Pastor's Daughter Sees Beyond Right And Wrong With Folk Duo Dead Horses | WGLT

Pastor's Daughter Sees Beyond Right And Wrong With Folk Duo Dead Horses

May 3, 2019

Sarah Vos said she was conflicted about her religious upbringing even before her father was kicked out as pastor of their Missouri Synod denomination Lutheran church in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

"Even as a child, I didn't believe in the black and white I was being taught."

“Even as a child, I didn’t believe in the black and white I was being taught,” said Vos of the beliefs and teachings of the denomination she characterized as fundamentalist, much to the chagrin of her mother.

“There isn’t always a right and wrong.”

Reconciling those conflicts still resonate in her songwriting as the front person and guitarist in the alt-folk duo Dead Horses, which includes double bassist and vocalist Daniel Wolff. They perform Saturday in Bloomington.

“I don’t know why that is or if it will always be that way, but I’m still trying to make sense of it,” said Vos.

Sometimes there ain't no right; there ain't no wrong

There ain't a new way to put it in a song

I'm sorry, Dad. I'm sorry, Mom

I think I've known it all along

Sometimes there ain't no right; there ain't no wrong

  • “A Petal Here, A Petal There” by Dead Horses

Even today, she believes cultural norms and conscience dictate values.

“But even that is a clue of the rules you live with in society. I do not believe there is a higher intelligence that creates what is right and wrong. I think we create those social structures,” said Vos.

“Petal” is also a nod to her sexual orientation.

“It’s kind of saying ‘I’m sorry Mom and Dad,’ like “I’m sorry you don’t believe that (being gay) is OK and that it’s sinful,’” said Vos, who said she waited until her 20s before telling her parents something she knew would be difficult for them to digest.

“But I have to say my parents are great people, very loving. I never, ever once doubted growing up they loved me unconditionally. First I think that’s the most important task … to love their children unconditionally. Just based on that along I feel like I had a good childhood,” said Vos.

Still, being gay challenged her parent’s worldview and faith.

“I’ve had to say, ‘That’s not my responsibility, that’s theirs,’” said Vos. “Because if you ignore that part of my life, you’re missing out on a lot in my life.”

LGBTQ acceptance in America has come a long way, especially in the last decade. Many states now allow gay couples to marry, and many laws allowing discrimination have been struck down. But Vos pleads with her progressive friends to understand much work still needs to be done.

“There are still a lot of hurdles for us. There are still a lot of people in our country who would go out of their way to tell you what you are doing is wrong, or it’s much more subtle,” said Vos.

Empathy is a word either spoken frequently by Vos or as a recurring theme in her music. A number of songs reference homeless people or strangers as people to be treated with respect and dignity.

 I saw the homeless man, checking out the Mercedes Benz

Everything was hilarious to me then

Cause I fight and fight it you see: health, unconditional love and good sleep

He’s no different than me; We’re all just fighting to be free

  • “Family Tapes” by Dead Horses

Vos said empathy is at the core of her spiritual and practical beliefs.

“I think the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially if it’s someone you don’t know or understand, I see that as being kind of like the answer to a lot of our problems and a lot of our suffering,” said Vos.

Dead Horses plays The Hallowed Hall at Half Hazard Press in downtown Bloomington Saturday night. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.