Frances Phipps has been surrounded by music her entire life. Her father has passionately volunteered for a public radio station for more than 20 years, hosting both informational and music-centered programming. Her mother knows the words to every song (or at least makes them up quickly) and comes from a family full of women who can harmonize at the drop of a hat. Having been heavily influenced and supported by both of her parents and their love for music, it comes as no surprise that Frances began participating in choir and band at the age of six.
However, from even the most cursory look at her website, The Craftroom Studio, it quickly becomes clear that music is not her greatest passion. Frances took a few minutes to talk with us about her music, her love of photography, and the One who ties all of it together.
From where did “The Craftroom Studio” originate?
I have a room in the house that acts as an office and a craft room. It isn’t very creative, as far as a name is concerned, but “The Craftroom Studio” speaks practically to what I do when I’m in this particular room. I work at taking the things God has given, and I craft them into something that displays His glory. God is the ultimate creator and, as His daughter, I have the opportunity to be like my Heavenly Father and create as well. I have the pleasure of putting my hands to the work of music and photography in order to show off God’s handiwork in the world and through my life.
When I set out to create a website as a useful tool to showcase the work I do, I was also putting the finishing touches on the He Has Come CD project. I connected with Duran Kinst Strategies (DKS) to do the heavy lifting in getting the webpage built, and I am very thankful for the work they’ve done to construct a functional, fun and inviting website for me. I was able to focus on what I needed to in order to get the CD project done, but still had plenty of opportunity to give input on the look, feel and content of the website. Even now, DKS continues to fine tune things, and it’s been nice to have professionals do what they do, so I can focus on what I do.
What made you decide to start recording your music?
My first CD, Gypsy Girl, was released in 2012, the same year I served on a mission trip with a music producer in Australia. When that trip was over, I asked if he would help me do some rough recordings of music I had written. To my surprise, those rough recordings became Gypsy Girl, a full CD project that was primarily recorded in Australia with only my vocals being recorded in America. It seemed pretty crazy to be able to record a whole project without being in the same continent as the other musicians. Since then, I have written and produced two more projects, the most recent of which, He Has Come, was released in December of 2020.
Why is music so powerful?
Physiologically, there are changes made to the brain that occur when you listen to music. I believe God has designed us this way. Music is one of the most effective ways to memorize anything. In my case, my desire is to memorize God’s word so that in any circumstance in life, my response to those circumstances will be pleasing to God. As I struggle with situations, wrestle with thoughts of what is going on around me, or even enjoy a beautiful afternoon, I will often find myself singing a song with words that speak to those situations. For instance, in the struggles of 2020, the song, “Ten Thousand Reasons” came to mind quite often, as did “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” (Audrey Assad version) has been overflowing in my heart most recently, reminding me of the precious promises of Jesus found in Matthew’s gospel, chapters 6 and 10, telling me to not worry about tomorrow because my Heavenly Father sees me and cares.
Why is the message in He Has Come so important in our current time?
Ironically, these songs were written over the course of the last several years. I started recording the project in October 2019. Who could have known the world events that would take place in 2020?! In God’s providence, the songs I wrote (some of which I’d written five years prior) have been incredibly encouraging, first to me, but to others as well.
The message that weaves these songs together is the declaration of the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is a simple message: humanity is broken, but God has an eternal plan to rescue. God is constantly at work around us to save sinners and to make His glory known in a world that isn’t looking for Him. He has invited us to come to Him by believing in Jesus’ payment for our sins and receiving the gift of salvation. We are invited to take shelter in Him and experience true peace that can’t be found by putting our hope in people or things of this world. Someday every wrong will be made right, and because of that fact, we can give thanks now! These are truths which give hope and act as an anchor for the soul when we feel out of control and watch the world seemingly fall apart around us.
Why do you allow people to listen to your music for free on your website?
The songs I write are inspired by the word of God. These songs come into existence as I reflect on what I am reading in the Bible and how it relates to the events in my life at the time. The words and the melody minister to me, and my hope is they will do the same for someone else who is listening and seeking. My goal in life is to honor God in all I do and music is one way I can make God (and His word) known to others.
Music is not your only creative outlet, though. What spurred on your love of photography, and what is your favorite thing to photograph?
Both of my parents are scientists, so observation has been a normal part of my life. They bought me a camera very early in my life, back when film was expensive and you had to get it developed (which was also expensive!). As an adult, I also became a scientist. My masters degree in genetics and evolutionary biology included botany, so I would say I am constantly drawn to plant life as a subject.
When I have a camera in hand, I find myself being much more observant in general. Anything that causes me to stop and take a second look is definitely worth photographing, which is why I have an assortment of topics in the photo album section of my website. Some of the photos come by opportunity, but many of them are what I would call “crafted.” For instance, night photography has to be well thought out and set up prior to darkness. It isn’t something I can just throw together, but rather takes planning and patience as the shutter is open for an extended period of time, often in very cold, night air. It’s so much fun, though, and I love being able to photograph what is occurring every night as the earth rotates on its axis. Our eye cannot perceive what is going on in the universe, but the camera is a great tool to show the movement of the earth, and the pictures are awe inspiring.
What can we look forward to from The Craftroom Studio in 2021?
I am currently in the process of writing songs for a new project. I have six songs in rough form with four more still to be written, however I don’t currently have a specific timeline for completion of the project.
Thanks, Frances, for taking the time to share the inspiring history behind the Craftroom Studio and your profound thoughts on music and life.
Eager to hear some music from the Craftroom Studio or check out Frances Phipps’s photography? Visit thecraftroomstudio.com.