Risk fuels creativity. When an artist steps away from their comfort zone, following their muse into fresh territory, it generally opens up an exciting new direction. Not everyone is willing to take chances, but Chris Rice isn't your conventional artist. That maverick spirit and creative passion courses through every track of Rices new release "What A Heart is Beating For."
After more than a decade in the music business that brought Dove Awards, sales success and a loyal fan base, the singer/songwriter could have become accustomed to the status quo. He might have continued down the same path, reaping the same rewards, but that's not what a true artist chooses to do, and it's not what Chris Rice did. Instead he took a chance with his last album, "Amusing." He left the security of his longtime label home and partnered with friend/producer Monroe Jones to become co-owner in the innovative imprint Eb + Flo. Then joining forces with INO Records, Rice set out to expand his audience.
He shifted gears, tapped into the music bubbling inside him and created "Amusing," a stylistic departure that changed and exceeded the already high expectations for a Chris Rice album. His risk paid off with the mainstream AC radio hit "When Did You Fall," and the creative leap paved the way for Rices new effort "What a Heart is Beating For."
"I'm more excited about these songs than ever," says Rice. "I feel like they've taken me as a writer into new territory that allowed me to explore different aspects of my own writing and thinking. There aren't constraints on it. There aren't lines in the coloring book that I have to stay in. I get to put on the page whatever I want. It's freedom I cant describe. I still love God, but He's given me a new coloring book."
Well known for such hits as "Deep Enough to Dream," "Clumsy" and "Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)," Rice has built a solid career penning literate, colorful lyrics then bringing them to life with his warm, compelling voice. Rice's last album found him delving deeper into matters of the heart. What emerged was a surprisingly romantic soul with the ability to write songs that made women sigh and men smile knowingly. If "Amusing" revealed his ability to tap more broadly into the range of human experience, then "What a Heart is Beating For" takes that even further.
A myriad of influences have simmered together to spice the songs on Rice's new album, his sixth studio record. "The variety I think is almost part of the thread that unites it," he says of the diverse collection. "They way I say things, pulls them all together."
Life is risky. Love is risky. Music is at its best when it challenges us to take those risks. "The first time I played this for some of my friends, I heard a young college student friend say under his breath -not intended for me to hear- 'Wow, that makes me want to be a better person,'"recalls Chris, obviously humbled. "That's why I do this, just hearing that reaction. I hope this song has that impact on a lot of people."
His recent mainstream success has given Rice the opportunity to share his faith with a hungry world. Of course, believers will still be encouraged by his wit and intellect, but he's now been blessed with a platform to do more. "I got some letters from people on the website asking 'What's wrong with my faith? Why are you doing that?'" he says. "It's my faith that is compelling me to expand, grow and change. I'm doing this because of how vital and vibrant and important my faith is in affecting every area of my life and affecting how I live my life on the road. I'm living it out in a new way. The success of "When Did You Fall?" has set me free to even more so to do that kind of writing, that kind of music without any hesitations. I have no hesitation in my mind, my heart or my gut."