Laura Story grew up in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She loved to play the piano and in high school learned to play guitar and bass fiddle. Her talents earned her a musical scholarship at the University of South Carolina. After one year, she transferred across town to Columbia International University where she had an opportunity to play bass fiddle with Silers Bald, a pop rock band named after a mountain on the Appalachian Trail.
In 2002, after five years and countless road miles with the band, Laura left Silers Bald to try a solo music career. She scraped together enough money to cut an album from songs she had written. Her song Indescribable was recorded by popular Christian singer Chris Tomlin and went to the top of the charts.
By 2004, Laura was living her dream. She was married to Martin Elvington, her handsome, athletic high school sweetheart and they moved to Atlanta so she could become the praise and worship leader at 4,000-member Perimeter Church. A year later, Martin began to fall asleep at work, have difficulty remembering simple tasks, and to his surprise, he grew an inch and a half in just a few months. In February 2006, Laura was at a music conference in St. Louis when she got the call from Martin with the MRI results. He had a brain tumor, which was pressing on his pituitary gland.
Doctors successfully removed Martin’s tumor, however after the operation he contracted meningitis in the hospital. He spent more than two weeks on a ventilator fighting for his life. There were additional complications and more surgeries, followed by radiation treatments and physical therapy. Martin’s anticipated five-day hospital stay stretched to more than two months. When finally discharged he was left with permanent memory loss, partial vision loss, and difficulty walking. Martin’s disabilities prevented his return to work and forced Laura to become the primary provider.
While she was dealing with Martin’s traumatic situation, Laura received a call from INO Records in Nashville encouraging her to write a praise and worship album. At this point in her life, writing music was the furthest thing from Laura’s mind. On her bad days, she wanted to curse God, not praise him. On her good days, she questioned why this had happened to her young husband. Laura struggled to lead worship at Perimeter on Sunday; she had been there ten months and four of those she’d been away dealing with Martin’s illness.
After explaining her situation to the INO executive, Laura told him she couldn’t do the project. Her life was chaos and her story did not have a happy ending. But he challenged her by asking, “What if God is asking you to write worship songs in the midst of your trials?” Laura wondered why anyone would share his or her story in the middle of the trial, but after praying about it she felt that God was leading her to do the album.
In 2008, INO Records released Laura’s album Great God Who Saves and it won a Grammy Award for Inspirational Album of the Year. She was amazed that songs about worshiping God in the hard times could be so successful. She continued to write and perform songs about the challenges she and Martin were experiencing. In 2011 her song Blessings went to No. 1 on the Christian music charts and won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song of the Year. In 2017, Laura released her seventh album Open Hands. She has published a book about her journey, When God Doesn’t Fix It: Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn.
Today Laura and Martin still live in Atlanta with their three children where she continues to write praise and worship songs and lead the music at Perimeter Church. She says, “We have been truly blessed out of a circumstance that at first didn’t seem like much of a blessing at all.”
“There is a decision that I find God is asking us to make: whether we are going to judge God based on our circumstances, or whether we are going to choose to interpret our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God.” Laura Story Elvington