It takes some people nearly a lifetime to realize their gifts and discover how to use them. Then there are those rare individuals who know very early in life where God is leading. As a young artist who fast tracked her high school diploma and is graduating a year early to devote full-time to her music, it’s obvious Joy Lippard knows her calling and is embracing it with fearless abandon.
“I think that God has a gift for each of us and we should use it,” says Lippard. “I know that my songwriting ability and performing are gifts I get from the Lord. I have a really determined personality, and whatever I’m doing, I want to do it the best.”
Lippard has not only been gifted with an incredibly distinctive voice and intuitive songwriting skills that suggest a much older writer, she also possesses an inner drive and boundless energy that is making her one of the most-talked about new artists in Christian music.
Lippard gained notice at the 2006 GMA Music in the Rockies, winning first place in the pop/rock songwriting competition with the compelling “Beautiful Outside and In,” the title track of her critically acclaimed indie record. A year earlier, Lippard impressed a nationwide television audience with her performance on “America’s Most Talented Kids.”
“My voice teacher read it in the newspaper and said, ‘There’s this audition, just go down and try out,’” recalls Lippard. “So I took my guitar and I had some new songs I was writing. I just played them one of them and they called me back a week later and said, ‘Hey, we want to fly you to LA for the show.’ It was really cool!”
The Virginia native has been writing songs since she was 11. She wrote her first song on the eve of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Lippard recalls, “The night before I wrote my first song. But then I looked at the lyrics after the event happened, and thought ‘Wow, these really relate.’”
From that point on, Lippard continued to develop her songwriting chops, humbled by the impact she saw her thoughtful lyrics had on her church and other audiences who heard her music. At the same time, she continued to study music theory, piano, guitar and voice. “That really helped me with chord changes, and lyrically, there was a book I was reading that [encouraged writers] to listen to people and things that kind of catch your ear by what they say and what people are dealing with. I’m always observing to get ideas.”
An “A” student, who earned honors as both “Student of the Year” and Homecoming princess, Lippard writes songs that strike a chord with other young people, but also have a universal quality that attracts listeners of all ages. What sets her apart is her ability to write poignant, insightful songs that cover a variety of topics from God’s grace to the challenges of daily life and the complexities of relationships.
“Hole in My Pocket” is an earnest anthem that is musically reminiscent of Jewel and lyrically as potent as a Casting Crowns song. “I wrote that with Scott Dente,” says Lippard. “I had heard my mom say the expression, ‘It would be a feather in your pocket.’ So I wrote it down and thought it was catchy and I had a melody. I told Scott I had this idea and he said, ‘It’s actually a feather in your cap,’ but I like the expression.’ Then we talked about how we want to keep successes that we get to ourselves. We want to put them away in our pocket and know they are there, but there’s really a hole in your pocket because God has better things for you.”
God has shown the young artist the impact her music has on people. “I sang ‘Miracle’ for what we call ‘big church,’ in the main sanctuary. Afterwards a lady came up to me and she was crying, She said, ‘You don’t know how much I needed to hear this song!’ Her son was involved in drugs and got into a whole bunch of trouble. She said ‘I want him to hear this because he needs a miracle.’ Another lady was battling cancer and after she heard ‘Miracle,’ she said, ‘Girl this is my song!’”
In this day of emails and text messages, “Letters” is just an eloquent song about a lost art of communication that also taps into an age-old dilemma all teens wrestle with. “I have such a hard time talking to boys,” admits the 17-year-old. “I just get really nervous. I would just rather write letters, because being a songwriter, I write my thoughts down on paper and so that was just a cute way of expressing that. In high school, I see all that’s going on and what girls and guys are struggling with. I want to be able to reach out to them and write stuff that really matters and make a difference to them.”
Though Lippard writes about life and relationships in a way that both Christian and mainstream audiences can embrace, she’s adamant about her music reflecting her faith. “I like writing songs that could go mainstream so I could get audiences and people at my school listening to what I write,” she says, “but my heart is really in it for the Lord. I just want to glorify him.”
Lippard glorifies God not just with her music, but her life. She serves as a worship leader at her church in Virginia and has been on mission trips to Guatemala and Peru. Her youth group is raising money to build orphanages in Uganda. “I want to be able to help kids,” she says. “We sold bracelets and t-shirts going door-to-door, and raised $100,000.”
Joy Lippard writes songs that are a mirror where other people see their reflection. Her songs are personal, yet universal, and with her sweet, vulnerable voice, she taps into emotions we all feel. “Music has a lot of power,” she says. “I want to leave a legacy. I don’t want to go through life just doing my own thing. I want to be able to impact other people. I want people to be able to say ‘Yeah, she encouraged me!’ I’d like to leave that mark.”