Exploring the Gospel Through the Lens of Grief | Sojourners

Exploring the Gospel Through the Lens of Grief

Singer-songwriter Natalie Bergman navigates deep loss and fervent faith in her solo work 'Mercy.'
Black and white photo of Natalie Bergman holding an electric guitar and singing into a mic stand
Photograph by Mitchell Atencio

NATALIE BERGMAN DID NOT anticipate a particular response from Christians to her first solo album, Mercy. Released in May 2021, it was a departure from Bergman’s work with her brother in the duo Wild Belle, offering a gentler sound and deep lyrics. Yet Mercy has been hailed as a masterpiece that explores gospel through the lens of grief. Christians, particularly millennials and Gen Zers who long ago grew sick of Air1 and K-LOVE, have celebrated the work.

But Bergman wasn’t thinking about listener reaction before releasing Mercy. She wrote, produced, and mixed the album entirely by herself to process the grief after her father and stepmother were killed by a drunk driver. She said she felt “protected” in its release.

“I knew—after I put the album out—that I was going to have some sort of feedback on [Mercy] from people that are believers ... but I went into this with no fear,” Bergman told Sojourners before her March performance at Songbyrd Music House in Washington, D.C. Citing right-wing trucker protests and other authoritarian manifestations of Christianity, Bergman said she realized later it was a “kind of courageous thing to [release] this body of work, because of the political climate and because of the history that religion has.”

Mercy and the follow-up EP, Keep Those Teardrops from Falling, are fundamentally gospel in every sense of the term.

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