Exclusive Interviewwith Shelley Breen
from Point Of Grace
Point of Grace is busy out on the road telling everybody about their new album, Steady On. In between sound checks and appearances, Shelley Breen gave Parable.com a call to tell us a little about herself, the group and what the future holds.
When you first came together as a group, what was your vision for the group?
Honestly we really did not plan for any of this to happen. Our vision was just to go out for a summer and sing together because we loved people and we loved God and we wanted to share Him. It was about a year later when we realized, "Wow, we're still doing this and people are still calling us up to do shows. This is really a ministry!' It was about three months later that we realized "Hey, this is a business!'
Has your vision for the group changed?
You know, I don't think it really has. I mean, now we have people to take care of the business end the scheduling and everything so we can focus on the people and the music and on God. I think our group has definitely changed personally. But I think from the beginning we've always wanted to sing songs and never ever compromise the name of Christ. I mean, we get those crossover questions, but we will continue to sing songs that minister to us and we don't worry if mainstream radio will play it, because they probably won't.
We've also got a different ministry now. I mean, when we first started we couldn't have don a women's conference. Now that we're wives and mothers, I think we can. And they women are just great, we have so much fun. We're still young enough to minister to the teens, but we also have a little more under our belts.
Your first album rocketed to success almost immediately, was it difficult to make that transition from a group of friends to superstars?
We had been singing together for more than two years by the time our first song came out on the radio. The coolest thing about it was we went to a concert in North Carolina and people started singing "I'll Be Believing" with us. It was so surreal. They already knew the song and we didn't have to win them over.
But overall I think the transition was pretty smooth. We were still driving around in our van up until our second album. It wasn't like "Oh, we don't have to unload our sound equipment now that we have a single out." We just slowly started to add people to help along the way.
Who were some of your musical influences?
I think we all loved people like Sandi Patty, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, you know, kind of the greats. Denise and Heath also listened to a lot of Gospel and, of course we loved all those 80's bands, Chicago and stuff.
Tell me a little about creating Steady On. Were there any new influences and inspirations?
This was the first time we've ever used Brown Banister [to produce an album]. That was a real honor for us to get that kind of expertise.
We also used songwriter Chris Eaton and he brought in a lot of the creativity of the album. It was his idea to try to Celtic thing and a lot of the other new sounds we tried. He was just so creative.
The really great thing about this album was that we didn't have to work as hard to find really great songs. It was like God opened up Heaven and poured out all these great songs. It was really wonderful.
How do you narrow that down to just the songs you'll use on the album?
It's kind of a rule of ours that we all have to agree unanimously on a song. About 95% of the time we all agree right away. There are a few times when we've had knock down drag out discussions about a certain song, but that doesn't happen very often.
What are your relationships within the group like?
We're really like sisters, I mean because we know each other so well and we spend more time with each other than we spend with our own sisters. I can count on one hand the times we've had major disagreements. That is totally God. I mean, we can't take credit at all. Four girls together for over seven years, I don't think so.
What is your favorite song on the album?
Better Days. All along the one thing all of us really wanted to do is encourage people, to minister to people. This song is so encouraging. It says to just keep hanging in there because this too will pass. I mean, everyone wants to hear that.
Now that you are a wife, do you find it difficult to balance your career with your family?
It is always hard to pack up and leave and say good bye, but I think all of our husbands are used to it. Not that you get used to it and it's all O.K. If they didn't think that this was our calling and God's will for us, I don't think we could do it.
About how many days a month would you say you're gone?
In the summers we're gone maybe 10 to 15 days a month, at other times it can be a little less, sometimes a little more. I think we work better when we go our to two or three days and then come back for a few days, then go out again. When we go out on the road we give a lot. We talk to people after the show, we visit Christian stores, we do interviews. You can't do that for 25 days in a row.
Now that several of you are moms, do you have different goals for Point of Grace?
There are some different things we want to do. One day I know we want to do a lullaby album and maybe a praise and worship album. But with all that we'll always have a Point of Grace album too.
Both Terry and Denise have children now, do they ever come on the road with you?
They pretty much go everywhere with us. Spencer has been to 30 states already and he's only 10 months old. It is fun to have them along with us, it really breaks the tension.
It sounds like everything you do is a lot of hard work, where do you find the energy to keep going?
There are times when you get totally burned out. But you just have to go home, regroup and pray about it. It's totally God. He get's all the glory for showing us grace. And then I also think of how many people would love to be doing this and I realize the good totally outweighs the bad.
So what's next for Point of Grace?
We'll be starting our tour in October and we've got a new devotional out. We'll be doing the Women of Faith conferences again too. Those are really a great break for us. The women really love us and they're such a fun audience.
Tell me a little about your new daily devotional book, Steady On.
Each of us took songs and wrote about what they mean and what inspired them. It is really an inside story about us and our experiences. People will really get to know us. This is our first book that we really wrote ourselves. I wouldn't be surprised if we wrote another one some day, this was really fun.
Copyright © 1998 The Parable Group.
All rights reserved.
Exclusive Interviewwith Denise Jones
from Point Of Grace
Denise took a little time out after a recent concert to tell Parable.com about Point Of Grace's new devotional book Circle of Friends and share with us about the group's music and ministry.
Why have you made Women of Faith such an important part of your touring and ministry?
When we first started together as a group, we had the opportunity to do a few women's conferences. Women's conferences are great fun because [the women] they are away from home, they're away from kids and they're just having a big slumber party and we always enjoyed that. At that point the only downside was that we were still so young that we entertained well but... And we still haven't lived the lives that some of these women have, but at least now two of us are moms and three of us are married. And then we have a single girl, so we kind of fit in with all the women. When we first started doing them [Women of Faith conferences] I don't think we realized how fun they were going to be. But the speakers are just such neat women and they have really become friends of ours and we've learned a lot from them. There's just nothing like being a part of 10,000 or 15,000 women that are there to worship the Lord.
What is your favorite part of the conferences?
Last year my favorite was... I loved to listen to Sheila. We always got to hear Sheila on Friday night, because we couldn't always stay the whole weekend to hear all of them. I just loved to hear her speak. Maybe it was just kind of where she was in her life that was pertinent to some things I was feeling. I loved hearing her.
Have you done any conferences so far this year?
Yeah, we just did one. I didn't know the speakers could get better, but it was great. You know, I didn't think they could top what they did last year, but they did.
Has your life on the road changed as your personal life has changed. You have kids now, three of you are married now. Has that changed the dynamic of the group?
It does change it. It's a weird combination, because in some ways I still feel like I'm doing what I've always done, but there is a lot more planning that you have to do. There are a lot more times when you have to say no. I mean, before it was really hard for us to say no. We could always do it. There's a point right now, that there are some times when we want to do it, but our families take priority. Of course with children it takes more time. Terry and I have been blessed with two girls who travel with us and we couldn't do it without them for sure. And the other girls in the group, they love our kids like they were their nephews. So it's a lot of fun and in some ways it really has enhanced who we are as people. I mean I know that for me it has enhanced what I think about life and how much God loves me, which allows me to love people more.
With all the travelling you do, how much time to you have at home?
We're usually home at least half the time when we're not touring. We're usually gone like 12 days. When we're touring it's more, it's usually about 20 days a month.
So how do you keep your relationship with your husband strong?
The phone bills are huge. But you know what, God gave us really sweet, sweet husbands who really encourage us to be out here. And we kind of laugh because our husbands, Shelly and mine always go out to eat and stuff while we're gone. But you know, we talk on the phone every day. When we're home, we try to make sure we're home and we just make the most of it. A lot of times, I think that in a lot of ways we probably spend more quality time at home because we savor every moment. Other people just get in the routine, work 8 to 5, go home watch TV and go to bed. And we're trying to plan dates and all that when we're home.
Tell me a little bit about your new book, Circle of Friends
We're real excited about that. That song has been so amazing. When we recorded it I thought it was a sweet song and thought how neat it was for the four of us because it fit really well. I really had no idea the impact it would have on people. You just never know what song is going to touch people. I can't think how many times, at Women of Faith especially, that women will come up that have prayer groups or Bible study groups, and they're like "our group is called Circle of Friends." And you know that is very special and really neat. And then the girls that come through and tell us they sing Circle of Friends with their friends at school. It's just really neat to see the different walks of life, every town that we're in, there's someone. So the book is really going to stem from that. We've asked certain friends of ours, the Women of Faith speakers, Steve Green, to tell stories of friendship and what it has meant in their lives. There are stories of different kinds of friendship, whether it has been long distance and things like that. Friendship, I think, is one of the neatest things God has given us here on earth. He is able to work through friendships and love you the way he wants to love you. And it is really just kind of a celebration of the friendships we have because of Christ.
You were all friends before you started in Point Of Grace, has your friendship changed over the years?
Yeah, but it is hard to say we've gotten closer, because it is really more than that. In some ways it's almost like we're married. I mean we live with each other for so long. When we first started out we were college friends, but it wasn't like we would have left college and spoke to each other all the time. Now we know so much about each other. I mean we're together more than we are with our husbands. And we've had to learn how to take the good with the bad and to learn to live with each other. In some ways it was great training for marriage. We learned how to communicate and how to say, "Okay, I'm really getting bugged here." I can really honestly count on one hand the major fights that we've had. And even through that it has made us stronger. It is God, there's no other way to explain it. We're all four different personalities
So what are each of your personalities?
We've kind of melted into more alikeness over the years. When we first got together we took this personality test. I was "sanguine," which is the bubbly type personality, disorganized. Shelly was definitely the "cleric," we call her Boss Hog, you know, she takes charge, tells you where to go. She usually has the right advice but... Terry was "melancholy" which is the very detailed person. She could carry a purse this big and have every little thing in its place. She is also real tender hearted, if you cry, she'll cry. Heather is "phlegmatic," which is real laid back, takes everything real easy, just does her thing in her timing.
With three of you married, how is that for Heather, your remaining single member?
You know it has been really neat to watch Heather grow in all areas of life. In the past couple years God has just done some real neat things in her life. I mean to be honest, yeah, it probably wasn't easy to see us all get married... But it has really been neat to see her go from "Ok this bothers me," to realizing that God doesn't want her to be dividing her time right now. That makes her special in that. Its not easy, but she's been great and she has a good ministry. She could be real bitter about it, and it has been neat to see her encourage women that there's more to life than marriage, and if you never learn that and then get married you're going to be in trouble.
When you are on the road, and you get tired, or sick, how do you find the strength to go on?
It's funny that you ask me that, because today I am exhausted. It was Spence, he just would not go to bed last night. I would have thought he was exhausted, it was really late, but then he was up at six this morning. But you know, God always knows our weak moments. At the moment you think, "OK, I cannot do one more thing," He gives you time to rest. He gives us a lot of energy and you have to spend time with Him or you're going to dry up. And that's with anybody, not just with people who travel. And we can all make excuses, but you know, you've got to take time. Now that I have a child it is harder to find 5 minutes of quiet. And you know what, I love what I do. I love getting to sing, travelling and meeting people. I think a lot of times we feel really blessed, getting to do what we do, because we could be doing a lot of other jobs
Has your music style changed over the years?
Yeah it has changed. It has always been pop, and it has kind of moved with pop. I think the last record Steady On branched out with change. A lot of that had to do with our vocal arrangements which were really creative. Chris Eaton did a lot of those. I had no idea how talented he was. He gave us a lot. Musically, when we first started it was more keyboard, piano based, now it seems to be a lot more guitar driven. Lyrically, I don't feel like it has changed. But we reallyfeel like, probably stronger than ever, that God has put us out there to encourage people. More than ever I'm realizing what a depressed society we live in. There are so many kids on Prozac at age 12. Why is our society so depressed? I feel like God has called us to tell people and remind people that God is our savior and there is joy in salvation. Also just an urgency to see that we keep the truth simple. That has always been our goal, but this year especially. Our goal is that people can hear our music and say, you know, there is something different about that and it's peaceful and there's hope in that. And I was thinking last night at the concert about the whole Y2K thing, and I'm not judging people who are preparing for it or who aren't, but I was thinking if we would prepare our lives to meet Christ and love people to introduce them to Christ as much as we are preparing over Y2K, I wonder what a change that would make in peoples' lives.
Copyright © 1998 The Parable Group.
All rights reserved.