For Christy and Nathan Nockels, there is little separation between life and work. The couple, who have been married since 1995, comprise the Contemporary Christian music duo Watermark, which grew out of their popular Houston, Texas, ministry. Both of the Nockels exhibited a gift for music at an early age. Christy began singing in her church when she was six and, at the same age, Nathan began taking piano lessons. By 13 he was playing keyboards in his home church. While Christy was born in Ft. Worth, Texas, she and Nathan both grew up in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU). The couple did not establish a relationship, however, until they both attended the Christian Artists Seminar in Estes Park, Colorado, in 1993. After this, they began writing songs and performing together. A romance was also brewing, and they married in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, in 1995.
Following Nathan’s graduation from OBU in 1997, he and Christy relocated to Houston. There, with a band they assembled, they led music-filled Monday-night worship sessions for 3,000 single adults through the First Baptist Church’s popular Metro Bible Study. Their work in Houston drew the attention of popular CCM artist and Tennessee-based Rocketown Records head Michael W. Smith, who encouraged the Nockels to record an album with his label. While the couple had originally toured as Sons & Daughters, they changed their name to Watermark at the suggestion of Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion college worship seminars in which the Nockels remain active. Giglio had visited Kansas following massive floods there and noticed the high water marks that remained after the waters receded. In an interview published on the Christian Music.com website, Giglio noted that such markers “could just as well be true of our lives as we experience an outpouring of God’s spirit, a powerful movement that marks us for eternity.” Hethought the metaphor represented the Nockels’ music equally well.
Watermark released its self-titled debut in 1998 on Rocketown, launching it with a year-long tour to support the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award-winning group Point of Grace. Christian MusicWeb’s Dan Flicker called the album “an excellent disc that… [borders] on the line of pop and worship.” In an interview published on the Breen Agency website, Nathan said, “We knew it was quite an honor to go on the road with Point of Grace…. It was a difficult decision to leave Metro, but after the first night on the Point of Grace tour, we knew that God had planned it all along.” Watermark yielded two number-one songs on Christian radio, sold 100,000 units, and earned the Nockels three Dove Award nominations, including New Artist of the Year. Watermark joined the “Night in Rocketown” tour the following year, joining Smith and popular CCM artists Chris Rice, Ginny Owens, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and Cindy Morgan.
Part of Watermark’s appeal is their refusal to shy away from difficult topics. This trait was perhaps most pronounced on their sophomore effort, All Things New, released by Rocketown in 2000. The album features the song “Glory Baby,” a reminiscence of the child Christy miscarried. The couple suffered a second miscarriage before the birth of their son Noah Luke in 2000. Christy speaks candidly, both musically and in interviews, of the pain she and Nathan endured and its effect on their faith. “We’ve experienced grief for the first time and learned about that process, but I think through grief, God just showed me some places in my life that I needed to surrender,” she told the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Lisa Ryan. “It was a really dark time, but at the same time it is strange because I look back on that and I remember that being a very spiritually enlightening, very bright, light time,” Nathan recalled in the same interview. “I think it was because everything was stripped away, just like that, and there was nothing except for us and God.” Christy feels it is important to share her tribulations with audiences: “A lot of brokenness and vulnerability comes through on our records and in our concerts. People can see that we’re weak, we’re not super Christians, and we don’t have it all together but, thankfully, God uses us in spite of it.”
Constant, released in 2002 and produced by Nathan, has a more stripped-down tone than the earlier, synthesizer-heavy albums. “The 2002 project offers listeners a much earthier and less pop-influenced sound than Watermark’s pervious two albums. All ten songs are gentle and melodic in nature, resonating with uplifting and at times soothing notes of praise, thankfulness, and remembrance of God’s constant love,”
Members include Christy Nockels (born in Fort Worth, TX. Education: Attended Oklahoma Baptist University) and Nathan Nockels (born in Oklahoma. Education: Graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University); couple married, 1995; two children.
Released self-titled debut album on Rocketown Records, 1999; released follow-up, All Things New,2000; released third album, Constant,2002. Nathan has acted as producer for groups Point of Grace, downhere, and Phillips, Craig & Dean.
Addresses: Record company—Rocketown Records, 2035 Mallory Ln., Franklin, TN 37067. Management— Moose Management, P.O. Box 822, Franklin, TN 37065-0822. Website—Watermark Official Website: http://www.watermark-online.com.
wrote All Music Guide’s Ashleigh Kittle. Commented Flicker, “Musically, the work of Nathan and Christy Nockels is still being refined, although … [Constant] is no doubt their best to date. Lyrically, the honest reflections on life and heavenly revelation are a much-needed refreshment from the usual pop/contemporary style, and that is something that will not change.”
Nathan jumped from behind the control booth to the front of the stage for this album, laying down his first-ever vocal track on the love song “Made for You,” which, he confessed in the biography published on their official website, made him “totally uncomfortable… We are always vulnerable in our lyrics, but it was hard for me to actually say these things.” The album has been noted for its optimistic messages, which Christy has said is characteristic of her songwriting style. “I certainly have times of loneliness and sadness like anyone else,” she continued in the same interview, “but I think I always put those feelings through the filter of my faith. If I feel hopeless, I tend to write about the hope that Christ gives. I write the things that I want to hear, that I need to hear.”
In addition to Watermark, the Nockels remain active with Passion, and Nathan has produced recordings for a number of artists, including Point of Grace, downhere, and Phillips, Craig & Dean. The Nockels welcomed their second child, daughter Elliana Noel, in December of 2002.
Watermark, Rocketown/Sony, 1999.
All Things New, Rocketown/Sony, 2000.
Constant, Rocketown, 2002.
(Contributor) Our Love is Loud, Passion, 2002.
“All Things New,” Christian MusicWeb, http://cmusicweb.com/pop/watermark/allthingsnew.shtml (June 3, 2003).
“Watermark,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusrc.com (May 30, 2003).
“Watermark: Cradling Hope,” Christian Broadcasting Network, http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/watermark%2Easp (June 12, 2003).
Watermark Official Website, http://www.watermark-online.com (June 12, 2003).