This is Honest

Raw. Authentic. Restored.
Acknowledgement of our pain and struggle.
Hope. Healing. Music.
We invite you into our journey.

A Note from Joshua and Erin

This album was created out of personal hardship in each of our lives. From this brokenness came the desire to communicate a real and healing message of hope. Honest is two people begging for healing from God, seeking the Truth, and learning that He is faithful no matter the circumstances. Living honest starts with admitting that we are hurting and need help. It is a continual quest for truth and transformation in our lives; the beginning of revival in our hearts. Here, we share songs of hope that helped us find God’s peace in our times of darkness. We pray that you would find encouragement in the music and be challenged to live Honest.


I began playing hammer dulcimer when I was nine and was honored to be titled the 2003 National Champion. I used to play only for the purpose of becoming good. Now, I play music because I love it with an understanding that music is God’s gift to experience His love and healing. And, it wasn’t until I endured a season of grief that I came to this understanding. Honest was recorded while my heart was broken and continues to be a balm in my life.

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I was born in Houston, Texas in 1985 and began playing the hammer dulcimer when I was nine. My first inspiration came from hearing a Russell Cook hammer dulcimer recording at age three. I remember relating, “Mom, I promise I will learn how to play that by the time I am thirty.”

I took lessons from Peggy Carter for seven years and progressed rapidly. I understood the emotional side of music early on and was gifted with the natural ability to play by ear. But, I struggled with the technical aspects of music. Many people contributed to my training and I am grateful for their efforts. Among these are teachers Peggy Carter, Mark Prause, Randy Wills and Barbara Pope. I also play piano and my training with the hammer dulcimer allows me to play some percussion.

How music relates to people is something that fascinates me. Music is the sound of the human spirit and for me is prayer without words. There has been a process for me to understand the place music has in my life and why I play it. I began playing music because my parents wanted me to. Then, I played only for the purpose of becoming good. Now, I play music because I love it. I don’t own music, and music doesn’t own me. God owns music, and I experience His love through it.


I received a mountain dulcimer for my seventh birthday, won the national championship in 2004, and knew I wanted to play music for the rest of my life. It was not until I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2007 that I began to fully understand the power of music to soothe the weary soul and heal the heart. Playing dulcimer in the chemo room helped me get through some of the hardest days of my life, and that experience influences every note I play today.

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Music has been a part of my life since the day I was born, literally. Mom and Dad had their favorite bluegrass tape playing in the delivery room! Shortly after Amber was born two years later, my dad bought a mandolin and started learning to play. Amber and I accompanied him to his lessons, plus a lot of bluegrass festivals and jams. These things cultivated my love of music and desire to play myself.

I started taking group piano lessons when I was five years old. A year later, Amber started playing piano and fiddle and I got jealous! Now she and Dad both had instruments they could take with them to festivals, but the piano didn’t travel so I was left high and dry. I started asking Dad for an instrument, but I didn’t have my heart set on any particular one. In his great wisdom, he decided to look for the cheapest instrument he could find me. That turned out to be a mountain dulcimer—a little ¾ sized plywood instrument—which he gave me for my seventh birthday. He may have chosen the dulcimer because it was inexpensive, but that gift changed the course of my life forever.

I continued to take piano lessons from Mrs. Walker and Dad guided me through the basics I needed to know to play the mountain dulcimer. When I was about ten years old, my family drove 3 ½ hours to Kansas City so I could get a few “real” dulcimer lessons from Jim Curley. Over the course of the next several years, I took lessons and workshops from David Schnaufer, Stephen Seifert, Larry Conger, and several other great mountain dulcimer players. I started entering mountain dulcimer contests when I was thirteen, winning the Kansas State contest in 2001, Texas State in 2003, and the National Mountain Dulcimer Contest in 2004. At age 17, I was the youngest ever to win the title.

I graduated from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Academy (our family’s homeschool) in 2005 and headed to Sterling College where I studied classical piano for three semesters. My plan was to get my bachelor’s degree in piano performance and then go on to get a master’s degree in music therapy. For a variety of reasons, I halted that path after 3 semesters and took some time to re-group. That’s when I discovered South Plains College. Amber and I both made plans to start school there in the fall of 2007.

Two weeks before we were scheduled to leave for school, my world changed forever when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I endured six months of chemotherapy treatments and hours spent in bed, too weak and sick to hardly move. Music was a very important part of the healing process for me. I took my dulcimer along to every chemo treatment and played it while I was hooked up to the IV. I also listened to a lot of music and played whenever I felt well enough to do so. I was pronounced cancer free in January 2008. Shortly thereafter, I recorded my first solo CD, “Quiet Sunshine” as a response to my experience.

Finally, a year late, in the fall of 2008, Amber and I made it to South Plains College. While there, I studied bluegrass mountain dulcimer, jazz piano, and participated in ensembles in many different genres. My last semester, I was honored to be in the prestigious audition-only Thursday Nite Live ensemble, as well as the audition-only vocal jazz ensemble. I graduated with highest honors in 2010 with my Associates of Applied Arts in Commercial Music.

Since graduating in May, I have been touring with Scenic Roots, teaching private lessons and workshops on mountain dulcimer, and continuing to study both piano and mountain dulcimer. In addition to playing music, I enjoy hot tea, deep conversation with good friends, studying the Bible and worshiping my Savior, reading and writing, exploring new places and meeting new people, and the color yellow. Someday, I still hope to become a music therapist, in addition to performing and teaching music. Proverbs 17:22 says “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine”, and my passion is to bring good medicine into the world through music.~Enjoy Life~