After taking some time off to relax, recharge, and refocus, Christian pop singer/songwriter and voice of purity Rebecca St. James
sat down with us at GMA Week 2008 to discuss her break and what's next on her plate...
This interview took place on: 4/22/08.
Jesus freak Hideout (John DiBiase): So how was your sabbatical?
Rebecca St. James:
It was amazing. I'm an idealist and I'm a romantic and all that, and so I dream stuff to be better than it turns out to be a
lot of times. But man, this actually exceeded my expectations spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally to fully have a
real break. I keep being reminded of that Scripture that talks about the young man dreaming new dreams and new visions. That's how I
feel - that I'm just a woman that has a new dream now and my heart is energized. I got to kind of just hang out in Nashville and
be in one spot for awhile and actually got to see friends and went to have coffee and do projects around my house and get into
cycling. I actually started going to an improvisation class recently too. *laughs* I just kind of got to be a kid for awhile, you know?
It was really great. Then I traveled some. It was just a really powerful time in my life.
JFH (John): What kind of new dreams do you feel you were given during that time?
One of the things that happened was that I think I got a fresh love for music. When music is what you do, you actually don't
listen to it that much on your own free time. Or at least I find I'm that way. I think I've spoken to other musicians who feel that
way too. It's just like, when that's your world, you come back home and you're in the car and you just want silence. I think during
that time I was just able to listen to new music and get a fresh heart for music. I'm also real passionate about family films and
really upping the standard with that. If God allows me, I would love to work more into film. We're actually talking to a couple of
major film companies in Los Angeles and having meetings about that. So for the people that are reading this, if you feel so led,
please just pray for us because we really just want to be led by God and if He's in it, we'll just walk through those doors and if
He's not, we just don't want to be a part of it. I'm just kind of trying to remain with my hands open and trust Him.
JFH (John): Who were some of the artists that you listened to that really inspired you about music again?
Feist, for sure. I went to a Feist show actually in Nashville at the Ryman. She really inspired me. She uses a lot of different
instruments in the show and a lot of extra creativity. Two of our shows now actually feature the banjo and mandolin and a xylophone
and all of this random stuff, maybe even an accordion. We're not sounding country at all though, but just adding lace to the show.
It's been really awesome to do that. I'm actually playing guitar in my show now, which I've never done before. On my God
album, I had a song called "A Cold Heart Turns" and I play guitar on that track and I'm actually doing that track live now.
So that's been really neat to kind of explore that on another level. Some of the other groups I've really gotten into include a
local group from Nashville called Paper Route. I love their stuff. Oh, the Once soundtrack! I massively got into that.
I loved the film and the soundtrack is just awesome and the songs are just so strong and passionate, really passionate.
JFH (John): So are you working on new music?
Yeah, we're actually just starting to talk about a new album. By the end of the year, we're hoping to have a project out.
Probably some of the albums that I've just talked musically will factor in. I'm just trying to be creative and think outside the
box. I'm excited to get to see what that will end up sounding like.
JFH (John): Do you want to talk a little bit about your new books?
Rebecca: Yeah! Wait for Me, which is a book of mine that's been out for five or six years now,
we've repackaged that so it has a study guide with it so people can go a little bit deeper. And then there's a book called Pure,
which is talking about purity of the mind, body, and spirit and that purity really comes from your heart, so it's kind of getting
the heart into gear so that we can live out purity in a culture that's telling us to do the exact opposite of being pure.
It's real practical and really relational. It's a 90 day devotional book with stories from my life but also questions and Bible
verses that can kind of take somebody deeper each day with God.
JFH (John): I appreciate the fact that you're exploring that. We actually got rid of cable because
TV has just gotten so junky. It's so hard to find something good. And if there is at least one show that we want to watch, we just
go online and watch it nowadays. Most movies are getting worse and worse
and it's great that you want to pursue family films. Even the quality of some family films is declining. It just seems like they keep
pushing the envelope, which I really believe does effect teens and young people because they're impressionable. Some are watching
this stuff and mimicking it.
Rebecca: Yeah. And, I mean, you also put spoken words, which are so powerful. Words have power to give life or
to destroy it. And then you put music - which is crazy powerful - and a visual together and you've got power to transform a life.
I really think that we need to be, as Christians, involved in every form of art and culture.
JFH (John): I agree, and we should have some of the best ideas.
Rebecca: Yes, I believe so.
JFH (John): This is kind of a loaded question, but I was thinking about this recently.
When I started listening to Christian music, it was during the early 90's, and it seemed like it was very distinct. For example,
Audio Adrenaline and DC Talk and Newsboys - I guess, the "youth group bands." Christian music was something that was really ministering to youth at that time.
