From the moment of conception, humanity yearns for those things it needs to survive. Our lungs cry out for oxygen. Our bodies hunger and thirst for food and water. Our hearts long for home. No less a necessity than food and water, the desire for home compels us to seek shelter, refuge, community. It ignites within us an unabashed quest to find a place to love and be loved; to know others and be known; to give grace and receive it.
"God placed the longing for eternal home in every human heart," says Shelley Breen, founding member of one of Christian music's most impactful groups of all time, Point of Grace. "Some people search for it their entire lives."
For Shelley, Denise Jones and Leigh Cappillino, who comprise the multi-platinum trio Point of Grace, that lifelong search has been captured in song, logged in thousands of miles on the road and shared with countless individuals around the world. As a group, it's a journey that's 20 years in and 13 albums deep, punctuated with 27 #1 songs, 13 Dove Awards, two GRAMMY nominations, career album sales in excess of 7 million with multiple Platinum and Gold certifications, making them one of the Top 10 best-selling artists in the history of Contemporary Christian music.
But to stop there is to capture only a single dimension of these multi-talented women. All three are wives. All three are mothers. Their children range in age from teens to two. And while their humility leads them to downplay the complexity of juggling career and family--"We've been through all the things that artists go through," Shelley says. "Getting married, having kids...--it's their ministry and heart for those they encounter along the way that continually sets them apart.
"The thing that propels us on," Shelley continues, "is that we love God and we love to serve people. I think that's one of the things that's given us longevity and invitations to come back."
It's also what provided inspiration and direction for their latest project. When brainstorming the next steps for Point of Grace, the women all agreed that next didn't necessarily mean new.
"Our conversation turned to our live show and what it was that really resonated with people," says Denise. "When we do familiar songs, it always seems to bring people in. And if you pay attention to what's happening in society, those great shows like 'The Voice' and 'American Idol' are delivering the familiar, but with an edge. There's this sense of nostalgia. You remember hearing the song, but now we're seeing a new generation of music lovers watching the creativity of the original artist and then taking it in their own way."
Once a direction had been determined, everyone was given their assignment. "We each had to bring in five songs that we wanted to cover," shares Leigh. "When we were about six deep, we realized that all the songs related to the journey of life."
Songs like "Friend of a Wounded Heart," "The Climb," and "Something in the Water," along with "Home," "You're Gonna Miss This," "Only Love," "A Life That's Good," "Lord I Need You" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" took on new life as they were infused with Point of Grace's rich harmony and elevated by co-producer Andy Leftwich, who is also an elite musician and world-class mandolin and fiddle player with Ricky Skaggs' 14-time GRAMMY award winning band Kentucky Thunder.
"Andy and Rachel [Andy's wife and collaborator] are so gifted and don't even realize how talented they are," says Leigh. "They are the reason this album was a fun and joyful process. Each day was better than the next."
Andy's co-production chops coupled with Rachel's spot-on arrangements proved to be the steady foundation upon which the gifted studio musicians merged with Point of Grace's one of a kind sonic quality to create an album that can only be described as honest. No gimmicks or artificial enhancement or alterations. No bowing to the constraints of any one genre. Each song was allowed to realize its full potential rather than molded to convention.
"We were trying to serve the song," Shelley says. "A lot of times you try to serve radio, but this time, we wanted to serve the song and capture the best way to treat each one. Not feeling like we had to measure up to someone else's standards gave us a lot of freedom and we were able to create an album that we love."
As Directions Home took form, it soon became obvious that this would not only be an album that Shelley, Denise and Leigh loved; it would turn out to be a dream come true in at least two ways.
One, Ricky Skaggs.
Two, Vince Gill.
"A lot of people ask us who we would want to sing with," shares Denise. "Vince and Ricky are both often mentioned. They are phenomenal musicians and extraordinary voices. We had no idea it was even a hope and a prayer for us to collaborate with them. Andy was the main reason it actually happened."
With over 30 GRAMMY's between them, amongst countless other accolades, Vince and Ricky appear on the only two songs that aren't covers. "Two Roads," written by Cindy Morgan and her mom, Lola Morgan, has been on file with Point of Grace for a few years. But only now was the timing right to record it. When they did, "Ricky took it over the top," says Denise.
The collaboration with Vince Gill is also the title track and encompasses the overall sentiment of the project. "The whole song is a metaphor," explains Shelley. "It's all about loving someone who has lost their way. You'll always be there to welcome them back. No matter how bad things get, someone is there to pray you back and welcome you home."
In many ways, that metaphor can encompass the entire project. No matter where life leads or what life takes away, that ever-present longing and hope of home remains. It's what we were created for--to live a life eternally homeward bound and to soak up every second, love everyone and honor the Creator of everything. Denise, Shelley and Leigh have put that hope to song and that longing to heart. As they continue upon their lifelong search of eternal home, they do so with anticipation, expectation and confidence. With open eyes, hands and hearts, they continue the journey they began more than 20 years ago. And through the songs that they love, the songs that we know, they are sharing with the rest of us what every heart longs for--directions home.