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Rebecca St. James
[ INTERVIEW ]

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It was a rare and incredible opportunity for me to interview Rebecca St. James backstage after her performance at Josh McDowell's Right From Wrong rally on November 4, 1997. Giving credit where it's due, I went with the Bedford QUEST group to the rally, and youth pastor Coach Carter assisted me in getting the interview (which was printed in QUEST's newsletter Q, back when I was editor in December 97).

Q: So Rebecca, how did you get started on the idea of making a Christmas album?
RstJ: I've always wanted to record a Christmas album. We, that is, the producers, record label executives, my family and myself, all felt it was the right time. We really saw God's hand at work in the whole process. I am the kind of person who listens to Christmas music all throughout the year and I just love it. And what's incredible is that the message of Christmas is a such a timeless message...the songs have been around so long and yet they are still so powerful.
Coach: Just like the Bible.
RstJ: Yes! If you listen to the songs, you can tell that the Bible has provided a lot of basis for them and my album as well.
Q: What is the sound, songs and message of Christmas?
RstJ: My album or the national holiday?
Q: Oh, uh, your album.
RstJ: The sound is sort of like pop/rock/alternative. You could sum it all up in something Josh [McDowell] said tonight, "I love Rebecca's Christmas album. When I heard it at first, I thought I had the sound all figured out...then it changes. I just love it so much! I bought 150 copies and I haven't bought that many of anything, including my own stuff!" The songs are mostly favorites I've always loved, like "O Come Emmanuel," and "O Holy Night." On the album, we made them just a little faster but they're still the same tunes. The Christmas message has always been the same...a line from the album opener "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" really puts it all in perspective: "Sweet little Jesus boy ~ You came to save us and take our sins away." He came down to give up His life for us and that's just so awesome to me.
Q: Is there a statement your making in recording Christmas as a youth-oriented alternative seasonal album, the first major label project of its kind?
RstJ: I try to be obedient to God in all I do and before recording, I just said, "Take it where you want." God lead us into the alternative sound...it wasn't something me or my producer planned. But I don't think it's a youth-oriented album. We made it so hopefully everyone can enjoy it, from grandparents to little kids. Both my mum and dad and my family love it, and, like I said before, Josh is just really excited about it.
Q: According to polls by CCM and Campus Life magazines, you're the Christian market's #1 "Favorite Female Vocalist." Even then, artists come and go almost every day in the CCM industry. How long do you think you'll be doing what you're doing?
RstJ: I do this because I love God and He told me to sing for Him. There never was a time when I said, "This is when I start getting into music and this is where it stops." God just put me here. I don't see myself doing this all my life. God has allowed it for a season...I think maybe four or five more years of this. I do want to get married and have kids. God has given me a vision of working with children in ministry...I'm just really trying to listen to His direction.
Q: Speaking of the Christian music industry, what are your thoughts on where Christian music is headed? What do you think of Christian artists sacrificing their integrity to "break into" the secular market, where they are able to reach more for Christ?
RstJ: I don't feel I can judge others, Josh, but from my own life, God has taught me to be bold, in-your- face and challenging to everyone I come in contact. I won't back down from what God has told me to do; however, if some big secular record label wants to distribute my bold, in-your-face, challenging-people-to-live-the-Christian-life music, sure.
Q: Anything you want to say in conclusion?
RstJ: Yes, a verse from Psalms 121:1-2. "I will lift my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth." I love that so much...it has been my theme verse lately. We all go through challenges, get busy at Christmas and drained without God's strength, especially me. But when we focus on God and spend quiet time with Him, He puts everything back into focus. And that's just so cool.
- Josh M. Shepherd
January 1999
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