Identified as the “pop artist with a message,” Britt Nicole first debuted in 2007 with her inaugural studio album Say It, which quickly gained her fans in the faith-based space for her upbeat, positive music. The title track off her sophomore album The Lost Get Found spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Christian Hot AC chart, soon followed in 2012 by her third studio album, Gold, which quickly crossed over into the Top 40 pop radio chart and scored Britt her first Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Christian Album. The album’s appeal made Britt the most-played female artist on Christian radio in 2012. The Nashville-based singer-songwriter released her self-titled album this past fall to widespread critical acclaim. Now, she is touring the country as a featured performer on the Winter Jam 2017 Tour Spectacular. We had the opportunity to talk with Britt backstage at PPG Paints Arena recently, where she offered up some insight into this newest release.
Congratulations on the release of your self-titled album! It has garnered great reviews from fans and critics alike. How long was the record in progress and what does it feel like to finally have the finished product available for download?
Britt: Right after I put out ‘Gold,’ I toured that and then got married and had two kids. So, there was a lot going on. But, through that whole process I was writing and really never took a break from work. Most people think I took four years off, but in that time I put out ‘The Remixes’ record and did some tours with TobyMac. So throughout all of that, I was writing, and I wrote a lot of the record in Los Angeles with some writers and producers there. And then I live in Nashville, so I did a lot of the record there. My husband actually produced half the record. So, it feels good to have it out. It was a long process; all my other records took time, but that one felt like it was never going to be done. But I love it! I feel like my heart is in every song and now to be out here performing it and seeing people respond is really good!
Which track on the album was the first one that you really identified with and made you say, “This has to go on the record”?
Britt: “Be The Change” was one of those moments when I heard the track and connected with it. My husband had this track, and we were at a studio in LA. And so me, and him, and one other girl were writing and listening through some tracks and seeing what inspired us. We were going through tracks pretty fast and thinking they were cool, but moving on to the next one. And then we got to that one. And it has the beginning, which has an almost tribal sound, and I really thought that one was cool. And my husband told me that track was actually for another artist. And in that moment I was like, “No, I love that one!” And so I asked him to go back and replay it and I immediately got what I call a God moment – the lyrics and melody just came. Sometimes, it can take a couple hours to write, and sometimes they can take weeks to finish. And right away I just sang the whole chorus. “Don’t you know it starts today? It’s not too late. It begins with you and I; together we can be the change.” It was just a download from Heaven. So at that moment my husband realized the connection and said he would tell the other artist that I wanted it.
Were there any songs that were particularly challenging to write or record?
Britt: Well there is a song called “All Day.” It’s about the struggle of being a mom and working, which was such a battle for me when I was getting back into touring and doing music. I just never want to be away from them; I just love being a mom and with them! So that song was definitely the most challenging. I told everyone to leave the studio and just let me work on it by myself because I just felt like it was something that I was walking through. And I really wanted to communicate my heart and what I felt as I sang those words. And normally you go back and tweak stuff that doesn’t feel right. But that song, even in the areas that didn’t feel right, it was from my heart and I just put it out there. The guy that works on my label tried to change a few things with me, but we decided it just needed to be exactly what I wrote. So it’s very real and very raw. So that one was hard to write because I was really struggling with it, but I’m in a better place now.
Your recently released an awesome music video for “Pave.” Did you have a vision for that video going in?
Britt: Usually a director comes in with something prepared for the video, and the artist normally loves the idea, has a few changes, but overall loves the director’s idea. But that’s normally not my process. Normally I write it and give it to the director for them to make sure it’s good, and then we go with it. I’m very, very, hands-on. But “Pave” was different. I was super busy, so I had a friend who works on videos, named Chance, and Jeff, who actually dances for me and told them to send me something that they were excited about. And so they sent me something and I thought it was cool and decided to do it. And I think I was able to do that because “Pave” is such a fun song, and not necessarily a heart song. It’s about adventure, and it has meaning to me, but it’s not a really deep thing that I’m trying to communicate. With “The Lost Get Found” and “Gold,” I wanted to say something, and I wanted to make sure the video was telling that story. But with “Pave” I felt like this one could just be fun and let them lead on that. So that was the first one that I really took my hands off and let someone else lead. But we are actually in the process of working on another music video that I’m in the process of writing right now. So it will be my heart and my story. I just feel like music videos are that next step to communicate what you are really trying to say in the song. You put out the song and people can think it means different things, and everyone can feel something different. But then when you watch the video, it takes it to the next level.
And finally, do you have a favorite song to perform live on Winter Jam tour?
Britt: I would say “Work Of Art” is my favorite. It’s just a moment in the show where I get to really connect with the fans. I go out on the catwalk, and I just get to grab the girls’ hands and I feel like I’m just speaking into their lives, and who they are. I feel like that’s what I’m called to do, to just remind people of who they are in Christ.