on this journey. I’m still learning so much. And it’s been a really beautiful thing to just show up and to learn to say I’m sorry when I get it wrong. And just to quickly apologize. But really to be listening more than speaking to other people’s perspectives and stories and the beauty, even though it’s been such hard conversations and awkward and intense sometimes just because it’s hard. It’s a heavy topic, right? But the beauty, I think for me has become that my understanding as we’ve walked through this book, as we’ve listened, acknowledged the truth, repented, lamented, and then started, I’ve started this work of rebuilding, the gospel has become wider and higher and deeper and more wonderful and more colorful, and more powerful than I ever imagined. And I just thought, this has been my loss. This is actually, I want to invite every single beating human heart into this work, because it is so close to the heart of God. He wants us to be unified. We’re one family. And so I just thought, man, I am new at this, I am making a lot of mistakes as I’ve led this group. I loved when you shared on your first podcast on this Be the Bridge podcast that you just thought I am so nervous about this. I’m going to just make sure that I have good food, because at least we’ll eat. And I laughed so hard because Tasha I was just like, I didn’t even have good food. All I had was, I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store. But I just brought all the like leftover bags of chips, some dried mango, some Tate’s cookies, like I had nothing fancy at all. But I was like, “Welcome to my house. Here’s a lot of stacks.” (laughter) We started the conversations and it has just been, it’s transformed my heart and my vision and the way that I listen to other people to the point where I went to the Grand Canyon and was I don’t know that I would have thought about Indigenous people when I went there. But that was part of what I was grieving when I was in the midst of that place in that trip and acknowledging and just sitting with the heaviness of so much loss that’s happened for that whole people group, too. I don’t think I would have seen or leaned into that story had it not been for this beautiful book that you led us through. So I feel so grateful for what you’re doing.

Tandria Potts  29:12  

[Voiceover] This is so good. Aren’t you loving this conversation? We’re gonna take a quick break. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.

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Tandria Potts  31:03  

[Voiceover] Thanks for staying with us. Let’s get back to our conversation.

Latasha Morrison  31:07  

We are as BIPOC people, as a person of color I’ve been trained in the same school system that doesn’t acknowledge my history. And when it’s acknowledged, it’s not done in a healthy way that’s uplifting for me. You know? And so our telling the full story…the good, the bad, and the ugly…and we know that in a healing process, we have to dig deep to deal with the pains and the triumphs, everything to make this complete healing story. And so much we try to in America, we try to cover that up. Because it makes us feel bad, and it makes us uncomfortable. But you know, if we think about that, like your journey through the 12 steps, alcoholic, you have to deal with the pain. You have to make amends. And in our faith walk we have to confess. We have to repent. So we’re used to that as it relates to other things. But when it comes to, you know, our racial history, we want to kind of downplay it, erase it, because it makes us feel bad or we feel unAmerican when we are trying to call America to the highest ideals for all people, so for everyone to flourish. So I think this is a really important conversation. And I think one of the good things is like how you mentioned about having this philosophy of colorblind, but you had someone that you can talk to and say, “Hey, that’s wrong.” But you have to realize that some people, even another person of color, sometimes they see that, I even hear people of color use that term because that’s the way we have also been taught. Because a lot of our parents were brought up in the 60s or the 70s. And some of them were tired. And it was kind of like, we gained some triumphs and we tired. And so it was just like our world became very dismissive of the pain and the marginalization and everything. So I think we’re in a place that we’re in a watershed moment. We’re in a holy moment, where some people will listen and get it. And God will do change through us. And then some people will continue to be dismissive and to continue to challenge, to continue to make up excuses, and they will miss it. But their story won’t be, “No one ever told me.” Their story would be, “I heard, but I refused to acknowledge and to listen.” And I mean, think about that, as it relates to our walk with God. And so, but God always makes big changes through a remnant, through a small group of people. And I think that’s what happened in 2020. I think it was a calling, a watershed moment, to call people who have ears to hear and eyes to see to the frontline, to get into position, to get into position and be united in this. And whether you’ve been doing this for 25 years, 30 years, 50 years, all your life to whether today is your first day, there’s room for you. But what the things that you said, the things that you’re reading, you’re educating yourself. You’re not just sitting there telling someone, “Teach me, teach me.” You’re doing your part. And you have to do your part. And, you know, you mentioned Just Mercy. And Just Mercy, that book is about the 90’s and early 2000’s. But when I was reading it I thought it was the 60’s and the 50’s and the 40’s.

Ellie Holcomb  31:16  

Right. It’s wild.

Latasha Morrison  32:25  

The sheriff was in in power until, I keep saying this on every podcast that brings it up, the sheriff was in power until 2019, my friends. We need to go back and investigate every case that that Sheriff participated in, and the judges in that community. And I mean that’s just one city in Alabama. This happens all over our country.

Ellie Holcomb  35:41  

It is to an overwhelming, to an overwhelming degree. I’m like, are there any lawyers listening? Go, go find Just Mercy.

