Andrew Peterson, Covenant’s musical guest at the 2014 Neal Conference, appearing for the first time since performing for the 2009 Neal Conference, is back at Covenant this semester, not just to sing at Scholarship Weekend chapel, but to teach a creative writing class for the English department. Both an accomplished musician and author, Peterson is the 2015 Nick Barker Writer in Residence, a position he is well qualified for as the award-winning author of The Wingfeather Saga, a ten album musical artist, and the founder of Nashville’s Rabbit Room creative community.
Peterson has released over ten albums since debuting with the album Walk in 1996. Counting Stars, which includes fan favorites such as “Dancing in the Minefields,” “Many Roads,” and “World Traveler,” is one of his most successful albums and debuted in 2010 as number one on iTunes. His most recent album, After All These Years: A Collection, is full of songs written over a span of two decades.
Peterson says, “I’ve noticed that quite a few of the songs on After All These Years are about the resurrection and the life of the world to come.” The songs individually and collectively express the homesickness of one who has lived in many places and hesitates to call one place home, but also the sense of inexplicable nostalgia and longing that all Christians feel for a world that has not yet come. Peterson claims that that’s his point: “…What I’m really looking for is a New Jerusalem,” he said. “If the songs wake up a longing in folks for that city, then maybe that’s the whole point.”
Those who attended chapel on Jan. 30 noticed that Peterson also has a penchant for telling stories, whether they are about his teenage exploits or more recent outdoor escapades. That tendency manifests itself in his songwriting, but also through his ability to work with narrative and create compelling novels. Peterson released the fourth book in The Wingfeather Saga in summer of 2014, his series of young adult fantasy novels about three children and their trusty dog Nugget.
Peterson’s love for books and music led him to create the Rabbit Room, an experiment named after the pub room where C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the other Inklings once shared their writings. Since its founding, the Rabbit Room has become a beloved Nashville creative space in conjunction with Edgehill Café as well as a platform for purchasing podcasts, music, and books, as well as fostering a sense of creative community and encouraging writers, musicians, pastors, and artists. The associated Rabbit Room Press, founded in 2008, publishes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and the Hutchmoot conference is an annual gathering of creative thinkers in celebration of books, music, and art.
As an award-winning author and creator, Peterson is well-qualified to teach the fiction writing class to a small group of Covenant students, enabled by the Nick Barker Writer in Residence program. The Nick Barker Writer in Residence program was made possible by an anonymous donor who sought to honor and remember the late Dr. Nick Barker, a former Covenant English professor and vice president for academic affairs. Peterson will spend his time at Covenant over two short visits, during which he will reinforce writing principles and provide scope for fiction writing and crafting unique fantasy worlds.