Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Ginny Owens - In What Is Not Seen

  • 2000 1 Feb
Ginny Owens - In What Is Not Seen

Be thou my vision, Oh Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou, my best thought by day or by night;
Waking or sleeping ,Thy presence my light.

Opening track to {{Ginny Owens}}' ==Without Condition==
Producer, Monroe Jones; Executive Producers, Don Donahue and {{Michael W. Smith}}

{{Ginny Owens}} doesn't see what the fuss is all about.

The 24-year-old from Jackson, Mississippi never envisioned life as a Christian artist and songwriter. "It was kind of a surprise for everyone," she says, matter-of-factly. "No one ever said, 'I think this is what you're gonna do with your life.' It's not what they were expecting."

But God's vision for Ginny Owens had its beginnings early on. She was born with impaired sight and lost it completely at the age of two, right about the time she started singing and playing piano. At four, Ginny accepted Christ. At nine, she wrote her first song:

"Don't forget the water, don't forget the soap!
Don't forget the bathtub, or you'll have to give up hope!
Don't forget Christ Jesus; He who cleansed your soul;
'Cause he's the only one who can make you whole."

She jokes about those "killer" lyrics, but Ginny says she was reluctant to share any of the songs she wrote during her youth. Blindness made her different, and like any other self-conscious teenager, she tried to hide her differences. Ginny withdrew, spent less time with other kids and more time in solitary pursuits, like reading, writing and music.

It was music that took her from Jackson to Nashville, where she earned a music education degree at Belmont University. Belmont is "the" school for up-and-coming musicians and Ginny's talents soon attracted the attention of {{Michael W. Smith}} and his label, Rocketown Records. The result is her debut album, ==Without Condition==, bursting with energy and imagery. The title song describes the frustration of dealing with someone who can't see the unconditional love of Christ:

"So condescending to those that you don't understand; Just too easy to make them your enemies. Like an ostrich, you bury your head in the sand, and then shout about all the things you believe . . . "

"Free" echoes the title theme, celebrating the liberty found in Christ and the love He offers without condition. Produced by Monroe Jones, known for his work with {{Third Day}}, {{Chris Rice}}, {{Watermark}} and {{Margaret Becker}}, Ginny's album has thrown open the doors of her heart for public scrutiny.

Describing herself as a "personal person," she finds it a bit surreal. "I think when you grow up with a disability, there are many people who will avoid you because of their fear of the unknown and their lack of knowledge about what your life is like," Ginny says. "It's been really odd to have so many people approach me, just because they know my story and heard the CD . . . because I've been on the other side of that and still am to a degree. It's weird doing the interview thing or reading things about yourself. It makes me laugh and I think if this were to all go away tomorrow, I'd resume a normal life and nobody would care."

Ginny doesn't see the attention as a big deal. Instead, she focuses on the opportunities that come as a result, like the fact that one of her songs was heard on "Felicity," a popular teen drama airing on the WB Network. "If You Want Me To" was featured prominently at the close of the October 24th episode; Rocketown Records officials say they've already heard from retailers who've sold copies of Ginny's album based on that exposure.

Another big opportunity came when Ginny performed at Lilith Fair in Nashville. Unknown to Ginny, the label submitted her tape to a local contest. She auditioned and was "floored" to find out she'd won! On Sunday, July 25th, Ginny Owens and her guitar joined Sara McLachlan, Sheryl Crow and other femme singer/songwriters invited to share the festival stage. She did five songs in 15 minutes -- not a lot of talking, mostly singing -- but it was well received. "I hate to over-spiritualize things, but I could definitely tell people had been praying," Ginny reflects. "That's honestly not a place where the Gospel is necessarily welcomed or embraced, but it was neat because people stopped to listen. It was cool. I was meeting people later where they were selling CDs - people would come up and buy CDs, have their beer in the other hand or wearing what they believe on their shirt. I was praying they would open the CD and then not throw it away. I didn't have anything to worry about or be ashamed of; I knew if they listened to the words or listened to the music, they weren't compromising type of lyrics . . . they're pretty bold."

No one has to tell Ginny what a rare privilege these opportunities are. Shortly before her Lilith Fair audition, she was in Orlando as part of the ==Night In Rocketown== event, along with label-mates {{Watermark}}, {{Chris Rice}}, {{Cindy Morgan}}, {{Wilshire}} and label founder {{Michael W. Smith}}. It was an overwhelming encounter for this new artist. "That was the first time I'd actually ever been on stage with people that an audience knew and loved. When we all went out on the very first song to sing the chorus on the ==Exodus== project, I remember saying to {{Chris Rice}} that I have never experienced anything like this before. Of course they (the audience) didn't know me because my record wasn't out yet, but they knew everyone else up there and they accepted me very graciously."

Playing live is a real test for musicians; for a Christian artist, it is both a chance and a challenge to do what he or she is ultimately called to do - touch individual lives. Ginny says her blindness is no obstacle when it comes to gauging an audience; she merely puts out feelers with her other senses to pick up on the mood of the crowd and determine if she needs to lie back or do more to get the crowd involved; do up-tempo songs or focus on praise and worship. "I had to learn this summer, when you do open air festivals, people are busy talking," she says honestly. "You might have 200 listening but you don't know it, because there are 5,000 talking. I had to learn to almost tune the audience out; people talking can be a huge distraction." For Ginny, it is important that the people out there hear what she has to say. Each song is a conversation she wants to have with the audience about something the Lord has revealed, a piece of wisdom or conviction meant for someone within earshot. "I guess the blessing for me is, each of those songs mean so much to me, for whatever reason. It takes me so long to write a song, three or four months sometimes, and when I complete the task, I usually feel so strongly and passionately about whatever it says. That becomes a mission whenever I'm on stage to express that . . .not to preach, but to say this is what God has taught me; this is what He's brought me through."

There are other ways Ginny touches her audience - meeting fans one-on-one, responding to e-mail ( - all the while praying that she is a good representative of Christ. "A lot of times, it's Him continually showing me, with each person, how to love them. (When) you meet 500 people at a time; it definitely takes a larger source to be able to really love people and really seek after their hearts and to really care about what's going on with them."

When it comes to God's will for her own life, Ginny says she is not looking too far into the future. "I don't know in the next year, two years or five years what ministry's gonna look like. I just have to take it one day at a time, continue my walk, get closer to God in my own personal life. He just continues revealing Himself over and over, saying 'I'm all that you need, I'm your best friend, I put you here for a very specific reason but I never said this would be easy.'"

Beyond the next record or the next road tour, Ginny is still preparing herself to fulfill God's vision for her life. She is taking correspondence courses through Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, working toward her Master's degree in General Theological Studies -- she would like to teach someday. She's also active with her youth group at church. And Ginny knows that God will lead her down the next path, as He has done many times before.

"I look back over everything that's happened in my life and see how He has ordered it and He has brought me to this point, even by giving me experiences that have prepared me for experiences I'm having now that are totally different. He's still encouraging me, He has never left; He's still here and there's more for me to learn."

One verse she keeps coming back to is Proverbs 3:5: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Maybe {{Ginny Owens}} finds it easier than the rest of us to trust in things that cannot be seen.