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Nichole Nordeman
"Slow Down"


Q&A | One of Christian music’s best-known voices emerges from a 10-year hiatus
to sing about hope amid pain

By Warren Cole Smith, worldmag.com

   Fifteen years ago, Nichole Nordeman, then still in her 20s, was one of the biggest names in contemporary Christian music. Between 1998 and 2002, she produced three popular and critically acclaimed albums in quick succession. In 2003, Nordeman won four Dove Awards, including female vocalist of the year, song of the year, songwriter of the year, and pop contemporary recorded song of the year, all for her hit song, “Holy.” After releasing another critically acclaimed album in 2005, Brave, Nichole took a 10-year hiatus to focus on her personal life. Now she’s back with a new extended play called The Unmaking. "An unexpected hit in "Slow Down" has found her in high demand for interviews.
  It's just entered Billboard's Contemporary Christian Top 25 at #3.

You and I first chatted in an interview setting like this about 10 years ago after your third album came out.
What have you been up to since then?

  I think it’s probably fair to say, in retrospect, that was at the height of things for me, career-wise. I had been working for many, many years to build up to that point. I was selling records pretty well, touring a lot, and really experiencing blessing and favor.

  I felt at that time like I was really struggling with balance in my personal life, and I had been for some time. My marriage was in trouble. I was a new mom. I know so many artists and friends of mine who are able to make those two worlds live together in tandem. They bring nannies on the road and they homeschool on the tour bus. That just never felt like a fit for me, and so I was subsequently not being a great artist or a great mom.

  I really felt like God said, “This is not even something I’m asking you to slow down. I’m asking you to stop,” just to hit the brakes, which was a really hard decision at that particular time in my career. It was very difficult just to say to all these people who’d been working so hard with me and for me that I’m going to take that hat off completely. I did that for almost a decade to stay home with my babies.

You wrote a song about that called
“Slow Down” on the EP you just released.

  I wrote it for my son’s fifth-grade graduation. It was just going to be a little gift to him and to his class, but it’s really just about that universal expression and frustration and feeling that parents all feel at any point in their children’s lives, which is, “This is going by too fast. I want to make it stop. I want to make it slow down. I want to build a time machine and go back and rock you in a rocking chair just for one night.”
  It’s not a depressing song, by any means, but it’s an homage to the different ages and stages of children’s lives and how we wish we could just slow it all down.

The title track on this EP called
“The Unmaking,” suggests crisis or disaster. What happened during your break from music stardom that caused you to write that song?

  I’m sad to say that my marriage did not survive, and that’s been part of the unmaking that God’s been working in my life. He’s been so kind to me in helping me understand that crisis and disaster and personal failure and sorrow do not have to be something to be ashamed of or be hidden.
  This is not a new idea. I’ve said this from stage for many, many years. I’ve just never had to live it out, the idea that we really want everybody to think that things are OK, at least from the curb, no matter how many piles of debris really exist in our lives. If we can just sweep it into manageable sections and pretend like it’s not awful, then somehow that’s more redeeming.

  Truly, I felt like God said to me over the past 10 years of a very broken marriage and 9 1/2 years of trying to resuscitate it every day, “It’s okay to sit in this rubble a little bit. Let’s not pretend because you are Nichole Nordeman that all is well if it’s not well because there is strength.” His strength is in our weakness. He’s very clear about that. The song is about that.

How did you know it was time to start recording
and performing again?

  I don’t know that I could pinpoint a moment. I think God was so generous to continue to give me creative opportunities while I was home during that season where I wasn’t recording and I wasn’t touring, I wasn’t traveling. I was able to write a book. I was able to write songs for a project called The Story, 17 songs for a multiartist collaboration. I don’t feel like I ever stopped fully creating. I just didn’t have to get on a tour bus or an airplane to do it.

  I don’t know that I can say I knew at the moment that it was time to make music again, music of my own. I think I just felt like it was time. My kids are older now. Charlie’s 12 and Pepper is 6, so they’re in school and not needing so much of me all day, every day at home. I think I have patched enough of my heart back together to be able to speak a little bit of wholeness and healing into other people’s lives through music. It just felt right.

For "The Story", you recorded a duet with Amy Grant. Were you in the same room together? That’s often not the way music is done these days.

