Rebecca St. James
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About Rebecca St. James
A Grammy-winning contemporary Christian artist who emerged as a young teen in the early '90s, Rebecca St. James went on to productive parallel careers as an actress and author. Her first album, Refresh My Heart, saw release in 1991 and established a contemporary pop sound with a rock edge, a balance she would keep up-to-date over the coming decades. She was still a teenager when she published her first book, 40 Days with God: A Devotional Journey, in 1996. Two years later, St. James delivered her fifth LP, Pray, which took home the Grammy for Best Rock Gospel Album. Her film debut followed in 2000 with a small role in Left Behind: The Movie, and she hit a career-high on the Billboard 200 when 2002's Worship God climbed to number 94. A year later, "I Thank You," an original song added to her best-of collection Wait for Me, went to number two on the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart. In 2004, she launched the SHE inspirational series of books with SHE: Safe, Healthy, Empowered - The Woman You're Made to Be, and in 2009, she had the title role in the home-video release Sarah's Choice. The 2010s brought more music (2011's I Will Praise You), movies including 2012's The Frontier Boys, and a trio of faith-based novels co-written with Nancy Rue. In 2020, St. James released the EP Dawn, her debut for Bethel Music imprint Heritage Music Group.
Born Rebecca Jean Smallbone in Sydney, Australia in 1977, St. James' musical siblings include younger brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone of for KING & COUNTRY. She was already finding success as a soloist as a preteen, opening shows in Australia for Carman in 1990 before the family moved abroad to Nashville in 1991 for her father's work. Before the end of the year, she released her full-length debut, Refresh My Heart, as Rebecca Jean. She then signed with Forefront Records and, at the label's request, adopted a stage name, Rebecca St. James.
Her Forefront debut, Rebecca St. James, followed in 1994, and she was recognized with a Dove Award nomination for New Artist of the Year. 1995's Extended Play Remixes offered remixes of three of the songs. Her third album, God, began a longtime partnership with producer Tedd Tjornhom. Released by Forefront in June 1996, it marked her first appearance in the Billboard 200 when it debuted at the number 200 spot, while reaching as high as number six on the Top Christian Albums chart. That same month, Standard Pub published St. James' 40 Days with God, a collection of journal entries, lyrics, and thoughts aimed at teens and young adults. She followed it with You're the Voice: 40 More Days with God, which arrived alongside the seasonal album Christmas in October 1997. Her fifth full-length, Pray, followed in 1998. It reached the Christian Top Five and won St. James her first Grammy Award.
St. James took a bit part in the Kirk Cameron film Left Behind: The Movie in 2000. That year, she also released the album Transform. Like Christmas, it reached the Billboard Christian Top 20. The year 2002 saw the release of her seventh studio long-player, Worship God, as well as another book, Wait for Me: Rediscovering the Joy of Purity in Romance (Thomas Nelson). It was followed a year later by Wait for Me Journal. The original song "I Thank You" from her first collection, 2003's Wait for Me: The Best from Rebecca St. James, became her highest-charting single, reaching number two on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart. In the meantime, she did some voice work for animation, including for the VeggieTales franchise. She next appeared on-screen in 2004's !Hero: The Rock Opera and released the Billboard 200-charting live album Live Worship: Blessed Be Your Name. Beginning in 2004, she also published a quick succession of books that included SHE: Safe, Healthy, Empowered - The Woman You're Made to Be and 2005's SHE Teen. Sister Freaks: Stories of Women Who Gave Up Everything for God followed before the end of the year, as did a study guide for Wait for Me. She delivered another studio album, If I Had One Chance to Tell You Something, also in 2005. It featured production by Tjornhom as well as Shaun Shankel and Jars of Clay's Matt Bronleewe. A string of EPs followed in form of 2006's America: The EP and 2007's aLIVE in Florida and Holiday Trio, the latter of which paired singles from If I Had One Chance to Tell You Something with her version of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." In 2009, St. James had the starring role in the drama Sarah's Choice and edited the short-story collection Loved: Stories of Forgiveness. She appeared alongside Malcolm McDowell in the 2011 fantasy film Suing the Devil, and her ninth studio album, I Will Praise You, arrived that April. Her first release after parting ways with Forefront, it was issued by Beach Street/Reunion Records and returned her to the Christian Top Ten.
St. James prioritized acting and writing for the next several years, appearing in films such as 2012's The Frontier Boys, and 2015's Faith of Our Fathers, and publishing a series of novels with co-writer Nancy Rue that included an adaptation of Sarah's Choice. In 2017, St. James recorded a cover of "Amazing Grace" with for KING & COUNTRY and headed out on a Christmas-themed tour with them and Casting Crowns. Newly signed to Heritage Music Group, she returned with the EP Dawn in 2020. ~ Marcy Donelson
- Sydney, Australia
- Jul 26, 1977
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