Spring 1999. It was a balmy evening in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston. A 14-year old Olympic hopeful softball catcher by the name of Paige emerged from her bedroom and casually announced to the family that she had written a couple of songs. While the news was a bit unexpected, Paige's propensity for music came as no surprise. Her mother had shown Paige a few chords on the guitar just as she had taught her own brother, recording artist/producer David Rice, when he was a kid. So it was even more fitting that Paige's uncle happened to be passing through town with longtime collaborator Matt Hammon just in time to catch her debut performance in the kitchen.
Immediately struck with the sense that something bigger was at work, the two invited Paige up to a hill country studio to record the songs that had so impressed them in the kitchen. The session yielded a three-song demo which began circulating around local youth groups. With the recorded evidence of Paige's raw talent in hand, her youth minister began booking her to lead worship and perform in area churches.
"I want to tell people ," explains Paige, "Look, guys - God has an awesome plan for your life, and it's so much better than you can figure out on your own!" By semester's end Paige found herself fielding offers from independent record companies who had heard of her rapidly developing fan base.
But it wasn't until she received a call from Word Records Vice President of A&R Brent Bourgeois that the young artist felt she had found a kindred spirit who would passionately nurture her artistry. An artist and songwriter himself, Brent had immediately recognized the talent that had landed on his desk. The two began a year-long correspondence of four-track recordings and constructive criticisms.
"As she began to send more songs, she showed unbelievable instinct," Brent recalls. "It usually takes years for a songwriter to say what they need to say in a three minute song. I could teach a songwriting class with her songs."
Paige's outspoken advocate would soon have all he would need to set a recording contract into motion. At the urging of Word's sister publishing company, Paige had gone back into the studio with Rice and Hammon to cut three new songs. Not only did this batch of work represent Paige's best compositions to date, but she also delivered an emphatic, fully realized sound. Built on the foundation of pounding drum loops, relentless guitars, new-wave keyboards and vintage electric piano, Paige's vocal arrangements reflected a timeless quality rarely heard since the Beach Boys delivered "Pet Sounds" over three decades ago.
While the powers-that-be worked out the details of her record deal, Paige pulled out of school, expecting to be recording in the fall. But contracts don't get finished overnight, and the prospect of sitting around the house when the momentum of her debut record was at stake proved to be unbearable. With Brent's unofficial blessing, Paige and her producers forged ahead with the record beneath the Nashville radar.
Within days, Paige - who had just passed her driving test - found herself commuting 50 miles a day to a 200 square foot un-air-conditioned garage apartment in downtown Houston, where the team set up a makeshift studio and worked feverish 18 hour days well into the fall.
When the completion of her record deal was finally in sight, the team chose to bring home the record in the plush, rural setting of Dark Horse Recording Studio in Franklin, Tennessee. But even the comforts of an expansive environment could not tame Paige's furious work ethic, as she completed the riveting "Cry Holy" and composed the album's anthemic closer, "Darkness Into Light" on the spot.
Paige's humility in the midst of budding stardom displays an uncanny spiritual maturity. "I don't want to be held too highly - looked at and totally inspected, but I know I will be and I'm up to that," she explains. "Because I'm going to be onstage, it's like my life is going to be on-stage, and I feel very honored that God would choose me to do something like this. I'm excited, and I'm ready and willing to set my standards even higher so I can glorify God."