composer, record producer and vocalist who has contributed greatly to the
Christian music repertoire as well as fashioning a nifty career for himself
as a session singer.
Walter S. Harrah
matriculated from USC with a Bachelor’s Degree in Church Music and
received his Masters Degree at Fuller Seminary in the field of
Divinity. His career has
certainly been blessed. By
1967, he was already a featured vocalist in concert with the Peninsula
Symphony and Schola Cantorum,
in a rousing performance of Zoltan Kodaly’s
Te Deum at the San Mateo
Performing Arts Center and DeAnza College in
In 1979, he
was hob-knobbing with Frank Sinatra on his boxed set, Trilogy. The
following year, he helped the prog-rock band Triumvirat serve up Al
la Carte, and appeared on the soundtrack of Fame. It was just
the beginning of a sidelight career in the movies. In 1981, he teamed up with Gene Merlino, Vern Rowe, Robert Tebow
and Al Vescovo for a whimsical (and
period-accurate) rendition of “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”
for the Steve Martin lip-synched musical Pennies from Heaven.
He was also a member of the chorus for the animated musical, Heidi’s Song, released the
bread and butter seems to be in the area of
Christian songwriting, however.
In 1984, what could be considered an early karaoke CD was released
of one of his myriad compositions, “No More Night”, featuring
versions with and without background vocals for every vocal range. It would later appear in the 2001
songbook The Anchor Holds and as
the title of an Easter musical in 2006, titled—what else—No More Night: An Easter Musical for Every Choir.
Walt would do
much in between, however. In
1985, he penned “Be Ye Holy”, and continued to juggle his
songwriting and singing careers, arranging and providing backing vocals for
Carman’s 1986 release, A Long
Time Ago in a Land Called Bethlehem.
It was back to
pen and paper in 1987 with a pair of new compositions, “The Lord is
My Light”, performed by The Maranatha!
Singers, with whom Walt was very active, and “Think about His
Love”, co-penned with Mary McDonald.
Walter lent his tenor voice to Bash ‘n the Code’s More than Enough and Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out, and cranked
out another spiritual entitled “In the Lord Alone”. He was also billed as an additional
voice in the animated Disney musical, The
Walt’s alliance with Petra continued with their 1990 release, Beyond Belief.
In 1991, Wendy
Swanson recorded his and Claire Cloninger’s
“We Need Each Other” on her album, Sole Desire. The
following year, Walt collaborated with Praise & Worship on Acapella and All Hail the Power, in tandem with
David Ritter. He celebrated the
Yuletide with Harry Connick, Jr., in 1993, on When My Heart Finds Christmas.
Walt has also
been active with a vocal group called the Haven Quartet, and wears many
hats with them, arranging, composing, and producing, as well as singing
with the group on albums such as 1997’s Come Let Us Adore Him.
Let Your Glory Fall, the brainchild of Walter’s
frequent partner-in-crime Don Moen, was released the same year. In 1998, the two of them would join
forces on Worship with Don Moen: God is Good, and Walt provided
background vocals on Vince Gill’s gospel album, Breath of Heaven.
stuffed with a pair of albums featuring Walt in 1999, Amy Grant’s A Christmas to Remember, and a
compilation simply titled Christmas
Classics. He served as
vocal arranger on Sara Paulson’s 2000 release, Once and For All, then returned to two
of his favourite pastimes, movies and Christmas,
as part of the choir in the 2003 version of Peter Pan and Chris Isaak’s
2004 Christmas release, with the catchy title, Christmas.
In fact, 2004
was a busy year for Walter, who sang backup to a bunch of Disney characters
on Mickey’s Twice upon a
Christmas, was part of the Mennonite Men’s Chorus on Let Your Light Shine, a concert
album directed by Bob Plett, and provided Hugh Jackman with some vocal ambience on the soundtrack of Van Helsing. He performed similar duties the
following year as Naomi Watts tried to get out of the clutches of King Kong.
January 2006, Walt was one of several composers who helped the National
Association of Church Musicians to launch their fifth annual Choral Taste
at the Westwood United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, California.
with his eclectic schedule, he also appeared on The Greatest Songs of the Sixties with Barry Manilow, and in 2007, performed the music of Danny Elfman in Meet
the Robinsons. Other
soundtracks on which he appears are American
Gangster, Amistad, Constantine, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!, The Fantastic Four, I,
Robot, and Night at the Museum.
songwriting credits are too extensive to list in their entirety, but here
are some highlights: “Day
after Day” was co-written with John Schreiner and performed by
Katrina Perkins; “He is Faithful” and “He is Holy”
appear in Praise Chorus Book –
3rd Edition; “In the Lord Alone” and “The
Lord is My Light” (written with Jeff Nelson and Oley Speaks) made the
cut in the songbook, Praise Hymns and
Choruses; So did “I Will Delight (in the Law of the Lord)”,
another Harrah-Schreiner concoction, which was performed by guitarist
Fernando Ortega; “The Lord is My Light” also appears in The First Book of Tenor Solos;
“The Lord is Holy” was performed by The Maranatha!
about His Love” seems to be one of Walter’s most beloved songs,
having appeared in All the Best Songs
of Praise & Worship, The
Celebration Hymnal: Songs and
Hymns for Worship, He is Our Song,
The Original Praise and Worship Song
Book, and Songs for Praise and
Worship, and it can also be heard on the CD, True Lift: Songs of
Worship; and “We Remember You” is included in the songbook,
Sacred Vocal Duets III.
As a member of
the Haven Quartet, Walt has been involved in various capacities with the
albums A Cappella Hymns, Awesome God, Enter In, Reflections: A Treasury of Hymns from Heaven,
So Many Ways to Praise, Something to Sing About, and With One Voice.
He has also
written a Christmas musical, Dawn of
Promise, and an opera entitled On
teaches vocal workshops at Biola
University’s Conservatory of Music and is the worship minister at the
Grace Evangelical Free Church, both of which are located in La Mirada,
California. His website is
currently under construction.