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Rachael Lampa Returns
by Jon Fisher on 2011-11-22 16:29:48
Rachael Lampa talks with contributor Jon Fisher about her return to the music scene, new album "All We Need", and performing on NBC's "The Sing-Off"

You were recently on the NBC program, “The Sing-Off”, and I wanted to ask you about that experience and how that was for you.

It kind of came by surprise, the opportunity to do the show. I had never sung acapella in my life, and in July of this year I got a call from a friend of mine who was on it last year. His name is name is Jeremy Lister, and he’s in a group called Street Corner Symphony. They won second place last year. So he decided to call a bunch of his Nashville friends, a bunch of songwriters, people in bands and with solo careers and see if they wanted to come together and try to create an acapella group. We all were caught off-guard at the same time, but decided to give it a try.

About a month later we were in L.A. taping “The Sing-Off”. They thought there was a lot of potential with us and just figured it would be a fun thing to watch a bunch of solo singers try to sing together. We were on the show for about five or six weeks. We were in the top eight, and it came down from sixteen groups. It was really cool. It was a totally left-of-center idea for me, a different kind of side project. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of talent and musicality that is in this show. I was totally honored to have been on the show.

I know you had a bad case of laryngitis during the show.

I did. That was such a nightmare. I couldn’t believe, of all things, acapella being the kind of music that you can’t hide behind when you’re singing. And I was singing lead vocals that week. It was a miracle literally that anything came out of my mouth because I remember thinking back to that day that I could barely get anything out just talking. It was really cool actually. A bunch of the people from “The Sing-Off”, people that hadn’t professed that they were Christians or even were Christians, everyone came around me and had a big prayer and everybody kind of came together in love and just prayed for me and prayed that I would be able to get something out.

I had the chance to catch the “Called to Love” Tour this past Friday night and Downhere is kind of headlining that tour. I don’t know how much you’ve been reading about Marc Martel, the lead singer for Downhere, the fact that he will be participating in the Queen tribute band. He’s gotten some questions about being a Christian singer and being involved in something like that, doing secular music.

So I was curious about your thoughts about participating in “The Sing-Off” with regards to being a Christian singer and being involved with something that’s quote-unquote “secular”?

I grew up in a public school around very few Christians in my school. For me growing up in a Christian family, I didn’t even know what Christian music was until I was doing it. I didn’t know until I was fifteen or sixteen years old because we just didn’t have much exposure to it back then. But all the while, I was leading a completely Christian life and being totally in love with God. I think when people put that much pressure on Christian music on its own, you put limits on God, on what His plans are.

Sometimes it’s easy to think as humans that it’s all up to us to reach people and to minister to people. I think God is just crying out to us to give Him space, especially with things like that. Especially with Marc’s involvement with the Queen thing, I think it’s awesome. And with “The Sing-Off” and with all the Christian music people or all the Christians that are on “American Idol”, “The Voice” and “X-Factor” they’re all representing God’s love in places where its not always invited. And that’s who Jesus is.

I have a really hard time thinking that God is looking down on a situation and saying “Well if they’re not preaching from the stage then My love isn’t being shown”. I think that there are twenty three other hours in the day where He’s showing people God’s love, whether its backstage, whether it’s in the crowd, whether it’s through someone who is a Queen fan that goes to Marc’s website and Downhere’s website and sees their music and hears their story. There are just a lot more opportunities for God’s love to be shown than we sometimes imagine. And I think as a whole in Christian music we need to allow God to have a little more space to do His work and not worry so much about the politics.

You had kind of taken a break from about 2006 to right about 2011. Did you want to comment on why you took a break from recording? You didn’t disappear, but you kind of slowed down there a little bit.

Yeah, totally, that’s a huge part of my story. A lot of people really don’t know why I jumped out of the spotlight a little bit. Basically I signed a record deal when I was fourteen and did music full time until I was about twenty or twenty one. All of my teenage years, a lot of my life was doing music, doing ministry but also part of that was doing business, an adult life.

I got to a place where a couple of things happened. I started to really wrap my identity and my worth in my music and in my career instead of getting to see who I was in God’s eyes. I was just starting to care about who I was in other people’s eyes, in Christian music listeners’ eyes and my record label’s eyes. I really needed to re-evaluate who I was and let God speak to me, almost quiet my music so I could hear God’s voice in my life and see where He wanted me.

It took something extreme like leaving my record label and kind of leaving everything behind for a couple of years to allow myself to be told who I am by God and not by anybody else. I really didn’t have a plan for the time off. I just made the decision because I felt peace about it, and over the years I started writing and the recording started to come along and the new team started to come along. This year kind of organically came together and made sense for me to share my story, and now I’m back!

I really like the new single “Remedy”. Is there any particular inspiration for writing that song?

