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Brent Baxter and Erin Enderlin figure they have proof that God has a sense of humor. The two young, devout Christians have struggled for years to get a country music star to record one of their songs. So imagine their surprise when their first recording is a song about a man who's angry at God-and goes on to be a current top hit for Alan Jackson.
"Monday Morning Church" tells of a man whose wife has died unexpectedly, an experience that has him questioning his faith and wondering how he'll ever get over his pain.
"I'd have been thrilled to have anyone cut one of my songs," says Brent. "But Alan Jackson? How great it is to have your first cut ever become a hit for a country legend? To me, that pretty much ranks as a miracle. And I think it shows that God isn't insecure."
Brent, a lyricist, got the idea for the song after reading a poem his mother wrote that included the line, "Empty as a church on Monday morning."
"That line has such religious overtones that I knew I had to come up with something really heavy to fit around it-and you don't get any heavier than death," he says. "I thought of what someone might go through spiritually if they lost a loved one, and thought that would be fascinating to explore."
A Little Rock native, Brent wrote the lyrics four years ago while still living in Arkansas. He gave the lyrics to Erin Enderlin, an aspiring country artist from Conway, Ark., who was a music student at Middle Tennessee State University outside Nashville.
"At the time, it hadn't been very long since I had a friend who was killed in a car accident," says Erin. "So I really related to the lyrics." Erin wrote "a really sad, beautiful melody," notes Brent. Erin circulated the song in Nashville, and it eventually made it's way to Alan Jackson. He immediately wanted to cut it.
"Erin called with the news on the day of my second anniversary of moving to Nashville," says Brent. "My whole songwriting life flashed before my eyes. I remembered sitting on hay bales back home with friends and trying to write my first songs. My 10-year dream of becoming a songwriter suddenly was coming true right there in front of me."
Brent has since signed his first music publishing deal, and Erin went into the studio to record with producer Frank Rogers, who works with Brad Paisley and Darryl Worley.
"The song has definitely changed our lives," says Brent. "It's just crazy what all has happened."
- MICHAEL McCALL