Idol Hands Are God's Instruments

by Charles White

 defines the term, Idol, as "a mere image or semblance of something, visible without substance, as a phantom ". For American Idol contestant, Chris Sligh, this couldn't be farther from the truth. His life and his music are filled with an incredible passion and conviction that is far from empty and transparent.

Growing up with a father who was both a chaplain and a musician was never boring. For nine years, Chris lived abroad with his family in Weisbaden, Germany until he returned to the United States in 1995 to finish high school. It was the difficulties he experienced in his early childhood that he credits in allowing him to adapt to whatever life throws at him.

"It was different growing up," Chris' relates. "I saw my dad's parents maybe five times growing up, since they were also missionaries. On top of that, my friends would ship out every 2-4 years, so I had to constantly be making new friends. In some ways, that was difficult, but it also helped me socially, I think. Because of all that I've always been able to adapt to almost any situation!"

Music was important to Chris from an early age. While still in high school, Sligh became involved in both music and theater. In fact, Chris' love of music was so strong, that he wanted to major in music once he transferred from Pensacola Christian College in Florida to Bob Jones University.

As Chris shares in his bio,"I wanted to major in music," he says. "This freaked my parents out, because music is the most unmarketable degree there is. But I told them, I dont need jobs. Im going to be a singer! And of course, that freaked them out royally."

While in college, Chris excelled in music and drama. His tallent earned him offers to audition for both The Julliard School and The Metropolitan Opera in New York City. However, during his senior year of college, Sligh committed a heinous transgression at Bob Jones University: he attended a Christian Rock concert. This led to his expulsion.

Looking back, Chris realizes that God had a plan and that leaving Bob Jones University was the best thing that could have ever happened to him.

"Getting kicked out of college was the best thing that could've happened to me," Sligh explains. "I was able to go to finish up at a different college where I saw {gasp} guys with long hair and tattoos who were {double gasp} actually Godly! My whole life I'd been taught differently, so it was an awakening experience and where I truly started to understand God's grace and mercy. Plus, it was after I got kicked out of college that I made my first album!Now, here I am, on my 6th album and still !"

Sligh's first five albums were released on small labels with a variety of bands that he formed. One group, Half Past Forever, actually garnered interest in some major labels, but nothing came to fruition. In 2006, this all changed.

On a whim, Chris auditioned for American Idol where he became a fan favorite. The support of fans swept him into the Top 12 before he was voted out. His style and wit were an instant hit with the judges and fans alike. To get a taste of his sense of humor, you only need to read the answers he gave to American Idol producers when asked questions like, "What would people be surprised to learn about you?" or "Who is your favorite judge and why?". The best response has to be to the question, "Do you have any lucky charms?" His response was simply, "Yes, they're magically delicious."

Just because Chris wasn"t chosen as the next American Idol doesn't mean his career has been derailed. Quite the contrary, his latest album, Running Back To You, is a musical Tour-De-Force. This album is a nod to some of his musical influences who he names as Ben Folds, U2, Coldplay and The Beatles.

"The Beatles are a HUGE influence on me," Chris states. "I got into the Beatles about 3 ago and literally am still lapping everything up I can from them."

Chris has some concerns with the direction that Christian music is taking. Growing up in a household that banned all music but classical, Chris realizes the incredible musicality that can be found in some mainstream music and the need for Christian music to reflect this diversity and quality.

"I really didn't listen to "mainstream" music up until a while ago," Chris shares. "But, over the last five years, I feel like the focus on Christian music turning to "worship music" has really hurt the quality of music both lyrically and musically. Not to say there's not some GREAT worship music, but when the focus is to use worship music as a genre then I don't know. It seems for some reason to inhibit creativity. So I started to really seek it elsewhere and that lead to madlove for some Brit rock!"

With a great run on American Idol and a song on the Christian Top 20 Chart, Chris Sligh is a success, but not for the reasons that you might think. When asked how he defines success, he didn't name Idol or his single. Instead, he went another route. The most important thing to Chris isn't the fame, but a grounding in his faith and his family.

"Faith and family are the most important things, not that money isn't nice. It's nice to be able to pay bills and such. I mean, hey I'm ambitious. I'd like to gain the whole world AND keep my soul. But if I have to choose one, well that's obvious. Faith and family is where it's at.

I'd love to be considered one of the best songwriters of my generation. I'd love to be the "next big star". But what I do know is this: I'm gonna try and be a great husband. I'm gonna try and be a great father when kids come along. I'm gonna try and be a great friend. And I'm gonna always do things to the best of my ability in the 'right way' Everything else is gravy."

When asked to offer some advice to teens, Chris offered this nugget of wisdom: Abstinence.

"Keep your pants on! :-) My wife and I were virgins when we got

married and it is the THE most beautiful gift to give to your marriage partner! So, keep your pants's well worth the wait, even if you end up being the 40 year old virgin."

A devoted fan base, a top twenty single and a stint on American Idol, Chris Sligh seems to have it all. However, even before the applause and the critical acclaim, Chris was a success. With a devoted wife, a wonderful family and the grace of a loving God, he will always be successful no matter where his musical career leads. Chris is testament to the fact that in life it should always be God and family at the top and all the rest comes next. If this happens, than you are truly successful.