Unlike some of their peers in contemporary Christian music, the three
sisters of BarlowGirl speak explicitly in their songs about a shared devotion to God.
"That's always been our thing," Lauren Barlow, 21, the band's
vocalist-drummer, says matter-of-factly. "We kind of on purpose make things pretty blatant about God. That's who these songs are about. We don't want them to be heard as love songs.
"We are passionate about the things God has taught us, and that comes across in our music."
The title of BarlowGirl's upcoming CD, "How Can We Be Silent," due in stores July 24, summarizes the sisters' approach.
"We're known as the girls who speak a lot," Lauren says with a chuckle.
"We do have a lot to say. We feel God has called us to speak to our generation. The title is a call for this generation to stand up and speak up and not be ashamed of who we serve. This CD is a kind of rising up."
Despite the seriousness of these statements, the music of BarlowGirl is
hardly somber and churchlike. The songs are infectious pop-rock and filled with energy and graceful vocal harmonies.
The band, which also includes Rebecca, 27, on guitar, and Alyssa, 25, on bass and vocals, has obviously connected with a large audience. Combined, the first two BarlowGirl albums have sold more than 800,000 copies, and the trio plays about 150 to 200 concerts annually.
Following are excerpts from my spirited conversation with Lauren, who phoned me from the Barlow family farm outside Chicago.
How cool is it touring the country with your two sisters?
I love being on the road and I can't think of anyone else I'd want to
experience this with. It's not like we're going to break up if we have a
disagreement. We've learned to get along and love each other no matter what. Our parents come with us, too. We make them come. They're amazing.
Did you girls grow up singing around the house?
Absolutely. You have to do music if you're going to be a Barlow. We all
started piano lessons when we were 6. Our dad is one of 14 kids, and they're all musical. We never thought we were going to do music for a living, but that was definitely the plan God had for us.
Are there any Barlow boys in the family?
We have a brother. He's 28, married, has kids. He's a genius. He went to
college and got the degree.
So who are your favorite female singers?
I know this is going to sound really lame, but I love Barbra Streisand. I'm
talking the '60s and '70s, when she made her movies like "Funny Girl." We all love the old-fashioned musicals. We listen to a lot of jazz, people like Harry Connick Jr. I grew up on Amy Grant and DC Talk. We're very eclectic in what we listen to.
What's it like playing the big Christian summer festivals?
Those are my favorite places to play. There's so much raw energy when you play outside. I love just being able to see all those different bands nonstop, and you get to see friends you haven't seen in a year.
Do you have a lot of friends in Christian music?
We do. One of our first friends in the industry was Superchic(k). When we got together there was this awesome connection. I love those girls. Stellar Kart and Kutless are real good friends of ours. Todd Agnew is an amazing guy, he's one of our best friends. Everybody is so loving in this industry. It's like you're family already. They know what you've been through.
Any thoughts on Relient K?
I've been a fan of their music for a long time. They're tongue-in-cheek. I love it. They're quirky.
Do you receive a lot of inspiring fan mail?
We do. It's really awesome to hear their stories. Sometimes a song has touched them and they want to share it with us. We literally read every single piece of fan mail we get. We love it.
I just read a quote on the BarlowGirl Web site about "a world bombarding us with impurity and immodesty." It makes me think of the tabloid photos I've seen of Britney and Lindsay Lohan. It's unbelievable. These girls are about my age, and it's so sad how broken and bad of a life they have. I think most of it is the way they are raised. Look at Paris -- was that girl ever disciplined? I'm not mad at these girls. I mostly feel bad that they have been thrown into these places.
To sample four BarlowGirl songs, visit www.myspace.com/barlowgirl.
The band's Web site is www.barlowgirl.com.