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Kendall Payne
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JORDAN'S SISTER (1999)
Jordan's Sister - Click to view!Kendall Payne can join the ranks of artists who have received a lot of flak from the Christian community. When her debut hit the scene, eyes began to narrow. Countless evangelicals questioned her faith, wanting to know why a Christian would write a song about abortion ("It's Not The Time"). Some youth groups avoided her completely, because a "secular" record label wouldn't sign a real Christian. I remember smiling while reading an interview that said she would rather pour water into the desert than add to the already-overflowing ocean. If a song about abortion could provide hope for girls stuck with unwanted pregnancies (the number includes girls within the walls of the church), why not engage a larger audience with a typically taboo topic? This young woman's boldness attracted me to her album immediately. Kendall Payne is unafraid to tackle life and call it acceptable for art. Jordan's Sister established this singer/songwriter as a pioneer in her own right, melding enough sarcastic wit and musical creativity to keep the feet tapping and the brain thinking.

Let's begin with "Supermodels," the prime example of Payne's cocky charm. Peppy guitar distortion, banjos, and a Wurlitzer (who knows what a Wurltizer is? Raise your hands and let me know) launch the song, and Payne begins with her common-sense wisdom: "The summer sun has come to stay / Bikinis, tans, outrageous legs / They're all retarded and they all look the same." I join the hordes of women everywhere in massive applause. A silly sing-song quality covers this track in a drive-with-the-windows-down flair, yet there's deeper truth buried underneath this catchy melody: "Think it over once or twice / What lasts the longest in this life / Character, or rock hard thighs? / And in the end do you believe that beauty lies in what you see / Because if you do then baby / You've been deceived." There is a greater purpose in this song that, on the surface, teases supermodels.

In fact, greater purpose lies sprinkled throughout this album like hidden gems. "Modern Day Moses" asks, "If there is greatness out there to be achieved / I want to be more than someone who just passes through this life / I want to stand up for what is right." Payne raises a cry of revolution in "Formerly Known As," shouting, "I will not be bound by what they tell me I can be / I will not stay silent / I will speak my liberty." Talk of finding deeper identity fills "Closer to Myself," where Payne asks God, "Shed me yet another coat of skin / Mark me with ash until I'm clean again / 'Cause I'm so sick and tired of being sick and tired / I know I can love You, I know I can." Yes, she addresses God in a lot of these tunes. She even presents the gospel in a simple, straightforward fashion: "Death on a cross, it was I that was lost / Oh this God has been life to these bones" ("On My Bones").

While some Christians choose to hide their beliefs when signed by major labels, Payne leaves her faith out in the open, cloaking it only in imaginative imagery. And thanks to the funding of Capitol Records, the musical construction of Jordan's Sister is second to none. Producer Ron Aniello made sure every measure was full of all the potential it could hold. So now there exists a finished product featuring astounding imagery, daring vocals, and top-notch music quality—all mastered to promote a girl whose heart is seeking God. I'd say that's quite a road to travel. Kendall Payne has reached beyond simply being Jordan's sister, and has instead cut her own trail. I hope to see other artists of this quality crossing into areas of the music industry where the light of Christ is desperately needed.
- Hollie Stewart
February 2005
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