Celebrated artist and versatile musician, Peg Luke, has recently released her latest single, “Dirt Under His Nails,” a song that dives into the themes of sacrifice and love, drawing inspiration from a deep contemplation of the human aspect of Jesus Christ. In our interview, she reveals that this introspective exploration has profoundly reshaped her perception of Jesus, highlighting His relatable and human qualities.
Peg sees parallels between this exploration and the overarching storyline of her career, marked by personal challenges, including a rare autoimmune disease diagnosis, pandemic isolation, and a transformative evolution. The emotionally charged video re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus reflects Luke’s commitment to visually encapsulate her music’s essence and convey life’s raw truths.
Through vivid lyrics, she portrays Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice, inviting listeners to find their own stories within the narrative. Peg’s music, including “Dirt Under His Nails,” continues her legacy of sharing messages that challenge, comfort, and heal. Her work addresses universal topics like love, redemption, and spiritual yearning, connecting with audiences on a deep and soulful level.
What led you to explore the themes of sacrifice and love in “Dirt Under His Nails,” and how does this song connect with the overarching storyline of your career?
I read this wonderful meditation about the human side of Jesus Christ. It stated how Jesus had “Dirt Under His Nails,” calluses on His feet, how He healed the sick and bore bodily pain. The meditation basically was stating how Jesus was like you and me when He lived here on Earth. This meditation for some reason really affected me. It made me take a step back and consider each descriptive word written on that page.
I normally had thought of Jesus in a ‘heavenly aura’ not a ‘human’ one. I always thought of Him as untouchable to the human dilemma. The dilemma of human feelings, fragility, and imperfections. This meditation made me change my concept of the human Jesus. From this came my song, “Dirt Under His Nails.”
I think in a very veiled way “Dirt Under His Nails” resembles the overarching storyline of my career. I have had to step back and reexamine my concepts of what I wanted my musical career to look like. My diagnosis of a rare life changing autoimmune disease a few years back which has changed my career and the way I carry it to fruition. The pandemic, my bodily intolerance of the vaccine, the years of isolation, the huge presence of my invisible God and my stepping forward into a side of a music career I could have never envisioned. The evidence of everyday miracles. Yes, ‘Dirt’ symbolizes this.
Could you share the creative process behind the emotionally charged music video re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus, and what messages you intended to convey with these visuals?
One thing I really enjoy doing (although it can be time consuming) is creating video and photos that encapsulate the music itself. I use specific applications that help me achieve this. I take the lyrics and the visuals that I have in my head when I create the music and try to convey and expand those images when I create the video. I knew when I created the video that accompanied “Dirt Under His Nails,” that it may offend or be hard to watch. But truly, life is not all about beauty. Life can be hard and even harder to experience. I tried to express the truth behind the lyrics, the truth behind the music, the truth about life itself. There is a story that needs to be told and someone should do it. I just happen to be that “someone” in this instance.
How did you go about creating lyrics that vividly depict Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice, aiming to make this experience relatable and tangible for your audience?
Going back to that original meditation, I was moved by the descriptive words used. I tried to use that same process when going about placing lyrics into a melody that demands honesty, detail, and integrity. It’s an important message and my use of the words dirt, thorns, tears, nails, calvary, and even ‘sheepskin sandals’ are all extremely important. I want the listener and viewer to see their own story in the descriptive events I am trying to portray. The music helps to digest this pictorial experience.
Considering your impressive journey marked by Grammy and Emmy nominations and a notable discography, how does “Dirt Under His Nails” align with your growth, and what role do you envision it playing in shaping your artistic legacy?
Each and every tune that I compose or arrange has a story. There is a reason why I need to tell it. I don’t put out music and lyrics because I want to create a new song every week. I don’t put out music and lyrics because I want people to “feel fuzzy” inside. I don’t compose music for a good groove or vibe. My music can make you feel loved, seen, comforted, and healed. But sometimes my music can make you a bit uncomfortable.
I compose music and in some instances write lyrics because there is a need and a reason to do it. There is an emotion that needs to be told. I have done too many musical endeavors to place music out there now just to “place it out there.” It is more important because I place my music out there for my listeners. I don’t do it for me. Like I say to so many people, “I am just the messenger.” God uses me. Earthly rewards and accolades are not what’s important. Telling God’s stories, that is what is important.
How do you perceive your songs connecting with today’s audiences in light of its exploration of universal and timeless themes like love, redemption, and spiritual yearning? What role do you think music plays in addressing these topics in our modern society?
I hope my music connects with listeners and society. It needs to. The message needs to keep coming out until people believe it. I write my own style of music. It does not belong in a box or genre. It just needs to connect. I have been rejected by many radio stations because my music doesn’t fit that “Christian/Gospel” mode. I ask, did Jesus fit in? Question answered. I keep doing my thing. Let God’s message keep coming!
Could you provide an example of how your music has brought people together and sparked positive change or a sense of community among your listeners?
The most recent and deeply felt communication that I’ve had was from my community on the ground in Ukraine. I try desperately to get my message of God’s love and peace to people there. I received and continue to receive love and positive uplifting messages that my music has given them hope. I wish I could give them more. Perhaps, worldly peace. At least I can try to offer them God’s peace. It is a very important message. I have also had many people that have encountered first-hand loss come to me offering thanks for my musical message.
What key lesson about faith, perseverance, and the music industry would you like to share with your fans and fellow artists as the most significant takeaway from your experience?
First of all I would like to say that my experience is far from being over. I feel like I have just begun. Funny how that happens. I think if we stay open, open our hearts, open our minds and open our soul to whatever you believe is being said to you from inside of you (whatever source that may be), you will continue to thrive and spread joy in whatever you do.
It’s not easy and can be scary. That internal source for me happens to be God. God has never steered me wrong and I look to God to continue to offer me strength, love, and courage to keep going on my musical life path, whatever that may be. You’ll just have to wait and see what’s next. It keeps my life exciting! I am forever grateful for all that I’ve been given and continue to be given. I hope my community of listeners can sense the joy, peace, and love that I get from doing this.
Watch the music video below:
Listen to “Dirt Under His Nails” here: