Blessed Teen Singer Attributes Her No. 1 Success to GodNATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER
The title track of Rachel Lampa's first CD, "Live For You", quickly went to No. I on the Christian charts and has crossed over to the pop charts, She debuted the album Aug. 1 on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, and was a featured performer at World Youth Day in Rome. She spoke recently with Register correspondent Wayne Laugesen near her home in suburban Denver.
Laugesen: Tell us about World Youth Day. What was it like to see Pope John Paul II, and how do you think this experience might influence your life and musical career?
Lampa: My experience in Rome was and probably always will be one of the most significant experiences in my lifetime. I am fully aware that it is clearly a once in, a lifetime experience. When the Pope came out ... the kids in the crowd were just crazy and so full of joy that it was incredibly hard to hold back my tears. Just to see over 2 million smiling faces all gathered for the arrival of one man was probably the closest thing to seeing God that I will ever see. This experience had a huge effect on the way I have been seeing things lately.
Last year, you were the point guard for your high school basketball team. Today, you have a No. 1 hit on the Christian charts, you're performing for millions of people on TV, and magazines are sending writers and photographers to your school. What's it like to find yourself famous at age 15?
I don't see myself as famous at all, at least not yet. Of course it's almost every person's dream to be famous, but I am blessed enough to know the reason for things happening the way they are. The Lord blessed me with an incredible gift and he is giving me the most incredible opportunities to share it.
Everything is totally the same back home and I have not gone through too much of that "special treatment" at all. That really helps to keep me grounded. The record company and my managers are ... flying me home for certain important events, including my sister's dance recitals and my friend's birthday party. I am so thankful for the way the Lord is opening all the right doors and I am so happy that I am able to do what he wants me to do.
Several music critics have expressed sheer amazement at your performance of the song "Blessed" from your first album. What does this song mean to you, and how did you and the writers come up with it?
I would have to say that "Blessed" is probably my favorite song on the album. I think it represents my message very well. Part of what I really want to say to my listeners is the fact that I am no better than anyone and I don't really have anything that they don't. I am simply a child of God who heard God's call at an early age.
Everyone in this entire world is blessed with a gift and everyone is given the chance to find that gift and share it. I am not just the lucky girl who gets to be on stage and on TV, I am the girl who is using her God-given gift to glorify the Lord and give the gift straight back to him. The song really just reminds us that everything good in life is from him and we really take it for granted sometimes.
Which musicians have been most inspirational to you?
There are tons of musicians of all kinds that have inspired me in one way or another. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Lauryn Hill, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes ... I could go on forever. I think the most inspirational artist to me though, would have to be Amy Grant. Aside from her incredible music, I have always admired her way of ministering to the people who need it the most - those who don't hear Christian music. I admire he way she reached out into that part of the world and pulled them into Christian music.
You attribute your success to Jesus Christ. What role has he played?
He played every role known to man. He started by giving me this gift and getting me in front of the right people. Then, he blessed me with the decision to sign with Word records and giving me the best managers and the best publishers and the best musicians. Then from here, he has held my hand while leading me through the tunnels of expectation and just plain old pressure. Everything I have been doing has been through him and for him. I have seen the mysteries that God works and I have learned to remember that through the doubtful times.
You are a public school student. What's happening among high school students today regarding God? Are students seeking God? Is it cool to believe in Jesus, or is it difficult to have an open relationship with the Lord in a modern high school setting?
It's definitely hard to find kids walking the walk in a public high school. These days, wearing a crucifix can be nothing but a fashion statement, so you never know what's really going on in some of their hearts. I have been fortunate to come across some dedicated Christians and I treasure these friendships. They say high school is when you really find out who you are, but what confuses me is why lots of kids find it so much easier to turn to drugs and alcohol when all you need is to pray. I guess the best we can do is pray for those people and let God shine through us as much as possible.
What was your reaction when you first heard you would sing with Aaron Neville on a CD commissioned by the Pope? Explain what this opportunity meant to you?
Honestly? My first reaction was, "Didn't Aaron Neville sing the cotton commercials?" But after brushing up on my knowledge of his older tunes, I came across his duet with Linda Ronstadt, which I love. So after I got that out of the way, I saw it as an incredible honor and a once-in-a-life time opportunity. Aaron is an incredible and accomplished artist and it was truly an inspiration to be able to work with him.
Do you plan to use your success to spread the Gospel? If so, how might you do this?
This is my first priority. Before signing the record deal, I was always singing in church and youth conference, but I still always had the desire to reach further into the crowd to the people who don't know Christ. I have seen God clearer than ever lately because I am doing exactly what I felt I needed to do. That is singing fully to Jesus and about Jesus - not just at Christian venues, but where it is most needed.
Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
I can't even begin to peek into my future. This year has brought me so many surprises, and I can't even see into next month, let alone in 10 years. All I can say is that I will be continuing to hold God's hand and let him lead me until the day I am in his Kingdom.
National Catholic Register. "Blessed Teen Singer Attributes Her No. 1 Success to God." National Catholic Register. (November 19-25, 2000).
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