Saturday, June 06, 2009

Color Them Graceful

Out of the Grey - Color Them Graceful By Rich Stevens CCM February 93 I'll never forget sitting in church one Sunday morning a few years ago when a husband and wife team took the stage to offer the special music. From one acoustic guitar came an ocean of open chords, filling every cubic foot of the sanctuary with warmth and rhythm. Seconds later, the distinctive melodies of the guitarist's soul mate merged to create an unforgettable harmonic blend of voice and instrument. After a reverent performance, they exited quietly being introduced simply as "the Dentés." The past year and a half has really kept the Dentés--known now, of course as Out of the Grey--on the move. During that time the duo recorded their first album, Out of the Grey, played a 20 city tour with Steven Curtis Chapman, a 43 city tour with Charlie Peacock, recorded another album, and fronted Chapman again for another 54 dates. The twosome also saw four songs reach the Top 20, made the ranks in several reader's poll awards (#2 Favorite New Artist in CCM), and oh yeah, somehow in the midst of all that, found time to have their first child, Julian. But Scott and Christine Denté have always been busy and were somewhat familiar with the "musician's lifestyle" even before their marriage. They met while studying music at Berklee College in Boston where they began writing and playing cover tunes in local clubs. Though the two enjoyed spending time together and sharing music, their spiritual lives were very different. Scott recalls, "I was always very religious, but never recognized Christ as the savior." As he and Christine became closer friends, she slowly began to share her faith with him, and one night, invited Scott to a Bible study. "I was totally blown away by how real God's love was," says Scott. That love he experienced through others eventually led to his conversion. "A lot of it was just hanging out with a bunch of other Christians and learning from them." According to Christine, the name Out of the Grey in some ways reflects Scott's own relationship with God. "The name was actually part of a lyric Scott had written. It paints a good picture of how Scott came out of his relativistic philosophy and embraced God. And that's what we're about, helping people out of the grey." And helping people discover real faith has taught this couple to define their "calling." Says Scott, "When we get on stage we don't have a preset agenda that calls for an invitation. At this point in our musical career, which is our 'vocation,' we don't feel compelled to be super teachers. We're all called to give a testimony for the hope that is in us. We're prepared to do that because we are Christians, but we're kind of uncomfortable when we go into a place and there's already an agenda and someone says, 'We'd like for you to say this at this point, and at the end of the night, we'd like you to call the people down front.'" Christine adds, "There are so many Christian artists now who are ministers, and they do wonderful things. I think there's a place for people like us too, that speak very little. Hopefully our lyrics speak even louder than what we say." Explains Scott, "Music played a very important role in my life and my coming to know who God is. Amy Grant had an amazing impact on planting a seed in my life. I went to an Unguarded show--and I've been to a bunch of concerts in my life--and it was the first concert I had ever wept at. She didn't say anything amazing, but I was overwhelmed by the honesty. Music can evoke an honest response by being honest itself, and that is what intrigues me about doing live concerts." Getting Into Shape . . . A second record from a new artist is sort of like a sinner before the judgement throne--it's either really good news or it's not--and The Shape Of Grace is truly a cause for massive celebration. Even more exciting than the sensational songwriting, unforgettable melodies, exceptional production (by Charlie Peacock) and music that just makes you want to move, is the joyous spirit and message behind the songs. Says Christine, "[Since] our lives are always reflected in our songs, this album is basically about grace and the characteristics of the shape grace takes. The song 'The Shape Of Grace' is about my brother who recently came to know the Lord. He was so against becoming a Christian, and it was incredible to see God change him. I remember when he called to tell me, he was so overjoyed." "He couldn't find the words/To describe his thoughts/He couldn't paint a picture/To illuminate his heart/But I knew what he had seen/He tried to trace the changes/That had taken place/But I saw them written/All over his face/And I knew what he had seen." Keeping Two Together The honesty for Out of the Grey doesn't end with faith--the Dentés are also comfortable talking about the challenges of marriage. "'To Keep Love Alive' is a response to friends that are in trouble with their marriage. The cold hard fact is that it can happen to anyone. Even though your marriage is great now, you never know. The bridge to the song is, 'I can't imagine ever losing sight of me and you/Our hearts are bound so closely/And easily together now/Together now.' I don't want to be naive and say 'it could never happen to me' because that's when the split comes in and starts working its way through." But be assured, Scott and Christine don't foresee any problems, even with the busy schedule. Christine says, "Traveling and being married is working out great so far. We wish we could take our church with us though." And Scott's opinion? "Touring this year is something to look forward to. We're hoping to go out with some players on this one, with just acoustic, bass, and drums." Christine shares his enthusiasm, "Having a band is something that really excites us. It'll still be pretty stripped down." That stripped down sound attracted a number of fans to this new group--fans who may be a little surprised to hear Scott's voice, usually responsible for the background parts and counter-melodies, belting out the main melody on "Bigger Than Life." "You know what's funny is that I ended up singing that song mostly because we got to the point where we had to finish it, and Christine didn't really like singing that song. So we said 'Well let's see what I sound like on it,' and I went in there an it sounded pretty cool. It was just a hard tune to record, but I had a blast. I wish we had about a hundred thousand dollars to spend, because that song would have been one of those huge 'Frankie Goes To Hollywood' kinda wild jam things." Though Scott wants to try some "wild jam things," both he and Christine admit the final cut on the album, the tender "Leave The Light On," is one of their favorites. Christine notes, "Its lyric is a simple statement of enduring hope for someone's salvation. It says I will always be there waiting." "The sun sinks low/But I won't lose heart/My hope for you/Shines through the dark/I'll leave the light on/Like I do every night/I may wait a lifetime/It may be tonight/So I'll leave the light on for you." CCM Communications c 1995. For information on subscribing to CCM, call 800/333-9643.