From as early as age 13, sisters Ally West and Anna Hodge have been using their gifts to lead others in worship. Growing up in a pastor’s home and surrounded by music, their passion for God and for worship began naturally. “I sensed from a really young age that the Lord had put a special place in my heart for worship,” Ally says. “I was pretty shy as a little girl, but I also loved to sing at the top of my lungs. So I often went into my closet with my worship tapes and my microphone and sang out to the Lord.”
This passion evolved into a deep calling as doors began to open for the sisters to use their giftings in greater capacities. “We started to be entrusted as worship leaders among our peers. It was terrifying, but it also felt like we were stepping into what the Lord wanted us to do. And as we simply said ‘yes’ to God, He kept giving us more opportunities to lead,” Ally shares.
As their love for the Lord deepened and their leadership platform expanded throughout their high school and college years at Anderson University, their passion to lead others into God’s presence also grew. “The role of a worship leader is to have one hand on the heart of God and one hand on the heart of the people,” Anna emphasizes. “To simultaneously be listening to the heart of the Father and also discerning where the people we are leading are at—so that we can help lead them closer to the heart of God…if they are willing to go.”
In 2008, the sisters combined their names and their love for stories and testimonies and officially formed Alanna Story. They were quickly surrounded with incredible musicians who share the same vision for worship. Literally a family, Anna (guitar) and Ben Hodge (drums), Ally (keys) and Stephen West (guitar), and Joel Burkhead (bass) value authenticity on and off the stage, fight for unity with each other and with the Lord, and create a powerful atmosphere for others to encounter God.
As both worship leaders and original artists, Alanna Story has released six recording projects. Keep Breathing (2009), Flickering Spark (2011), Just Offshore (2013), Ancient Gates (2014), We Hymn (2016), and Babel (When the Walls Come Down) (2018). “We are both corporate worship leaders and original artists, and those two have never been separate for us. They go together in such a beautiful way,” Ally shares. “We write songs to open hearts and to break down barriers. To point out things that maybe we can’t see on our own.” As an English major with a love for words, Anna shares the same heart for writing. “I want to make music that helps bridge the gap between the heart of God and the distracted reality we often find ourselves in. I want our songs to put words to unseen things and ultimately help lead people to a place of authentic worship.”
Alanna Story’s most recent release, Babel (When the Walls Come Down), centers around the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. At the height of human achievement when humanity was able to work together to build a tower in their name, God looked at what they were able to accomplish and responded…they’re missing it. Because at the center of God’s heart is a desire for us to intimately know Him. Anna writes, “Sometimes God has to frustrate our plans, and confuse our path and break down our walls like He did at the Tower of Babel in order to get our attention and remind us to keep Him at the center of all we do.”
Regardless of their platform, Alanna Story’s main pursuit is unwavering—love God and do what He says. Ally concludes, “I know that worship transcends music. It’s a way of living. A way of giving worth to the most vital part of my life, and that’s the Lord. Our music and what we do in a corporate worship setting is definitely a powerful avenue to allow a community to worship together, but it goes so much deeper than that. Worship is a heart posture. It’s a daily surrendering of my whole heart to God.”