They were the early aughts Christian anecdote to highly-sexualized popstars like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Once the darlings of the Christian music industry, these talented and sincere young ladies sold tons of records and were pointed to as role models for many young Christian women.
What ever happened to the Christian answer to the mainstream – Rachael Lampa, Joy Williams, Stacie Orrico and Katheryn Hudson? Though their unique vocal stylings were hard to forget, their lives look much different now than fans might expect.
The eleven-time Dove award nominee was signed to her first record contract at age seventeen and worked with the famed Christian record producer Brown Bannister on hits such "By Surprise" and "I Wonder." However, she left her label (Reunion Records) in the wake of what she claimed was a "perspective change" -- she wanted to make music that was less Christian pop, and more stripped-down folk. In her own words, she left Christian music because "I felt like if I were to continue doing that, I would have had to become a duplicitous person and I wasn't willing to do that."
Williams eventually went on to find tremendous success as part of The Civil Wars, a four-time Grammy award winning duo made up of herself and John Paul White. When the duo split up in 2014, it was not amicable. Joy Williams stepped away from the spotlight and is now doing a press tour to promote her new solo album, called Venus. While Christian themes of forgiveness and transcendence figure in to the new record (and all of Williams' work), she certainly does not consider herself a Christian singer of any sort, any more. Venus drops on June 29.
The powerhouse singer behind "I Live for You" is still very much active on the Christian music scene. Though it's been some time since she released a solo album of her own (her last 2011's was All We Need), Lampa can be heard on recent singles by Kevin Max and Jonathan Thulin. After getting married in 2010 to fellow singer-songwriter Brandon McCarthy, Lampa was seen as part of singing group The Collective, which made it to week six on the primetime reality show "The Sing Off" in 2011. Lampa featured with Michael W. Smith on his 2014 Christmas tour. She can be seen below doing a cover of Patty Griffin's "Up the Mountain" just this past April, with her husband lending his guitar skills.
The young woman who gave us "Genuine" and "More to Life" has been cited as an influence by secular musician Sam Smith. However, after her "Stacie Orrico" album sales totalling more than 3.5 million, it appears that Stacie has been just as focused on her other interests (including her acting career in New York City) as her singing. Her studio album A Beautiful Awakening, released in 2006, did not chart as well as her previous releases and Stacie hasn't put out an album since. She released a video on YouTube explaining her musical hiatus, during which she spent time in volunteering in Africa, living in Denver, and returned to school to study literature and take acting lessons. She staged a streaming live concert to celebrate her return in 2013, but a new album release date has yet to be announced.
Before she was the "Firework" and "Roar" hitmaker, international pop sensation Katy Perry got her start as a Christian musician under the name "Katy Hudson." She was widely compared on her first eponymous album to Alanis Morrissett. Although the album didn't receive wide radio play, Hudson did go on a forty-six date tour before her record label at the time, Red Hill Records, folded. She spent some time label-hopping, during which time she began to transition away from Christian music and experimented with more secular song-writing. It was her next album, One of the Boys, on which Hudson switched to using the last name 'Perry' and officially embraced secular pop as her genre of choice.
While Katy Perry does often refer to her faith and spirituality (she has a 'Jesus' tattoo on her forearm) as being important to her as a "place she will probably come back to at some point," her evangelical roots are far from her artistic mind if her latest releases are any indication.
What do you think of our list? Are there any other Christian pop stars of yesteryear we should highlight? Let us know in the comments.