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Britt Nicole: Finding Hope in the Walk

By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director

CBN.com NASHVILLE -- With a new music video set to debut next week, Britt Nicole is wrapping up a highly successful year that has seen her emerge as one of contemporary Christian music’s leading female artists.

Hit songs like “The Lost Get Found” and “Walk on Water”, coupled with constant touring and the release of a new acoustic album, have pushed the North Carolina native to the forefront of Christian music.

CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Nicole to catch up on the whirlwind that has been 2010, her heart for ministering to young women, and her greatest hope and passion for her music.

You were named one of the top ten to watch in 2010 on the Gospel Music Channel.  It must be a great feeling to receive that type of validation.  Your thoughts?

I’m just very thankful for the opportunity to get to do music and just to see where God has brought me. It’s definitely a journey. I started when I was 17 as an independent artist. I’m 25 now. So, just to see God’s faithfulness in doing what He promised that He will do. It’s just been really cool to see. And it is. It feels really awesome to see it acknowledged that people are enjoying your music.

I saw you perform at a private function over the summer in Colorado.  What I came away from the experience with was your music has a very fresh, current quality to it. How would you characterize your music if you had to describe it?

The sound? I always say it’s a pop record, because it brings so many different things to the table, like it reaches all audiences. I definitely connect with young girls. It’s like it reaches all audiences. The sound is, there are the pop fun songs, and then there are the ballads, and then very personal songs. There’s even “Have Your Way” on the record, which is like a worship kind of song. But I always say pop, because when I try to categorize it, I’m just like well, rock with a little bit of hip hop with a little of pop. Like, it’s a pop, like top 40 sounding like pop, all in all record.

You have had some very good success over the last year or so with songs like “Walk on Water” and “The Lost Get Found”.  How did “Walk on Water” come together for you?  It seems to be one of those pop ballads you mention but with a very serious message.

That one was really hard to write. It almost didn’t make the record. My drummer, Josh, actually brought it to me in the beginning. He was writing with Jason Ingram one day, and he came in and was like, “I’ve got this idea. I was driving, and it’s so good.” Like, he was so excited about it. And the hook was “Walk on the Water,” too. It wasn’t exactly what it is now. And Jason was like, “Oh, yes, it’s kind of cool. Whatever.” Like he got just wiped off. Anyway, they had lunch recently, and he said that he was kicking himself, saying, “Man, next time you say there’s a good song, I’m going to listen.” But Josh came with that idea. He was thinking just about his parents and he has a couple of brothers and sisters. And they had raised all their kids. They were all moving out and really looking at their life and going, “Okay, we’ve spent the last 30 years of our life putting into our kids and raising them and spending time with them. Okay, now what? Like, they’re all grown. They’re at school. They have their own life now. And now what is our purpose?” And there’s a line in the song that says, “You’re made for more.” And I think he was thinking about his parents. When I came along and began writing, I started thinking about my mom. She’s always had a dream to open a girls home. And she walked through some things when she was younger, and I think it just made her have a heart for young girls, kind of like we all do if we walk through something that makes you immediately have a heart for people like that. But she always had this dream to be this, to talk about it. And she just would never do it. She was just like, “I don’t feel like I can do it. I don’t feel like I’m either good enough. I feel like it’s too late in my life. I don’t have the funds for it.” And so I just would always encourage her and tell her to do it. So I was thinking about her and writing it to say, “Mom, you know this is your dream, your passion. You know you’re made for more.” And there are people just like her everywhere and like Josh’s parents who have lived their whole life with a dream and with a passion to do something more. And they’re afraid to step out for whatever reason. And so I wanted to write a song that really encouraged but also challenged them at the same time, to get out of the boat and to do what God has called them to do.

You do a lot of your own songwriting on your records. Where do you get your ideas for your songs?  It is always interesting to hear about where people find the inspiration for their craft.

They all come from a personal place. I feel like all the songs are written to me first and to family members. And I can’t sing anything that is not personal.  People like to pitch songs to artists and things. I’m so open to it, but I just always find myself wanting to sing from personal places.  It connects with listeners more, when you can say, “I’ve walked through it.” Or I’ve seen my brother walk through it. You can connect some way personally. So I feel like my songs are all personal.

I remember when I was first starting out as an artist and had just started writing. And I was scared, I guess, to say like, “I’ve walked through this,” and just to be that personal and vulnerable with your audience and talk about your weaknesses and all that. And I just remember this guy saying to me, “It is so much more powerful when you say you’ve walked through it.” And so I kind of came away from that and from there I just became an open book.

When you write a song, what does that process look like for you? Are you one of these types that you wait for the lightning bolt to hit? In other words, the song just flows out of you in 10 minutes? Or are you the type of songwriter where you really need to work at it? It’s a job sometimes. It’s a season of your life that comes together.

I’m both. There are songs on my record, like “Headphones”, a song that’s really fun that came to me literally in like two minutes. Not the whole song, but the whole chorus. I just sang it all in one session without writing any of the lyrics. It was so simple. So some songs come super fast like that. Not many come that easy.  “The Lost Get Found” and “Walk on the Water” were more of a process. It took like three or four days. “Walk on the Water” was longer than that. But “The Lost Get Found” was like three or four days of really looking over the lyrics, praying over them. I feel like when they are like evangelistic, even like that, you want it to be God’s heart for people.  I personally like to pray “are these the lyrics like what God would say?”

Some of my songs come from worship, like just sitting on the keyboard and playing. When you’re spending time with God, when you’re praying, and you’re listening, and even praying for my fans and thinking about what they go through.  I feel like God, in worshipping Him, sometimes I feel His heart for people.

Speaking of having a heart for people, I can tell through your music and just having read about some of your background, you really seem have a heart for girls. Tell me about that aspect of your singing and your ministry.

I am a young woman who has walked through divorce with my family and insecurities of my own and relationship issues and everything that every teenage girl goes through. I’m definitely not perfect for sure. Nobody is. But I’m cool to let my fans know that.  I want them to know that I definitely have a standard that I live for and have an example I want to hold myself to. But I want them to see me on stage and know, “She’s like me. She’s experienced these things and walked through them.” And because of that, they can relate and connect, especially young girls.  I know what they’re feeling and walking through, I can talk to those issues.

As an artist, what your greatest hope and passion for your music?

My heart is for broken people. I was very broken when I was a child, just walking through my parents’ divorce.  My parents divorced when I was seven, and I was just a Daddy’s girl, totally in love with my dad. So, yes, I got to see him every other weekend. Still, I have a great relationship with him and did then, but it was just super hard to walk through that and then to come out of that and believe in love, like believe that love is real, to receive love, give love, like anything to do with love.   But just walking through all those things, it’s just me feeling broken and alone at times in my life. It’s just given me a heart for broken people just getting restored. My heart as an artist is to go deeper with my fans or people who attend the concerts. My goal in the future is to have a way to do an event or to just be able to reach my fans on a deeper level to where I can really pray with them and spend time with them, minister to them, see them restored, and see them leave different than when they came.  I would like to see them changed for real, not just have a concert, but come in as a cutter and leave not as a cutter. I would really like to see their life change. That’s my hope as an artist is to be able to be used by God in that way, because I think or I know that’s His heart.

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