|Contemporary Christian artist Bethany Dillon first picked up a guitar at age 10. By 13 she had a recording contract. This down-to-earth singer/songwriter, 17 at the time of this 2006 interview, had two albums under her belt and was coming off a banner year. We caught up with Bethany during her tour with Jeremy Camp. |
When did you decide to pursue Christian music as a career, and how did your parents react to that?
In our house we were always encouraged to do whatever we were passionate about, especially if it's ministry. I loved writing little songs and singing in church. When I started playing guitar, my sister was going to college, so there was an opening there. I sang at her college and at churches in our area. It was just a thing I loved to do. We definitely weren't making trips down to Nashville or anything like that.
You had a chance to write a song for a CD inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia. What was that like?
I'd been going through the Gospels and had been so moved by Jesus' life. I'd been talking about it with one of my friends who used the word "hero" to describe Him. I just thought, Wow! I never would've used that word, but it totally fit. He was so heroic. So I wrote the song "Hero," thinking it might go on my next album. Six months later I got an e-mail saying they had a slot open on the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe collection, and they were wondering if I would write a song for it. I just started laughing because I already had the song. The lyrics to "Hero" totally fit with the character of Aslan.
You also wrote a song for the Dakota Fanning movie Dreamer. How did that come about?
DreamWorks had invited a bunch of artists to come and see a screening of the movie and then write a song that would be thrown into the running for the end credits. I got a call because some people had seen my showcase at [Gospel Music Association week] and liked the first record a lot. My favorite part of the movie is where Dakota Fanning writes the story about her dad. It's about this good king who leaves everything behind to go find something that's lost. Sitting in that screening I thought, This is so much about Jesus. I'm sure they don't even know that, but it's all about redemption. So I focused on that. I went home and retold the story in the song. For two or three months I waited and prayed. Then they called to say they'd chosen my song for the movie.
You seem to have a very healthy perspective on celebrity. What have your parents said or done over the years to engender that?
All of us kids have grown up with our parents involved in social work. We've had foster kids in and out of the house my whole life. Both of my parents have been wonderful servants and make it really clear that compassion for others is the most important thing. They were never too concerned about making our lives as comfortable as possible. My dad works for this agency that cares for mentally handicapped adults in Ohio. He treats everyone the same. It has really affected us to see the fruit it bears in our parents' lives. As for the whole "celebrity" thing, no one is impressed. I'm still just Beth. I'm one of five. Last fall my younger brother got bumped up to varsity soccer and everyone was just as excited about that—including me.
What would you tell teens thinking about pursuing a career in Christian music?
No matter what God has equipped you to do and how much you love it, there's always a price to pay. That's so easy to forget because you don't want to wrap your mind around it. For me it's not being home for months at a time and losing some normalcy. But God has given me a peace about it. I'm so totally blessed.
Published January 2006