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Intersection of Life and Faith

Michelle Tumes - Listen Closely - Part 2

  • 2000 2 Feb
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Michelle Tumes - Listen Closely - Part 2
Michelle addresses the self-esteem issue on her new album with a non-characteristic, bubblegum pop song called "Do Ya, Do Ya." "It's a fun little song that says, 'Do you love the freckles on my face? Do you like my teeth, they're out of place?' It acknowledges all these bad things about me, while at the same time asking, 'Do you love me?'"

Michelle laughs while describing the tune, but there is something behind the laugh that is a little too familiar, that identifies a bit too readily with the song's protagonist. It makes you wonder just how fictional this song is. Could it be that this vivacious and talented young woman who traveled half way around the world to chase her dream of success in the music industry; who has just co-produced her sophomore release; who has penned hits for the likes of {{Jaci Velasquez}}, {{Point of Grace}}, and {{Sixpence None The Richer}}; could it be that Michelle Tumes had self-esteem issues when she was growing up?

"Yeah," she says simply. "I have, and am, struggling with self-esteem. When I was about 11 years old, I don't know what happened, but I got really fat. Living in Australia my Mum and Dad used to feed us lamb chops all the time, and they are really high in fat," she laughs. "I was so fat, and I used to get teased by all the boys. I never had a boyfriend, so I understand what that was like."

Still, from an early age Michelle had the Lord in her life. She also had her love of music, and a voracious appetite for classic literature. She developed an inner confidence and self-esteem that had more to do with the beauty within than her outward appearance, and she wants to be able to impart that confidence to the young people she encounters today.

A self-described 'hopeless romantic,' Michelle admits that while she is rooted and grounded in the real world, there is something about the notions of something grander in human existence portrayed in the novels of Jane Austin that appeals to her. She loves the language of Shakespeare that is at once flowery, and yet simple and straight to the point. And she points to the Bible and the Anglican Prayer Book as obvious influences for both her work and her life.

"I called the new album ==Center Of My Universe==, because it is my expression of me focusing on God as the center of my life and the whole reason I live. It is a reflection of what the Lord is doing in my life right now. He is still teaching me discipline. And He is still showing me His love. I try to imagine Christ being with me the whole time, standing at my right hand. I want to be able to express that to other people."

Michelle says the album is more confident than ==Listen==, with more upbeat songs featuring drums and guitars, and more personality. Still, she says not to expect great changes. "Artists develop and grow," she explains. "I never want to change my style, because I feel like it is embedded in me, but I do want to grow and explore new options. While ==Listen== was a reflection of my youth in Australia, ==Center Of My Universe== is more influenced by my time in the States."

"Musically, I guess it would be considered ethereal pop. Lyrically, it still centers around messages of peace," she explains. "As Christians, if we see life through Christ's eyes, then all the dimensions of life become different and elevated because God created this earth for us. That is the spiritual side of it. There are some different kinds of songs on this record, but they tend to thread themselves together when you hear the whole body of the album. It is very simple. But for me, that's the way I like to live."

Simple. Like the horseshoe-shaped bay surrounding Port Elliot, South Australia of Michelle's childhood. Sea-green water, peaceful and serene. But beneath the surface, what wonders lay?

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