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By Erica Boutwell on May 31, 2017

If you aren’t yet familiar with her, the name to be looking out for in the coming year without a doubt is Dara Maclean. With two studio records behind her, the Lord is paving a fresh path for her ministry that hearts everywhere are sure to resonate with.
She’s been singing and doing music and ministry since she was seven years old. In her words, “it was not good sounding by any means. I remember at seven, I ran into my dad’s office and I had a walls of Jericho type song, and he applauded me because he’s a really good dad, but I’m sure it was really rough. But I felt called to the industry from a very young age and that has been everything for me.”

Having grown up in the church, she experienced first-hand that church really can be what you need regarding your maturing as a believer, a worshiper, and a leader. In her community she had “the opportunity to really fail forward in the sense of what not to do as a worship leader or youth leader. That was school for me in a lot of ways. God just knows how He uniquely creates us. I had to learn by doing and was forced into situations where experience didn’t get me there, but only the Lord could do it.”
“My parents looked at me and did NOT say, ‘You can be anything when you grow up.’ They said ‘there’s a specific calling on your life, and until you learn to hear from the Lord yourself, we’re going to help you.’ It has never been a question as I’ve pursued that calling.”
Some of Dara’s musical influences include Crystal Lewis, Martha Munizzi, CeCe Winans, and Brian & Jenn Johnson. These influences combined with her own experience in the recording industry served as the inspiration behind her and her husband’s heart to be a safe place for creatives to grow and learn and get tools to pursue their passions without having to step outside of the church.
Right now Dara is in the process of writing for a live worship record. It’s something that she is taking her time with in order to make it the very best it can possibly be. “For me personally I had to get off of the pump-out-a-record-every-two-years train. I could never take away from what the Lord had done on my journey, but I just had to stop and say ‘this project is worth it, I want more, I want another level, and that just takes time.’” Also around that same time, Dara married her husband Donnie Petty, so her life focus began shifting dramatically.
Leading up to the live recording, they have been and will continue to release one single at a time as a build up to the full project. Blameless was released in the fall of 2016 and then her latest song, Ashes, hit the scene just in time for Easter this year.

Along with being a songwriter and recording artist, Dara and her husband serve at a church in Fort Worth, TX. When it comes to balancing a music career and pastoring in the local church context, Dara says that it’s not something she did very well for a long time. “I became very overwhelmed. In the past I’ve been an all-or-nothing person and the Lord has helped me tremendously. I had to learn to not be a perfectionist when I didn’t need to be, and to stop carrying the weight of things I didn’t need to carry. I was putting all of that pressure on myself, so the balance began to come when I sort of ‘got over myself.’ God is perfectly faithful and fit and He has qualified us for what He has called us to do. Not by might and not by power, but by the Spirit. When working in the first two only, you grow weary in well-doing.”
The story behind her most recent release, Ashes, is a very personal one. Dara takes songwriting very seriously and carries the full weight and responsibility of her name being attached to anything. So when she walks into a co-write, nine times out of ten she already has a theme in mind, if not a full set of bones for an idea. But this particular session with Travis Ryan (We Believe) happened to be the last of a week straight of two co-writes per day. “I walked in and Travis had this concept of Ashes, and we knew immediately ‘God You just have just given us a gift.’ We definitely should not be focusing on this just for Easter, because victory of death, what a revelation! There are definitely areas of my life that have died . . . full on valley of dry bones. Jesus did not die so that things in me would remain dead. He longs to show off in the marriage that is dying. For those who struggle with self-harm issues, fill in the blank . . . we need Jesus. The goal is to prophetically proclaim this over people because I’ve needed it myself. The reality is, there is stuff in our past that needs to remain dead. But shame and condemnation is trying to keep dead that which God said ‘I gave that to you as a gift of life’. I believe those things, through the power of revelation, can be resurrected and that will lead people to the Lord. That’s huge!”
One thing is for sure; this sister has a gifting and a message from the Lord that will not easily go unheard. And the soul in her voice only solidifies the power behind the words she is singing. So if you haven’t already, check out her music today.
You can get Ashes here and keep up with what Dara is up to here.

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Erica Boutwell

Erica Boutwell

Erica Boutwell is a wife, mom, and worship leader. While her first love is leading others in authentic times of worship, one of her greatest passions is developing and equipping the next generation of worship leaders. She is the Director of Operations for songwriter/producer/artist, Michael Farren, and recently joined the Here Be Lions team.