Rebecca St. James Talks About Something Else
- Monday, June 23, 2003
What is your most artistic accomplishment?
On my "Transform" CD, I did a little bit of opera singing on backgrounds on “For the Love of God.” On the "God" album, we really tried a whole bunch of different things. We would angle the microphone into a glass in the studio, and then I would put my face against the glass and sing. I think that was for background vocals on one of the songs like “Carry Me High.” We tried some wacky stuff.
Speaking of your biggest-selling record, "God" (which went gold), you were accused of ripping off Alanis Morissette’s sound and look. What’s your perspective on that now?
I was only aware of it once people started saying it. I probably listened to one or two of [Morissette’s] songs. I didn’t have the CD. One of the people I was working with did play me something just to say, “Hey, check this out. This girl sounds really cool.” I had long, curly, brown hair like Alanis, and my music was passionate and aggressive. It wasn’t my objective to try and copy her, [but] there was one song — ”You’re the Voice” — that now, looking back, I can really hear it.
Any song you’d rather not have to sing again?
Well, I don’t sing it anymore but the song “Pray,” actually. That album was a hard album for me. It was a painful season in my life, mainly because of friendships that were really hard at the time. One of my friends was going through this horrible season, and she was blaming me, turning against me. It was weird. That whole album was written out of pain. Every time I think of that song and that album, I think of the hard time that goes along with it.
Do people expect you to have all the answers?
Yeah, pretty much. [Sighs] Years ago on a live radio show, I got asked, “What do you believe about once saved/always saved?” I just said, “Maybe we can talk about that after the radio show. I think it would be more divisive than good to talk about it on the show right now.” [Laughs] I was like 17 or 18 at the time.
What are the challenges of being in the public eye?
The one thing about the spotlight is that it almost encourages you to be fake. You do feel expectations to be a certain way. If I’m hanging out backstage with people who have helped promote the gig or even kids of people who are working at the concert, and I’m not friendly, that’s the one memory they’re going to have of me. I think there’s almost more pressure on someone to be fake in the spotlight than anywhere else. I’m extremely committed to being the same onstage and off. That whole thing about being real — that’s something I work on.
Such is life as a role model.
To be honest, I find that constant pressure to be “on” spiritually, emotionally, physically is a big, massive drain. I’ve shed a lot of tears about that because I feel so weak. The road often taxes you in all those ways. I get really tired sometimes and feel like I can’t keep doing this much longer. But in those times, God encourages me somehow … encouraging me to keep on and to focus my eyes on Him.
You’ve talked about the difficulties of being a young woman in leadership. Is there anything particular to the female sex that makes leadership challenging?
There are different emotional things that we go through — even each month, if you want to really get to the basics [both of us laughing] that kind of encourage women to find it specifically hard. We’re wired differently. We are more emotional creatures generally, not always. I think things that would be water off a duck’s back to men sometimes, women feel more deeply.
Your life, in many ways, sounds rewarding yet exhausting.
I’ve struggled, especially this past year and a half with feeling tired. I had a sabbatical last year and felt led to write out my vision, my mission, my purpose and my calling. They sound similar, but they’re actually very different. I wrote out what all those things mean to me, and when I got to my mission, I couldn’t come up with a pat answer. I didn’t feel like I was on a mission daily.
An extra “meet and greet” before the show, an interview with a newspaper that I didn’t know about or any time something extra would come up last minute, I would feel like, “Oh gosh, this is the last straw. This is too much.” The biggest thing I find really hard is keeping everything in balance. But God has really brought me back to my sense of mission. I had to come back to: “You know what? My life won’t always be taxing in this particular way, but this is the part of the mission God has called me to.”
Used by permission. CCM Magazine © 2003 Click here to subscribe.
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