Latasha Morrison  35:53  

I know. And that’s why Bryan Stevenson created the Equal Justice Initiative. That’s exactly why, you know, to really bring about change in our judicial system. And so, I’m so grateful for him and his voice. And I’m so grateful that he wrote the book, because that has been a moment of transformation for a lot of people to see, to really put to light some of the injustices that are happening right now. Not in the 50’s and 60’s, but right now, in this moment, as it continues, as we see things unravel on national news. But this year has been for you personally and creatively and spiritually, I know you’ve written a book, you wrote a song, but like, what has, I would say what has 2020 and 2021 in this space right here done for Ellie Holcomb?

Ellie Holcomb  37:01  

I love that question. Tasha, this is gonna sound kind of crazy. But I have been on a journey via counseling, huge fan of counseling. It has been, I know cause I’m like, this is the part in your book, I’m like, I know you are because I read it in your book. You talked about counseling. But I learned, I’ve been in counseling for a long time. I’ve acknowledged wounds from my past. I had never let myself grieve. Really grieve wounds, the wounds from my past. And so I kind of went on a journey about two years ago, little before 2020, of learning to grieve the deepest wounds in my own story. And as I simply let myself breathe in some of those places and just sit with some of the wounds I encountered the man of sorrows himself. And I am so grateful that God is a God who is close to the brokenhearted. And so I think I encountered a lot of hope in those places, which is the thing that, the place that I thought would kill me to visit. My own grief actually ended up healing me in a way. And so I think I learned to grieve on a personal level. And that that rolled into 2020. And so as 2020 rolled in, maybe I had to learn to grieve on a personal level before I could grieve on maybe a more global national level. And so I think, really what your book has really helped me do is, I love that you call it righteous, was it…What did you say earlier? Righteous reconciliation?

Latasha Morrison  38:58  

Oh, racial righteousness. Racial righteousness.

Ellie Holcomb  39:03  

I love that you call it racial righteousness because and I loved this book because it very much pointed to the way that I think grief and lament is a part of worship. It’s a part of how we become whole if we don’t grieve it, it never, it’s just janky and wounded and keeps getting covered up. Which is what I’ve been doing unintentionally. I didn’t know I was doing that in terms of all of the race stuff. I was like, “Oh, that’ll be painful to bring that up for them. So I’m just not going to talk about it.” But man, it has been such a, so I think for me, it’s helped me grieve. You’ve given me permission to grieve this and that was, that’s such a hard thing to do. I don’t think it like. Anyway, I just understand why people want to ignore this or push it away because it is hard. But I think if we don’t, I just don’t want anyone to miss the invitation to the hard, because that’s Jesus’s whole thing. It’s backwards and upside down. To die is to live. And what feels like dying sometimes in these conversations that feel really hard. And I would make a mistake and say something that hurt someone that I didn’t mean to do. And you know, we’re in like cancel culture, you’re so afraid to say anything that is gonna just get you just tripped on and you’re just like, no, I am. I think Brene Brown says it like, “I’m not here to be right, I’m here to get it right.” Like, I know, I’m not gonna be right all the time. But I want to learn and get it right. And so this has been such a powerful thing, this invitation that you give us in this book, to…I’m holding up your book over and over again. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  39:25  

It’s so funny.

Ellie Holcomb  40:35  

I’m like your book right here. (laughter) But it’s such a beautiful invitation into leaning into those hard places. Because just like I was saying before, with water moving to the lowest place, God is in those hard places. He’s already there. He’s the ultimate bridge builder. And so I think for me, there’s been this unexpected joy and hope, as I’ve learned to grieve, that follows grief. And that’s the rhythm in scripture over and over again, of course. But I’m still grieving, but there’s still hope. So it’s been a really beautiful, I’m not sure there would be many people that could teach me that but you did. I’m so grateful.

Latasha Morrison  41:44  

Lament is, like you said, lament is an act of worship. And that deep sorrow propels us into, I really believe it propels us when we do it right it repels us toward righteousness and justice. And you see that, I mean, half of the Psalms are about David’s lament. There’s a whole book called Lamentations. We see this in Job, like we see it throughout Scripture. But that is something that Western culture has pushed away as it relates to how we grieve and how we collectively see each other versus seeing just our part, just being more individualistic thinking. Where I think it’s both, you have to there’s, you know, when you focus on self, like you said, when I learned to grieve personally, it helped me to grieve collectively and globally. You know? And so, and the Bible is collective. We are connected to one another, it’s about the Kingdom of God. And the Kingdom of God, the upside down Kingdom of God is different, it’s not empire, Rome was an empire. America is an empire. You know what I’m saying? Egypt was an empire. This is different. Jesus came to build God’s Kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven. And I think that’s the thing that we we forget that collective part of this, and so like, that’s so much of that. So you, God revealed to you to grieve and to learn to grieve and to lament. And I think that vulnerability, but I think there’s also something that you’re starting with, that is so key, that I see where some people have the natural proclivity to do that, and some people don’t, and that is vulnerability and humility. And those are key ingredients to this work. And some people have it more naturally because of their life experiences, because of their relationship with God. Like I don’t, I don’t know, like everybody’s story, but I do know when people don’t show up in that, or they show up in this they think they they’re having humility, but they can’t listen. So if you can’t listen, you know, if you can’t sit still, like, maybe you it’s not as authentic as you think talking about humility is different from living it. And being able to, to say you’re sorry, even if it wasn’t you, you know, but being able to sit with people in their pain and in their discomfort. Because just imagine if you’re tired of hearing about it, how about many people of color, we’re tired of living it, you know?

