LISTEN TO THE ARTIST SPOTLIGHT
In this 2 part series, Wayne Hindson talks with Rebecca St.t. James about the early years of her career and what it was really like waiting for the right partner to come into her life.
When did you feel God called you into music?
Well, I definitely had indications pretty early that God might be leading me that way, because you’re right. I grew up in a family where Christian music was just always around us. I think my first show ever, I was six weeks old and it was a Larry Norman concert at the Sydney Opera House. Yeah, it’s just a very natural part of our lives. But when I was going to a Christian school in Brisbane when I was 12, I auditioned for Christian Rock Band and got involved with that, as one of the singers. And then Carmen heard a demo tape that I had recorded through that school. And then he asked me to be his support act in Australia for his revival in the land, tour in 1991. So, it was so long ago, as such a baby. But yeah, so honoured to be able to open for him and sing some worship songs. And that was kind of my beginning. And then we moved to the US when I was 14 for my dad’s job and some management opportunities he had in Nashville. And it was really pretty soon after that, that it became a little bit more official. I recorded a worship album on his label actually in Australia before he left, but we kind of left before we were even able to tour that or anything. And then when I was 15, Forefront Records in National signed me to their label and then went full time at 16. So, yeah, I look back now and I’m like, wow, I was so, so young. But God had a plan and definitely called me to it. And I’m thankful for the journey that I’ve had.
What was it like when people started to recognise you as an artist after you released your popular 1996 album ‘God’?
Yeah, I think growing up in Australia, listening to a lot of both Christian bands and then some like mainstream bands, I feel like I had this rock element to me where I just I had grown up on a lot of rock music, mostly Christian. And so when that album, when I was working on that and we worked on it for nine months,
my producer and I. I’ve been very involved, like from writing. I was involved in every song on that album, you know, writing and programming. And it just felt very congruent and very right and very passionate. And it was really lovely to see people respond so well to it and just see kind of the connection that that album had. You know, musically, spiritually, I feel really thankful to have had that opportunity with Forefront to just make an album that felt so right for that point in my life.
As an 18 year old, when you started to hit the spotlight, what was important to you then? Fast forward 25 years and reflect back, are the same things important or has that changed for you?
You know, I think at that point, you know, being single and being out on the road and travelling as much as I was and when music was just so all-consuming and I was doing other things to, you know, not only doing you like working on the albums, but then I would write some books for teens and was doing a bit of acting here and there. And it’s just a lot that I was kind of juggling. I’m in this season now that’s just so sweet where I mean and I now have a sweetness to back then. But I think for me right now, I feel it’s such a sense of satisfaction and joy in the fact that the dreams that I had than of being a wife and mum have come true in the most beautiful way. And so having children, having my husband and that support and when we’re going to go on the road as a family and have done that some. And so just the loveliness of that, the foundation of that is different.
“If I’ve called you to this, then I called your whole family and your kids to it, too. And you’re on a family mission and there’s not any blessing in your obedience but your obedience as a family. There’s blessing for your children”. So that really helps me as a mama to feel like, yes, this is this is going to be something that is helpful for them in their journey with God and in their life. So I’m excited to embark on that adventure together. So I think my goals are different.
I want to primarily be a great daughter of God, but which was always the case. But then I second to that, want to be a great wife and a great mum. So I felt when God called me back to music that he also said
Did you feel like a lot of pressure, as a young lady, being almost a spokesperson for this sexual abstinence movement?
You know, it happened very organically. Just the fact that I even spoke about purity, period. It started as a very organic scene because there was a movement happening in the U.S. at that time called the True Love Waits movement. And there was a lot of young people that were pledging to save sex for marriage and to wait. And so I do a lot of these rallies with churches and youth groups and even larger rallies to, you know, sixty thousand people or more, where the organisers would say, “Hey, can you just say a couple words about the importance of purity and honouring God, you know, relationally”. And so I did. And it was just such a really massive response to it from both the young people and parents that I saw a real need for it. So, yeah, I kind of fell into that in a way that was very congruent, a commitment that I really valued and was going to live anyway. And then the song happened and the book happened and all of that continued.
I think, honestly, the only time I felt pressure about it was just when I probably continued to talk about it, even when it became kind of a little bit painful, just because it wasn’t the message that was painful itself. It was more just that I had this love song to my future husband saying, “I’m waiting for you and I’m praying for you. Wait for me, too”. But he wasn’t here yet. And so I think there’s an element of hope deferred makes the heart sick. That was very real in my heart. But then I’m still talking about it from stage because it felt like is an important part of my platform. I think it kind of played and to just some like stress towards the end of
those years, that nearly 20 years where I was on the road so much. I don’t necessarily regret it, because I think the message is still so, so important for people to hear about. But it definitely became a bit more costly as I continued to talk about it, but was still single.
A big thanks to Rebecca for taking the time to chat with us. God bless!