Stepping Back Up to the Microphone: Three Christian Music Comebacks

By Christa A. Banister | senior editor,
Posted: Tue, 06/28/2011 - 15:17

Considering how short the average entertainment fan’s attention span is these days, it’s become increasingly important for artists to keep coming up with something new – and often – to avoid future obscurity.
But every once in a while, a few truly brave artists will step away from the scene anyway because it’s the best thing for their personal and spiritual well-being, not to mention their creativity.  
In fact, stepping away from spotlight – some only briefly, some for much, much longer – is exactly what Burlap to Cashmere, Peter Furler and Miss Angie have all done recently. Now back in the swirl of recording, doing interviews and the like, we discovered a common thread between these very different artists, namely that time away from the busy musician’s life was not only personally fulfilling but helped fuel their brand new songs.

Less is More for Burlap to Cashmere
Back when the band released its buzz-worthy debut, Anybody Out There? (A&M) back in 1998, it was a particularly exciting time in the Christian music scene as more and more artists, including Burlap to Cashmere, were garnering respect and accolades in both the CCM and mainstream markets.
Quickly earning a reputation for its evocative, personal songwriting and electric live performances featuring a rotating line-up of talented musicians, Burlap to Cashmere was very much in demand and had the crazy tour schedule to prove it.
But as much as frontman Steven Delopoulos and his cohorts enjoyed the traveling musician’s life, the demanding lifestyle began to take its toll. Officially calling it quits in 2001, Delopoulos then ventured out into solo artist territory with two albums, Me Died Blue (Universal South) and Straightjacket (Eb + Flo).
“As much as I missed being part of the band, I was still writing and kept doing what I loved,” says Steven. “I’m a folk guy, so if you put me in a folk club and feed me coffee, I’ll play. Venturing out solo was a lot of fun but really different since I was just playing the guitar.”
But as much as Delopoulous loved writing songs in the vein of his musical heroes Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton, he’s incredibly thankful to be recording music with Burlap to Cashmere’s core members guitarist John Philippidis and drummer Theodore Pagano once again.

Revitalized from the time away from touring, the band is serving up an exciting mix of sounds on their upcoming self-titled album, which releases July 19 on Jive/Essential Records.

“As we got older we realized that simplicity is more attractive. There's space for the listener to actually be creative and involved with the music when you’re not outlining every note and every beat,” Steven shares. “Our first season was really busy with guitar and drums.

Everything was busy, there was no space to go 'Ahhh.' I think that's why, our last shows were so much fun, because, you know, we were circus acting. There was a lot happening at once. Now it's about the lyrics, it's about the song, it's a lot more intimate.“

Peter Furler Embraces Life Outside the Tour Bus
After criss-crossing the United States and beyond many, many times as the frontman for Newsboys, Peter Furler was ready for a new adventure – even if he wasn’t quite sure what that was.

So after helping Newsboys make their transition with dcTalk’s Michael Tait on lead vocal duty, he stepped away from everything familiar, simplified his life and embraced an existence without the perpetual merry-go-round of performing and recording.

“I’ve loved the new adventure of not really knowing what's ahead. That's been the most exciting thing. I’ve chased a lot of other creative endeavors like painting and have been surfing, too, and that’s been great,” Peter says. “Before everything was so planned out, and it absolutely had to be! But now I’m having the best time of my life and being as busy and productive as I want to be.”

What Peter never expected, however, was to write a solo project. “It was fun to record and just enjoy the process of seeing something come out of nothing and eventually taking shape,” Peter says. “I was learning how to write for the pure joy of it again, and these new songs just came from there.”
The result is On Fire, a joyful, encouraging collection of songs that reflect Peter’s new lease on life and artistry. “Without really thinking about an overall theme when I was writing, I guess one of the main themes that naturally emerged is freedom,” he shares. “I've always been fortunate to have a lot of control over what I was doing with the Newsboys. I had my hands firmly on the wheel. I think with this record, the difference was I had a little more time, which was good for me. There were no expectations, and more than anything, I was competing with myself. I wasn't trying to compare myself to anything or anyone else.”

The Return of Miss Angie
Back when it wasn’t as common for female artists to really rock, Miss Angie took it up a notch with two critically acclaimed albums 100 Million Eyeballs and Triumphantine.
But as much as she loved sharing her message of hope with the masses, she loved her family and ordinary life more, so she took an indefinite hiatus after fulfilling her recording contract.

“It was such a privilege doing music, and from most people’s perspectives, being famous and having fans ask for your autograph is the ultimate life,” Angie says. “But even when life’s great, we’re still human and feel like we’ve been there, done that. As much as I loved ministering through music, I was ready for a big change.”

Craving normalcy, she moved back to her Missouri hometown and set her music aside.

After a season of filled with family heartbreak and more changes than she ever dreamed possible, Angie eventually started pouring out her heart through song again, not really knowing what it would add up to. Unlike previous albums where she wrote on guitar in the studio, she was limited to just her piano – which freed her up to be honest about, well, everything.

The result of this introspection is her first album in nearly a decade called Time and Space, which includes her new radio single “Kick Drum.”

“When I was writing, I didn’t really have any huge agenda. I honestly just enjoyed recording, and God has been sending me all kinds of people to help me,” Angie says. “It’s humbling, and I’m really honored to get to share my story with people. I certainly don’t have all the answers or everything figured out, but I’m praising His name anyway. He is faithful.”

Copyright 2011, For permission to repost or reprint, click here.


About the Writer

After graduating with a B.S. in Journalism from North Central University in 1998, Christa Banister moved from Minneapolis to Nashville, Tenn. and eventually started working at CCM Magazine/Salem Publishing in various editorial capacities as an editor, columnist and website guru for five and a half years. After that, she launched her own Dallas-based freelance writing company and writes for numerous clients including Salem Publishing, (she review movies for them each week), Christian Single, Christianity Today, Threads Media,, and also helped kickstart the first Christian music blog for MTV. In addition, she also writes bios for professional recording artists and authors and penned her first two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers for NavPress.

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