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Beth Champion Mason: Journey of a Songwriter

By Laura J. Bagby

CBN.comIt was a beautiful, balmy mid-August evening in Virginia Beach, Va., when I became reacquainted with the music and the heart of singer/songwriter Beth Champion Mason. Standing on the broad sands of the beachfront, a shock of curls in a white T-shirt and jeans, and accompanying herself on guitar, her amp just feet away on the sand, Beth looked casual and confident at this outdoor coffeehouse concert.

I and several of my friends had stopped galloping in the waves long enough to listen to this talented artist who was sharing her soul at the boardwalk. After the short concert, I was so impressed with her skills and her spiritual maturity that I decided, with the nudging of my friend Elton, to do something I normally don’t do at musical venues—buy all of the CDs!

The next morning, I ripped open Beth’s latest CD, her sophomore album called Postcards—an independent release that came out locally on tax day, 2005, and is slated to release nationally in October through Infinity Music. I spent the good part of an hour soaking in the beauty of raw emotions, deep lyrics, and full-bodied instrumentation.

Compared to Beth’s first album, All I Have (Independent, 2002), her second album is a more complex weaving of multi-track layers, increasing the production values of her song set. All in all, it is a more professionally executed work.

Beth agreed, telling me in a recent phone interview, “I think we took it up a notch this time. … There are layers of music that give it more interest and more depth so that you kind of hear something different each time you listen.”

But this new album still contains Beth’s signature vocal style, an interesting combination of Jennifer Knapp, Sarah McLachlan, and— dare I say—Alanis Morissette.

“I am a closet Alanis fan,” Beth revealed, quickly clarifying, “I am not a fan of her content. But just her creativity and her artistry and her style I really love. I like the things she does lyrically, too, because she takes a subject and looks at it from a totally different perspective. While I can listen to that and say, ‘Honey, that’s probably not the perception you need to be taking,’ I can still appreciate the artistry.”

But make no mistake: Beth is much more than a singer. Having written or co-written songs for her albums, Beth is all about the lyrics.

“I actually consider myself a songwriter first,” she said. “Years down the road, if I couldn’t sing anymore, I would still write.”

Beth’s songwriting ability made its first serious appearance around age 12 when Beth says she wrote her “first real song.” Then in high school she added maybe a dozen more songs to her repertoire.

But music as a profession, that was something far, far away from her mind.

“I put that dream on the back burner. It didn’t seem very realistic to be a professional musician,” she said.

Beth revisited her skills years later by writing a song for her future husband, Lance, which was to be sung on their wedding day. Beth deems that song “my comeback when I started writing again.”

Still, it would be years before she launched her music career. In fact, it would take clear direction from God.

When Beth graduated from college, she started out as a technical writer crafting software user guides, a job that Beth says was enjoyable because it was creative and utilized her teaching skills.

Despite the fact that she was getting promoted and life was good, Beth knew in her heart that she wasn’t doing what she was supposed to be doing. Two years into her career in the computer industry, Beth found herself unhappy in her career choice and fervently seeking God’s will.

One night she knelt down at the altar of her church and prayed. And God showed up.

Said Beth, “I didn’t really hear an audible voice because I have never heard an audible voice from the Lord, but this is probably as close as I ever came. The Lord just said, ‘Music ministry.’ I was, like, ‘Excuse me? Music what?’ ‘Music ministry.’ I really kind of argued with the Lord at that point.”

To put Beth’s fears into perspective, you have to know that Beth didn’t hold a music degree, and she will tell you she was not a very good keyboard player or singer at that time. She didn’t even know how to play guitar. Her feeling was that she was completely unqualified. Added to that, she had bills to pay and a full-time job that might not allow time to expand her musical talents.

But even with all the excuses, Beth finished her plea to the Lord with this final surrendered thought: “God, if you want me to do music ministry, I will do it. You just open the doors and I will walk through them.”

And He did.

According to Beth, a week later her pastor called to tell her that the current music minister quit unexpectedly and they needed an interim music minister as a temporary replacement. Beth was offered the position and she quickly accepted.

Then, not even an hour later, her old employer called hoping to persuade her to return to her former job. She accepted with this caveat: she would only work part time. She wanted to remain faithful to her call as the new interim music minister.

“The Lord just worked it out in such a way that I just knew that it was a God thing,” she explained. “I actually went back to my old job making the same amount part time that I had been making six months before full time.”

Beth’s interim music minister position ended up becoming a two-year permanent position and the perfect training ground to get her feet wet, musically speaking.

Over the course of about eight or nine years, God taught her everything she needed to know and provided everything she needed so that she could pursue her talents to His glory. Beth was able to run a sound board, become a proficient guitarist, and find a vocal coach to revamp her singing style.

“I think that I am a living example of God does not call the equipped, He equips the called,” she said. “In the parable of the talents, I am not that ten-talent person. I am, like, the two-talent person. But I think that because I gave it back to Him and invested it and worked toward it, He has just blessed it.”

It helps having a husband who continually believes in her abilities.

“I have a very supportive husband,” Beth said about Lance, her husband of 11 years. “It is nice because he is an accountant, and so he kind of keeps me grounded. I have big dreams and he is the one who says, ‘That’s great and we should be able to do that, but maybe we need to plan a little more and wait a little longer.’”

Planning and God’s providence have helped Beth realize an important dream this year: becoming a full-time songwriter. At the end of May, Beth was finally able to quit her day job as a functional analyst in the computer industry.

This summer, Beth spent about six weeks working with Impact Virginia, an organization that combines youth camps with mission work to help with home construction in various needy areas throughout the United States and in the Bahamas. High schoolers, along with some middle schoolers and college students, worked on construction teams during the day. Early in the morning and at nightly services, Beth would lead the young people in worship.

“Every week I had kids that would come up to me after with tears in their eyes and say, ‘I got saved tonight, and it was because of what you said in your testimony.’ There is no greater reward. That is the reason I am doing what I am doing,” Beth said, sharing her most recent experiences.

What’s in the future for this bright talent?

Beth has an itch to write a book showcasing how God supernaturally intervenes in various individuals’ lives to direct their God-given callings. And she is considering the possibility of a future record deal, for which she asked for prayer.

“In a way you give up some control when you do that, but at the same time, I want what the Lord has for me. Just pray that I will have wisdom as far as the choices that I am going to have to be making,” she said.

But whatever the future holds, one thing is certain with this woman seeking after God’s heart: her security rests in her Savior.

“The Lord works things out. He always does.”

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