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WHYM: Faith with Uncertainty

WHYM sarah mccoy

WHYM: Nathan, Sarah, Josh, and Andy

“It’s like real-life Tetris,” Josh said, laughing.

“Every time we load stuff, it’s hilarious,” Sarah said. “We have to sit around the drums. And the microphones are, like, here,” she said holding her hands on either side of her head and gesturing forward and back. Josh pivoted on the restaurant bench and leaned back. “One time Andy had to sit like this,” he said, lifting his legs to place his feet on an imaginary drum.

“And there was always something wrong with that car,” Sarah said, shaking her head, somehow frowning and giggling at the same time.

“The Jeep Liberty! That was fun!” Josh said, meaning it.

Sarah looked at me, making eye contact. “It wasn’t fun.”

“It was!” Josh laughed as he ticked off the crises they faced. “We ran out of gas once; the breaks went out one time. And it would just start smoking for one reason or the other. It was great.”

“Josh enjoyed it. I didn’t.”

We were having lunch at White Duck Taco Shop in Asheville, talking about Josh Linhart and Sarah McCoy’s new music venture. These two have been performing together since 2011 when they were college sophomores majoring in music at Mars Hill University. Now, five years later, they are two of the four musicians in the newly formed group, WHYM. Sarah is the vocalist and plays keyboard and guitar; Josh plays percussion; Andy Little, also a MHU grad, plays bass; and Nathan Culberson, a graduate of University of North Carolina in Asheville, plays electric guitar.

“Why the new name?” I asked them. (For the previous 3-4 years, the musicians of WHYM were known as The Friendly Beasts.)

“Mainly because our sound is so different now.” They spoke as much to each other as to me, so it’s hard to remember who said what. “Back then, we were college students who wanted to jam together. We did things as cheaply as possible; we were amateurs.”

“Now we are taking it up a notch. We’ve hired technicians to help us with production and we’re doing things professionally.”

“So even though the four of us were together as The Friendly Beasts, WHYM is really a whole new band.”

“WHYM.’ I’ve been trying to figure out what it means,” I said as Sarah and Josh seemed to wait for my answer—as if it was up to me to come to my own conclusion. “Is it initials for something? Is it from another language? Is it a play on the word ‘whim?’”

Silence. We sat there, thinking, not talking, about those four little letters. Sarah was the one to respond.

“It’s not any of those things. It’s really about the sound of the word. We wanted a single syllable that had a soft sound. We brainstormed a lot of different sounding words, and this one just seemed to fit. But we don’t really know what it means exactly. It’s a mystery.”

“The meaning will work itself out,” Josh added. “Kind of like our faith.”

“When we were younger, we saw things as more black and white. Now we have questions and we allow room for those questions, for the mystery, in our music.” (Their words began to merge again.)

“And not just in the lyrics, but also in the actual music.”

“We have been wanting to think about uncertainty.”

“Not to worry about it . . . “

“To leave space for it. And to be okay with uncertainty.”

“We think it’s more authentic.”

If WHYM is anything, it’s authentic. These musicians have been raised in the church; all four came to know Christ early in life. (Three of them are actually pastors’ kids!) They have lived their faith, wrestled with it, questioned it, and have kept believing.  Their music draws listeners into a safe space where followers of Christ don’t have all the answers, where mystery is expected and therefore is not nearly so scary. As a youth minister, a parent to teens, and a friend to many college students, I can attest that this is the kind of safe place our students are seeking: a place where Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit moves in the most mysterious of ways, and humanity is beloved by God, even when they are uncertain.

WHYM started a Kickstarter campaign that lasts until March 3. Every donation—from $1-$5000—grants free music and additional rewards. (Just $5 gets you their new release, coming out in May!) Would you consider supporting them? If you do, down the road, you and I can both say, “You know that amazing band WHYM? I helped them get their start!”

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