Tony Cummings reports on a new girl group ready to make an impact on tween girls across the globe, THE RUBYZ
Ever since Jump5 first bounced into Christian music big time via the Disney Channel, the Christian record companies have been aware that there are big sales awaiting if they can catch the attention of the tweenie and teenage markets. And with Hannah Montana and The Cheetah Girls catching the big wave in the mainstream now seems an excellent time for new label iShine Music to launch the trio The Rubyz. Consisting of Cammie Hall (aged 17), Alexis Slifer (13) - both from south west Ohio - and Marissa Milele (14), from Franklin, Tennessee, the group were handpicked from hundreds of hopefuls to form The Rubyz. Alexis told Jesusfreakhideout.com, "We all had an audition back in October of '06. After callback after callback, we all - finally - made it. Our name 'The Rubyz' comes from the Proverbs 3:15 verse, 'She is more precious than rubies and all things you could desire do not compare to her.'"
Their self-titled album is released in the UK by Authentic Music this July. Hardline evangelicals might be disappointed with the first single from the project - "Staring At The Sun" has a let's-go-off-to-the-beach lyric of crushing banality - no one could criticise the superlative production by Chris Omartian (the son of groundbreaking producer Michael) nor the serious spiritual intent behind the young group. The album's executive producer is Joy Williams-Yetton who, as an artist, gained CCM popularity with three albums. Said Joy about The Rubyz, "Being on the road full time for seven years only highlighted how hungry girls are all over the world for music that speaks to their real life issues. I am passionate about The Rubyz and how this music could encourage girls everywhere."
For her part Cammie is equally enthusiastic about Joy. "She was just amazing. As soon as we met her we became instantly comfortable with her, not only as an artist, but as a friend, so being in the studio with her only seemed natural. She had so many awesome ideas for how to sing things and added so much to every track. She wrote three of the 10 tracks on the album, and they were some of my favourites. She really is an incredibly talented woman of God."
The group were equally keen to praise the other behind-the-scenes figures connected to the group's debut album. Said Marissa, "The biggest influence during making the album I would say was Chris Omartian, the record producer! He treated all of us like we were each very special. I would also say Diane Sheetz, the vocal coach. She made me feel that I can do anything vocally!"
Their album contains 10 songs, some of which have a harder rock edge than what is normally associated with teen pop. One of the best songs is "Thirteen" which specifically deals with teen struggles. Also included are covers of the Go-Gos' "We Got The Beat" and Rihanna's "Umbrella". Said Slifer about the recording process, "It took a lot of hard work, but we're all proud of what each other did. We're really excited. We were in the studio sometimes until five am and we would come back at one the next day. We were trying to reach high notes we didn't think we could hit."
All the lead vocals save three on the album are handled by Alexis. Asked how that came about she responded, "I'm not sure, really. By the grace of God, I guess." Another of the album's standout songs is "Baila Chiquita". Commented Cammie, "This song is so much fun. It's a chance for us to talk about how kids don't have to grow up so fast, and that they should really just enjoy being the age that they are. Don't focus so much on trying to act older, but focus more on the joys that God has put in your life."
Asked how The Rubyz see themselves alongside mainstream teen stars like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, Marissa responded, "We have a unique sound but still fall in the same category with Miley and the Jonas Brothers but we are singing about Jesus in a cool way. We like for people to know that it's cool to be excited about God and Jesus. I want to be a great role model, where kids look up to me, while sending the message that with God in your life all things can happen! Praying and turning your life to him makes a huge difference in your life. Also, introducing certain kids to Christianity."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.