There is not a single hit song on Rebecca St. James' next project. But there’s a good reason — it’s a book. Over the past year, she’s poured herself into "SHE," an acronym for Safe, Healthy and Empowered (Tyndale), which hits stores in October. Described as a “rubber meets the road” look at the era of “new feminism,” she grapples with what it means to be a Proverbs 31 woman in the 21st century. And, as you might expect, she does it with passion. But she’s not forsaking her music; in fact, she joins Newsboys and Todd Agnew for the “Adoration” tour in November.
In the quiet before that storm of activity, we thought we’d get a few words with the author.
15. Backstage Correspondent
With her usual grace, Rebecca tackled the stressful role of backstage correspondent for the GMA Music Awards’ (a.k.a. the Dove Awards) live satellite feed to Regal Cinemas across the country. Her favorite moment: “Actually sharing with Jeremy Camp after he had just won ‘New Artist’ and was about to go on to win ‘Male Vocalist’ as well. We had just toured together with the Newsboys, and his wife has become one of my closest friends. I was so proud for him — he’s the ‘real deal’ with such a heart for God and ministry.
14. Not So Fast
Quite conscious about healthy eating, you won’t find Rebecca in the drive-through at most fast food restaurants. If she’s getting something quick, it will probably be a salad and a Thai pizza from Schlotsky’s. “that’s about as fast food as I get!”
13. Construction Zone
When Rebecca became a homeowner last year, she specifically chose an older residence that required improvement. “I’m a ‘doer upper’ person,” she enthuses. “I didn’t want to just get a house that was already all done and nice because I couldn’t put my personality quite as much into it. I love taking something that doesn’t look quite so nice and making it attractive. There’s such achievement for me in that process. I love interior decorating.”
12. Dinner at Rebecca’s
Owning a home has helped foster her domestic skills. Among them: “Cooking! I’ve mastered small aspects of my cooking skills.” If Rebecca had all our readers over for dinner, she’d serve Thai food. “I really love it, and I enjoyed cooking it, “ she explains. “I might make Thai curry with some sticky white rice. I might even venture out to make Thai ice tea — which I love.”
11. Now Appearing at Home Depot
Among the skills she’d love to master: “Learning how to do textured plastering and faux decorative painting on walls. I went out to a restaurant the other night with friends and saw this awesome wall I would love to do in my house. It takes talent, time and creativity — maybe sometime in the future I can accomplish this!”
10. RSJ’s Book of the Month Club
Averaging 10-12 books a year, we asked Rebecca to recommend some recent favorites: “The Pressure’s Off by Larry Crabb", "Windows of the Soul" by Paul Meier and Robert Wise and "What’s So Amazing About Grace" by Phillip Yancey.”
9. Props to Switchfoot
Lately her CD player has been spinning Switchfoot’s "The Beautiful Letdown." She raves, “Musically I think it’s genius. Amazing songwriting. I’m really proud of them and really glad they’re being blessed like they are.”
8. The Hills Are Alive
Now that Rebecca has soared in her role as “Maggie” in “!Hero,” is there a well-known character she’d like to take on? “I would love to play the part of Maria von Trapp in ‘The Sound of Music,’” she says. “That musical was such a passion of mine when I was 6 or 7 back in Sydney! It actually motivated me to want to grow up and be in a musical myself!”
7. Carpe Diem-ing
Why all these new directions? “I think, to a certain extent, after you’ve been in music for a while, it can almost become ‘been there, done this before.’ I’m an adventurous person who always wants to seize the day and wants to grow,” she explains. “I don’t ever want to stay the same, so I really appreciate these opportunities that God has given me with the musical ‘!Hero,’ and ‘VeggieTales,’ the visits to the White House and some of the major national media opportunities I’ve had. My book writing as well had added almost ‘other arms’ to my ministry. Sometimes it can seem a little overwhelming, but I do feel called to this mission.”
6. Media Blitz
In the spring, Rebecca was interviewed by Reuters International News Service in London. In a matter of hours, her comments were picked up by the wire service’s affiliates as well as CNN and broadcast stations around the world. Considering that her message of abstinence if consistent with her views in the past, she was amazed by the publicity it generated. “I had no idea it would be taken to the level it was. I’m glad the message is getting out there even more, and God can use the mainstream press like that, ultimately, to present such a positive message.”
5. Southern Sensibilities
Although her beverage of choice is water, she admits, “I do like an occasional tea punch. I’ve adjusted to that since living in the South. Every now and then, a juice smoothie.”
4. Chick Flick
Rebecca heralds "The Wedding Planner" as “just such a sweet, romantic movie. I’m a total romantic, and it appeals to the hopelessly romantic side of me.”
3. Break out the Buzzer
Rebecca claims to be adept at the word game Taboo. “I’ve actually played it so much that I know most of the word choices!”
2. Java Time
One of her favorite leisure activities is hanging out in a coffee shop, “especially when I’m working on some sort of writing. I look around and see students and others there working and feel a sense of community.”
1. Coming in 2005
Fans will have to wait until the middle of next year for Rebecca’s next album, but here are a few hints at what lies ahead. “Lyrically, I want to continue to be very biblical and really have the Bible’s power very present in my music. I’m starting to write this summer, and I’m very excited,” she says. “Musically I really want to push the boundaries on this new album. Go quite a bit more toward my rock roots — really edgy, with some instruments that most people don’t use — really breaking the rules musically somewhat.”
© 2004 CCM Magazine. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Click here to subscribe.