Meet Sixpence None the Richer

When 17-year-old Matt Slocum first heard Leigh Bingham sing at a Texas church retreat in 1992, he knew he had discovered a rare talent. The unique, wispy quality of her voice entranced the young guitarist/songwriter, and he invited the 13-year-old songstress to sing on a demo he was planning to produce. Their collaboration formed the nucleus for what would become one of the rising stars on the Christian music horizon, Sixpence None the Richer. The name is based on a passage from C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity: A small child wants to buy a present for his father, but must ask his father for the money first. When the son presents the gift to his dad, the father is pleased but also "sixpence none the richer," since he had to pay for the gift in the first place.

Sixpence’s 1993 debut album, The Fatherless and the Widow, garnered critical acclaim and kudos from the media as Billboard and Syndicate magazines gave them rave reviews. The same year, the duo toured the East Coast with 10,000 Maniacs, and performed at Greenbelt and Flevofest in Europe. They took a couple of years off to concentrate on their school work, but returned to the music scene in 1995 with three new band members. "Leigh and I talked after the first album," Matt explains. "We knew we’d be marked as a duo, but I really wanted Sixpence to be a five-piece band. It took about a year to find that permanence." (CCM) Drummer Dale Baker, guitarist and back-up vocalist Tess Wiley, and bassist J.J. Plasencio lent their expertise to This Beautiful Mess, Sixpence’s striking sophomore effort. Six months after its release, sales were double that of the first album. Their third album, Tickets for a Prayer Wheel, followed soon after, although the configuration of the band had again changed with the departure of Tess.

Sixpence’s newest album marks another turning point in the evolution of the group both musically and personally. Matt plays both cello and guitar, Dale is back on the drums, but bassist J.J. returns only as a studio presence. He has since left Sixpence to join Plumb. Of course, Leigh also returns as the lead singer, but with a new name. She married drummer Mark Nash of PFR in November 1995. Fresh, honest, and innovative, Sixpence’s self-titled album is very different from their other releases, but their musical mission remains the same as it did when they recorded This Beautiful Mess. "We want these songs to provoke thought and urge listeners to seek the truth in God," Leigh told Christian Retailing. " We want them to know that there are other people who go through struggles. I think it’s cool that people know we’re Christians, yet they’ll see the lyrics and know that it’s not wonderful all the time. The ultimate goal in life is not happiness—but obedience to God’s will."

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