Rice, Chris

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Chris Rice

Christian contemporary musician

For the Record

Selected discography


After Christian pop artist Michael W. Smith started his own independent record label, Rocketown Records, he knew which artist he wanted to be Rocketowns first. Chris Rice, whod been traveling the country for more than a decade with his youth ministry, was the chosen one. So after Rices debut release on Rocketown, Deep Enough to Dream, in 1997, the Christian songwriter had to add touring to promote his record to his already-packed schedule of youth camps and retreats.

Rice was raised in Maryland by his parents, who were Christian bookstore owners. He was known for his gift with kidstalking, listening, singing, playing ball with themand was somewhat hesitant about signing a record contract that would obligate him to time away from his youth ministry. After 12 fruitful years of full time teaching, singing and worship leading in youth and college retreat settings, I wondered how my life would change this year with the release of Deep Enough to Dream Rice wrote in his bio. But his recording career only served to extend his outreach. In his contract with Rocketown, he stipulated that 15 weeks a year be reserved for his youth ministry. Billboard called Deep Enough to Dream one of the most successful new releases... in the Christian music industry. Releasing a record did change things for Ricehe was more accessible than ever. He started receiving letters and e-mail daily from students and adults from as far away as Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and Korea.

Although Deep Enough to Dream was Rices first release, he had experience and success at songwriting for other Christian artists, Kathy Trocolli most notably. He began his songwriting career in the 1980s and was named the American Songwrit erChristian Songwriter of the Year in 1995 for Kim Boyces By Faith. After his own release, Rice immediately was referred to as Christian musics James Taylor, which accurately described his folksy guitar style and sweet voice. But his songwriting was based on years of experience answering kids questions, which made his songs unique. Rice isnt afraid to confront the Big QuestionsHow do we get to know God? Why such suffering if theres a great and loving God? etc., said Eugene, Oregons Register-Guard in 1998. But [he] still has a common touch, putting existentialist flesh on divine queries. Rice came across in interviews as distinctly down to earth and likable. Another review that painted Rice as a quiet and humble thirty-something songwriter was found in the Dayton Daily News: Rices lyrics show why he is so popular with teenshes genuine, and he doesnt talk down to anybody.

The first release was a charm for Rice and Deep Enough to Dream earned six Gospel Music Association Dove

For the Record

Born in MA, to Christian bookstore owners.

Started singing in Christian youth ministries, 1985; signed to Rocketown Records, 1996; released debut record Deep Enough to Dream, 1997; earned six nominations at Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, 1998; released Past the Edges, 1998.

Awards: American Songwriter magazines Songwriter of the Year, 1995.

Address: Record company Rocketown Records, 404 Bridge St., Franklin, Tennessee 37064-9040.

Award nominations in the spring of 1998 including New Artist, Male Vocalist, Pop/Contemporary Album, and as both artist and songwriter for Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year. He wasnt awarded any Doves, but during a performance in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the week after the awards ceremony, the crowd chanted oh for six! and awarded him an honor of their owna talking parrot stuffed animal they called The Parrot Award.

Rices first release as a recording artist was also Rocketowns first release as an independent record label, and a lot was proved in their first joint outing. In starting the label, founder Michael W. Smith told the Tennessean in 1997, We said, Lets be small. Lets create something the way it used to be... If it fails, Id rather go down as an independent than sell it. To me it doesnt matter about the money, what matters is the vision. And Smiths vision, as he stated it in the early days of Rocketown, was family. He wanted the business to be like a family, based on relationships. Which was why Rice found so comfortable a home with the label. They are so focused on really helping me and with what I am doing rather than turning me into some big star, Rice told The Tennessean in 1997. Its more relationship oriented. Theyre really interested in what Im doing in my life and enhancing that rather than taking me out of that. Rices success with Rocketown allowed the label family to take on some new membersa band called Watermark signed on after Rices debut and was preparing to release its debut as Rice was preparing for his second.

Despite being a self-proclaimed slow writer, Rice was ready with his second release in the fall of 1998just a year after his first. With Past the Edges Rice moved away from the folky sound of the first album into a more aggressive, acoustic pop vein, wrote BilIboardin 1998. Rice has a warm, accessible voice, but his calling card is his poignant lyrics, which reflect universal questions and concerns.

With added horns, synthesizers, strings, and the occasional accordion, Past the Edges was even called funky. Rice came across on this release more as everymanand thats how he approached writing it. I take the stance in some of these songs of a nonbeliever because I dont want to just feel like an answer man, Rice told Billboard in 1998. I want to identify with both believers and nonbelievers Even as a Christian, there is a lot of stuff Ill never figure out, and its okay to not have the answers, but its not okay to drop everything and not question and not think. Rices producer, Monroe Jones, concurred in the same article. He doesnt approach things from a cliché, he said. He doesnt approach it from I know it, so you need to know it.

Although Rocketown enjoyed the widespread coverage of Sony distribution, Rice kept things very personal with fans. He joined Michael W. Smith and the husband-and-wife duo Wilshire on Smiths two-month Live the Life tour in the fall of 1998. The tour was planned so that Rice and Wilshire, co-openers for Smith, could have time before the show in many cities to meet with concertgoers in the parking lot.

Selected discography

Deep Enough to Dream, Rocketown, 1997.

Past the Edges, Rocketown, 1998.



Billboard, August 15, 1998; October 24, 1998.

CBA Marketplace, November 1998.

Church Musician Today, January 1999.

Dallas Morning News, September 19, 1998.

Dayton Daily News, October 8, 1998.

Register-Guard, November 6, 1998.

The Tennessean, February 11, 1997.

Times-News Weekender, February 28, 1998.


Chris Rice, All-Media Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (January 5, 1999).

Additional information was provided by Rocketown publicity materials, 1999.

Brenna Sanchez