Two songs. That's all it took for Rebecca St. James to fall back in love with the thing that propelled her into the spotlight at just 16 years old. The thing that over the next 20 years would define her legacy. And the very thing she thought she might never do again. Music. Yet, when given the opportunity to perform a pair of songs at an event with her brothers, Joel and Luke Smallbone--better known as GRAMMY® Award-winning duo for KING & COUNTRY--Rebecca hesitantly obliged. After the performance, she walked offstage with tears in her eyes and said to Joel, "God just called me back to music."
It's been nine years since Rebecca took an intentional hiatus from music to focus on family. Among the most defining artists in Christian music history, the Australian native catapulted into the global spotlight with the release of her self-titled ForeFront Records debut in 1994. Heralding a new generation of artistry in the genre, Rebecca went on to earn a GRAMMY® Award for her landmark album, Pray, multiple Dove Awards, nine #1 radio hits and two GOLD®-certified recordings. She has authored nearly a dozen bestselling books, including Wait For Me (Thomas Nelson) and Pure (Hachette/Faithwords). In addition, she established herself as a burgeoning actress with lead roles in a variety of films, including 2009's Sarah's Choice. She also portrayed Mary Magdalene in the groundbreaking rock opera iHero and voiced 'Hope, The Angel' in VeggieTales' popular short, The Easter Carol, in addition to other diverse roles.
Despite her success, two decades in the music industry--understandably--took its toll. Nonstop touring, writing and recording left Rebecca emotionally drained and physically exhausted. It also put stress on her vocal cords, presenting a new set of challenges and producing a swell of anxiety each time she performed. Simultaneously, Rebecca's personal life was evolving. Following a move to California in 2008 to pursue her acting aspirations, she met and married fellow musician and film producer Jacob Fink.
"I think when I first started out, I was too young to understand the value of balance and margin and creating enough space to really thrive. I definitely felt emptied out," she reflects. "My whole life, too, I had dreamed of being a wife and a mom. When I finally realized that dream of being married and we were on the verge of wanting to have a family, I just wanted to make sure I could give my all to that and not be doing it halfway. At that point, I thought, 'I'll never sing again,' and I was very much at peace with that."
After resolutely stepping away from her career, Rebecca gave birth to her first daughter. Marriage and motherhood fulfilled her in a way music never had. "I went into motherhood feeling pretty equipped. I feel like I was a second mother my whole life. There were 14 years between me and my youngest sister. We have more of a maternal relationship than we do a sister relationship," explains Rebecca, who, as the oldest of seven siblings recently began hosting Rebecca St. James Friends and Family, a weekly podcast on faith, family and parenting on the Accessmore platform. "There's so much joy for me in being a mama. I feel like I'm living my dreams."
The way forward wouldn't feel like such a fairytale. In the years that followed, she endured the heartbreak of two miscarriages. It wasn't the road she envisioned, and the losses left Rebecca and her husband feeling like they were stuck in a never-ending winter. Yet it was during this difficult time that she received the invitation to perform with her brothers. Little did she know it would be an encounter that would open the door to a fresh artistic chapter.
"It was an incredibly life-changing moment and probably one of the more instantly transforming moments with God that I've ever had," shares Rebecca of the brief performance slot that unexpectedly led her back to music. "I encountered the Holy Spirit in such a radical way that it made me see music in this non-threatening way again. I realized I missed the connection I have with Jesus when I sing. I missed this aspect of my relationship with Him that happens when I'm living in that sweet spot of calling and music."
Shortly after, Rebecca and her family packed up their California dreams and headed back to Nashville--the place she had called home throughout her rise to fame. Then, Rebecca found out she was expecting, and it started to feel like spring again. "It was like God brought spring to our hearts," she reflects, "and then He brought spring to our circumstances."
Rebecca returned to the stage on an arena tour with for KING & COUNTRY, and she co-wrote several selections on their GRAMMY®-winning 2019 blockbuster recording, Burn the Ships. Joel and Luke also helped introduce Rebecca to their former tour mates, globally renowned worshippers Bethel Music. The organic relationship presented her with yet another opportunity she never anticipated--a fresh label partnership with Bethel Music imprint Heritage Music.
