Rebecca St. James is Back! New Music, a Podcast and a Growing Family
She’s been making music and performing since she was a twelve, and now after an intentional break, Rebecca St. James is back with new music and a podcast. She’s been focusing on her family, married life, and her two daughters, and next month she will welcome a baby boy! God got ahold of her heart and called her back to music in a way she could’ve never anticipated. Risen talked with the talented artist about the authenticity of her conversations on her podcast, Rebecca St. James Friends and Family, her first studio album in nine-years, Dawn, and how her career is now a family mission.
Interviewed for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: It’s such an interesting time in our world right now. No one could’ve ever predicted that we’d be where we’re at. America is back on lockdown, quarantine and masks in full effect, questions about jobs and schooling in the fall, you’re pregnant with your third child, you just cross-country move… how are you navigating this time?
Rebecca St. James: For the most part, my husband and I have been trying to look for the good in such a crazy, fearful time, and look for how God might be in the quieter moments of being home a lot more. We’ve been even trying to be intentional about doing some Zoom courses where we can grow in our relationship with God, and also our marriage, and things like that, and spending time with the girls. Just sweet moments of sweet fruit in our family life that has been really lovely and redemptive. But it definitely hits me in waves, I think. Even the same pregnant, about to bring a little boy into the world, there’s these moments of thinking, “Oh, my goodness. He’s coming into such a crazy world. There is so many unknowns.” I think it’s been this call for me to trust God in a deeper way and just go, “You know what? I’m not in control. My duty is to open my hands and say, ‘Lord, I trust you to look after our little family. Please just right the wrongs.'” We pray even with our children, especially our eldest, she’s six, about what’s going on and come to God with it. So, for me, that’s what it’s been, I think, this call to deeper trust and to not let fear triumph in my heart.
RM: Is that how your song, Battle Is the Lord’s, came to be? Because it seems like the message of that song is a giant reminder that we’re not in control, the Lord is.
RSJ: Yes, actually, it’s just amazing seeing how God brought that song together because we wrote it way before there was any inkling of any of this, way before 2020, nor had any understanding of what was going to happen. It was last year, probably, even more like middle of last year that we wrote that song as one of the many that we wrote for this album. I was writing a good part of last year this album, and then working on production as well, some last year, but very heavily production this year.
We had this song. We knew the day that we wrote it that there was something special on it. One of my other writers for that song came in after having a dream the night before about the Battle Is the Lord’s and this concept. And then I, out of the blue, when he asked me what I would like to write about, also spoke to God going before us and fighting our battles, even before he’d said anything about his dream. So, the song is very Holy Spirit-led, even the writing of it last year. And then when we were looking at songs for this album and confirming even what we were going to go into production with, there was just this really pretty miraculous confirmation that this was one of the ones that needed be on the album, but still yet to know what impact it was going to have on the nation and the world. We committed to the song before we knew all of this.
I feel like God really had His hands on the song being on the album and being just a single. It does feel very timely. It feels like the song was written for such a time as this. It’s definitely re-centered when I needed it in this album process and in 2020 in general.
RM: So you’ve been writing and developing this new EP, but you’ve been purposefully out of the spotlight for the past several years… totally understandable… you’ve been performing since you were twelve, I’d want to focus on building my family and enjoy being a mom and wife too. But it does beg the question, why now? Why did you feel it was important to nurish your creative side again?
RSJ: It was definitely a God idea and not mine. It wasn’t something that I was looking for because I quietly retired about seven years ago. I was having kids and just really wanted to sow into married life and home life, and having children, and totally and completely focused on establishing that part of our home life. That had been a dream my entire life; to be a wife and mom. Then about three years ago, God just radically got ahold of my heart and called me back to music in a way that I just never could’ve anticipated. It was very, very miraculous and very unexpected, and something that was just very, very obvious. I think when that happened, I realized I missed the connection that I have with the Holy Spirit when I sing, and when I am involved in various ministry projects, whether it’s a podcast or whether it’s working on anything creatively that has a Jesus message. I’ve missed that connection that I have with Him when I’m a part of this kind of work.
It was really beautiful that He did call me back to it. I think I’m coming back into it this season with a different foundation and a different strength too, because honestly, it could all go away again, all these opportunities with ministry. [If it did,] I would be fine because I came to such a place, during those years of being at home, of knowing my identity is in Him, and I’m valuable as a daughter of God. I’m valuable in my relationships without producing any of this work. I love being a wife, and I love being a mama. I will never take that for granted. I think there’s just this level of freedom that I can walk in now, coming back to music in this season, that I just never had before. So, I feel just very grateful for these opportunities that I have to share about Jesus in various forms of ministry work.
RM: You said something there that I think is really important. that’s the idea of identity and where we place that. If you were just Rebecca St. James, the artist, and if that was the only part of your identity that you felt valued in, then it could be devastating if it was taken away. Or if you only found value in being a mom, and that opportunity never came, then that would be devastating. But if we keep our identity in Christ, then we can be whoever He’s called us to be. Will you expand on that point, especially for parents who love their families but also feel a pull to make Spirit-led career choices? How are you doing both and feeling fulfilled and not split or distracted?
RSJ: Yes. It definitely is a juggle being a full-time wife and mama. And then doing some of this work stuff now, there’s definitely been points where I’m like, “Wow, this was a lot.” And I feel a bit overwhelmed because after coming home from the studio, responsibilities don’t stop. I’m “on” at home as well. I think what I’ve come back to are a couple things: One, that I know that I’m called to it, and I know God did this. I know that it was a Holy-Spirit led decision. Also my husband and I regularly check in with each other. He’s been very supportive too. He has helped so much with the kids and stepped in when I’ve not been there. For the most part, he’s been the primary caregiver. We’re thankful that work-wise, his situation has been such that he’s been able to take that mantle and really grow his relationship with the girls, too, individually with them. I feel really thankful for that element.