Now it seems like it's blurring more between mainstream and Christian. Now it seems like the rock bands are straying more and more
from any kind of spiritual message. If a song is going to talk about Jesus, it's probably worship. It seems like the standard
has been lowered for Christian music to a point where you could pick up a record in a Christian book store and it could even have
mild profanity on it. It's like, when I was a young teen,
when you listened to CCM, that never would have been a concern. And it makes me wonder if because they're trying to crossover,
it's turning into lower standards and bands don't have to worry about how they act or what they do so much. But kids inevitably look up to
these people regardless and some get disappointed or think that this stuff is acceptable with Christianity. I know this is a heavy question,
but do you think it's kind of dangerous? I mean, I see the positive and the negative in both viewpoints. I think it's great that certain bands
that do still hold integrity in their music can get out into the mainstream and speak to kids. But then there's still that
concern that standards are being lowered.
Rebecca: It's really an interesting time in Christian music because there's a whole lot of talk going on right
now as to what Christian music is gonna look like in the next ten years because of all the downloading and not paying for music.
I mean, the industry is just kind of getting smaller and smaller at large, not with just Christian music. Some people are saying
that Christian music as we know it may not exist for much longer. You'll have people like me and you who are all about worship
and all about ministry and then you'll have your Christians within mainstream music and that'll be it. There won't be this genre
within the whole of Christian music. That's kind of what's being talked about. I think I'm kind of feeling the rumblings of that.
I think upholding a strong standard of integrity as Christians no matter what you do for a living is really key and really important.
Living above reproach has been a really important concept to me. We all have to defend our actions before God and live right for
Him, so I'm not wanting to point a finger. I just want to lead by example. I want to have a pure conscience before God, and
hopefully by all of our examples we can impact people around us, both Christians and non-Christians.
JFH (John): What do you feel that God has been teaching you lately in any area of your life?
Rebecca: I think just to be real and transparent and vulnerable and authentic. I'm reading
The Road Less Travelled by Scott Peck, and it's not really a Christian book but I think there's a lot of truth in it.
I also recently read The Shack which is by William P. Young which is absolutely extraordinary. It's a fiction book
about pain and asking the deepest questions about why we experience pain when there's a good God or how there could be a good God
when people experience such pain. It's a very, very powerful life-changing book. The one that I'm reading right now is really
talking about honesty and the importance of integrity and honesty in our lives and how when we start to be dishonest and start to
hide things, that's when we get into all kinds of problems and disorders and dysfunctional relationships. I think just living
in truth is the thing for me. I think for a long time in my Christian life that I felt like I had it all together and I felt
really strong and smiled when I was crying on the inside. As I've matured as a Christian, He's teaching me things all the
time and I know I'm never going to arrive. It's just this process of going and learning and being messy sometimes in my life and
admitting that and saying "Sorry Lord, help me to learn." But I'm just learning to be really authentic and being real about what's
on the inside especially in trusted community but then also in ministry to a certain level and just saying "Look man, I'm in major
pain at certain points in my life and I don't understand this or that and don't have it all together." It's about just being really
honest about that. That's really important.
JFH (John): It's cool that you said that. I definitely feel like Christians are getting this
impression that we have to act like everything's fine all the time. You go to some churches on Sunday or youth group and you have some people
that always have their hands up in praise but sometimes you have those days or even a spell when you feel like...
Rebecca: Yup! You're just dry and like "God, where are You?!"...
JFH (John): And you can kind of connect on a certain level when it's just you and Him, but
when you're around other people who are really on fire, you can just feel really self-conscious about it. I think when we feel
like we can't be real is when we start to heap judgment on ourselves. We think that there's something wrong with us if we can't
be as happy as everyone else who seem to have it all together.
Rebecca: Yup! Yeah. It's important to be broken and to be free to be broken, because we all are.
JFH (Amy DiBiase): I missed an excellent opportunity to see you perform in !Hero: The Rock Opera.
If that is any touch on what could lie ahead for your film, I would just be so excited to see it. John was able to purchase a copy
of the DVD. We coincidentally live in Bethlehem, PA, so we were one of the locations that the tour was supposed to come to at one point.
I was gonna be able to go to that, but then the tour had gotten canceled. Were you supposed to be on the second round?
Rebecca: I was on the first round, but there were actually three rounds. The second one was when
The Passion of the Christ had just done its big deal and [the tour] got canceled. We ended up doing one show at the
Ryman here in Nashville. There was another round that just happened in the last year or two that they tried to do and they did one
or two shows and the whole thing got canceled. It was long, it was gonna be a month or something like that. The show was powerful,
like when we would do "He's Not Here" at the end. I mean literally, on most nights, we'd have people standing up one by one all
across the auditorium raising their hands and praising God. It was powerful; I got goose bumps just talking about it.
I would love to do it again.
JFH (John): With pursuing film, are there multiple genres that you'd like to do?
Rebecca: Mostly family film. The screenplay that we've written now, which is based on this book by
Kristin Billerbeck called What a Girl Wants, is a romantic comedy. That's kind of where my passion is right now. Maybe
I'll do drama or something along those lines in the future.
JFH (John): No action films? *laughs*
Rebecca: I don't know if I wanna be Lara Croft, you know? *laughs*
For video footage from Rebecca's interview, check out the video below!
*Interview footage taken by Amy DiBiase*
You can also download this 8-minute video clip montage from the interview for FREE on our iTunes