By Matt Connor, CCM Magazine
Ten years ago, Francesca Battistelli was considered a risk.
Signed by Fervent Records, Battistelli released her debut My Paper Heart in 2008, a time in which the Christian music landscape featured little in the way of female artists. The heyday of Amy Grant, Rebecca St. James and others had faded, and Battistelli was a teenage pop songwriter new to the scene.
“People tried to manage my expectations and told me to not expect much in the way of sales or radio hits,” says Battistelli. “So I didn’t and tried to be realistic. God had other plans. It’s been a wild ride, but honestly it’s all up to God. We just tried to make the best albums we could along the way, and He’s taken them to so many places.”
These days, Battistelli is a not just an example for female artists; she’s a pop powerhouse. She’s headlined tours coast to coast, dominated the charts with a whopping seven No. 1 singles, won a Grammy Award and six Dove Awards, including Artist of the Year. On the verge of releasing her latest album, Own It, Battistelli says she’s been reflecting on all God has done.
“It’s been a very nostalgic season to be able to look back at all that’s happened and be proud of how far things have come and how much I’ve grown as a person and artist,” she says. “It’s being human. We experience change or hit some goal and it forces us to look back and appreciate where we’ve come from. It’s cool to be putting out a record this year, ten years after the first record. It feels full circle.”
Though she’s been writing since she was an adolescent, Battistelli says she’s still growing as a songwriter in her craft. More than anything, she’s learning to push through even when inspiration is hard to find.
“When I first started writing songs, I thought you could only write when inspiration hit,” says Battistelli. “Certainly some of the best songs happen that way, but when I moved to Nashville, I learned to treat it like a job. The professionals treat it like a job. They show up every day, whether they’re inspired or not, and they work to perfect their craft. That was a great lesson to learn and I’ve grown on each record because of it.”
Battistelli’s newest single, “The Breakup Song,” is a perfect example of the growth exhibited by the pop songstress. The track tackles a serious subject with some “sassy” fun, as she describes it, creating a portal for listeners everywhere to consider confronting their own fear or shame.
“Fear is something you have to break up with,” she explains. “You can’t have a casual relationship with it. You need to get it out of your life. It’s like a toxic boyfriend. You gotta say, ‘No, go away.’ I think you can sing the song and replace the word fear with guilt or shame or worry or anger. A lot of things are like that, where you have to say, “You don’t own me. Goodbye!’
“The first time we played it live was in Houston. I just wasn’t prepared for people to really connect with it. In the middle of the song, 4,000 women who had been sitting quietly for the entire concert suddenly started hooting and hollering and cheering. They said, ‘That’s me. That’s my story.’ They just immediately grabbed it and made it their own. I realized then that maybe this would be a special song.”
Battistelli will be taking “The Breakup Song” and other powerful tracks on tour this fall when she hits the road with Stars Go Dim for a fall run.
“I think the tour is going to be really cool,” says Battistelli. “It will be a mixture of the songs people want to hear and new songs they haven’t heard. The album comes out on the tail end of the tour, so it’s a bit of a pre-release show. We’re even mixing up the VIP experience. Instead of a Q&A, we’re sharing stories behind the songs on the new album that I won’t be playing in concert.”