  We were, and you’re right. That never, ever happens. I’ve sung on plenty of duets. You’re not even in the same state half the time, much less the same room, but we were in the studio together. … I’ll never forget that. We were singing about Ruth and Naomi, and Amy had just lost her mom maybe three days before. The fact that she even kept the studio time when she certainly could have and probably should have canceled it—I was so humbled by that. She just brings such grace into every moment, I think. I will always have a really special memory of that time with her.

When you were going through those personal traumas,
how was the Christian music community, and how was
the church during that time for you?

  I didn’t really allow people to love me through that, which was a huge loss, I think. Finally, when I did start to share it, and I’m really still just starting to share that, I posted something on Facebook and held my breath and cried a lot and wrung my hands and was worried that now I’m “that artist” or “that girl” or “that story.” I can’t even describe to you the outpouring of support [not only] from fans but from friends, from industry friends, who weren’t surprised, but [said] nothing but, “We love you and we’ve got you and we’re for you.” It was so humbling, and it made me regret that I hadn’t been more open with my pain.

How do you balance the responsibility you have
as a Christian artist to be self-disclosing
with having a private life?

  It’s tricky. … It is a fine line … How much of this is not anyone’s business? It is my life, and it is my personal life. An element of that is the digital footprint that we leave every time we open our mouths or say something. It’s imprinted forever or online forever. I have two kids who can read, so I’m very careful not to air dirty laundry or stories or anything that would be painful for them to read down the road. I think that’s important.

  The flipside of that is I do feel a responsibility to live transparently, especially as an artist. Time and time again over the years, people have said to me, “Thank you for the transparency in your music. Thank you for the honesty and the vulnerability.”
  I feel like I’ve got to really put my money where my mouth is at this point and just be honest that life is not perfect. I don’t think I ever pretended that it was, but especially now, to be really brave about sharing some of that pain and watch what God can do with that.

What do you do for fun? If you just had a day that you could do whatever you wanted, what would that be?

  I don’t know when I’ve had a day like that. I feel like I’m not quite in the get-to-have-a-hobby phase yet. In a lot of ways, this is what I love. Being a mom has been my full-time job for a decade now, so getting to make music again, getting to travel occasionally, sing, write with other people—that is kind of my hobby and love and my ministry and job. I get both of those rolled into one. My perfect afternoon, if I had one—I’m such an introvert, I would probably be by myself with a good stack of books or a new recipe to work out in my kitchen.

When people are remembering Nichole Nordeman,
what do you want them to say about you?

  Music, especially Christian music, can at times feel inspiring but also a little deflating. For those of us who’ve been there, I can’t even get out of bed much less experience whatever the song is telling me I should be experiencing. That’s not to say anything negative about other artists, but I think that I really want people to feel from me … I want them to hear brokenness and hear joy, as well, but hear honesty in both of those moments and know it does not matter where you are on the path. Just be you and know that the more “you” you are, the more you’re opening yourself up to being whole and loved again.
 

~ from www.worldmag.com ~

See Nichole Nordeman's "Slow Down" Video

 Click Here

 Blog from Nichole Nordeman

 It’s been a wonderfully weird week.

  I was so excited to post our little Slow Down video. I had hoped it would be a meaningful soundtrack to Mother’s Day and graduation season. Having so much footage of friends’ children in the video, made it even more special, personally. What I did not expect was 15 million views in one week. Neither do I expect unicorn sightings.

  I wrote Slow Down last year, the night before Charlie’s 5th grade graduation. I sat down to rehearse a familiar song I’d planned to sing in the ceremony when it hit me hard that my son was launching into middle school and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I made the grave mistake of digging out old albums, pouring over baby pictures and Kindergarten field trips. Karate and swimming lessons. Christmas pajamas. My actual heart actually hurt.
  I sat at my piano and let Slow Down spill out, washed in a sea of tears of gratitude and ache for all the little boy moments in the rear view mirror, and for all the extraordinary moments on the road ahead of him, now.

  To watch this video catch fire and resonate with so many people filled my heart beyond capacity. Parents and grandparents everywhere feeling the simultaneous tug of heartache and joy as we watch the little people in our lives grow at warp speed, helpless to do anything but stand by, teary eyed, clutching old photos.