Second, he and I have committed to checking in with each other and making sure that the work that I’m taking on is not costing our kids negatively. I think if it ever starts to do that, we’re out. It’s just not worth it. It’s interesting because Chip and Joanna Gaines have been real heroes of mine, with the work that they’ve done and the approach that they’ve taken. I know that they verbalized years ago, publicly, that if their kids start being negatively impacted by what we’re doing as a family, then they’re out. And they did it. They actually followed through at the peak of their show Fixer Upper, and pulled out from that very successful venture, and started to make their life a little bit more private. I think I have a similar sense of what I’m doing, and I felt like God gave me a promise, actually, very early on that if I’m being faithful to what He’s called me to do, that this work would be a blessing for our kids as well, and that we would do it as a family. This is a family mission, it’s not just Mommy doing it. The girls have come to the studio. We go on the road together, and we do what we do. I try to involve them in it. When I did a little cameo last week, they came to the movie set. So I think, especially as they grow older, we’re just going to be reminding, “You’re an important part of this family mission, and we’re doing it together.” I think that that really helps or has helped so far for us to navigate it.
RM: Earlier you mentioned your podcast. Let’s talk about that. Podcasts aren’t new. Millions of people listen to them all the time, but I feel like, especially right now, the country is ripe for consuming content in that way. It’s intimate. It’s in your home. You launched Rebecca St. James Friends and Family a couple months back and it’s a space where you’re authentically tackling different subjects. What has the experience been like as you enter this different way for you to connect with your fan base?
RSJ: It’s been life-giving. We’re constantly recording because it’s weekly. I’m stocking up quite a few right now because I’m pregnant, and close to maternity leave, but it’s so amazing for me to get to dive in with friends and family members on some really deep topics. I’m a very curious person. I feel like having podcast partners that I know have a wonderful story, and drawing that out of them, feels very natural to me. I’m really, really loving it. I feel like every time I do one of these podcasts, I’m growing with these tips on parenting and family life. It’s been enriching to my journey.
We make it very conversational. The listener very much becomes a fly on the wall and eavesdrops into our conversation. I really enjoy that very authentic, laid back approach. It’s not over produced. We do it in one take. We’ve really been super blessed by the response that we’ve had so far. We’re not afraid of tackling some harder issues too. Trauma is one of the podcasts that has responded the best right now because I think a lot of people are feeling traumatized by life. And then my brother, Luke, spoke to pain of his journey with nearly losing their child, and then they miscarried, and he and his wife both nearly lost their lives to sickness – they’ve been through a lot. So, he spoke very authentically to that. We’ve talked about entitlement, discipline, prayer, and the power of healing that can come through prayer… there’s just so many different areas that we’ve tackled and it’s been such a blessing to me. It’s a real joy and delight to hear stories from other people who are being very encouraged by these podcasts as well. I feel honored to be able to do it.
RM: We get to learn more about you and your friends, and family. You have such a fantastic extended family. The musical talents from your husband to your brothers, to your sister-in-law… talent attracts talent, Right? [Laughter] I’ve gotten to meet some of your family and you all (at least in the public eye) genuinely still seem to get along and love each other, and encourage each other to be their best rather than it being competitive, which it could so easily turn to. What does that look like when you all get together?
RSJ: Oh, yeah. We’re really an unusually close family, I think. We even vacation pretty much all of us together every year. My brother Joel and I, we’ll probably go on a walk tomorrow and just catch up. It’s been nice actually to have all of us in town quite a bit more. There’s been some family gatherings. It’s been lovely. I feel really thankful for that. I think even the similarities calling-wise, pretty much almost all seven grown kids in our family are doing some form of art or music. That probably happened pretty organically from just being around it all our lives. With our dad being involved in music and that world, it just flowed out of that. But I have a director brother, and another brother who does lighting for our other brothers’ shows for King & Country… it’s just been really cool to see how God has given each one of us a calling in the arts, and it’s happened quite organically, that we’re just all very supportive of each other. As adults, we’re all out on the road, sowing into tours in our various ways, like we did when we were kids. My siblings all had jobs on the road. We were homeschooling. And so when I was doing music and I was in my teens and early 20s, they were all out on the road with me, learning these different crafts that they’re now doing full-time. It’s very sweet to see where God has brought all of us.
RM: Your six song EP releases this month and it’s very personal to you. What’s the hope for those that listen to the songs on Dawn?
RSJ: I hope that people feel an authentic resonance with the lyrics, and feel an authentic connection to the subject matter. I wrote these songs with various writers very much from my journey. Every single song ties into something that I’ve lived. As a songwriter and as an artist, I’m committed to that kind of authenticity. I think it’s most powerful that way. But it’s intentionally a worship album because I think all of us, all the time probably, need to be challenged to set our eyes on Jesus and also ourselves. I think when we worship Jesus, our eyes lift to Him, and our spirits get lifted to Him. And we’re reminded of biblical truth. So that’s why this is a worship album because I think there’s so much power in that. I think there’s such a need for that.
I know that I’ve needed these songs even in the last year-and-a-half of working on this project. It will be completed by the way, too. It is going to be a full album. Probably going to release the next four songs early next year. But these songs have encouraged me in my journey to really set my eyes on Jesus and sing them from that place of, “I need these songs.” I need these songs as a reminder to look to Him. And so I think if I need them, probably other people are too. I’m excited to see the ministry impact that they have.
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