“We went to a few churches,” singer-songwriter Christine Yvette told WORLD, describing her family’s attempt to find a place to worship upon moving to Sacramento, Calif., in the mid-1980s.
“But nothing seemed right until we went to a church that played a Huey Lewis & the News video one Sunday for high-school church. It was probably being played to go along with the message, but all I knew was it was the church for me.”
The song was “Hip to Be Square,” as plainspoken a paean to the perquisites of walking the straight and narrow as has ever graced pop airwaves. The church was the very hip Warehouse Ministries.
Little did Yvette know that she, a mere high-school student from Karlstad, Minn. (population: 760), would find herself in a congregation that included such CCM trailblazers as Charlie Peacock, Steve Scott, and members of the 77’s.
She began buying their albums and attending their concerts. Eventually, she started singing during the services and occasionally performing with her heroes. After investing many hours of her childhood in piano lessons and other musical pursuits, she was well prepared to take advantage of the opportunity.
Yvette, 42, has released Heartsong, her first album. It’s a long-overdue culmination of her lifelong attempt to bring together her love for music, her love for life, and her love for her Creator.
Heartsong is not your typical vanity-press CD. Two of its 11 tracks, for instance (“Be with You,” “You Make My Heart Sing”), feature the guitar work of well-traveled session guitarist Eddie Martinez (Celine Dion, David Lee Roth, Gato Barbieri, Meat Loaf). And one, “Where There Is Faith,” features celebrated smooth-funk saxophonist Patrick Lamb, who co-wrote and co-produced it.
“I learned a lot in some of the writing sessions that we had together,” says Lamb on Yvette’s eponymous website. “I would describe her as a very professional, dedicated, focused, and centered artist and human being.”
Becoming a “very professional, dedicated, focused, and centered artist and human being” hasn’t come easily. She’s been a single mother for the past decade after her marriage of 13 years ended in divorce. She began recording Heartsong in 2007. She was not always sure if she could complete it: “Sometimes the finances would be an issue. Sometimes the producers would get other projects and have to put mine on hold.”
The trouble was worth it. Unencumbered by the strictures of either secular or CCM major labels, Yvette has crafted an album characterized by a multi-lateral sensitivity increasingly uncommon in these days of musical homogenization. With vulnerable sensitivity (“Crimson Summer”) and gospel enthusiasm (“Abide in Me”), Heartsong is a 21st-century Christian analogue to Carole King’s Tapestry as sung by a small-town girl with a soulful alto voice.
“My ‘target’ audience,” says Yvette, whose formative-years attraction to Amy Grant is audible throughout her music, “would be people who like light pop music with a little jazz and gospel influence.
“I am hoping that people who like Colbie Caillat or Norah Jones will like my music. As a musician, I guess you hope everyone will like what you do.”