Ellie Holcomb  44:55  

Tasha, I, it has been, this journey has been so humbling. And when you talk about humility, I feel like it’s taught me to be a better listener to all people. But it started with trying to really intentionally listen to people of color. And one of the things that even as I’ve shared about some of this journey on Instagram, some people have lovingly come alongside me and said, “Hey, you’re actually centering your own story a lot. It would be really great if you could actually help lift up the voices of other people’s stories.” So that’s something I’m still working on. Because I think in this, one of the things that has been really hard that I still feel like I am learning about and recognizing really daily because just like you said, imagine the weariness of talking to it, we’re not living, I’m not as a white person I’m not living this experience every day. It’s like, you can kind of check in and check out if you want to there because of white privilege. This sort of white centered, I mean, our country for sure is this, where it’s just like I was telling Zandy, my friend, and in our in our little bridge builder group, I was like, I don’t even think of myself as having a race. Like, I’m just, I’m just what’s normal, right? That is such that is so wrong. That is so wrong! And Zandy always it says like, she’s so full of grace, she’s like, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” And she’s like, “Unless you listened, everything around you is reflecting back to you that that’s what’s normal.” And so we talked about mirroring a lot. And how she didn’t see a lot of herself. And who was it? The actor that just passed away? It was so, Chadwick. Yes, Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman. So when he passed we were having one of our groups and just talked about how it was such a loss because he, for a lot of the Black woman in our group was a mirror, was a major mirror that they saw. Like one of them, some of them, it was the first they felt like it was the first like mainstream, very successful movie, where they saw like the hero, as this Black man. And so I just thought, man, there are, there’s so much it has been so good for me to learn the art of listening and unlearning this sort of very narrow minded perspective that I had, of sort of, I don’t know. It’s the white privilege is very real. And I’m still, I recognize it on a different level in some way more and more every day. I was in Target the other day and saw the bandaids, these bandaids, and I was like, “That’s the prettiest color.” And I was like, “They made a line! They finally made a line!”  And I sent a picture of it to Zandy, like, “I’ve never seen this. I just thought this was a pretty color bandaid!” I was like oh my gosh.

Latasha Morrison  48:22  

Yeah, it’s just stuff that we were, it was the norm. And you don’t think about it. It’s like it happens without us even acknowledging it. And that is the systemic part of it where, and realizing that when you talk about privilege it’s not, you’re looking at it from a systemic standpoint. And like, because we all have privileges. There’s a privilege I have having been educated. There’s certain privileges that we all have, but when you look at your privilege systemically in a racialized society, regardless if you had money or not, the policies and laws were designed to lift you up. And they were designed to put a boot on the neck of people of color. And so I think it’s important for people to understand that.

