Grammy-nominated contemporary Christian trio Point of Grace – whose founding members started the group 25 years ago after singing together at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas – has released a new Christmas album in a partnership with LifeWay Worship and will soon begin work on a second.
Sing Noël, Point of Grace’s first album with LifeWay, features 10 new arrangements of beloved carols and Christmas favorites, including “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” “Mary, Did You Know?” and “What Child Is This?” “It has been several years since we have recorded a Christmas project, and this one is really special,” Point of Grace’s Shelley Breen says. “It has a central focus on the carols of Christmas.”
In January the group will begin recording a second album with LifeWay featuring a collection of best-loved hymns and worship songs.
Point of Grace has won 3 Grammy nominations, most recently for Directions Home (Songs We Love, Songs You Know) in 2015. The group has won multiple Dove Awards and sold more than 8 million recordings in their 25-year history. Breen says she feels the new Christmas album captures the spirit of the season.
“It was so fun to sit around together in the beginning stages of the record with our old Baptist hymnals and realize just how many classic carols we had not recorded,” she said. “Our producers and LifeWay Worship were amazing in helping us find our own ‘spin’ on these songs.”
For more than 20 years, Point of Grace’s soaring melodies and rich harmonies have helped define the sound of contemporary Christian music. The seminal group has sold over 8 million units; garnered 2 Platinum records; 3 Grammy nods; 27 No. 1 singles, and numerous Dove Awards. With a discography including 10 best-selling studio recordings and 4 beloved Christmas albums, Point of Grace is known for such Christian radio standards as “I’ll Be Believing,” “Keep the Candle Burning,” “Circle of Friends” and “Jesus Will Still Be There.”
Comprised of Shelley Breen, Denise Jones, and Leigh Cappillino, the group founded the groundbreaking Girls of Grace conference and have authored multiple books. Point of Grace regularly appears on the historic Grand Ole Opry stage, and they have been featured on “The View,” as well as in the pages of TIME and Ladies’ Home Journal, among other mainstream media outlets. Recently, Shelley, Denise, and Leigh sat down with TheChristianBeat.org to talk about their phenomenal career and the new projects on the horizon.
TCB: Your new album, Sing Noël, features some of the most popular and recognized Christmas songs ever composed. What do you think is the reason behind the strong connection to the season and these carols/songs?
Denise: The three of us grew up in Christian homes where we loved celebrating Christmas. It’s such a happy time for us. Although we all had fun with stories of Santa, Frosty and Rudolph, it is the hymns and carols that our parents taught us most. Singing in Christmas pageants and choir concerts are memories that I will always hold dear. The lyrics of these old carols are so rich with the truth of what Christmas is all about.
TCB: What was it like recording this new holiday collection?
Denise: We had such a great time! It was a privilege to join hands with Lifeway Worship on this project. Their enthusiasm and encouragement were inspiring as we began the songwriting process. Getting in the mood for singing Christmas music in May, June and July can be a challenge, but we would light a pine candle and pretend it was cold outside. Working with producers Kent Hooper and Phillip Keveren was a delight. They had great ideas about arrangements and yet allowed us to collaborate together. Putting our Point of Grace twist on many of these familiar songs is always the fun part. We couldn’t be more excited about the final product.
TCB: What carols/songs happen to be personal favorites of yours?
Denise: It is hard to pick a favorite. I suppose the opening song “Angels From The Realms Of Glory” would be one. This arrangement has so many fun vocal moments and the song is so happy that you can’t help but smile. The other song I would probably choose is an original called “Fear Not.” I think so many of us tend to forget, especially during the craziness of the holiday, that God sent His Son “Immanuel” to be with us. At the announcement of His coming, the angel continued to say, “Fear not.” It’s easy for me to forget the story of Christ when I focus on the things around me that seem out of control or scary. My prayer is that when people hear this song, they will remember that God came so we would not have to walk through the difficulties of this world all by ourselves.
TCB: You all recently performed at “The 7th Annual Christmas in New York” at the historic Carnegie Hall. Can you describe what that experience was like?
Leigh: First of all, being in New York City at Christmas is so exciting! From the energy of the city, to the extremely gorgeous Christmas decorations, it’s always over the top! Performing at Carnegie Hall with a 300-member choir only enhanced the experience. It was a perfect way to start our Christmas touring season! My favorite part of the performance was being able to clearly see the faces of the audience. Especially when we sang our song “Immanuel,” we could literally see the impact the message of the song had in the hearts of the people: Immanuel, God is with us!
TCB: As it is the Christmas season, are there any unique traditions your families have in celebrating this time of year?
Leigh: Because the Christmas season is POG’s busiest time of touring, my family and I will always put our Christmas decorations up on November 1st. We watch “White Christmas” while we decorate the tree. Since it takes such an effort to get all the decorations up, we make it count by putting them up early and leaving them up very late in January. Why not? It just makes the season BRIGHT!
TCB: Do you have a particularly favorite gift you remember receiving at a past Christmas?
Leigh: This is very easy for me. I was 5 and my two older sisters were 6 and 8. That particular year Santa put one of his gifts to us in our stocking…We looked inside and each of us pulled out a pair of WHITE TUBE SOCKS! At first we all looked at each other, then we saw a note from Santa that said, “You will need to wear these socks so you can jump on your trampoline.” WHAT???? We jumped up, looked out the window and saw the BIGGEST trampoline EVER!!! It was and still is my favorite Christmas gift as a kid. We had so many wonderful memories jumping, watching the stars, and having friends over to play. Now, as a mom, I look forward to doing that same thing for my little boy, who just turned 5. Jumping off everything is his middle name. “Hop” you all have a very Merry Christmas!!!
TCB: Point of Grace has been making music together for over 20 years. What do you all attribute to such longevity?
Shelley: I think the unique thing about our group is that we all grew up with sisters—not a single brother in the bunch. So even early on before Point of Grace, I feel like God was preparing us to learn how to co-exist for many days at a time with females! I attribute the longevity of our career to that, plus the fact that we all had very similar upbringings. Each of our parents have celebrated 50 years of marriage, have been faithful members of their respective churches for years, and taught us how to love people well. In the end, at least in our industry, I don’t really feel like longevity is as much about how talented you are or how many hits you’ve had. It’s more about how you served the Church when you were a guest there.
TCB: And lastly, what should we expect from the group this coming year?
Shelley: We have a very busy year ahead. In January, we will begin recording vocals for our second project in partnership with Lifeway Worship. It will be a collection of our favorite hymns and worship songs. It’s hard to believe, but in 25 years as a group, we have never recorded a project like this. It will release around Mother’s Day and we will be touring in churches to support it in the spring and summer.