Tony Cummings fired some questions at the Jesus Culture Music singer/songwriter KRISTENE DiMARCO
Few singers have made such an immediate impact on Cross Rhythms as
Jesus Culture-linked singer/songwriter Kristene DiMarco. Both her albums, 2008's
'Those Who Dream' (released under the name Kristene Mueller) and
2012's 'Safe Place', have received extensive airplay and both have
been given glowing reviews by the CR review team. Clearly an interview
with this gifted singer, songwriter and worship leader was overdue. We
began by asking the lady to give us a bit of her background story.
"I was born on January 28th 1985 in Niagara Falls, New York, about a five minute drive from the actual Niagara Falls. It's a beautiful place and generations of my family grew up there. My mom got saved when she was 16 and my dad got saved when he was 13 so I grew up in a home that loved Jesus. My earliest musical experience I can remember was when I was five. I was chosen to sing in our church musical, I was terrified to say any lines in the play but I was absolutely fearless when it came to singing, it was the dream in my little girl heart. I said the sinners prayer at three years old and then I said it five more times in case God didn't hear me the first time. I was always hungry for God growing up but I can't say that I truly knew, without a doubt, that he was real until I was 21 years old."
When asked whether she had recorded anything prior to 'Those Who Dream' it brought forth an unexpected answer from Kristene. "I want to say no but that would be a lie! I recorded a little album called 'Just A Worshiper' when I was 18 and also 'Grace' when I was 20. Both were recorded pretty poorly." She laughed, "Hopefully no one will ever find them."
By the mid-2000s the world Church was becoming aware of the powerful things that God was doing in worship music through the Bethel Church in Redding, California. Kristene enrolled at the Bethel School of Ministry. It was in Redding that she met Jordan DiMarco. Kristene remembered, "I thought he was the best looking guy I'd ever seen. We officially met in a Starbucks where he told me that God told him my husband was praying for me and to not lose hope. I honestly didn't really take the word to heart but a year later we found ourselves dating and six months later were married."
Kristene's first album released through Jesus Culture Music, 'Those
Who Dream', was issued in 2008. The singer/songwriter remembered, "It
was recorded in a basement in the middle of Redding heat so there was
a lot of sweating. I'd say the biggest thing for me was watching God
take these songs I wrote thinking no one would ever hear them and
realising how tremendous the faithfulness of Jesus is. I realised that
all I walked through to pen these songs would not be in vain, they
were meant for much more people than just me."
Two songs from the superlative 'Those Who Dream', "St Francis" and "Trust", became Cross Rhythms turntable hits. Kristene spoke about their genesis. "'St Francis' is a song about San Francisco. I lived there for three years and was a part of a house of prayer. I wrote the song as a song of hope over the church in that city. 'Trust' I wrote during a very confusing time of my life. I had no peace about a relationship I was in, so in order to maintain the relationship I had to keep lying to myself that everything was okay. In the process I began to feel lost and as if everything had gone cold, it was so hard to feel anything good. I went for a walk one night to see the ocean and to clear my head. I cried out to God as I sat on a rock and all I heard was, 'I've got you'. It was all I needed and I ended the relationship and began to feel peace again."
Kristene admitted that the recording of 'Safe Place' was "a tough process." She explained, "The first album was so simple because I had no expectations from people around it. 'Safe Place' was different, and I over thought the album a lot before I actually even started. God taught me through this album to love what I write no matter what. He taught me that writing from a place of sorrow is actually less powerful than writing from a place of joy and thanksgiving. 'Safe Place' came out of a joyful time and I finished it right before my daughter was born. I'd say that lyrically the two strongest songs on the album are 'Hope' and 'Deanna's Song'."
Though not a member of Jesus Culture, Kristene has deep connections
with the Redding-based ministry. She explained, "I contribute a bit.
I'm not a part of the band but I'm on their music label along with the
Torwalts and Derek Johnson. We all champion one another and support
each other. Banning Leibscher [director of Jesus Culture Conferences]
has opened up amazing doors for me and believes in my gift and voice
more than anyone. I do about three events with them a year."
Does Kristene feel under any pressure being something of "a professional worshipper"? She responded, "It's sobering, I have to be more mindful of my actions and words. They carry more weight than they did before. Worship is still worship to me and I'm so glad it hasn't turned into a job in my heart. I try to approach every set with an expectation that God will show up and make wrong things right and bring dead things to life."
Motherhood has made a huge impact on the singer/songwriter. Said Kristene, "My daughter Lorelai Praise is just about two years old and my absolute joy. Being her mom has changed the way I see everything. My worship leading is even different, I find myself way more patient with people and it feels like my heart grew 10 more sizes. Lorelai loves to dance and worship, draw, watch the show Wipeout and laugh, sing, play with rocks and read books. Pretty much everything she does makes me proud and I love her so much."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.