Every artist strives to establish a unique voice, a sound that speaks above the fray and communicates even timeless ideas in a new way. Sometimes that goal is best reached when it is unintentional. Organic. Sometimes, that unique voice rings the most true from one who doesn’t have to try to be fresh and different because, without her even realizing it, she’s anything but standard. Becca Bradley’s path to music is as fascinating as it is uncommon. Her primary concert instrument is not the ubiquitous acoustic guitar, but the cello. She moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University not (like so many) to pursue a career in Christian music; she wasn’t even a Christian yet. In fact, she played the Dove Awards before she really even knew what a Dove Award was. Looking back, it’s clear that God had placed in Becca a spark of creativity and the talents to use that spark to make music. Even as a high school student advancing to the highest national levels in cello performance, she found more and more that the routine of playing exactly what was written on the page threatened to smother that spark. At the same time, her family had moved to Arkansas, giving Becca her first taste of the Bible Belt and some of her first encounters with Christian families. “I remember being so drawn to the light in these people,” Becca recalls. “Even going into the homes of my friends who were Christians, to step into a home where a family can just love each other so much… it was one of those moments where I thought, this person has something I don't have, and I need to find out what it is.” That introduction made attending a Christian college less intimidating. In fact, she was intrigued. Once she found Christ, Becca knew the source of that creative drive, and music took on new meaning. Having played alongside such notable artists as Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and various other accomplished bands and artists, she spent a year on tour with Francesca Battistelli, playing and singing in the background—making appearances on national shows like Good Morning America and Fox & Friends. Becca also had the opportunity to perform with other artists on the nationally televised CMA Awards and several CMA Country Christmas specials, before connecting with Jason Gray for a Christmas tour in 2014. Along the way, Becca had been writing songs, but she kept them quietly to herself. In her mind, she was a cellist, a background vocalist. Not surprisingly, God saw something different. He began to convict Becca that she had a message for His people, and a unique set of talents through which to share it. Gray came alongside, including Becca as an artist for several dates and encouraging her to promote her own music. One listen to The Lion’s Eyes, Becca’s latest EP, confirms that this is an artist who needs to be heard. Her songs and voice are infused with remarkable emotional range, and she, not too far removed from the seeker’s questions, points to a Jesus who is undeniably compelling to those first hearing the gospel. The EP opens with the celebration of the “Children of God.” It’s a song of invitation, a call to worship of sorts, set with a sparkling effervescence. Co-written with producer Evan Sieling, “Children of God” is a magnetic singalong that actually went through months of changes before Becca and the band knew they had the vibe they were looking for. “As Christians, this is who we are. I wanted to make it fun sounding since people look at Christianity and think it's a lots of rules and limitations and is not fun. I look at my life with Jesus and I feel like it's so much more an adventure, while my life before Jesus felt boring and limited.” The song also establishes a theme woven throughout the EP with the line “Just listen to the whisper calling into the dark.” Light and dark are used to describe a God of brilliance who loves us enough to reach into our darkness. He is a God who “spoke light into the dark” (“You See it All”), who leads us out of that darkness back to shore (“Yours”). He is a light that destroys the lies of darkness (The Lion’s Eyes), a light so beautiful we’re drawn into it (“Hope is Found”) until we too become “People of Light.” The latter song is a call to a generation, a battle cry that shows the versatility of Becca’s voice, sometimes delicate but, here, powerful and inspiring. The song speaks of a longing for “something, anything” to make us feel alive. It’s a testimony of sorts for Becca. “I've had people come up to me since I've know the Lord and say I can see such a light in you, people who don't even necessarily know scripturally what that means. It's been cathartic for me to so clearly remember my life before Jesus and write from the perspective of that contrast.” The tempo changes with “Hope is Found,” a song that is somehow both bright and airy while being thoughtful and profound. It’s a prayer that almost snuck up on the band, who didn’t quite expect it to be as moving as it is. “It's a personal song,” Becca shares. “It spells out the gospel in that song so clearly, and it starts off pretty much as a prayer of salvation. My prayer is simply that people hear it and give their lives to Jesus.” Similarly vulnerable is “Yours.” A finger-picked acoustic guitar sets the tone while a contemplation of the cross eventually overflows into a rapturous doxology of praise. Becca’s cello shines during the song’s poignant confession: “I have fought / I’ve fought Your grace with hands defiled / Still You never turned Your face from this child.” Powerful piano ballad “You See It All” reiterates the theme with a reminder of creation: “You’re the God who spoke the light into the dark.” It’s a vertically directed description of God that’s an essential reminder to believers that He sees every tear and holds every moment. The song was born when Becca was blindsided by an unexpected turn in a relationship. She recalls, “I wrote it from this place of, I don't understand why this is happening, why you allowed it to happen, but I trust you and I know that even though this totally caught me off guard, you saw it coming from the beginning of time and You worked it into your plan. We find peace in knowing that God is good and sovereign. He saw this coming and He is our comforter.” Finally, the title track closes the EP with a picture of the ultimate battle between darkness and the light that blazes from the Lion’s eyes. (Multi-talented Becca even painted the EP cover illustrating this vivid imagery.) Hope rises in our hearts when the battle is won, and we are no longer left to fumble in the darkness. Instead, we are called “chosen, accepted, forgiven, free.” The music conveys that joy with a foot-stomping banjo rhythm that practically dares the listener to sit still. It’s fitting that the EP opens and closes on such celebratory notes. It is, after all, a collection of songs that have been touched by light, delivered by an artist with uncommon roots who stepped out of the background to share her heart. Even in her unusual journey, Becca Bradley found a Love that won’t let go, a Light that makes us blazing stars, and she’s invited us to the party.
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