Introducing Joy Lippard
NRT contributor Andrew Funderburks speaks with new artist Joy Lippard about her debut national release and what it takes to keep her focus on God.

It takes some people nearly a lifetime to realize their gifts and discover how to use them. Then there are those rare individuals who know very early in life where God is leading. As a young artist who fast tracked her high school diploma and is graduating a year early to devote full-time to her music, it’s obvious Joy Lippard knows her calling and is embracing it with fearless abandon.

Lippard has not only been gifted with an incredibly distinctive voice and intuitive songwriting skills that suggest a much older writer, she also possesses an inner drive and boundless energy that is making her one of the most-talked about new artists in Christian music. She gained notice at the 2006 GMA Music in the Rockies, winning first place in the pop/rock songwriting competition with the compelling "Beautiful Outside and In," the title track of her critically acclaimed indie record. A year earlier, Lippard impressed a nationwide television audience with her performance on "America’s Most Talented Kids."

On her debut national release, Joy introduces us all to her songwriting based on experiences in her own life. In this exclusive interview, Joy speaks with NRT contributor Andrew Funderburks about her debut, stories behind many of her songs and how she keeps her focus on God as her career takes off.

Hi, Joy! Thank you so much for taking your time to do this interview with!

Sure! I’m excited!

For those who are unfamiliar with your ministry, tell us how you got started in music.

I started writing songs when I was eleven. My first song was written the day before the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened. The lyrics I had written were simple and had a basic melody that said, “I cry myself to sleep/Not knowing what tomorrow will be like.” I then felt called by the Lord to go into music. I looked at those lyrics and said, “You know, I feel like the Lord could use me through writing songs.” I really enjoyed it. So I kept doing that and fell in love with it.

“Hey There Stranger” is a song about your first dating relationship; however, it goes much deeper than just a relationship that you had. Tell us more about this song.

With this song, I was just trying to convey that in relationships, whether it is a dating relationship, or just a friendship, we need to go beyond that basic surface level. What I really love to do is get to know people’s hearts, and in turn, for them to know my heart and what I’m passionate about. This song is just a playoff of when you introduce yourself to someone. It’s really like introducing your heart.

“Miracle” is the debut single off your self-titled project. This song has touched so many lives already. Give us some insight on what inspired the writing of this song.

[Laughs] This song was actually inspired by my huge obsession with the TV show Prison Break. I don’t watch a lot of TV but that show was one I got totally hooked on. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s about this guy who was put in this unfair situation and was accused of something he didn’t do. “Miracle” started from that inspiration but turned into a song about the mercy of God, His awesomeness and His ability to do miracles in our lives. Sometimes in life we feel like we’re in these situations that we think we don’t deserve, or is unfair, but God is bigger than those situations! He can completely deliver us and give us a way out.

Out of all the testimonies that you’ve heard from people who have been inspired by your song “Miracle,” which one stands out to you as one of the most inspiring?

I played that song at my church in Virginia, and a lady came up afterwards crying. When people cry, I tend to cry [laughs]. She was getting emotional as she told me about her son getting involved in alcohol and drugs, obviously disappointed that he was not living the life the Lord has planned for him. She said, “I know my son needs a miracle, and I want him to hear this song.” She had such a belief that God can do a miracle. She just believed every word of that song. That was so exciting for me to hear “Miracle” brought such hope to this woman who really wanted to see a miracle in her son’s life.

Growing up, both you and your sister struggled with your self-image. You sing about this struggle in “She’s a Diamond” and “Stronger.” How did God help you overcome these insecurities?

For a long time, I got really caught up in looking at magazines and felt the pressure that I think every teenage girl faces. I started exercising more, eating less, and struggled for a while. I didn’t want to have the thoughts and the feelings that I had, but it was just a stronghold that Satan had on my life. I remember one day I just called on the name of Jesus. I asked Him to take away those thoughts. 2 Corinthians talks about taking every thought captive, and making it obedient to Christ. I kept reciting that to myself, to take every thought captive. The change wasn’t immediate after that, but slowly the Lord was instilling in me that He made me beautiful and that I don’t have to be stick thin to please Him. Instead, I should focus on my inward beauty and not so much on my outward appearance.

Every song of yours holds some story behind it. Tell us about “I Will Write You Letters.”

“I Will Write You Letters” is just a fun song. Today, it’s all about text messaging and e-mailing. It’s not a lot of face-to-face. I miss that intimacy of being able to talk with someone face-to-face. At the same time, being a songwriter, it’s easier to express myself with pen and paper. Growing up we all used to write letters, so I kind of wish we could go back to the old times and just write letters.

“Take My Place” isn’t off your brand-new, self-titled project, but off your second indie project. This song has such a simple, but meaningful message. What inspired the writing of this beautiful song?

Basically, I was dwelling on the amazing things that God did for us in sending His Son Jesus. It is basically just the salvation message, and the gospel that I wanted to write about. It was because I was so enthralled in it, and just amazed that Jesus would take my place. I don’t deserve it, and I definitely don’t deserve someone dying for me. Jesus did take all of our places, and since I was so amazed by that, I wanted to write this song.

The song is really good!

Well, thank you!

What Scripture verse have you leaned heavily on lately?

I always like to focus on different ones. Right now, it’s 1 Corinthians 11:1 which says, ”Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” I really want to embody that message. I don’t want people to look to Joy Lippard and say, “Oh I want to be like her! I want to do everything she does!” I really want to be a vessel and lead people to Jesus. I want people to see the love of Christ in me and ultimately be in love with the Lord.

With all the awards and attention you’ve received, how have you been able to make it less about you, and more about Jesus?

It’s just the little things. I’ll write a song, and even though I know I wrote it, or I co-wrote it, I honestly walk away thinking, “Those were not my words.” I feel like it’s the Lord, and I can’t take credit for any of it. I also feel God humbles me many different ways. For example, I’ll be sick a couple of days before a show, and then the day of the show I’m fine. I know the Lord has His hand in that, and I feel like that’s His way of saying, “It’s not about you anyway! It’s me that’s going to sing through you.” I just feel so much better that it’s not myself, and I can’t take credit for any of it.

At a young age, God’s plan and will for your life was already very plain. For people who aren’t sure where God is leading them, or what His will may be for their lives, what would you tell them?

Not a lot of people figure out what they want to do at such a young age. Sometimes it’s frustrating for them. I would encourage them to just be on their knees and really be praying about it. I know that’s two things that everyone says to do, but it’s true. God has given us His Word and the ability to communicate with Him. I believe that if you keep staying close to Him, drawing close to Him and asking the Lord, like it talks about in James, that He will do great things through you. It may not be super clear at first, but I believe that He’ll lead you if you are walking close to Him.

Joy it’s been a pleasure talking with you! I pray that God abundantly blesses you and your ministry.

Thank you!

Andrew Funderburks is a fan of a wide range of Christian music including punk, pop and black gospel. His interests include missions, writing songs and drama. He currently lives in Houston, MS.

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