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Rebecca St. James

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The Advocate

Rebecca St. James Interview

by Tracy Darlington

"When we humanly get our selfishness and agenda involved when we’re living for God it messes things up."
--Rebecca St. James

REBECCA ST. JAMES is both a Grammy and Dove Award recipient, with international success that has driven her record sales into the millions. The Australian-born St. James, who has been called "the definitive voice in today's contemporary Christian music," is the author of such books as Wait for Me, She, and the upcoming What Was Is Thinking? She is known for her passionate involvement in youth-related ministries.

How did you approach the making of I Will Praise You and how did it differ from your other albums?

It was different because number one, it’s a worship album. I write about 75% of my studio albums myself. But I went into this project going, you know, I’m very willing to take other people’s songs that capture my heart and record those. As I started writing for the album and different subjects and themes were coming up I felt were what God was calling me to write about, the songs were flowing, and there was inspiration, I was actually surprised at the end of the day that I was co-writing five out of the ten songs. But I didn’t go into this album feeling any pressure that I had to write the whole thing. I was like, God you have your way and provide the songs that need to be on here. It’s quite a peaceful, easy process.

The difference musically . . . generally with an album my producer and I will go in and we’ll program every song and then go into the studio and bring other musicians in to be the band around that program track. It was the opposite on this album. We recorded with a blank slate with the band, and then put programming in on the back end, so I think it actually creates a different sound for me.

Why do you call this album your most personal to date?

Well, it’s definitely my most personal worship album to date for sure. Just because I contributed so much from my own heart and life to the project. My other worship album was mostly covers and so even though every song that we picked was a part of my heart, and that’s why it was picked, there’s just much more of me and the themes God has been bringing up in my life were much more present on this album than even the other one. The first worship album I ever recorded was when I was thirteen, and I don’t think I wrote anything on that one.

I Will Praise YouWhat message do you hope people will come away with when they listen to this album?

I think there’s a real theme of redemption throughout the whole project. From the last song on the album “You Make Everything Beautiful” which really talks about God redeeming our pain and Him making everything beautiful in His time, to “I Will Praise You” that shares no matter what comes in life, let praise be the outcome of my life. Let there be redemption in that praise and that clinging to you. “You Still Amaze Me” is all about God just being faithful, and the character of God, and his redemption of us at the cross. So there’s this lovely theme of redemption, and it’s a big theme in my life too.

What’s your favorite song and why is it your favorite?

Definitely “You Make Everything Beautiful” because not only is that song about God redeeming our pain and all things working together for good of those who love Him, but it’s also about self-image and beauty and that whole topic. I think it’s a very important issue to be talking about in Christian circles today because I think we can buy into a very worldly mindset that outer appearance is all that matters. That cripples inner beauty. The song is very powerfully relevant on both fronts, and when I’ve been doing it live it’s been an absolute moment in the show. Very, very powerful.

You’ve said that your mission statement is to get out of the way and let people see Jesus. Can you explain what that means to you and how you do it?

I think that when we humanly get our selfishness and agenda involved when we’re living for God it messes things up. The more we can get out of the way and just say, “God, have your way, you be the boss,” things just tend to have a peaceful, joyful purpose about them that’s so right. I think it’s the lifelong lesson I’m wanting to learn . . . to get out of the way.

How did the move to LA simplify your life?

I’ve learned through living in LA to do less and to be more. God’ really been teaching me about just being. That’s been a very powerful lesson, and He’s taught me that through not traveling quite as much, and that’s intentional on my part. Then also through the community I’m a part of out there, and through my times with him. Nature has a way of reminding you to just be as well.

What does an average day look like for you, if there is an average day?Rebecca St. James

There’s not really an average day because it depends on whether I’m traveling or not. Every day is different. A day on the road would be flying and doing a show and flying again the next morning. But a favorite day would probably be waking up and having some oatmeal and some tea, and getting some e-mails done, doing some work for a few hours, and then meeting up with my fiancé and having quality time with him. Then maybe later that night hanging out with some friends, or even better just hanging out with him! We love getting to be together. It’s such a luxury. We enjoy just chilling. We both love nature and being out going for walks, or we’ve done some bike riding and rollerblading, chilling on the beach. We just love being together so we don’t even really have to do. He’s been very much somebody who’s taught me about being.

Could you share you knew Jacob was the man you knew God wanted you to marry?

When I knew I loved this man and wanted to marry him it was when I really felt that for the first time in my life a man knew how to truly cherish me. That’s when I knew I loved him and wanted to marry him. I started writing in a journal about that. I was Rising Starsgoing to give him this journal after we were married, and it was like a month or two later that he proposed to me. But we had never talked about any of that. He didn’t know about this journal, and I hadn’t told him I was thinking these things, but it was kind of a knowledge for both of us that there was something really amazing that God was doing and there was just a rightness to it.

He surprised you, right?

Yes, total surprise!

We’d love to hear about your next movie Rising Stars.

It’s the only straight mainstream family film that I’ve done, he rest have been faith and family films, but the director of Rising Stars was a Christian so he knew that I was acting and doing a lot more of that work so he asked me to be involved and audition for the role and be involved shooting in Texas.

Tracy DarlingtonTracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.