Anastasia Brown

The Sound of  The Shack
Music Supervisor  Anastasia Brown

She calls a soundtrack, “The gift that keeps on giving after you see the film.” For music supervisor Anastasia Brown, the book and now film, The Shack, were even more than that. The message affected her personally and it was a project she couldn’t imagine not being part of. Brown has served as music supervisor on several Hollywood films and television series’; she has multiple Grammy nominations, and even an Oscar nomination for her work on August Rush. Risen caught up with Brown in Nashville to talk about how this story changed her life and how she got Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson and more artists to lend their voice.

Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in Nashville, Tennessee

 Risen Magazine:  With 22 million copies in print, The Shack has touched so many lives.  How did the book impact you?

Anastasia Brown: Back in 2009, I had what I call a personal tsunami. We had a tragedy with a suicide in my family, I had a non-expected sudden divorce, I had challenges as a mother, and challenges as an entrepreneur.  Every aspect of my life was in a dark place. My father, who is an Episcopal priest and so sweet, came to me and said, “You are becoming a person you don’t want to become. Please read this book so you can fight to live and love again.” I read The Shack.  I personally hadn’t heard about the book at all so I was a blank slate beginning this wonderful journey. When I finished reading the book, it was the catalyst for me to fight and get out of that dark place and get back to being positive, open to love, open to trust, and able to forgive.  So for me, it really turned my life around after great tragedy.       

RM:  How did you become the music supervisor on the movie version of The Shack?

AB:  Ok, so fast forward from 2009 to 2015. I’m newly married, in a really wonderful place, and my husband and I decided to watch Life of Pi. I was really moved by that movie and the very next night I went to a party at my friend’s home, and Gil Netter [producer of Life of Pi] and Lani Netter were there.  I met them, and they were lovely, so I told Gil how the movie affected me and said, “So, what’s your next film?” He said, “The Shack.” There was a pause, I got goosebumps, and then I said, “That is my number one book… it changed my life, and I’m going to music supervise that film whether you know it or not!” He was still developing the script, it was really early on in pre-production, and I didn’t let it go…I was like a dog with a bone.

RM:  Big names on the soundtrack, from Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, to Lady Antebellum, Kelly Clarkson and even Dierks Bentley.  What was it like working to align their powerful songs with the right scenes of the film?

AB:  I pretty much called anybody and everyone, searching for artists who were as passionate about the book as we all were. My first few calls I made were to Hillsong United, We Are Messengers, and For King & Country. Tim McGraw and his lovely wife Faith Hill screened the film and they were so moved, they wrote the song, Keep Your Eyes on Me, which ended up being the end title [credits]. Kelly [Clarkson] was so moved when she saw the movie, with being a young mother, she just felt like it would be too emotional for her to write a song for it, so she wanted to hear songs. So, after [we] started digging through Aloe Blacc’s catalog, we found this groovy song called Love Goes On. Kelly’s vocals are just ridiculous and Aloe’s soul oozes out of the song.

RM:  What is one thing The Shack shifted/or confirmed when it comes to your personal faith? 

AB:  It shifted my desire to forgive more quickly than I used to in my younger days. If someone hurt me, or my family, or my best friend, I used to really hold on to that. When I first read The Shack, I was just looking for a lifeline to stay afloat.  The second time I read it, I was specifically reading it to help me forgive, because the coal I was holding in my hand was so hot and so negative, that it was just hurting me and clouding up my soul. For my sake and my son’s sake, I had to forgive.   

RM:  What impression do you hope this film, and these songs, leave with audiences?

AB: My hope is that it gives audiences the message that they need to hear for their life, which is what happened for me. I will never understand why there is any controversy surrounding this book. I’m a PK – priest’s kid – I sang in the choir since I was a little girl, and my father is a traditional, beautiful believer and an Episcopal priest for decades, and he’s the one who gave me The Shack. There are so many different powerful messages in every song and in so much of the movie.

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