Feature

The Music Man

Aaron Shust writes songs as offerings for the church

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Aaron Shust, a graduate of Toccoa Falls College (TFC), has found much success writing and leading worship music. He was named the Songwriter of the Year at the Gospel Music Association Dove Awards in 2007, and his song “My Savior, My God” received the Song of the Year award.

Aaron grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The son of Dan and Carole Shust (class of ’73), he decided to head south to learn music theory at TFC. While there, he studied Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach. He began performing at churches and coffeehouses.

Aaron found his first position leading worship at Perimeter Church (Duluth, Ga.) in 2000 and recorded his album Anything Worth Saying in 2004 with Producer Dan Hannon. Dan delivered the album, along with a stack of others, to Brash Music for consideration. Brash Music signed Aaron shortly thereafter.

Cries of the Heart

After years of touring and the early success of songs like “My Savior, My God”—which became one of the most played songs ever on Christian radio—Aaron returned to his roots, both musically and geographically. In 2010 he moved his family back to his hometown of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, and accepted the position of volunteer worship leader in the small church where he had grown up. Even as he recorded two new records for Centricity Music, he rediscovered the notion that he was a worship leader rather than a performer and that the songs he wrote should be offerings for the church more than attempts to get songs played on the radio.

The irony is that radio embraced his refocused direction, and songs like “My Hope Is in You” and “God of Brilliant Lights” became huge radio hits. At the same time, Aaron and his wife were reeling from long-term, life-threatening medical issues affecting one of their sons and the birth of their baby with special needs. It was a season that forced them into a relationship of greater dependence on God and that shaped Aaron’s songwriting into psalm-like cries of the heart.

His Promises Are True

“In the first chapter of the Book of Job,” Aaron explains, “we see that Job was able to worship even in the midst of his grief, but he wasn’t ready to celebrate yet. I can relate to that. Two years ago I could worship, even in the midst of suffering, but I wasn’t ready to celebrate.

“It’s not that circumstances aren’t still hard sometimes. I still have to remind myself that God’s promises are true. But having walked through what we’ve walked through as a family and having experienced God’s comfort and faithfulness in deeper ways than we ever had before, there’s an air of celebration and expectancy that wasn’t there before.”

Toccoa Falls College is proud to call Aaron Shust one of its own. Since his time at TFC, the Music Performance major and Worship Arts concentration have been added to the School of Music.

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