Everything was about volleyball for teenage Anna Paddock (’07). As a talented young athlete, she knew that volleyball would be the main determining factor in choosing a University. She had graduated from an American high-school and had many options in the U.S., but ultimately chose Trinity Western because it was known for its incredible athletics program and because she wanted the smaller competitive environment that Canada offered.
Although Paddock came for volleyball, she ended up being affected in ways she never expected by some of her music and religious studies classes.
“Growing up, I moved a lot, and while I was exposed to a few different denominations within Christianity, I did not have a foundational understanding of church history nor of other major world religions and their worship styles,” says Paddock.
In her time at Trinity Western, she was deeply moved by Dr. Dirk Buchner of the Religious Studies department and Dr. David Squires, who taught many courses in her Worship Studies minor.
The Transition to Music
Following graduation from Trinity Western, Paddock was offered a contract playing professional volleyball in Germany. She seriously considered it, but opted instead to prepare a portfolio for grad school in order to pursue her growing passion for music.
“While I majored in music at Trinity Western, I never had much time to devote to it due to training and traveling for volleyball,” says Paddock. “So I moved to Connecticut and lived with my mom and younger sister and began studying music composition privately in New York.”
She began composing like never before. A year later, she was accepted to New York University’s Master of Music Composition and Theory graduate program.
“I moved into a little apartment smaller than my TWU dorm room, and graduate school flew by. It was there that I began writing songs and made the transition inwardly from the world of sports to art,” says Paddock.
Although she loved music, it was a difficult transition. As an athlete, she knew exactly how she was doing based on the objective evidence of her performance. It was not so in the world of music.
“I wanted to know if I was good enough, if I had what it took, etc,” says Paddock, adding with a smile, “I still don’t know if I have what it takes, but it doesn’t matter so much to me anymore. I’m a songwriter. And I feel confident saying that. I don’t always write good songs, but sometimes I do.”
Forming The Lay Awakes
In 2013, Paddock released Feel Better, her first solo album. But in the years that followed, she found herself collaborating more and more with her husband, Patrick Anderson, a Canadian Paralympian. Anderson has developed a reputation as the best wheelchair basketball player in the world. Both athletes with a passion for music, they decided to form indie-pop group The Lay Awakes in 2014.
“Patrick and I realized that our songwriting and performing goals might intertwine well,” says Paddock. “This was never an initial goal of ours. Before The Lay Awakes, the only thing we teamed up on with regard to music was writing graces to be used before dinner or the odd wedding where someone wanted us to sing together.”
It took time to learn how to blend their musical styles, but through the process, they grew as a couple and as artists in ways they might not have otherwise. Together, they’ve released one EP in 2015 and one full-length album in 2018.
The Wonder of Witnessing
Despite the many highlights in her sports career and in her musical journey, Paddock says it’s sometimes tempting to wonder if the things she did or accomplished when she was younger are of any value anymore—especially now that so much of her time is taken up in the work of being a mom.
But after hearing a sermon by her pastor, Vito Aiuto, she started to see things a bit differently.
“He preached on the Transfiguration,” says Paddock. “He said how Jesus brought some of his friends with him as witnesses. They didn’t do anything in particular, they simply saw something. They didn’t even understand what they saw. They just witnessed it. Years and years later, they wrote about it. This really spoke to me.”
Paddock says that this sermon opened her eyes to the wonder of witnessing the things of God in others. Now that she’s started seeing things in this way, she can’t help but be moved by the beautiful things all around her.
“I see my young children—growing and asking questions. I see Patrick, proving that what most people say about him is true—that he’s the best in the world in his sport,” says Paddock. “It’s like watching a dance when he plays basketball.”
Paddock says she isn’t currently doing as much as before, but she is learning to delight in the wonder of witnessing others.
“I get to tell them that they are God’s beloved children. I watch God’s beauty and creativity and care right in front of me,” says Paddock, adding that she’s recently realized this has always been a hidden gift of hers.
Paddock isn’t sure what the future holds for her and The Lay Awakes, but she is learning to trust God with her life, and believes that He is with her.
“While it’s easy to believe that I’m only as good as the talents I’ve cultivated or the ones that I’ve left dormant, I am learning the blessing, grace, and wonder of being an eyewitness,” Paddock says.