Ellie Holcomb  49:15  

So one of the highs of this bridge builder group is I started, it has bred curiosity in me. And so, and how I can be a part of helping lift up the voices of my Black and Brown neighbors here in Nashville. And so we have this very wonderful mutual friend Tasha, Will Acuff, Tiffany Acuff, and they started this wonderful organization called Corner to Corner here in Nashville. And they exist to see all neighbors flourish. And so I reached out to them because they’re actually the ones that are hosting the Be the Bridge groups here in Nashville, or one of them, they host one of them. And it was a really beautiful thing because I started thinking about releasing this record, I started thinking about bridge the song and how I wanted to celebrate the record coming out. I fell in love with the work that Corner to Corner is doing. And I discovered that they have this Academy where they train underestimated entrepreneurs to turn their dreams and their visions and their ideas into money making realities. And so they do a 10 week course where they do entrepreneurship small business training for these people. Last year, this is crazy Tasha, last year in 2020 – they’ve only done this for four years, so they’ve had four years of graduates from this program that they do – in four years, their graduates alone have produced $8 million of Nashville’s gross domestic product. Mainly, I think it’s about 80% Black woman who go through the program. So they are doing transformative work here in our city. And I just thought, how did I not know that this was happening? And part of that curiosity happened from our Be the Bridge group. And so I thought, man, I want to invite Corner to Corner graduates to help throw and host, so I invited all Corner Corner graduates to cater this party that I was throwing and had Shana who is an incredible, she’s the head of the Academy, incredible Black woman to come speak at my CD release party. And so we literally tasted and enjoyed amazing food, Coneheads, So Sangria, they hosted, they helped me throw the whole party and my whole, most of my bridge builder group was there. And so got to share it with the record label people, and my whole management team and my PR team this beautiful work that Corner Corner was doing. Because it’s been such a transformative part of my journey, being a part of this Be the Bridge group. And so I got to, I think there’s this beautiful thing where we now get to, I’m getting to celebrate this other amazing work that my Black and Brown brothers and sisters are doing here in my city. And so it felt very much like the culmination of our bridge builders work together. Because one of the things you have us do is ask how can we get involved in our neighborhood. And I don’t, I’m not sure that I would have reached out to really get more involved with Corner to Corner and what they’re doing, you know, if it had not been for the questions that you were prompting us to ask in this book, and that we were asking as a bridge builder group together. And so that was a real highlight to celebrate both the work and the transformation that’s happened in our hearts as we’ve come together to do bridge building work, and then to invite sort of my whole professional world into that work as well has been just a delight. And so I was at, you know, I was doing all these podcasts and interviews when the record released a couple of weeks ago, and my PR people marketing people were like, “Hey, we love Corner to Corner. Do they need mentors for marketing and PR?” And I was like, “It’s working!” So this just the good trouble of what you invite us into of camaraderie and linking arms together to make sure all neighbors flourish. Is is such that was a huge highlight for me to get to celebrate this beautiful work that Corner to Corner is doing.

Latasha Morrison  49:24  

Now you mentioned, you know, in the group and going through this, you mentioned some of the highs and lows and how some people have even talked to you. And I love the fact that you’ve had people to say, “Hey, let’s center some other stories.” Like I think that’s good, because that takes real love. And this is the thing. It doesn’t bring us joy to have to a lot of times bring correction we need like, also our white brothers and sisters like don’t always, you know, look to a person of color to bring correction because sometimes when I’m in the room, and it’s me, it’s so exhausting to sometimes have to bring the correction. So I want my allies, my accomplices that are in that room with me to say those things without me having to say it. And so I love that when I see other white people lovingly try to correct other people. Now whether you listen or not, that’s one thing. But what were some of the highs and lows in your group experience that you had?

Ellie Holcomb  54:41  

Yeah, and I think when we, I would say actually it was pretty low at the beginning. It felt a little bit untethered. We were always started off by just sharing why we were all there which is which was really important, but very heavy. So I’m so grateful for Zandy’s leadership because she was like, look, and I’m grateful for your book for this reason, because I think if we had just stayed having conversations about what’s hard or what’s wrong with our system, I think it could have started to feel pretty hopeless. And some of the other, you know, I don’t know, things that I was reading, a Facebook group that I was a part of, I love that you point us forward to like a way forward. Because it was pretty, it was very hard. I think the first couple times we had, I just wasn’t used to leading a group. And so it was really helpful when we started really moving through the book, you do a great job in the book of asking questions. So when we started sort of setting we would share maybe where we were that week for a little bit, but really started leaning into the curriculum to something that was a bigger than just our own personal experiences. Personal experience has been so important for us to talk about. That’s a lot of you know, what comes up from the questions. But I think to sort of lean into this rhythm of listening, repentance, reconciliation was really important for us. So another memorable moment was when was when we, you know, I just, there’s just been some conversations that we’ve had where I think people have said things unknowingly that were hurtful, me included. There was a, we were talking about mirroring, and I was like, “Well, American Girl doll did it pretty good. They had a Black doll, you know, from the very beginning.” And Zandy was like, “Ellie. Yeah, she was a slave.” That was my fear of doing that. And I just thought, I’ve never. Yeah, yes, she was. And I’m not here to criticize the American Gribble company. And obviously, they’re acknowledging, I’m not like, just like, but I’m, but also it is history. So I’m sure that’s like, but I’m like, was that a complex conversation for them? I don’t know if that was. I’ve never spent a ton of time. And I even read Addy’s books as a kid and I just that, I was not the person in the story that was a slave. And so I didn’t, I haven’t thought about it like that. So there have been conversations like that were I’m like, “Well, they did it great.” And she’s like, “Hmm. Not really. At all.”

Latasha Morrison  57:46  

They romanticized it, they romanticized it. And, you know, this is a little girl and just think about those experiences. Because most children that were in slavery, were not with their parents, they were taken from their parents. Or how they even came about, like, you know, there’s so many layers, but the thing is, did they consult with the African American community before doing this? You know? Because there’s a way to tell that story and a more truthful and redeeming way without trying to gloss over the hard part. But this is a toy, that you’re a toy that you’re creating for children, and you’re creating this Black toy, and it is about history. But there’s a better way that they could have done it. I love the fact that they had a Black doll, but even that Black doll, like could they maybe have brought it forward in history if they weren’t going to do a good job with telling the full history and not romanticizing it. It was more Gone with the Windish, you know? And so yeah, so that’s a lot of problems that, you know, but hey, I know, we bought the doll. And you know what I’m saying? And so there’s a lot of things, but now that I know better, you know, you gotta do better. Like, there’s some blinders even we had, “Oh it’s a Black doll!” But not even realizing the story behind it. So it’s important for us to do our work. And some people are hearing this now like, “Oh, my goodness, I didn’t know that.” But it’s important to have a diverse community, companies. That’s why you have to have the right people, marketing, all those things. All these things come into play.

