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The Chrissy Conway of ZoeGirl
She could be sitting next to you in church with a smile on her face but deep inside she is hurting so bad that life doesn’t seem to be much of an option anymore and you may never know it until it’s too late. During the third week of March, ZoeGirl released their fourth studio CD Room To Breathe and with songs like “Scream,” they want to draw attention to issues that are often ignored until it is too late.
I caught up with Chrissy Conway while she and the other members of ZoeGirl Alisa Girard and Kristin Swinford were on their way to the airport in Dallas, Texas following an appearance at a local radio station. “I really feel like Room to Breathe is giving these girls a voice. Ultimately everyone is trying to be heard”, says Conway.
The lyrics to “Scream” do just that: “Does anybody know how I feel/Sometimes I’m numb/Sometimes I’m overcome/Does anybody care what’s going on? /Do I have to wear my scars like a badge on my arm for you to see me?”
“I think the issue of wanting to be accepted is a huge issue. I would be willing to bet that most people do face that at some point in their lives. Self esteem is the root of why we do a lot of things. Why we get into drugs, why we get into parties, why we get into drinking, cutting and abuse. It all stems from the fact that we don’t really understand who we are in Christ. It was a huge issue for me in high school. I didn’t even know a Christian during my teenage years. I didn’t become a Christian until I was 18 and so I didn’t really have any perspective of who I was.” She says she was just trying to find a place to fit in.
Whereas fans in recent years have come to focus on some tremendous guitar grooves from Swinford and Girard, “Scream” highlights Conway on the keyboards. Once again, the tremendous harmonies of all three ladies are there to appreciate.
The number nine track on the CD, “Not the One,” provides a voice for those seeking to break out of abusive relationships. “You can try to break me, try to hurt me/Till the walls fall around me/But you can never make me feel unloved”
When asked if there is a risk associated with writing cutting edge lyrics, especially when so many in the church do not want to admit that the same issues exist in their own congregations, Conway replied, “It may not be a popular thing or what anybody wants to talk about but I’m really sure that’s why he has called us together as a group.”
So Chrissy, can funky urban tunes like “Dead Serious” make a difference with today’s teens? “I really wish there were songs like this when I was younger. Not only do I believe in it but we see it with our own eyes with the letters and kids coming up to us after concerts.” She says young women have shared with them about how they have gone as far as breaking off relationships that were abusive or relationships in which they were being pressured sexually by their boyfriends. She said the girls often allude to the music as being an inspiration to break free from these abusive situations.
One of the ministries that have become very important to ZoeGirl is their partnering with Big World Ventures for missions trips each year. Last year they took approximately sixty teenage girls and guys to Ecuador. While the group and the teens participate in everything from construction, hauling gravel and cleaning, the music of Zoe Girl also plays an important role. Last year they played an open air concert in a large park during the time of day that people were on their way to work. The teenagers participated in a choir on stage with the band. A highlight for Conway was watching people who were walking to work just like any other day stop, listen to their message and commit their lives to Christ.
Details about this year’s trip scheduled for the later part of July can be found at <http://www.bigworld.org/>www.bigworld.org or <http://www.zoegirlonline.com/>
The music and ministry of Zoe Girl has taken on a fresh meaning for Girard, Conway and Swinford as all three married in the past two years. Two of them, Girard and Conway, have stepchildren. In fact Conway pays tribute to her stepsons Jackson and Dylan (sons of James Katina) on the CD cover. She says now they see themselves almost in a mother role to the teenage girls they sing to. “Almost like we want to protect them and guide them, more in a motherly sense than like a peer.”
Chrissy Conway was an 18 year old teenager trying to fit in when a friend invited her to Philadelphia rally and concert sponsored by evangelist Greg Laurie’s ministry. “I said, 'No, that’s okay, I’ll be alright.'” She got hooked when her friend told her she thought there was a free concert featuring one of her favorite R&B groups. She thought a free concert was too good a deal to turn down. As it turned out, her friend was wrong and only one representative of the group was there to speak. She says, “They never sang but I ended up getting saved that night. Obviously He (God) had other plans.”
If you aren’t familiar with Zoe Girl their web site features audio samples from “Room to Breathe” as well as video and other goodies at www.zoegirlonline.com.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
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