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New Beginnings with Eli
Aug. 13, 2000
By Cathy Courtwright
New beginnings, that is exactly what comes to mind when I think of Contemporary Christian Artist, Eli. He is about redemption and starting over for anything that needs it. Eli promotes new beginnings for others as he himself, is in the process of a sort of a new beginning.
Eli's latest project is entitled, Second Hand Clothing. The title track from this record is about a girl, Sharla, who purchases and wears second hand clothing. Other people may laugh at her or think her strange, but she doesn't mind, she said: "I don't mind if I wear second hand clothing, cause it's a part of who I am and who God made me. Making something old brand new. Just like the hope my life has found in you Jesus. So, I don't mind...." In speaking with Eli, it becomes apparent that in many aspects, this song represents Eli's philosophy.
I caught up with Eli the day after he led worship at a conference for Compassion International Volunteers. As we sat in the back of my pickup, it was refreshing to speak with someone who has a true burden for those in need. He didn't even let the stench and bugs from a nearby compost pile deter him from speaking his heart about Compassion. He commented how Compassion fits with his philosophy of helping the poor keep their dignity. He says, "Homeless and people struggling don't need our pity. It would be nice if we just cared."
Continuing the conversation, he explained a recent event he held in the Chicago area. At the release of Second Hand Clothing, a free copy was given to each person who brought in a bag of clothing for the local clothes closet. He has held several concerts that were benefits similar to this. Eli explained that working with the underprivileged is an important part of who he is and how God has made him. He says, "It's about helping others see that they can begin again."
At this point, Eli and I discussed the parallels between his latest project and his personal life. He said, "Part of Second Hand Clothing was written at the same time or before several songs from Things I've Prayed For. This explains why several songs on his new project continue to show his struggle with homelessness and his struggles with his dad. As nodding yes, he says, "I'm glad my feelings come through that well. That's what I wanted in this CD."
As we concluded the interview
and Eli walked away, I realized that I had just had a conversation with
a genuine man of character. From his bare feet to his shortened hair style,
Eli admits that he is full of mistakes and doesn't quite get all that God
has in store yet; but he continues to try to walk in grace. If you are
sick of artists trying to put on a front, give Eli a try and be certain
to listen to what he says between the songs.