“The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose.” — J. Martin Kohe
We all make choices every day. Examine them closely and they tell a story about what we value and who we are. For more than a decade, the women of Point of Grace have chosen to encourage and inspire others with a musical message of God’s love. In the process, they’ve taken the church by storm, selling five million albums, winning 8 Dove Awards, two Grammy nods and garnering two platinum and five gold records as well as 24 consecutive No. 1 singles. Through it all, they also made personal choices, each marrying and having children, learning along the way to deftly juggle family and faith with ministry and music.
I Choose You, Point of Grace’s first full studio project in three years, is a musical reflection of those choices, from the decision to put Christ first in whatever they do to the daily choices they are called to make as women, mothers, wives and recording artists. Their first release without Terry Jones, who left the group earlier this year to spend more time with her husband and three children in Arkansas, I Choose You also highlights the group’s choice to explore new musical territory and stretch their vocal wings. The result is a newfound energy that permeates every note of this October 2004 release.
Shelley Breen, Heather Payne and Denise Jones also credit their newest member, Leigh Cappillino, with adding a new excitement to their tried and true sound. A former member of the vocal group Truth and a featured worship leader with Women of Faith conferences, Leigh was already like one of the family. It’s no wonder; her husband, Dana, has spent the last seven years playing guitar for Point of Grace and serving as their bandleader. As a result, Leigh brings a new excitement about the group’s future as well as a respect for Point of Grace’s musical past.
The entire group recognizes the importance of striking that perfect balance between old and new. Despite the choice to experiment, Shelley makes it clear, “We’re honoring what we’ve done before. But we wanted to make an album that would allow us to go anywhere with a guitar player and sing and it would sound just like it did on the record. We’ve tried to make it more like we’re just standing there, like you can reach out and touch that vocal, like we’re singing it to you.”
In addition to that retooled musical approach, the lyrics underwent a minor overhaul as well, born out of where the women are at in their lives. “We’ve had experiences that we didn’t at 22 or 23,” Jones explains. “I’ve had a friend pass away and leave a widow with three kids. Those things make you say, ‘Okay, let’s stop and take a look at what life’s really about.’”
For years, Point of Grace has put their best foot forward, ever mindful of their position as role models to young women around the world (their Girls of Grace conferences alone draw thousands each year and continue to grow). While being careful to maintain that integrity, there’s also an honesty and a maturity that comes through on this release, an understanding that it’s okay to admit they don’t have it all figured out. “The more I know Christ, the more I realize I don’t have it all together,” Denise says. “I think that’s just where we’re at, saying, ‘we don’t have all of the answers, but let’s all look at life together.’”
That choice to be more transparent and share even more of themselves is one all four members of Point of Grace stand firmly behind.
“We want to be vulnerable and honest about our feelings. We struggle just like everyone else does. There are times when I have doubts and I ask, ‘why?’” Heather admits. She’s also seen firsthand the good that can be done by opening up about those rough patches. After suffering a miscarriage earlier this year, she made the difficult decision to talk about it, having seen that God uses the struggles the group goes through to minister to others in similar circumstances. “And it’s amazing the way they respond,” Heather says. ”It enhances your ministry because they get a true glimpse into your soul.”
To get the singer-songwriter feel they were after, A&R Director John Mays scoured countless independent and compilation projects, unearthing several unique gems. One such discovery was a recorded reading from the book Pilgrim’s Progress. The group paired it with a song titled “This is Your Land” and provided vocal orchestration beneath the reading for a Point of Grace song like no other. “To some it may seem arty and a bit theatrical,” Shelley says, “but I’m really excited about it. It’s a beautiful metaphor about us as believers inheriting all that God promises us heaven will be.”
Wayne Kirkpatrick, David Zaffirro, Mark Hammond and Brent Bourgeois share production credit on the project, which also features the more aggressive, vocally powerful track “I Choose You,” the disc’s first single. But even this song about choosing to worship Christ above anyone and anything else offers a surprise. “I always sing the sweet little solo here or there,” Denise explains of her vocal contributions, “but for once I was encouraged to step out of that mold and really sing out and I got to do that on ‘I Choose You.’”
The sentiment in that song is one that longtime fans of Point of Grace already know well. After all, the choices made by this group have always seemed to point in just one direction: straight up.
So it’s not surprising that after all these years, they continue to choose God and to take His message of encouragement, love and exhortation to the eager masses, something they plan to do for years to come. “We still have something to say,” Heather says. “As long as people will listen, we need to continue.”
Source: Word Records