After spending the last couple of years pursuing an acting
career, Rebecca St. James returns to music this month with the release of I Will Praise You on Beach Street Records. She
discusses her new music, her acting career and her fiancé.
It’s 20 years since your first release, in Australia;
what do you think when you hear it now?
Oh my goodness, most
people don’t even know about that one. I think I was 13 years old. I kind of
blush a little bit when I hear that album. I sound very, very young and
This new release marks a change in label for you. How
did that come about?
Well, it was actually a
beautiful experience. Mark Miller, who is the head of Beach Street Records and
also my producer with this album, he produced Casting Crowns—just an amazing
Christian man. We had lunch and talked about doing this album, and he said,
‘Rebecca, I’m just praying that if I could be a good steward of your ministry,
that God would show me that and show us that we’ll (get a) green light to work
together.’ So I just loved that this producer was just going to God about this
opportunity for us to work together, and both of us had such a sense of peace
with the whole team. I really saw God’s hands on the process of this album.
What was the writing and recording process like?
At the time I was writing
the album, I was also working on a new book that’s coming out fall of this year
with FaithWords, a book called What Is He Thinking?. For that book I was
interviewing guy friends of mine about dating and romance and all of that, and
I was also writing songs for the new album. I wrote some of it in L.A., which
is where I live, and some of it in Nashville, which is where I used to live and
my family is still there. It was quite a process and still doing shows in and
amongst both of those things. It was a busy time, and I really saw God’s peace
on the whole process and it was a great experience.
Is there a theme or thread throughout the recording?
Well, it’s a worship album
so all the lyrics are very vertical in nature. I’m kind of teaching in a
lot of my albums and in what I share from the stage and just wanting to
share things that will be relevant to people and in their lives and be
encouraging. On this album some of the themes are the kindness of God, because
that’s really what draws us to Him, His gentleness and love. Then there is the
act of surrender, just how important letting go is, and that’s something God
has been doing in my life. We even talk about beauty and self-image, God
redeeming our pain. We talk about fear.
How does the new album differ musically from previous
It was actually much more
simple, the process, because generally on the front end of an album, we do a
lot of programming and planning, lay a foundation, get a feel for what we want
it to sound like. With programming this time around, we just went into the
studio, I didn’t even have a key I was singing it in before we went to the
tracking session with the whole band in the studio. It was much more of an
organic process and I think people can hear that in the musicality. There is
kind of a softness and warmth of this album that people are really responding
You’ve grown up in the Christian music world and are
known for speaking out on pro-life issues and being a model and champion of
abstinence. Has all that ever been a burden?
The purity message has
been the mainstay of my ministry. The only way that had become at certain
points a little bit of a heavy message to share was when I was feeling kind of
lonely in the single department. I got engaged on Christmas Day. Now being in
the engagement period, preparing for marriage, it’s a real fulfillment of a lot
of dreams. It’s a lot easier to talk about that and not feel a bit of the sting
of ‘I’m still single and I don’t necessarily want to be.’ But the purity
message, in essence I really have enjoyed sharing about because I think it’s a
Tell us a little about your fiancé.
Absolutely, I love talking
about him. His name is Jacob and we actually met through a philosophy group
that I was attending for a while in Los Angeles. He is an absolutely wonderful
man, probably the most gentle, balanced, kind, loving man I have ever
encountered except maybe my dad and brothers—just such a good man. I said to somebody
recently if I had to do it all again, I would wait for him because he is such a
joy. So it’s wonderful to be about to embark on this marriage. We are doing
premarital counseling right now.
Does this new release mean that your movie “detour”
That’s yet to be
determined really, by God. I’m open to doing more acting. We’ve even got two
different films that are on the table right now that we are talking about me
doing roles in. We’ll just kind of see and play it by ear. I’ve probably been
involved in five or six films since I moved to Los Angeles a couple of years
ago. Sarah’s Choice, the pro-life film, was one of those and it’s been an
incredible ministry experience for me. The last year I’ve been traveling and
doing fundraising events for pregnancy centers and doing an hour or so of music
and showing the movie. It’s been really awesome to meet these amazing people
that work at pregnancy centers and they are doing just such life-giving work.
We’ll just see if God brings up opportunities that definitely have a rightness
How has acting enriched or changed your music?
In some ways, being away
from the music scene for a little while has made me appreciate the gift of it
even more. Sometimes just having a little change creatively helps you come back
with fresh new energy. I really sense that. I think the other thing that has
been driven home with acting is that to communicate with people and for them to
connect on a heart level with it, it has to be authentic. An actor friend of
mine, before I went on set for Sarah’s Choice, said, “Just like in your music,
Rebecca, you want to be authentic and share your heart. Bring your heart to the
table on camera. And in that character’s set of circumstances, bring yourself.”
So I think, if anything, being involved in acting has just driven home
something that I already know and that’s it’s important to be real and
authentic and coming from that very honest place.
You mentioned a new book coming soon?
I think this is my
favorite book of my life to write because I’m a very curious person, so I love
asking questions. The book is called What Is He Thinking? and it’s coming out
in the fall, and I actually got to just question guys about their thoughts on
love, dating and romance. It’s fascinating now because I’m engaged and I’ll be
married before the book comes out. I guess we could say it worked.
Which is harder, writing music or writing books?
Writing music, for sure.
With writing books, you’re kind of dealing with one medium. You’re dealing with
words and craftsmanship with words and honesty and pulling from your heart.
With music, you are pulling from multiple mediums because you’ve got the
musical, which is powerful on its own, then (when) you put words
together with that, you definitely have a vehicle that changes lives. But
dealing with the two different mediums creatively makes it much more
challenging. Sometimes you have writer’s block, or you’re not feeling so
inspired and you want something fresh and it’s not coming. It’s a trust
experience writing for a new album.
What are you listening to on your iPod?
I have really been soaking
in lately quite a few Hillsong songs. I grew up going to Hillsong’s church in
Sydney for a few years. That was a real influential time in my life. I was 10
or 12 when my family and I went to that church and was part of that community.
Lately I have just been soaking in songs like “None But Jesus” and “Mighty to
Save,” just really claiming those lyrics in my life.
Click here to purchase this CD.
Credit: Allister Ann