You know it’s funny, I wrote most of the record, one of the songs being “All We Need” which is the title track of the record. I just wanted to let everybody know through this record that everything comes back to Jesus and everything will mean nothing unless it is wrapped around God’s love for me and my love for Him. We had this theme going and “Remedy” was actually one of the few songs that I didn’t write on this record. But it fit perfectly in the realm of what I was trying to say and so I couldn’t say no. A couple of my friends actually wrote it and I rarely take outside songs, but it just fit so great and that’s where that came from.

How was it going back into the studio to record a new album after being away for awhile?

You know, I definitely felt rusty. I was definitely feeling very human. I realized that your voice is like a muscle and when you’re constantly using it is when you’re strongest. I was definitely coming back pretty raw and I think that was part of how God wanted it to be for me, not to come in and say “I’m a know-it-all, I know what I’m doing”. I think He wanted me to humble myself and just really need Him in this process and be vulnerable and weak and all the things that you need to be when God is working on you. So it was obviously a blast. I just missed being in “record-mode” and being creative everyday and just doing what I love and doing what I’m called to do, which is sing. I’m all ready to do another one.

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Is there going to be a tour associated with this CD?

For sure, I just got off of a tour with Group One Crew, actually. We were out pretty much all of October, and I’m doing a Christmas tour next month with a group called Rapture Ruckus. ave you ever heard of them?

Yes, I have.

They are my favorite new people. They’re this awesome high energy band from New Zealand and we’re going to actually do a Christmas tour together. It’s a small run of shows but I’m really excited about that, and then we are solidifying plans for January/February for touring.

You did a little bit of acting back in 2006. How was that and are you planning to do any more?

I hope so. I’ve actually been reading a couple of scripts recently so hopefully one of those will work out with scheduling and timing. It was definitely something that I wasn’t really looking into, but was approached by a producer who said I looked the part. I said I’ve never even done a school play cause I was never in school, my attendance was never good enough because I was on tour, to actually be in one of plays at school. Right out of the box, I did that movie called “Hidden Secrets”, and had a blast. It was a whole other experience being able to step into somebody else’s story and kind of live that out. It was really fun. I hope I can do another one very soon.

What was it like singing at the Republican National Convention in 2008?

I had been on my break from recording and hadn’t really picked up a microphone in awhile and was asked out of the blue to come and sing at the convention. And I told them right off the bat that I was actually still undecided as far as who I’m even voting for. I was in limbo between candidates and there was a lot of back and forth about, well you don’t have to talk about your political views. And I chose not to, and I continue not to, in order to avoid craziness. A lot of people in my life just advised me to share my gift at whatever opportunity I can, so I decided to fly in.

And it’s funny because they called two days before the event and so I figured well maybe they just need some background music for dinner or a luncheon or something. I show up with my little acoustic guitar player, and they’re like “Oh no no no, you’re fifteen minutes on CNN prime time”. And I was like, “OK, well I have nothing to wear”, so it was definitely a lot more than I thought I signed up for, but it was such a one-of-a-kind experience. Literally I was on stage singing “When I Fall” and all of sudden everybody’s attention shifted over to my right and I look and Sarah Palin is taking a seat like five feet from me. And I said, “Am I supposed to keep singing?”

I remember they cleared me out of the backstage area because Laura Bush was coming in and needed somewhere to sit. It was definitely a different world for me. I’m not a huge political person but I thought it was pretty interesting.

Do you think hip-hop and R&B as a genre is sometimes ignored within Christian music? I mean just from the festivals I’ve attended, it seems like that genre gets the second shift.

I think it’s a lot of festivals and a lot of radio stations. I don’t know why. I think a big piece of it is that Christian music and the gospel is based off of traditional thoughts and reverent thoughts, and I think people, not everybody, has embraced the modern way of communicating. But at the same time it’s another one of those things where Christian music kind of gets the bad end of the stick for some reason. Because I feel that churches and other organizations are really adapting to what is really going to reach people, and why not music?

You know I’ve heard a few people actually say that it’s not Godly, but I think that’s a small minority of people. I really don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just slow to catch on, and maybe over the next few years it will become more popular. I just hope some day that there wouldn’t be such a line and we can sneak in our cool hip-hop Christian beats, and we start sharing God’s love on bigger levels.

What is your favorite or most inspirational passage of scripture?

I would have to say Proverbs 3:5-6. That’s kind of been my anthem for my life.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He’ll direct your paths”.

It’s an everyday thing for me, especially that line, “do not lean on your own understanding”. I constantly reasoning through things and trying to figure out why. Maybe it’s a girl thing, maybe it’s a human thing, I don’t know. But I wrestle with that often. And just the fact that God gives us the power of His word and you don’t have to guess. That verse makes me emotional every time because it’s like He’s constantly giving us the keys and He’s saying “don’t try to understand this”. I just think that’s one of the most powerful verses.

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