Laurie Solheim
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Laurie Solheim


Band Christian Singer/Songwriter


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"In song, a catharsis"

Laurie Johnson Solheim ‘86
Audio CD, Digital Ave.,

Solheim’s brother, Daniel Johnson ’81, a researcher in the Puget Sound geology department, and a colleague died tragically in 2005 when they were traveling on U.S. Highway 101 and a logging truck lost its load in the path of their car. After the accident, Solheim’s grief counselor suggested she begin writing down her feelings in a journal each morning as a way to “breathe for that day.”

“I was kind of stuck,” Solheim admits, though she started to focus on the idea that her brother was safely in God’s hands: “He’s in heaven; he’s fine.” She also thought about others affected by grief.

“You have to find some reason outside of yourself to go on,” she says. “I had to reach out, to look beyond my own pain. It’s the little light at the end of the tunnel that you aim for.”

“If I didn’t live,” she continues, “then that log truck killed more than those two men.”

Eventually her journal entries began to look more like poetry or song lyrics.

Then one day, browsing Craigslist, Solheim came across an ad: “Aspiring vocalists wanted.” Though she’d sung most of her life—ever since soloing in her junior high school choir—she had never recorded.

She responded to the post and went on to partner with a Kirkland-based music producer, Daniel Christopherson, to create Offerings, a four-song CD of adult contemporary Christian music with a surprisingly uplifting pop bent.

“There are many kinds of grief,” Solheim says, whether it’s for friends, family members, relationships, or careers gone awry. With her music, she hopes to “inspire people to look for the ‘now what?’ instead of looking in the past.”

Rounding out the project was Christopherson’s team of crackerjack musicians, with recording credits ranging from the movie Titanic to the rock band Heart. Solheim also hired a woman to play her brother’s cello on the signature track, “You’re in Heaven (Dan Song).” (Johnson played in Puget Sound’s string quartet when a student.) “It was as if Dan’s voice responds to me through his instrument,” she writes on her MySpace page (

Solheim says she was immensely grateful for the chance to record Offerings. Driving home from the studio, she says, “I would be so stoked, I’d have to pull over and call my parents.”

In addition to doing voice-overs for KOMO-TV, Solheim sings at funerals, church gatherings, and other events and works as a Christian motivational speaker. She and her husband, David, also run a video-production business called Digital Ave., which released Offerings. — Andy Boynton
- University of Puget Sound Arches

"Laurie Solheim: From her grief came a reason to sing"

By Richard Seven, Seattle Times staff reporter

It took years of searching, but it was song that helped Laurie Solheim reconcile her brother's 2005 fatal highway accident.

"I'm a Christian and have faith he's in heaven," she said of her brother, Daniel J. Johnson. "But when you're depressed, it's hard to visualize heaven."

Solheim, 43, began writing her feelings in a journal at the suggestion of a grief counselor, and she found that her words and thoughts began reading like poetry. She has sung all her life — ironically, often at funerals — and with her lyrical words, she decided to record an album: "Offerings."

Johnson, a 46-year-old University of Puget Sound professor, and Tony Qamar, 62, a fellow scientist from the University of Washington, were driving toward a seismology mission north of Hoquiam in October 2005. A northbound Kenworth truck lost its load of logs, causing the accident that killed the two men. The driver of the truck was convicted of vehicular homicide.

Last spring, Solheim began writing "You're in Heaven," or what she refers to as "the Dan song."

"When I first began singing the Dan song, it was mournful," Solheim said, "but after singing it over and over for six months, it became a pop song. It has given me a springboard. I hope it will help others to get out of that fetal position of grief."

Solheim called the process of creating music from her grief cathartic, and she hopes others can use the songs to find peace, too.
- Seattle Times


Laurie Solheim: Offerings (EP)
"You're in Heaven" recieved a platinum Auddy award and was featured on the Local Music Project on KCMS.



The afternoon of October 4th 2005, I looked out the kitchen window when a sedan pulled up. Two men in trench coats were walked my sister-in-law up my driveway. I went outside and she told me that my brother Dan had been killed in a terrible accident that morning. My knees buckled and I clung to the fence to stand. The details of the accident were vague at that time, but we went inside to call our family one by one with the tragic news.
As it turns out, there were too many odds stacked against him and his passenger, WA State seismologist, Tony Qamar. They were both geologists and were heading out on WA State Hwy 101 to retrieve a GPS unit that was being threatened by a rising creek. On a curve they met their end. A log truck driver on Meth, took his broken truck, overloaded by 7000lbs. 70MPH around the corner. The trailer tipped up on two wheels and the poorly welded cradle could not hold the strain. The logs flung at Dan’s oncoming car, shoved it off the road and flattened it.

Grief of those that knew these two men spread like waves from a stone thrown in a lake.
The year that followed was the worst of my life. It was hard to shake the depression that consumed me. I lived many of my days on auto-pilot. My husband picked up the pieces, and my family clung to each other for support and understanding, I’d walk and talk with his widow, and my church family prayed and upheld us. I was going through the motions of my days as best as I could but I kept on playing in my imagination what Dan must have experienced in his final moments.
A grief counselor suggested that I begin journaling. If I could pour out my pain in writing, it would aid the healing. I would dream of Dan-that it wasn’t really true that he’d died. It was fun to be with him, but by morning he was gone, so I’d wake up crying and write. One day the words I wrote in a letter to Dan started to come with a tune. My comfort was the fact that Dan was in Heaven. He was fine! I needed to get out of my emotional fetal position and live my life with purpose. I realized how many people around me have experienced the jolt of death. I felt compelled that my song could encourage others to go on in their loved ones honor.
God was so faithful to me! He led me to a Craigslist posting, “Aspiring Vocalist Wanted.” Through this posting I met Daniel Christopherson, a gifted producer, songwriter, and guitar player (performed with Guns N’ Roses for MTV). Daniel has assembled a marvelous group of studio musicians. He mentored me through the recording process.
He is a prolific songwriter, and I was honored at the opportunity to write lyrics to some of his beautiful songs.
The hope and energy that came from creating music was uplifting me and healing my spirit. God was allowing the words to come and my thoughts to blossom into song. I would listen to Daniel’s melodies and they started to define themselves. One tune seemed to be wishing something like a benediction. I felt there were things that I’d wish my sons that I wanted to express to them. What in life could I boil down and say to them that in the end would be most meaningful? What would any parent want for their child? From that came “Child I Pray.”
Daniel had titled another tune, Jethro. God allowed me to mis-remember that title; I called it, “Jericho” and began mulling over the story of the Battle of Jericho. God didn’t tell Joshua to go ram the wall down with brute force. Paraphrasing, he said, “Go around it and shout.” I placed that directive into modern day mothering terms. We ask our kids to “use their words” to resolve a conflict. In my lyrics, I implore the people of this world to use their words to tumble down the walls we build. Walls are things that block us from seeing others in need. I want people to ask, “What can I do to make a difference?” We all may not be able to give big like Oprah or Bill Gates, but we can throw away our hate and start where we are to make a change! That song is now called, “Walls.”
In “People We Love,” “the people we love never leave us,” was the phrase Daniel based his melody on. I had several pages of directions that that sentiment was leading. 5am one morning, I woke with the words from 1Cor. 13 “Love is patient, love is kind” singing in my head to the first notes of the tune. I ran to the scriptures and the words leapt into place. The fact that God commands us to love and that loving is so lovely to experience just confirms how awesome His love is for us. The enduring nature of love is a “gift God gives to our souls” whether our loved one is here, away on a journey, moved away, or gone beyond, the sparkle of love remains and blesses us.