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Margaret Becker Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Margaret Becker lyrics)
Margaret Becker Biography
Some things you just have to stay home to do: to enjoy your friends, to mentor ambitious dreamers and to change the water bowl for a dog named Max. So Margaret Becker is staying put these days, discovering home to be a "wonderful place of expression" in her life.
The latest sign of that is Just Come In (Cross Driven Records, a division of Here to Him Music), an 11-track collection of songs spanning 16 years as one of Christian music's most prolific and respected recording artists. Unlike her previous efforts, Margaret offers new, stripped-down, acoustic versions of six of her most-loved songs. Plus, for the first time in nearly four years, the singer/songwriter/producer lends her talents to five songs that have never before appeared on a Margaret Becker album. Just Come In is a reflection from the deep pool of an artisan's work. It's a testament to the power of art to help people discover another face of faith. It's a gift to fans that have helped a young girl from Long Island fulfill her musical dreams.
It's fair to say Margaret's spent the lion's share of her musical career anywhere but at home. In the studio, she's created 10 solo records while contributing to a bevy of compilation projects. She's landed 19 No. 1 radio hits, plus her songwriting has been recognized by SESAC and American Songwriter magazine. Immigrant's Daughter, Margaret's 1989 solo effort, is listed in The 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music. Her music has taken her to Australia, Ireland, England, Finland, Germany, Holland and South Africa, journeys inspiring her extensive work as a spokesperson for World Vision, a Seattle-based global relief organization.
But as she was crafting her 1999 critically-acclaimed What Kind of Love, the three-time Dove winner and four-time Grammy nominee felt change might be in the air. "I was about to turn 40 and I just thought, I have to take a breath here and ask myself what I want to do for the next 10, 20 years. Do I want to use all my energy to focus on being an artist?" After more than a decade and a half of a relentless cycle of writing records, recording records, and promoting records, Margaret wanted to invest again in her friends and watch their families grow.
"During that time, too, I realized I wanted to be available to younger artists, to help mentor them to better their skills. And it was like people started being highlighted in my life, where I got a sense, 'I need to invest in that person and that person.' All that takes time. You can't do that when you're on the road."
She'd also been writing extensively with other songwriters. "Since I was home, artists started coming out of the woodwork saying, 'Hey, I heard you were writing a song with someone. Would you write with me?' Before I knew it, I started to get all these cuts on records. Again, that didn't happen much when I was on the road."
Then, a group of friends gave Margaret a present she'd long wanted but couldn't have because of her road life: a dog. Max, a smart golden retriever, all but sealed the deal. These experiences, as part of an extended season of prayer, led her to discern that being a full-time recording artist was not the strongest use of her resources. "I realized I wanted the ability to go and try and see and do," she explains.
Margaret told Sparrow Records-the only label she'd known in her career-she was leaving. "I'm deeply grateful to Sparrow. They gave me legs. But I told them, 'You've given me a great living. You gave me my dream! But I think I have some new dreams.'" She continues, "From there I put a whole bunch of irons in the fire, and I put out a whole bunch of fleeces. I just started asking, So what would I do if I could do other things?" The first fruits of her new labors include Just Come In.
At home in Nashville, Tenn., Margaret found the space to do a project markedly different from her other albums. Rather than the studio being the creative wellspring, live performance influences this warm record. "The songs are all produced more the way I'd perform them at this point in my life-light treatments that are lush with an organic, acoustic setting. It sounds as if you're sitting in the room with the people playing," she says.
Which is exactly what fans wanted-a record mimicking the acoustic shows she's been known for the last six years. "Until now, I had nothing like those performances," she says. For two and a half weeks in August 2002, Margaret gathered some friends to create Just Come In.
The record's six favorites include "Say the Name" (co-written with Charlie Peacock, from Soul), "Clay and Water" (from Falling Forward), "All I've Ever Wanted" (from Simple House) and of course "Just Come In," from Immigrant's Daughter.
The five new songs frame the collection by lending a worshipful spirit imbued with a world music reference, including: "You're Worthy" (co-written with David Edwards) and "My Refuge Be" (co-written with Edwards and John Hartley), "Hear All Creation" and "Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer" (co-written with Keith Getty).
Margaret may be most excited about the final track, "No Height, No Depth," a song she didn't write-but wishes she had. "I recently produced a record for Kristyn Lennox, a young girl from Ireland. The first time she sang this song she wrote with Keith, I had to have it-I immediately took it, ran to the studio and recorded it!" she says, laughing at herself. "I've been able to play it live recently, and it's really hit the mark with audiences."
The album's players include Margaret's recent touring band: Chris Donohue (bass), Ken Lewis (percussion), Steven Leiweke (guitars, production) and Jonathan Noel (keys, vocals). Also contributing are Sixpence None the Richer's Matt Slocum (cello, string arrangements), David Davidson (strings), City on a Hill's Derri Daugherty (who lent a number of vintage guitars to the scene to get the right sound), independent artist Amanda Noel (backing vocals) and Keith Getty, an internationally noted arranger from Northern Ireland, who played additional piano and arranged strings for "No Height, No Depth."
"This record is a gift of gratitude to my fans and it represents the road we are traveling together. For that, I'm very grateful, and since they asked for a record in this certain light, I did this for them."
Imagining the possibilities this new phase of her career will bring energizes Margaret. "I've upgraded my operating system. I'm at a really lovely place of expression, and I've never had so many ways to utilize resources and gifts together. Already an author, a university and events speaker and a businesswoman building publishing and production companies, Margaret is a board member of the Sparrow Foundation and the East Nashville Center for Creative Arts. She will continue to be instrumental in World Vision's Hope Initiative, a program to assist third-world children affected by HIV/AIDS.
"I'm still searching for what I'm supposed to be doing, but I do know at this point I have a voice that's been granted to me that has more levity and authenticity than it has in years prior. I need to use it wisely. I want to be a good steward of that voice. That's my next challenge."
For now, though, Margaret Becker can finally be found at home. Played out on a stage cobbled in the past, Just Come In is a collection of vignettes anticipating a story not yet complete. It's a marker of things to come.