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Ginny Owens Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Ginny Owens lyrics)
Ginny Owens Biography
For the past eight years, fans worldwide have heard Ginny Owens sing of a love without condition and a willingness to walk through the valley. They've listened to her cries for something more and her confessions of wrestling with what it means to be beautiful. But never has anyone heard her soul laid bare quite like this.
With her October 2005 studio album, Ginny Owens invites listeners to come along on her own journey, to step inside her life, and to become a fellow traveler on the Long Way Home.
"I feel older," Owens admits. "I feel like there's certain things I've come to understand that I didn't understand even two years ago. And one of those things is that I'm never going to be completely comfortable in my own skin. I'm never going to be completely comfortable as an artist. And that's OK. I think I'm finding comfort in the fact that I'm always going to be slightly uncomfortable.
"None of us ever completely fit where we are. But when you're more comfortable with the uncomfortable, it causes you to let your guard down and let people in. You just don't worry so much about what people think of you. Over the last few years I feel like I've learned to be more myself, and my new record is a result of that growth in some ways. It's about being sad, and then picking myself up again. It's just maybe more raw, more soulful, more emotional and maybe less resistant to those emotions."
With three commercially and critically acclaimed CDs to her credit-not to mention eight Dove nominations, multiple high-profile tours, four Top 5 radio singles and mainstream credibility from appearances on national TV, Lilith Fair and the Sundance Film Festival-Owens knew anticipation was great for her next collection of new material. What's more, 2005 was booked solid with tour dates, a live CD and DVD release, newly initiated songwriting conferences she was leading and the launch of her own non-profit ministry, the Fingerprint Initiative (fingerprintinitiative.org). It didn't leave a lot of time for planning out Album No. 4.
And that was just fine by Ginny. For her newest recording, she knew it was important to try a different approach, to find an open space to create without the pressure of too many outside voices or the time for her own perfectionism to kick into gear.
"I had a groove going, and I just didn't think too hard about it. I didn't want to let anyone break it. I didn't want the powers that be in management or A&R to help me overanalyze too much, which I often do. There was more of a sense of my own focus on the music because nobody was looking over my shoulder."
No one could keep watch because no one could keep up. Owens, serving as a co-producer for the first time, spent her summer and spring traveling to locations far and wide to find just the right atmosphere for her bubbling creative juices. First she trekked to the West Coast with long-time friend and mentor Monroe Jones for a session in L.A., and later experimented with label mate/producer Will Hunt on four songs in the live music capital of Austin, Texas. Owens then bonded with Vince Emmett in her hometown of Nashville to cut the final tracks. A month later, she finalized the disc in New York City with mix-master extraordinaire Ben Wisch.
"Every record I feel like has been a good representation of where I was at that moment. But I think with this record, I've felt more musically engaged and more freedom. I know who my audience is now, so I'm going to make songs that I think will communicate effectively to them and songs that I also really enjoy."
The results are 10 tracks that boldly skip along the lines of commercial pop and introspective, intelligent songwriting, all wrapped with an element of the R&B/blues flavor on which Ginny grew up in her native Mississippi. In the end, it's a hybrid of many of the styles she personally loves, from Sarah McLachlan to India Arie to Norah Jones to Switchfoot.
In terms of themes, Don Miller's book Blue Like Jazz and a sermon series on Proverbs by Pastor Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan were two major points of inspiration for Long Way Home as ideas about seeking wisdom and community rise to the surface on several tracks. The album's title cut, for example, was inspired by Owens' time away from home, living on the road most of last year.
"I was studying about and trying to grasp our need for community. We really cannot exist without it. But community's challenging for me. I could literally spend most nights just entertaining myself somehow. Part of writing that song was stating my own need for community... But it's also my awareness of broken hearts. I just look at the news, and I'm stunned that everything's so dark! What are we really doing to change it? It started me thinking about how we as Christians impact culture and about what I can do for others."
The first single from Long Way Home, "Fellow Traveler," takes the notion of impact one step further.
"I love that idea that sharing the gospel is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. That's where 'Fellow Traveler' came from. What do I have that I wish other people had? What is it about being a Christian that's different than anything else you could be? The thing is you don't earn it, it's unconditional. All I can really say to anybody who doesn't believe in Jesus is 'This is who I am, this is what I know. You don't have to accept it, but let me tell you why it's changed my life.'"
Her notions of evangelism spread beyond speaking words of faith-Ginny Owens is convinced that Christians must be doers of God's words as well, finding opportunities to serve in meaningful, tangible ways. Her non-profit foundation, Fingerprint, is currently partnering with organizations like Compassion International, International Justice Mission and Habitat for Humanity to do just that.
"The mantra of Fingerprint is bringing hope to the world one touch at a time. God has been so good to me. He's touched my life with blessings, with friends. How cool would it be if I was so compelled by those things that I wanted to go out and reflect those touches in the way that I loved others? If I were to bear witness to who He is by serving other people? We're reflections of the image of God as we take care of our communities. God calls us to do that over and over again."
Blind since the age of 2, Owens often gets questions about her life without sight and how she writes such insightful words about a world she's never physically seen. Years ago, she first had the idea to try to communicate the pictures in her head. The result is "Wonderful Wonder," a song both intensely personal and vulnerable while at the same time universally applicable.
But when I long to know what I don't see/You give me the courage to believe/...I can hardly wait until the time/When You will turn my darkness into light/And I finally find my way to Heaven's door/Where I won't need my faith anymore
"Sometimes I write things that I can't even really get my brain around," Owens says. "''Wonderful Wonder' is like that in the sense that it'll be a song that I will have to get a handle on emotionally before I sing it. If I think about that whole idea of the first thing I ever see will be Jesus, it's a little much for me. But yet, I wanted to paint that idea in a song, and I wanted to parallel that with the idea that we all wish we could see life through His eyes."
It's another uncomfortable moment for the artist, but one she's proud to share. Ginny Owens is delivering a career album in the busiest season of her life, finding freedom and inspiration in her work and service.
"I'm getting to experience a lot of realized dreams in my life right now. The past few years have been the most stressful time in my career because of the amount of work I've brought on myself. But I've also figured out how to really find myself in what I do. I feel like I'm sort of crafting my place in the world, like I'm in my element. I feel like the pieces are working together, and I'm inspired by all the things I get to do. Whether teaching and serving in non-musical ways or encouraging people with my music... all of those things are what's making me tick right now."