Ellie Holcomb  59:32  

Yeah, they do. And I think too, there has been I, there’s been a lot of moments like that where I’m like, this is great. And then there’s a deeper level of learning and I’m like, oh, man, I’m so sorry. And so it’s been a really beautiful place because what’s happened as we’ve had these conversations and come, like you said earlier Latasha, in authentic selves of trying really intentionally trying to learn and listen, it’s cultivated this authentic and vulnerable community, beyond just these conversations. These are really important part of what we do. But because we’ve kind of leaned in and work through some of these awkward, like, “That was not my experience.” And the different Black women in our group have different experiences and opinions. And that has been really beautiful to see they will be like, “Oh, well I don’t see it like that. Oh, well, this has been my experience.” One of our girls, her mom, it was her story is really different. She came from, let’s see, somewhere in the South. She immigrated here from maybe Barbados, somewhere totally different story and politically has a different perspective. And so it’s just been, it’s been a really interesting that you start talking about families and the way that your family dealt with this. And so it has bred this very authentic, very close knit, vulnerable, beautiful community of friendship. And I think for me, I wasn’t expecting that. I’m like, “We’re going to have these conversations, we’re going to do this hard, this hard work together.” And what’s happened is so much joy and connectedness and friendship. And that has been a delight.

Latasha Morrison  1:01:37  

Yeah. And I think that’s the, I’m so glad that you had that experience of having different perspectives, because, you know, it’s important for even people coming and even ourselves to relearn history in a way that gives us context to what’s happening. And it you know, once you start figuring it out and understanding redlining and all the things, you’re like, “Oh, this makes sense.” And it gives you a deeper perspective now. Now, one thing I heard one high that came out of this group experience was a song.

Ellie Holcomb  1:02:19  

Oh, yeah! How could I not talk about that? (laughter) When you talked about highs and lows I went to the lows, Tasha.

Latasha Morrison  1:02:28  

Tell me about this song called Bridge, and it’s meaning to you and others.

Ellie Holcomb  1:02:36  

Absolutely. I was, there was one morning in the midst of our group meeting that I was reading through the headlines in the news, and this was back in 2020. So there was so much misinformation, from the top down, you know. And I was just reading all of these articles, a lack of understanding, a lack of listening in the leadership of our country, and I was grieving that. And I was having one of the heavier days, I don’t know how, I’m sure you have so much wisdom in how to carry the days where things hit you heavier than others. Or maybe it’s every day and you just learn to carry that to Jesus and to exist and to function. I’m like, oh, my goodness, it is a lot. I just have a lot of respect for my Black and Brown brothers and sisters, because I am like, there are days when it just feels like I’m like, I don’t even know I’m supposed to show up to this co-write today because I am so sad. I’m so sad about the brokenness. And that this cycle continues of Black lives being lost at the hands of police officers, like we need reform. Anyway, so I was grieving that and I was on my way to a co-write with a guy named Jordan Reynolds, I had never met him before. But our other co-writer had canceled. And I got in the car, and very often when something is heavy for me, like I said before if I can sing, it helps calm my heart, it helps direct my eyes to lift my eyes to the hills, if you will. And so I started singing the chorus of Bridge when I was in the car, because I just thought I do not, I will not let hate win. I will not let hate win. I cannot. I am going to tell, I’ll write a better story. I’m going to live a better story. I’m going to continue to listen and to learn and to advocate and to be a part in whatever ways I can of reforming justice systems, of reforming laws that are not there, of speaking to my white friends about this and inviting them into this work. I want to do everything that I can. And I think I need to quit and become a lawyer or I need to become a police officer or do something. And I’m just this little songwriter girl over here. And so I started singing about this. And so I just thought, man, I want to bring, I don’t know what Zandy, so two of the girls in my group Zandy, my co-leader, and then Carly who’s actually my sister, but who’s also a singer songwriter and has been a member of our group, I sent them both a text and I said, “What are y’all doing right now? I’m driving to this co-write. I started singing this song. And I want you to come write it with me, because this has been work that we’ve had the privilege of doing together.” And it has been, it was so amazing. Zandy couldn’t come. She was in rehearsals with her band. But she sent me, she heard the chorus. And she said, “How on the nose do you want this song to be?” And I was like, “Very.” She goes, “Okay.” And so she sent me the first verse of the song just over voice memo, which is kind of crazy. The day and age that we’re in. So she sent that first verse.

