Meet Rachael Lampa

The list of accolades is long - atypically long for an artist who has released only one album. But in the last 18 months, Word Records artist Rachael Lampa, 17, has taken the world by storm, racking up awards, national TV appearances, radio hits and record-setting sales - while showing off vocal chops Billboard magazine has compared to Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston.

At age 16, Lampa experienced one of the largest career launches in Christian music, releasing her debut album, Live for You (Aug. 15, 2000), the same day she performed the title cut on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." The album debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s "Top Heatseekers Albums" chart and became the second-highest scanning debut by a female Christian artist on SoundScan’s "Christian Retail" chart. That same year, she was nationally recognized at The Hollywood Reporter’s Fifth Annual Young Star Awards, scoring a nomination for Best Young Recording Artist or Musical Group. A few months later at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards 2001, she picked up a win for Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year ("Blessed"), as well as nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year, New Artist of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year. In the past year-and-a-half, Lampa has made guest TV appearances on "The View With Barbara Walters," "Entertainment Tonight," CNN’s "Showbiz," “The Miss Teen USA Pageant" and "Lifetime Presents: Disney’s American Teacher Awards," among others. She’s also been featured in national print media like Seventeen, TeenPeople and USA Today.

A year older, Lampa returns with her follow-up recording, Kaleidoscope(street date: March 5, 2002), again produced by Brent Bourgeois (Point of Grace, Cindy Morgan, 4HIM) and Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, Point of Grace). The album finds the five-foot-tall powerhouse exploring her musicality and message.

On Kaleidoscope, Lampa branches off, pen in hand, writing on five of the album’s 11 songs: "Lead Me (I’ll Follow)," "Give Your Heart Away," "I’m All Yours," "A Song for You," and “Sanctuary.”

The same process that birthed six radio hits from Live for You was employed again this time around. Artists and songwriters, including Cindy Morgan, Paige Lewis, Brent Bourgeois, David Mullen, Phillip and Natalie LaRue, Chris Rodriguez, Pete Kipley and Chris Eaton periodically came to Bourgeois’ home to write songs for the album. "On the first record, I spent a lot of time with the writers and told them about my life," Lampa recalls. "On this record, if there was something I wanted to sing about, I would go and tell somebody my ideas, and they’d write a song. Or we’d write it together.”

That was the case with "A Song for You," a cut she and Cindy Morgan wrote together at the piano. For the first time, Lampa, who until then had been too shy to show anyone her work, opened her journal and read one of the many songs she’d written by herself. At 11, she penned "A Song for You" after learning her father was ill.

"It’s a song to my family," she says "When my dad got sick, I was in the fifth grade and all about my friends. I just realized how much I needed my family, how much we needed each other. Every night, we’d all get together and just pray together. It was a powerful time for our family."

The song is representative of how Lampa feels about each cut on Kaleidoscope: "Every single song on this record is something I wanted to sing about specifically," she says. "Last year, there were things I wanted to talk about on stage, but really no relevant time to say them. Now I have songs that represent exactly what I want to talk about." One of those topics, Lampa says, is the need to make the most of our time. The new song, "Give Your Heart Away," went through several incarnations before the final version written just days after Sept. 11. Like all Americans watching the indelible scenes of the events, Lampa began to evaluate her priorities.

"After everything happened, I wound up talking to my friends who were still waiting to get serious about their faith until after high school," says the Louisville, Colo., native who attends public school in the town near Boulder. "It was so important to me to have a song that challenges us to make the most of every moment and realize what this life is about and why we’re living it. I think Sept. 11 has really woken up some of my friends and made them realize the time is now to make a full time commitment to God."

In more ways than one, the past 18 months have "grown up" the young girl who believes she was "too comfortable in her faith before." I think I felt like I was kind of ahead of everyone, at least in my faith," she says candidly. "I was the one who said publicly she was a Christian, and I was the one who didn’t drink. But just when you think you’re as close to God as you can get, He shows you so much more of who He is. Just seeing how God has worked in me and through me this past year has pushed me in a totally new way. Now, I realize just how much of my life still wasn’t completely surrendered to God."

It’s these personal revelations that have Lampa looking at life through different lenses. Lampa is seeing how each area of her life fits together into a "beautiful shape" - the Greek etymology for "kaleidoscope." "It seems like God continues to show me new ways that He’s in control of my life, and that has me working out my faith in a different way," says the young girl wise beyond her years. The song "Brand New Life," written by Pete Kipley and Robert Ellis Orrall, portrays it well. She says, "One of the lyrics says ‘it’s like I’m looking through a kaleidoscope,’ and it so is. When you see things through His eyes, you see things in different ways. You respond in different ways. Every time I hear that song, I want to cry because it describes exactly how I feel.”

“Everything I can do to reflect Him, I just want to jump at it. Obviously, I’m not perfect but every day I want to pray and look for opportunities to show how unashamed I am that God is in control of my life." Her emotional and spiritual growth parallels Lampa’s musical growth, evolving from a self-described "14-year-old singer with wide eyes" to an artist who has become acutely aware of her musicality. Influenced by the likes of Stevie Wonder, U2 and Lauren Hill, she says Kaleidoscope is musically edgier than her debut.

"It’s got a lot of old school funk," she says. "That style has really caught my ear this past year, and I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this.’ It never really occurred to me before that I can do the music I want to do."

Kaleidoscope is not a "huge jump" from the debut, but rather a bridge. "There are a few songs that are more like the first record and a few that are pretty far off. But this is me. It feels like it has a lot of different colors. That’s another reason we called it Kaleidoscope."

Again, Lampa proves her vocal prowess, delivering what CCM Magazine (August 2000) called "neck hair-raising vocals." Songs like "Brand New Life," "Lead Me (I’ll Follow)," and "Beautiful" showcase the vocal licks she quickly became known for last year in live performances. Since her debut, she has performed before more than a quarter of a million people on various tours, including December 2001’s "Christmas to Remember" shows with Amy Grant and Vince Gill, Rebecca St. James’ fall 2001 "Wait for Me" tour and as a part of the spring 2001 tour with Plus One and Stacie Orrico.

Live performance has never been difficult for the vocalist who began harmonizing at age four. Eight years later, she appeared on the Jenny Jones Young Talent Search, finished in second place at the World Championship of Entertainment and became a regular performer of the national anthem at Colorado Rockies baseball games. But it was a live performance at the Praise in the Rockies conference in Estes Park, Colo., that set the big wheels in motion. There, she performed two songs and quickly became the buzz of the event. She signed to Word Records at the end of 1999.

Now, with Kaleidoscope, Lampa is even more resolved than ever that she is where she needs and wants to be. "I definitely feel like this whole thing is what God planned," she says confidently. "This past year has been such a huge and quick journey. If no one was touched by my music last year, I know I was touched by the process it took to do everything. Not only do I know that God has a plan for me, but I see it firsthand now. There’s nothing like it in the world, and it’s an awesome place to be."

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