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Point Of Grace: Christian Gals Are Cookin’ Up Some Country

Our Country

Plain and simple: The name "Point Of Grace" has meant pretty much one thing for nearly two decades--massively successful Christian group. The all-female pop quartet, which has been around since the early 1990s, has sold more than five million records, scored numerous Dove Awards, received two Grammy nominations, and won countless numbers of fans over the course of its career.

However, in 2008, things took a slight turn when founding member Heather Payne decided to exit the group to focus on her family--leaving Denise Jones, Shelley Breen, and Leigh Cappillino to move ahead on their own.

They did more than simply readjust themselves to a trio rather than quartet arrangement. The three women decided to take their interest in country music--two of their songs from 2008's How You Live, "How You Live (Turn Up The Music)" and "I Wish," had already broken some modest ground on the country charts--and go full-fledged in that musical direction.

The result is their latest effort, No Changin' Us, which remains rooted in their Christian values but takes a solid direction into country turf.

Additionally, POG has also just released a companion cookbook (Cooking With Grace) compiling some down-home family recipes, from appetizers to dessert. (All I can say is--they won me over right away by having an entire section devoted to Mexican food, my favorite. Yum!)

I was impressed with the band's ability to shift so easily into the country realm without losing focus on their Christian base, so I asked member Denise Jones a few questions about their musical transition, which she answered for me below.

You've mentioned your move into the country realm was an organic growth process. Given that country and Christian music have always historically been "good friends," have you found it easy to move in both circles?

Denise: Yes, I think it's been a very easy transition. Like you mentioned, both genres have similar backgrounds. They are both rooted in faith, family, and values. We have always recorded music that we hope has encouraged our listener to trust God and live better in day to day life. Many country singers grew up singing in church; we are no different. Many of my friends switch their dial back and forth from Christian radio to country. I'm not sure who was more excited to hear our music on both formats; us or our fans.

What's been the most challenging thing about concentrating on a country rather than Christian direction?

I suppose it is the fact that we are starting over again in some ways. Many people of the country audience have heard of us, but there are many more that haven't. There are so many artists trying to gain the attention of radio to get their single to the top. We are in the middle of that pack hoping that something we are doing makes us special and worth giving our song a shot.

Did you listen to country as kids? What were your favorite artists? What new country acts are your favorites right now?

My dad was a country music fan. He loved artists such as Merle Haggard, Ernest Tubb, and George Jones. Of course, I have a deep respect for those who paved the way for Country music. In High school, I was a big fan of Restless Heart, Vince Gill, and Reba Mc Entire as well as Christian artists Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and Sandi Patty. Right now, I'm a big fan of Lady Antebellum, Danny Gokey, and although she's not new, I love Carrie Underwood.

Christian music is becoming more and more popular and accessible, crossing over to secular markets at a rapid pace. Do you think there are any downsides to this, or is it all positive? Do you have any thoughts on the future direction of Christian music in general?

This generation has more access to music than any generation ever has. They are able to pick and choose any and every type of music. I think it's very positive for Christian music to be able to cross boundaries. So many markets do not have Christian radio available to them, therefore it allows people to hear a positive message on other formats. To me, a good song, is a good song and should be worthy of playing no matter what the format.

Your dedication to career/family balance is impressive--all of you have families to juggle along with your music. Can you give some tips on how you manage to make it all work--touring, etc?

Well, depending on the day I feel more balanced than others. We couldn't do it without many incredible people that love on our families while we are out of town. We've learned that we can't do it all. I used to feel guilty about not being on every committee at school or not teaching Sunday school. I've had to realize that we all have our places that we give to serve God. My husband and I communicate a lot to check in with each other on how the kids are doing, how we are doing, and don't allow ourselves to commit to shows or other things unless we are all in agreement. We can't travel like we could 10 years ago, but that's okay. We still love what we do and know that if things aren't good at home, they won't be good on the road. Therefore, we are very protective of that time.

Okay, I know this is going to be a hard one, but if you could recommend JUST ONE recipe from your cookbook, which would you choose and why?

That is a hard one! I suppose I would have to pick my Romaine and Fruit Salad with Citrus/Poppy Seed Vinaigrette. It's one of those salads that almost everyone likes. It's a leafy green salad with strawberries, cantaloupe, and honeydew. The dressing has a greenish tint to it, which makes a very pretty presentation. I've never had guests that were disappointed in it when serving. It's very easy to make and yet looks impressive.

Thanks Denise! You can order POG's new album, as well as their cookbook by visiting the band's online store here.

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