It's been 10 years since Natalie LaRue released her last record as 50 percent of LaRue, the popular duo she formed with her singer-songwriter brother, Phillip. Now a wife and mother of three—Noah, 7, Ella, 5, and Viola, 1—Natalie has recently released her first solo EP, Even Now.
CT's Andrew Greer caught up with LaRue to talk about the decade since LaRue disbanded, what's been going on in her life—including a brush with death when Noah was born—and, of course, what she's writing and singing about on the new album.
LaRue was pretty popular when you disbanded in 2003. Why did you and Phillip call it quits?
Ten years ago, while playing a festival in England I met my husband, Rob. He is from South Africa, so he packed up and shipped to America to pursue me. We were engaged five months later. Then he accepted a youth pastor position in San Clemente, California, and we just started living life. I didn't expect to marry or have kids until I was much older, so marriage radically changed my perception of career.
Phillip married the same year and we decided to take a break from LaRue to enjoy being newlyweds. The break felt really good, which was a good thing because I got pregnant with my son about ten months after Rob and I married. I was slightly devastated. [Laughs] I was not planning on becoming a mom that soon. Becoming a wife and mom revolutionized me, a total identity shift. I became content with devoting my services to raising kids at home. Nine years and three kids later, here I am.
You say marriage and family "revolutionized" you. How?
By 19, I had visited over twenty countries and was established in my identity as a musician and a performer. I had my future mapped out and it didn't include marriage and children for another ten years. LaRue was on a European tour and we ended up stuck in Stockholm for a week. God used that time to totally wreck me. I was a stoic, rational girl. I remember thinking, Lord, what are you doing to me? I'm an emotional basket case.
I was on a flight to England with my Dad, who was our road manager, and I told him what the Lord was doing. He said, "I feel like you are going to meet your husband soon, but you're closed off. Do me a favor. The next time you get a good feeling about a guy, open up a little and I promise you, if he's the right kind of guy, he's going to pursue you." A week later I met Rob, and he literally pursued me to the ends of the earth.
I was very independent and self-sustaining. I believe the Lord wanted to break that independent spirit in me, so I could learn what it meant to depend on him, and on people, in a richer way. Meeting Rob was the beginning of that process. The Lord's been breaking me ever since and I don't think he's going to stop. [Laughs]
Did music continue to play a role all those years? And why a new EP now?
I have always been an artist. I sneak away during the kids' naptime to a piano in our attic and write songs about my experiences. This EP chronologically explains where I've been, how I've been, and who I've become. Those unexpected changes, this great identity shift and what the Lord taught and how he revealed it to me, are the theme in Even Now.
The title feels right. It's a lot harder to record an album when you're picking up kids from school, nursing a nine-month old, and laying her down for a nap in one room while recording in the next. In spite of, and because of these reasons we felt compelled to record this.