Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Every life tells a story. From the instant of birth until a last whispered breath, humanity revolves around the living and telling of tales, from adventures taken and unexpected tests of faith to the kindling of relationships and the miracles of hope reborn. Each life tells a story, and it’s always a distinctively unique narrative full of twists and turns and, ultimately, a beauty all its own.
With Becoming, her solo debut, Out of the Grey’s Christine Dente tells her own story, presenting vivid pictures of a woman traveling through life and the lessons learned in the process. “I think many people, especially women, will resonate with much of this record,” says Christine. “It’s very much about being a woman, a mother and a Christian in this confusing day and age. It’s about the journey of looking back, the journey of figuring out who I am now and looking ahead, wondering what will become of me.”
Perhaps the album’s theme is summed up best by the idea behind the title cut, “Becoming,” a song rich in sensitivity as it depicts a young girl facing an all too real and disillusioning world. “I’ve tried in the past to make life work on my own and tried on the world’s image of the beautiful princess, but it never did quite fit me,” explains Christine. “So I found a new way of coping by hiding, being aloof, a cold kind of pedestal. And finally after being pursued and wooed, I’ve come to see myself as beautiful in the eyes of the One who loves me so well. ‘Becoming’ is about the ongoing journey of transformation in Jesus and really trusting who I am in His eyes.”
Trust is a big word in Christine’s vocabulary these days, especially as she embarks on her solo debut. After a dozen years recording with her husband Scott as the duo Out of the Grey, the couple decided it was time for Christine to record her own CD of songs she’s written over the past several years, songs that never felt like a good fit for an Out of the Grey record. “It feels like a great time to try something new,” explains Christine. “I like writing songs about my childhood or the struggle of growing up and even songs about our children and being a mom. I was able to be more personal with this, and Scott didn’t have to try to make every song work on the guitar.”
A graduate of Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Christine’s career stretches over more than a decade. In addition to being nominated for a 1995 Dove Award for Female Vocalist of the Year, her six CDs with Out of the Grey—as well as the critically lauded 1994 album Along the Road with female trio Ashton Becker Dente—have cemented her position as one of Christian music’s premiere vocal talents. Producer Scott Dente notes, “What sets this recording apart musically from Out of the Grey was my desire to let Christine's voice really take the focus and not let the production overwhelm or interfere with the subtle nuances of her vocal style."
Working in the studio can often be an intense, deadline-driven situation, which can be all the more complicated when the artist/producer combo are also married. But, even though it was Scott’s first time in this role, Christine says the process of having him as her producer went amazingly well. “We’ve spent the last 15 years of our lives with one another and have always been on the road and in the studio together, but this is the first time we have worked together in this capacity. He’s got a great sense of humor, and he has a great sense of the song and what it needs to make it sound its best.”
Lyrically, this CD reflects more of Christine’s own emotions and experiences than any of her past songwriting efforts. “I love metaphors and complexity and layers of lyric, but sometimes maybe I’ve hidden some of my emotions in songs. This time I feel there are certain songs where it’s very personal, and I speak out on things I’ve never revealed before. For instance, a song like ‘Becoming’ is very revelatory of my childhood and how I saw myself. This song traces the Lord’s hand throughout those years, the years of me looking in the mirror and questioning, ‘Am I beautiful? Am I lovely?’ Those questions can be answered when the Lord holds up the mirror and says, ‘You are beautiful in My eyes.’”
Other songs on the album deal with issues of motherhood, a subject this home-schooling mom of three—Julian, 11, Carina, 9, and Chloe, 7—knows well. “’Summer’ is one of my favorite songs on this record. I can remember the day sitting on our back deck with Julian when he was probably a few years old, and we were having a little picnic lunch. He wouldn’t eat everything I’d made, and I realized it didn’t matter. What he really wants from me is to play. How fast those moments go away when your kids say, ‘Can we go outside?’ and ‘Would you put on this cape?’ It’s a reminder to me, and to moms everywhere, to wade right in and play those games because how fast these days go by.”
In addition to songs about her past and childhood (“Becoming,” “Bigger Story”) and songs dealing with the present moments in life (“Summer,” “Take It From Here”), Becoming also looks ahead, longing for the heaven that can only be found in echoes now.
“‘Jesus said He is preparing a place for us, and I cannot imagine what it is going to be like,” explains Christine about her song “Echoes of Heaven.” “Having children, they constantly ask questions about heaven. They want to make sure it’s not going to be a boring church service or some adult idea of what’s fun. So when I think about heaven, I think about the beautiful things that remind me there’s more and better yet to come—a warm evening outside with your bare feet in the grass, catching fireflies, those times when you wish that this day and this moment would never end.”
Those echoes of heaven are heard throughout Becoming, in the wistful idealism of a young girl’s view of the world to a mother’s joy in watching her children play to the bittersweet farewell to a friend who’s died. Becoming tells a story, the story of Christine Dente. But just as the echoes we hear now serve to remind us of a much bigger heaven than we can imagine, the story told on this CD simply points to its true Author.
“I want people who listen to this CD to get a taste of a real woman’s journey, an honest woman’s journey. I hope they see my strong faith in a stronger God, and I want them to hear in this music the echoes of heaven.”