Now, poised for her second act, Rebecca returns with the poignant worship anthem, "Battle Is The Lord's," which serves as the lead single from her Heritage Music debut EP, Dawn, and marks her official return to the Christian music spotlight. Co-written by Rebecca and North Point Worship's Seth Condrey and Heath Balltzglier, the single features GRAMMY®-nominated Bethel Music singer/songwriter Brandon Lake and carries a timely reminder.
"The message is so relevant to what the world is dealing with right now," Rebecca shares. "The heartbeat is that the Church can sing this song, and people can be pointed to the fact that God is in control. I think in this time, it's so easy for all of us to fear, but He's calling us to a place of deeper trust."
The mid-tempo track also bears personal significance for Rebecca in this season of life. "'Battle Is The Lord's' has been personally encouraging to me in my journey with this project, even to finish out the work that we're doing," she continues. "There were a lot of old triggers, old fears and old pain associated with music that I had to overcome. This song calls me to trust in God and see that He's gone before me. It's His battle to fight, not mine."
Dawn speaks to the rebirth she's personally experienced after emerging from her winter, returning home to Nashville, rekindling her passion for music again and letting life surprise her. Her most recent surprise comes in the form of a third child--a boy--due this year.
Produced by Seth Mosley (for KING & COUNTRY, Jeremy Camp) and Rebecca's longtime collaborator Tedd T. (for KING & Country, Mutemath, Delirious), Dawn builds on the singer's solid worship roots while pushing her signature modern pop sensibilities into new territory. In addition, the EP finds Rebecca co-writing with some of Christian music's biggest songwriters, including Matt Redman, Phil Wickham and Bethel Music's Brian Johnson and Kristene DiMarco, among others.
"In the years I've been away from music, I haven't been writing that much, and it really has been a muscle that I've had to rework," Rebecca shares. "But I have always written songs from the place of my own experiences with God. My writing has generally always been very personal, even when it comes to worship. Our writing sessions started out with me sharing my story and what God has done most recently in my life."
She also invited a number of fellow artists to help her share that story. In addition to Lake's feature on "Battle Is The Lord's," Bethel Music's Josh Baldwin joins her on seminal track "Middle of the Fire," a passionate pledge to trust God in the midst of suffering. Furthermore, Rebecca's brother Luke duets with her on the project's hopeful title track, which testifies to the redemption that follows pain.
As a wife and mother now rekindling her calling to music, Rebecca St. James steps back into the spotlight with fresh perspective. "It's not been an easy walk-in-the-park working on this album. It's been a lot of hard work and challenging at certain points," she admits, "But I feel so thankful for these opportunities. I feel thankful to be able to serve God with my family. There's just a real sweetness on this time in my life, and I'm grateful."
Greatest Artist Ever| Posted September 13, 2009
Rebecca St. James is just honestly and truly the greatest CCM artist ever. She's always trying new things with her music and she always deliveres a good message.
Rebecca is an honest, pure woman of God that I highly respect and love dearly.
I've been a fan of Rebecca St. James for almost 6 years now... I have every single one of her CDs and she has never once let me down.
And, if you don't like one CD from Rebecca, you're probably going to like a different one... because she covers rock, pop, electronic, acoustic, hip-hop, dance... you name it, she's done it.
Rebecca St. James is and always will be my very favorite artist. =D
I think...| Posted August 13, 2009
Well I'm not a huge fan of her music. But I think she is an amazing person. Her stance on purity is inspring to me. I mean I can't believe she's like 30 and has never had sex, not many ppl can say that. I hpe she finds the man of her dreams soon!!
Consistency| Posted December 16, 2008
I love Rebecca for so many reasons.
1. Her consistency in putting out great music.
2. Her consistency in changing up her of music.
3. Her consistency of the message in her songs.
She has stayed true to the message God has given her. Thank you Rebecca!