  I’m on the tail end of a wonderful tour and had a couple days of cherished days at home in Tulsa, with my kids when this video viral business began. That small window of time at home filled quickly with interviews, emails, and general desperation at trying to keep up with the song’s sudden new exposure and an attempt at managing some kind of response to the attention.

  I had promised my daughter, Pepper, we’d have a friend over after school.

  Didn’t happen.

  Instead, I scrambled to organize a frantic, impromptu photo shoot at the park, since we didn’t have any current pictures. My kids smiled dutifully for the camera, before asking to play for a few minutes after the photographer finished.

  Nope. Didn’t happen.

  We had to rush home to download photos to send to multiple media outlets.

  I had promised my son a trip to the mall to get some new basketball shoes, as the soles are literally hanging off his old ones.

  Didn’t happen.

  I was glued, instead to my phone and laptop. Promising “only 5 more minutes.” Shushing them. Hurrying them out of the room so I could focus.

  Focus on the raging success of a song I’d written about them. A song about being present. A song about not missing moments.


  Pepper played alone for a long time. Organized her stuffed animals. Played the iPad until the battery died. Read to the dog. Patiently checking in to see how many more “5 more minutes” were left before I could spend time with her. She messed around in the kitchen and came back proudly with a creative snack for me (Oyster crackers, ranch dressing and side of Nutella. A Capri Sun to wash it down).

  “No thank you, not now, Sweetie” I mouthed silently to her, during yet another urgent phone call.

  At least Charlie could entertain himself upstairs with video games, where he had been, for hours.

  Finally, after endless attempts at connecting with me, she tiptoed into the living room where I was (still) on the phone, and put a bowl of warm water on the floor by my feet. She’d carefully set out cotton balls, various lotions and bright pink nail polish, and was trying to untie my Nikes.

  “Oh thank you, baby” I whispered, “but right now, Mommy can’t …”

  I froze mid sentence, staring down at her big hopeful eyes, the moment thick with irony.

  I have no time for my children, because I’m talking to the rest of the world about a song about only wanting more time with my children. My eyes stung with hot, tired tears.

  My little girl is trying to wash my feet.

  Slow.

  Down.

  Moms of earth, kindly repeat after me:

  Most everything can wait.

  I know some things can’t actually wait. Deadlines do exist. The bills don’t pay themselves. You found a lump? Go now. That gas leak you think you smell? Can’t wait.

  But most of it can.

  I hope this Mother’s Day you felt how cherished you are. I hope you laugh at what a disaster your pantry is. I hope you shrug at the two inches of unhighlighted hair that’s grown in. I hope you take pictures without filters and wear the laundry right out of the dryer, without folding it. I hope you take long naps and get long hugs from your littles.

  Here’s to you.

  PS. Oyster crackers and Nutella? Not awful.

~ from www.nicholenordaman.com ~

 

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NICHOLE NORDEMAN
"Slow Down"
(from The Unmaking)

Retail Price: $7.99
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(Save 37%)

After a 10-year hiatus, Nichole is back with a much-anticipated collection of dynamic new songs! Acclaimed for her lyrical depth and passionate delivery, the multiple Dove Award winner encourages you to seek God's presence in the midst of struggle in "Not to Us," "Name," "Love You More," "Something Out of Me," "Slow Down," and the hit single title track.

NICHOLE NORDEMAN
"Brave"


Retail Price:
$16.98
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 (Save 29%)

Nichole Nordeman's
follow-up to her 2002 release Woven and Spun is another show of strong songwriting and musicianship, culminating in an eleven track collection of stunning new music. Brave includes "Crimson", "Hold On", "What If," the title track, and the hit,
"Real To Me."

Nichole Nordeman
"Recollection: The Best of Nichole Nordeman"


Retail Price: $17.99
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(Save 28%)

Since her debut album in 1998, Nichole has gone on to win 9 Dove Awards, sold nearly 1 million records and currently is the #1 most played female artist in Christian radio. On March 6th, Recollection: The Best of Nichole Nordeman will hit store shelves with 17 tracks including the critically acclaimed "Holy", "Every Season" and "Legacy". This album also includes two additional songs: "Sunrise" - and "Finally Free" - the theme song for Women of Faith Conferences.

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