As humans, we all look for our own ways of expressing ourselves. We need to communicate our struggles and triumphs. To internalize our emotions, our thoughts, our ideas, would leave a flavorless existence to life. Expressions are elevated from our hearts & minds through the stroke of a painter’s brush, the speech of a politician, or the strum of a guitar. This is a story about Nathan Chud and his expression of life.
An artist often finds inspiration from someone else. Like many young men, Nathan was inspired by his father. He watched his dad write, sing and play his own original songs. Not only was Nathan inspired to do music, but at 14 he also wanted to make the faith of his parents his own. He wanted to dig into the deeper meaning of life.
Jerry Chud, Nathan’s father, was a teacher, an artist, a loved family man and a positive contributor to the Mat-Su Valley and to Alaska. Jerry and his wife, Linda, moved to Alaska looking for adventure. They found much of that adventure teaching in places like Selawik, Metlakatla and Tok. Jerry and Linda later moved to Wasilla, along with their three boys, Brian, Aaron and Nathan. Jerry taught at Colony and then later Wasilla Middle School where he became the Music Director. Jerry was an accomplished self-trained musician. He even recorded a campaign track as advertising for Wally Hickel’s successful run for governor. Jerry retired early from his school career and was preparing to take his music on the road.
It was then that Jerry was diagnosed with a progressive form of cancer. Jerry wanted to pull together his friends on staff at the school for a night of fun and music, a last goodbye. As friends and family found out about it, the crowds grew. Over a thousand members of the community came to celebrate Jerry’s life. This event showed Nathan what a great effect his dad had been on the community. It was truly a night to remember. A week later his father was in heaven.
Jerry had taught Nathan his first few chords on the guitar, his brother Brian picked up from there. Nathan’s interest started to rapidly grow. He listened to his father’s cassette tapes, and worked his way through the chords and lyrics in an attempt to get know his dad more. Though not present physically, Jerry’s music became a strong, guiding influence in Nathan’s life. It transformed him, helped solidify his faith and prompted him to express life’s purpose through his own original lyrics and chord progressions.
As high school came along, Nathan and childhood friends Jake, Casey and Pete were working at Victory Bible Camp near Glacier View. While taking a short break from work, they all jumped up on stage, grabbing instruments and playing through a few of the chords they knew. A lady heard them from a different section of the building, approached the guys and asked, “Can you play for the youth this Friday?” They said, “Yes!” She turned and walked away, and as she left the room the four guys looked at each other and quickly acknowledged that they did not know any songs, and they hardly knew their instruments. That Friday they played. Not being much older than the audience they were playing for, they fumbled through their set of songs that could only have a max of four chords. The youth loved it, and so did they. So began their band, Foreign.
The combination of releasing something from within and hanging out and having fun with friends developed a unique connection between them. They were figuring out who they were as individuals and as artists. A dream had started. The Chud family mini-van transformed into the band-van and they were off.
“We were rubbish for sure! But eventually we developed a sound, had a blast and made meaningful memories. Very fond, very fond memories!”
Nathan, Jake, Casey and Pete refined their art, learned many songs and wrote their own original music. In the process they also recorded their first CD. Foreign traveled around Alaska to many different towns and villages. Their faith grew as did their purpose. Music had become a major driving force in their life. It also weighed heavy on their future. Their music and fellowship created a type of brotherhood among the friends, but as life does many times, it gets in the way and after high school and one more CD, the four friends went their separate ways.
Nathan married his longtime friend, Marisa, and they left Alaska for Kansas City to attend seminary. At this juncture of life, Nathan’s enthusiasm for writing music tapered off. His love of music didn’t, but the creative drive to produce original music did for several years. Marisa and Nathan focused more and more of their energy in a small group of believers that later grew into a church. Yet, as an artist, Nathan wasn’t feeling fulfilled. He slowly began to work his way back as a type of self therapy, focusing more on his musical roots.
With the desire to advance their educational goals, the young couple moved to Boston. They became active in campus ministry at local colleges in Boston and surrounding towns. Nathan’s love of music was strongly renewed and songs poured out. A friend prodded him to record a CD after listening to him one evening, so he did. “Moratorium,” his first solo CD, was complete. Its deep, melodic tones and reflective focus was a new, more mature sound for Nathan. He joined a campus ministry team and he played many of his songs as they traveled up and down the East Coast.
In the summer of 2013, Nathan and Marisa felt the call to return back to their roots and moved back home to Alaska. Even while completing “Moratorium,” which was written for the believer, he had visions of writing a new CD for a more general audience. “On The Edge Of The In Between” was purposed to prompt listeners to think about the deeper reasons for life. Jerry stirred up that specific desire in Nathan at 14, and this album ushers that emotion to the listener.
Much like how it was for his father, music isn’t necessarily a career path for Nathan. Music is more of an expression of life. Music propels him to continue discovering his past while offering direction and hope for the things to come.
On the Edge of the In Between
Available late September / early October 2014 online wherever music is sold, with limited physical albums available at shows and via www.nathanchud.com.
Categories: Arts & Culture