Latasha Morrison  1:06:02  

Sing it, sing it! You got to sing the first verse because the audience is, they gotta go listen to it they may not have heard about. So you can say it or you can sing. Okay?

Audio Clip  1:06:11  

[Clip of Ellie Holcomb’s Bridge] I had it wrong. Turns out there’s more to this story than What I thought. And now all the truth, it haunts me. ‘Cause what am I not seeing? What else am I missing, oh? No words for this feeling. But that’s when I hear Your voice speaking, If you wanna cross over this great divide, If you long for a day that doesn’t feel like night If you’re searching for answers that you cannot find, Build a bridge, build a bridge to the other side. Build a bridge, build a bridge to the other side.

Latasha Morrison  1:07:10  

Oh! I love it! Build a bridge, build a bridge to the other side. Like, the only thing that sustains that bridge is the message of Jesus. You know, it’s like, I love that. I love that. So she sent you that first verse?

Ellie Holcomb  1:07:28  

She did. And I just thought well that about perfectly describes the journey that I’ve been on. And she’s been so gracious.

Latasha Morrison  1:07:36  

I’ve got to meet her! I’m coming, I’m telling you! I’m coming.

Ellie Holcomb  1:07:38  

You have to know Zandy. We’re going to come and go eat some good food here in Nashville.

Latasha Morrison  1:07:44  

Yes.

Ellie Holcomb  1:07:45  

It’s been so beautiful. She and her band The New Respects, they’re amazing. It’s her sister, her twin sister, her brother, and then their cousin. And they are a party. They are so incredible. And they actually came and sang vocals on the song. Carly, my sister, who wrote the song sang on it as well. So it it really is, I mean, Tasha, it feels like the sound of the fruit of what’s happened after living through this book that you wrote together. And you know, I think sometimes, and I don’t know if you feel this way, but sometimes, you know, having these conversations about how we can be bridge builders, how we can bring about racial justice and reform, sometimes in the light in light, or in the wake of some of the tragedy that continues to happen, and in the wake of some of the things that people say on social media even sometimes it feels like throwing flower seeds at monsters. You know? It’s like, oh, all we’re doing is having a conversation. I have to do something bigger. And I’m not saying that we’re never called to big things. I’d love to hear from you ways that, anyway, just I am like everything, I want to do everything that I can to continue to lean into this work. But I must say too, that the kingdom of heaven always start small. Like it’s like a mustard seed. The kingdom of heaven is like the the yeast, the leaven that’s in the dough. And it’s worked through the whole thing, but then the dough rises. And so what’s been so beautiful about, and I think a highlight for me, a high for me from the book, writing this song, taking these little seeds of conversation that have happened that have been planted in my heart, but that have completely transformed the way that I see the world, that I interact with other people, that I listen to people, that I listen to God, and so I can say I know it feels like flower seeds, but I am a totally different person. And if God can do that in me, who was colorblind and accidentally dismissive to my Black and Brown brothers and sisters. I just was getting so many things wrong, I still am, I’m still listening, I’m still growing, I’m still repenting. But if God can change me this drastically, it gives me such hope that He can change other people, and that He can change systems, and that He can invite us to do whatever part He is calling us to to be a part of this bridge building work. And that has been so beautiful.

Latasha Morrison  1:10:38  

I mean, oh my goodness, Ellie. That is incredible. This is what, I think, this is why we do what we do. And this is why we deal with the hard. And, you know, even with my team, like I was telling them, it’s been so much coming at us and them individually. You know, pray for your brothers and sisters of color right now because it’s a hard place, and especially seeing the church reject a lot of the pain and the truth is heartbreaking. And so, you know, but when I hear these stories, and I get to hear a lot and I try to let them know these stories, because it’s uplifting. It’s fuel. So, my prayer is that this podcast also will not only be education and things that people can share and learn from, but it also acts as fuel for this journey that we’re navigating. And I think some of what you said, in your words, it has been like healing balm even for for me. Because you’re in the midst of this journey, you’re learning, you’re being corrected, you’re like all of these things. And so, how do you think? Why do you think it’s important for people to have this, especially white people, to have this posture of listening, listening and humility and lament in this conversation?

