Step off the balcony and into the backyard of Jill Parrs home and youll find a little garden nestled beyond a young willow tree in the corner where two wooden fences meet. When shes not on the road youll find her there most days weeding, nurturing and encouraging the plants to achieve their God-given design and yield life giving vegetables and fruit for her family. Its not unlike her mission in life these days. "Im determined to encourage young women who cant find a way to feel good about themselves no matter what they do and to reclaim the hearts of moms who find themselves torn between their childhood dreams and finding satisfaction in ten loads of laundry," says Parr.
A tall order coming from a woman who stands 4 feet 11 inches high and sings as if shes pulling notes out of her toes and yet on her third national release, Me Again, releasing on Whiplash Records this is exactly her focus. On songs like, Reach, she articulates in syncopated bursts,
Im no longer comfortable living a harmless life / Im tired of coming up short / Im tired of losing the faith / This is a revolution / This is my revolution.
"On this record and on every stage I climb onto I say what Im saying with an honest conviction because this is my real life not a stylized marketing plan," says Parr, "Ive personally felt completely lost with no hope of ever feeling better about myself. Ive actually sat down on the floor and cried because I couldnt see how my dreams and the fatigue of motherhood would ever balance themselves out."
According to Parr this apparent impasse was a well timed attack by the evil one intended to undermine the mission for her life. "The lie has no effect on you unless you believe it," she says, "but the truth has no impact either unless you believe it. Once I finally got it through my head that God loves me like a Father who will ferociously fight for my heart it all clicked for me." The song Where I Belong (inspired by John and Stasi Eldredges book Captivating) talks about this discovery.
Ive been waiting right here / For You to come and rescue me / I have finally found a place I can feel safe and strong / I can say Im beautiful, this is where I belong /
County Line is another song that finds Jill acting like a laser beam piercing through flesh and revealing the heart.
There is town at the foot of a mountain of memory/ Ive lived there for years / A lifetime of fears and insecurity/ Never could measure up / Ive lived there for long enough / Its time to say good-bye
"I came to a point where I thought all the mistakes Id made would forever outweigh any good I could ever offer," she remembers, "I thought it would be easier for God to just start over with someone else but thats just not His style. Its a lot easier to create than it is to redeem and yet for me and every other person breathing He continues to fight to restore and redeem us. I sit speechless when I think about it."
When it comes to the Christian music scene Jill Parr is no newcomer. Shes chalked up 5 national and international radio hits, numerous promotional tours, the coveted Billboard Magazines critics pick and hundreds of tour dates and yet Me Again comes from a completely different place than her previous efforts. "In some ways I could have called the record, I Dont Really Care," Laughs Parr, "Ive spent so many years doing the dance and essentially bowing my knee to the music industry like we all do as we claw our way to visibility and then yell at the top of our lungs for attention. I just couldnt stomach another jog down that path so I decided to get fiercely independent and make the record I needed to make and let the chips fall where they may. Its God Im trying to honor here not well researched ways to sell Christian Music."
The difference is loud and clear. Produced by veteran producer and husband Brian Hardin (FFH, Nouveaux, Manic Drive, David Meece, These Five Down, Paul Alan, Vicki Yohe) the record drips with integrity and edge and yet holds true to the ritual approach to detail Parr is known for vocally.
When asked to describe the project, she smiles, "Its cool moms rock. I made a record I would listen to and Ill bet Im not the only one."
It seems shes right on both counts.
My mission is to fear God, to let the roots of faith go deep, to trust without question and to encourage others along the same path. My heart is to recapture the imagination of women stuck in the mundane; to reclaim the dreams that God has given and to dare those who have never felt purpose for their lives to learn what God has placed them here for. My passion is to remind people how God looks on them with love and longing and Im out to accomplish this one person at a time.