By Josh Whitener
From the time she was young, Julie Starcher’s main goal in life was to be a mom.
But after a long and painful 10-year journey, the Matthews resident and her husband discovered having their own children would likely never happen.
“Officially, in April 2010, the Lord made it clear he was closing the door for us to have biological children,” she said. The Christian couple also pursued adoption, only to find more closed doors.
But in the midst of her pain and heartache, Starcher found her song and is now using her testimony and the gift of music to minister to children and families around the world through her new album, “Love Songs from the Soul,” which she sells to benefit both local and international nonprofits.
The inspiration came after a trip to the Philippines in September 2010. While overseas, she worked with an orphanage where she met Cedric, a newborn baby born with a hernia, a heart murmur and a lung condition that required treatment.
“His family didn’t have enough money for basic medicine every day,” Starcher said. “He’s a miracle baby.”
Starcher was immediately moved and knew she wanted to do something to help children facing similar hardships.
Around the time Starcher returned to the U.S., one of her friends, Mike McNeely, had just opened a recording studio in his home. Inspired by her trip, she knew it was the right time to record an album – something she’d wanted to do for a long time.
The album was originally intended to be a collection of lullabies sung a capella, as Starcher is strictly a vocalist. But several musicians who performed with her on a worship team at Glenstone Chapel in Marvin heard about the project and were interested in being a part of it. The album evolved into a dynamic, collaborative effort.
“The album is very much a part of me processing my grief,” Starcher said. “At the beginning it was going to be a lullaby album (but it became) a mix of worship, covers of some songs that could be lullaby songs and some originals. It’s kind of my soul expressing myself in songs that have meant something to me.”
The album consists of 10 tracks – nine studio recordings and a live version of the hymn “It is Well.” The entire project took about two years to complete. To make the process more special, Starcher’s husband, Todd, and other family members and friends were present during her sessions at the studio.
“That made it even more special because people were there praying, start to finish,” she said.
But the best part about the project – and the sole reason she did it – is the chance to minister to others. At the time she was inspired to make the album, Starcher said, God told her to donate 80 percent of all album sales to different nonprofits.
When the album was released on Oct. 20, 2012, Starcher had no idea how many sales to expect. A part of her wondered if it would be simply a few friends and family members who’d purchase the album. But another part of her knew God had a bigger plan.
Over the past several months, Starcher has sold 400 copies of the album, through physical and digital sales. The first month brought in $980 through album sales and donations, $790 of which was given to Compassion International to fund a water filtration system and $190 was donated to Cedric’s orphanage in the Philippines for prenatal care and Christian education.
The second month raised $645 for World Vision to fund medical care, vaccines and more. The third and fourth months raised $460, which was split evenly between local nonprofits Jackson Park Ministries and Thompson Child & Family Focus, which has a campus in Matthews.
Starcher said the next round of proceeds will benefit World Vision, which will be the main nonprofit the album will support.
Starcher said the project has been a healing process, but it’s also opened doors for her to minister to and build relationships with children. Not only are the proceeds from the album going to help children both locally and globally, but she’s also getting the chance to sing the songs for children.
“The Lord has helped me get to a point where I can shift my heart toward children who aren’t my own,” said Starcher, who’s been a high school teacher and now works at a preschool. “I’m just as happy singing for kids in classrooms … These kids are the reason to make a CD.”
“Love Songs from the Soul” is available for purchase on iTunes, at www.Amazon.com, www.CDBaby.com and www.JulieStarcher.com. The CD also is for sale at the Arboretum’s Le Peep Restaurant, 8140 Providence Road, in Charlotte.
The CD sells for $15 and digital copies are $10.