Ellie Holcomb  1:12:20  

It’s a great question, Tasha. I think the listening is really important. Because there is no way as a white person that we can understand what it is like to be a person of color. We just, we are in a white centric culture. And so I think without really listening and being willing to be humble and to be corrected, and, you know, to just learn, I don’t I think honestly, we’ll miss out on so much beauty. Because I have learned so much about faith. I say, “Zandy, how do you interact with anybody? How do you not hate everybody?” And she goes, “Oh, I’m tethered. I’m tethered. I belong to a kingdom that’s coming. And this world is not my home. And I’m very aware of that.” And she is aware of that in ways that I’m not even aware of that. And I have learned from her. I’m like, oh, my goodness, I have been, it is our loss when we don’t listen to each other. It really is, especially for white people in sort of a white centric, white privileged culture, where there’s systemic systems set up for us to just succeed. We don’t even acknowledge that half the time. We have been missing out. And I don’t think and I think the lament piece has to come. Because if we don’t lament after listening, I think we run the serious risk of being dismissive and missing out on on the true healing. Because I think if we don’t really lament there’s no way that we can begin to, I think the lament is actually, Tasha, it’s the fuel for repentance and reconciliation. I really think that it is. Because Jesus meets us there in that lamenting place. He is the man of sorrows, like we’ve talked about so many times. He meets us in those low places. And I think when you encounter the presence of love and the presence of God in the midst of weeping and grieving over some of the egregious racism that is still within the church today, like you’re saying, I mean, just the, the lack of acknowledgement that’s still here. Man when when you are grieving that, and it feels like such a big divide to cross, doesn’t it? I don’t know, it does to me some days I’m like, how are we supposed to do this? But not by might or by power but by His Spirit. And so when I’m lamenting, I’m inviting His spirit. We’re just breathing in the love of God in those places. And I think there is something about breathing in the presence of God in those lamenting places, that helps us then carry His presence and His love and His hope into other places where it’s tense. So for me, it’s been the most powerful catalyst in this journey is the lament.

Latasha Morrison  1:15:51  

Wow, that is good stuff. Now. What would you recommend to those that are listening? Or maybe someone’s listening? If you’re listening, you’ve taken a step. But those who are trying to convince people to take a step, what would you recommend for those who acknowledged a racial brokenness but haven’t taken any steps towards change or transformation?

Ellie Holcomb  1:16:20  

I would say, I, this is I’m not just here on your podcast blowing smoke, Tasha. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison  1:16:28  

I know, I know. I can hear it in you.

Ellie Holcomb  1:16:30  

I really am not. I really am not. But I would just say,

Latasha Morrison  1:16:34  

Listen. The Spirit sees the Spirit. I hear you. I feel you. I see you. Yeah. 

Ellie Holcomb  1:16:38  

Okay. I am really, I really would, I would say that there is so much beauty on the other side of this hard, these hard conversations and these steps. And so I would encourage you, as a first step, to really have a conversation with a Black or Brown friend, or actually before that, maybe even before that, probably before that, actually what I’m learning is read a book. Educate yourself. Like, that has been a really important thing that I’ve learned because I know y’all are tired, Tasha. And some of the girls that even in our group are, we didn’t want to stop meeting so we’re actually reading Jemar Tisby’s Color of Compromise right now which has been amazing.

Latasha Morrison  1:17:29  

A great one. Love Jemar. Yes. 

Ellie Holcomb  1:17:30  

There are some of the girls who are taking a break because life is picking back up. And so it’s been busier. But they were also like, this is heavy for me. Like there is a cost. And I just say thank you to any Black or Brown brother or sister out there who has been a part of a bridge builder group. That costs you something. Like, thank you. It is, it is so huge. So if you’re a white ally, like you’re a white person, you’re wanting to be on this journey, I would say educate yourself. Just Mercy is a great book, Be the Be the Bridge is a great book, you could start a group with even just white women reading this book, and it would be helpful. It’s been really helpful to hear from the different perspectives, but I always tell Zandy, I’m like, I don’t know why anybody would sign up for this unless Jesus himself told you to if you’re a Black or Brown person in this becuase it’s hard. It’s hard.

Latasha Morrison  1:18:27  

Because we are a people of faith. And we want to see people whole, the church whole, we want to see transformation. So we put our bodies on the line, we’ve always put our bodies on the line. And we don’t have to, but I feel like God uses us in just an incredible way and our story to change minds and hearts. But I’m so glad that you see what it cost us to show up. And it’s okay as a person of color,to take a break or to have time. And we are all different. Some of us can’t show up like this now because we’re dealing with our own trauma, and our own wounds that we have to heal ourselves from. And that we have to seek the Healer that heals all things for ourselves first. But I think to hear this even becomes healing for them to to see people doing the work and trying and leaning in. You’re gonna mess up and when you mess up like I told Annie it’s like you’re gonna mess up, people gonna come at you. But what are you going to do after that? And you keep going. And so this, you know, you can’t quit because you lost a few followers or some friends or if you lose all your followers, if you know you’re doing the right thing and this work has convicted you. Like if there’s conviction that’s leading this, then it’s like…I mean, I’ve been called a Marxist, I mean, all kinds of crazy stuff that is like, do you not even know me? And I’m like, clearly, those people have not read my book.

Ellie Holcomb  1:20:17  

Right. That’s right.

Latasha Morrison  1:20:19  

And so. But it’s just kind of like, it’s sometimes the things you’re like, “Okay, I ain’t got to deal with this. I do not have to deal with this.” But you know, it’s like, when it’s not about you, and it’s about being a credible witness for the glory of God, empowering people and culture to work towards racial healing, racial equity, and racial reconciliation that is the conviction that I have. And that’s the conviction that drives me. So why do you feel like it’s important and that we’re about to close? Because we are way over time. But why do you think it’s important for people like yourself to elevate this conversation on racial healing and racial brokenness?

