“Songwriting popped up pretty late in life,” says Susan Houg. Though a music major with degrees from Queens University in Charlotte, NC and Indiana University, Bloomington, she applied her talents (in between child-rearing, journalism, office management and teaching) to playing cello in community orchestras, and singing in choirs, madrigal groups and oratorio societies. Conversion to faith in Jesus Christ during the Episcopal charismatic movement (1971) led to learning guitar and participating in praise and worship bands.
“I had a very dry spell spiritually somewhere around 1997. It was almost Easter, and I asked God to please touch me with a fresh desire to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. It had all become academic to me. The next morning, I started reading the day’s psalm according to the Book of Common Prayer, and up jumps this tune. I grabbed a piece of plain paper and wrote it down. The next morning, same thing happened.” In fact, for several weeks, tunes were “jumping up” just about every other day. “The Holy Spirit was speaking, ‘I hear you; I’m with you.’”
Since that infusion experience, Susan has written songs regularly but hastily, sharing them from time to time in Siskiyou County churches. In 2007 when her husband died, her daughters accompanied her to a workshop at The Glen in Santa Fe, NM, where Over the Rhine (Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist) were teaching. The encouragement they gave Susan (“you are drawing from a deep well.”) along with a challenge to work harder (“write sixty verses, then pick the best four”) stimulated a commitment to devote more time and discipline to her craft.
Bob Marshall of Snowflower Music invited Susan to join his team of writers in 2009. Though the catalog of her songs is “under construction,” when completed it will include worship choruses, solo settings from Scripture (or not), children’s “story songs,” seasonal pieces, and SAT or SATB vocal arrangements. All will be cross-referenced with the Scriptures cited and appropriate liturgical uses. An eclectic thinker, Susan borrows from many traditions – pop, country and classical – and stamps them with her own highly personal style. At age 72, she’s eager to get these works, all saturated with God’s Word, into as many hearts as possible. “When God gives me a song that people are still singing and being lifted by four or five days past Sunday, that’s when I’m happy.”