After Out of Eden presented an acappella version of an old hymn at a Focus on the Family chapel service, the audience rose to their feet. The group was struck by the power of the lyrics and their ability to transform both performers and listeners. Consequently, they thought it would be cool to explore a new side of their musical talents and show there is more to Out of Eden than what people already know.
"When you're seen on the forefront of something," says Lisa, "you can come to the point where you just want to branch out. We felt it was time to show a different side of us and take a big step of faith."
And take a step of faith is exactly what Out of Eden did.
What most people already know is that this trio has sold over a million and a half albums, shared the stage with Destiny's Child, Kirk Franklin, dcTalk (to name a few), earned both BMG and Dove Awards, and garnered soundtrack credits on Dawson's Creek, Eddie Murphy's Dr. Doolittle, and Christine Aguilera's Diary. Sisters Lisa Kimmey, Andrea Baca, and Danielle Kimmey are highly regarded for their incredible harmonies, innovative arrangements, straight-ahead lyrics and high octane stage performances.
But their latest release, Hymns, represents yet another dimension of their artistic talents and personalities. Rather than look at the latest mainstream trends or musical fads, the young women looked deep inside, devoted themselves to prayer, and collectively brainstormed as to the direction and content of their next album. After meditation, council, and confirmation of their instincts, they returned to their church upbringing and the music that first touched their souls.
"There may be a song on the track list that everyone knows, but we gave it our own creative twist – and that may completely catch listeners by surprise," says Lisa. "There are some differences musically and artistically that are immediately noticeable. But a lot of the classic elements remain, just carried out content-wise in a way that's new for everyone."
Their selection of classic hymns include Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise, Be Still My Soul, and Praise to the Lord the Almighty (a duet with Tree63's lead singer John Ellis). Also included are two original tunes, Vision of Love and Have Mercy.
Andrea explains the group's time thumbing through hymnals searching for classic hymns. "There are so many emotions that the songs evoke, which is how we narrowed down the list to those that made the final cut. The words are so inspiring and have upheld over time, so we tried to pour our entire hearts into them. On the originals, Lisa had an incredible ability to put into words how we can overcome our everyday struggles. The combination of old and new is so hopeful and encouraging."
For the first time, Lisa was the sole arranger and producer of the album. "It was a learning process for sure. But I got tons of encouragement from my sisters, the label, and management, so that helped me to relax and just be myself. Having chosen songs like "Be Still My Soul" turned out to be incredibly appropriate, especially in the midst of the pressure and drama of making an album."
"As I arranged and produced these songs," admits Lisa, "I was so moved, so struck to the core of my being, reading these incredible lyrics from people who weren't trying to sell records, had no business motives, no due dates; they just wanted to glorify God. They were moved to write and to compose because of the experiences they had at the feet of Jesus. Their lyrics are so different from anything I've ever written or from a lot of what I've heard. Instead of self-centered lyrics, each word is God focused."
Hymns is a compilation that fans and radio are embracing with great enthusiasm, an alternate expression of Out of Eden's deep faith. "This doesn't mean that every album will be like this from here on out in the future," Lisa verifies. "It's just another way that we're stretching and going with what feels right at the time. This project wasn't calculated and there was no consideration of timing with what the music industry is doing. This is us interpreting beautiful and timeless songs in a way that shows the Word of God is true and right beside us everywhere we go."
I Know Whom I Have Believed and My Faith Has Found A Resting Place are classic songs to affirm our faith in the midst of a chaotic world. "Our only hope is to somehow capture the spirit, the essence of these songs and use our voices to carry that spirit to a new generation," says Lisa. "As much as I've been blessed by these hymns, I pray that we can bless others, and, most importantly, bless the Lord. It's our tribute."