Ellie Holcomb  1:21:03  

Yeah, I think for me, and before I answer that, Tasha, I do want to say, I think the first thing I would tell somebody who’s wanting to take this journey of racial reconciliation, they’ve acknowledged it, but they haven’t taken the next step, I would say, pray. I would say ask the Spirit to guide you, ask the Spirit to bring whatever books you’re supposed to read, and then educate yourself. Right? Spend some time educating yourself and pray through that, too. Because I think we can get into this, like self shame. I got into a pretty deep pit of shame for a while on this journey. Because I was like, how have I not done better? How have I been missing this? And then if you don’t take the Spirit along with you on this journey, I think it is really easy to fall into a pit of hopelessness and despair. And that is not the gospel. And that is not who Jesus is. And, so I would encourage you to educate yourself. And as you educate yourself, and as you read, I think what will happen…that’s kind of what I did first, cause I was like I have so much to learn. Let me educate myself. And then all of a sudden, I started having questions that I wanted to ask, informed questions that I wanted to ask, and conversations that I had the privilege of having with some of my Black and Brown brothers and sisters. And I think it was helpful to go in informed just so I could have a little bit better understanding without them having to tell me of what some of the things that they are experiencing every day. So that maybe is good, good steps.

Latasha Morrison  1:22:43  

No, I think that’s great, I think it’s great.

Ellie Holcomb  1:22:46  

And then if you can be in this group, in a group like this, it is absolutely changed my life. And that’s my answer to your last question. Why is it important for us to lean into this racial restoration, racial reconciliation, racial righteousness work, it is so close to the heart of God, it is so representative of His Kingdom. And I think especially for if there are white people listening, I think it is really important for us to stand in the gap. Because there are so many, I just honor all of you Black and Brown brothers and sisters who have been putting your bodies on the line, who have been waging peace, doing this work of justice, it is so close to God’s heart, it’s just so close to His heartbeat. It’s what He calls us into, like the Isaiah 61, rebuilding ancient ruins. And so I thank you for your work. And I also like, I don’t want anyone to miss out on the beauty that is this work. It has been, it has expanded my heart and my vision of what the gospel is. And so I think for us to stand in the gap. I’m just, I’m playing songs to a lot of times pretty white crowds, Tasha. So I’m like, “What can I do in this?” I can invite people into this work. I can say, “There is so much work that we have to do. Join me on this story of, join me on this journey of racial reconciliation, what might that look like?” And so I think for us to like be a voice of the invitation and of saying, “This is an issue. This is an issue close to the heart of God. Would you join me?” And your book is such a great invitation, and reading the Be the Bridge Bridge group, or joining a bridge group in your local city. I can do that at any coffee that I have with a friend, at any concert that I ever play. And so I think it’s important because it’s so close to the heart of the gospel. So it’s kind of a long answer. But it matters.

Latasha Morrison  1:25:10  

No, that’s great. Yeah. Continue to talk about it, continue to educate yourself, continue to build a community of diverse thinkers and leaders. And continue the work that you’re doing. I am coming to Nashville. And so maybe we can do that tour together. And so I’ll let you know when when we get up that way. And the last thing is, you know, I know we just talked about your hope, really, for what you see for racial healing. And continue to use your platform, you know, because there’s people that are listening to you that won’t necessarily listen to listen to me, but you become that bridge to new information. And I think that’s important. So tell our audience how our audience can find you on social media and how they can listen to your music, and how they can hear the song called Bridge and the entire album.

Ellie Holcomb  1:26:14  

So I’m just @EllieHolcomb on all the social media things. You can listen to Bridge on Spotify and iTunes, anywhere you stream music, it’s there. And it’s on my new record called Canyon. And I am just so grateful to get to speak with you. You have really been a hero and a leader for me, Tasha, and it is a joy to get to spend some time talking with you today. Thank you so much for having me.

Latasha Morrison  1:26:51  

Thank you so much for being on the Be the Bridge podcast. Thank you to our audience for listening. Thank you for leaning in. Thank you for lamenting. Thank you for still having hope in such a conversation that breeds a lot of hopelessness, and thank you for believing. And so thank you for joining us on this journey. And thank you, Ellie, for using your platform, for creating this beautiful song that’s going to touch so many people and inspire so many people. So continue this good work. Let’s continue this getting into good trouble together. You know, this is good trouble. This is good heat. Good challenges. And it’s all for the greater good. So thank you so much for joining us today on the Be the Bridge podcast.

Tandria Potts  1:28:07  

[Voiceover] Go to the donors table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast.

Narrator  1:28:11  

Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to Bethebridge.com. Again, that’s Bethebridge.com. If you enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the senior producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai