The Barri Armitage Story
Barri was very excited when her song, "Look At God, Not Goliath," won "Song of the Year 2016" at the Northwest Alabama Music Publishing Company's song contest. The director, Kimberley Glover wrote her: "The judges felt this song was better than all the other songs entered (in all categories)." Barri hopes that the song will encourage people to not get bogged down or afraid when there are troubles around, but do what they can as young David did by finding five stones, and trust God to "guide the stones" to victory.
Barri Armitage won the 2015 “Best Biblical Song” award for her song, “Father, Forgive Them” in the Songwriter Contest at the Northwest Alabama Publishing Company in Lexington, Alabama. Barri was “honored, elated, and humbled all at the same time” when Kimberley Glover, the contest director, told her the news. Barri added, “I hope Christ’s wonderful words, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,’ will help us when we are mistreated.” Click here to listen to a sample of "Father, Forgive Them."
Barri’s reaction was a bit calmer this year than when her album, “Singing Scriptures, Vol. 3” won “Best Biblical Album” at the 2014 Contest. “It seemed surreal. I ran screaming around the house!” she recalls. A winning song on the album, "A Three-Fold Cord," with the theme, "when our lives are entwined, we can be strong," based on Ecclesiastes 4:8-12, was played at the presentation on May 31, 2014.
Barri was involved in the poetry world before writing songs. Early on, she studied poetry under James Dickey, a professor at the University of South Carolina, who later went on to become Poet Laureate in Washington. While living in Georgia, Barri taught poetry classes in the local schools, published numerous poems, and was poetry editor for "The Augusta Spectator.” She also studied under Stephen Corey, currently editor of The Georgia Review, a quarterly publication of essays, short fiction and poetry at the University of Georgia.
Barri was at a workshop by Professor Corey at the University of South Carolina the night she learned her 22-year-old daughter, Nancy, was killed by a drunk driver. Nancy was a vibrant young lady – an accomplished singer, pianist and guitarist – who had written many songs, had her own poems published, and was working toward a masters in computer science at North Carolina State University.
Barri turned to her poetry as a way to pour out her grief for the loss of her daughter as well as to share a deepening love for her husband, Dave.
Upon learning of her tragedy, Stephen Corey became a mentor to Barri, showing her how to improve the expression of her poetry and feelings by painting pictures with words and analogies to capture and convey her emotions and thoughts. Barri's poems began to be accepted by national journals and anthologies.
In 1993, her book of poetry, Double Helix, won first place in a contest sponsored by the Washington Writers' Publishing House based in Washington, DC. It was published later that year. “The title is an analogy of love and sorrow, the stuff of life, as is DNA, with its twisted strands a part of all our lives,” Barri explained.
For years, Barri has been turning Scripture passages into poems. In 1999, someone suggested that she use folk songs and set them to music. She found a song book featuring traditional folk music at a used book store and, using a software program that her husband, Dave, gave her, she began to turn her poetry into songs. Dave would sing the songs as she played the piano and together they would make cassettes for those who wanted to hear them.
That fall, Rachel Franklin, an award-winning pianist, invited Barri and her husband to a recital she was performing while preparing for a concert at Carnegie Hall. It was there where Barri met Billy Kemp, a guitarist, who invited her to sit in on one of his recording sessions at Hit and Run Recording Studio. This eventually led to Barri recording her first CD, "Think On These Things," in 2000 with Dave and others.
Since then, Barri has gone on to write and record 14 albums and a series of compilations of previously produced favorites called “Singing Scriptures.” She has expanded her scriptural poetry set to music to include not only traditional American, Irish, Welsh and English folk tunes but has set numerous poems to classical music as well. She will soon release her fourteenth album, “Perfected by Your Loving Hands.”
Barri says, “I am grateful to God for giving me the joy of setting His precious Scriptures to timeless melodies. Looking back I can see how He has led me along the way, training me, even through sorrows, as He proves His promise found in I Corinthians 10:13 to never give us more than we can bear.”