Her deep and abiding faith has sustained singer-songwriter Christy Sutherland all her life, so her destiny in Christian music should have been obvious.
Her first public performance was in church. She won a national Christian-music talent contest. She starred on Christian television. Christy has always been candid about her faith.
"I’ve been singing Christian music and country music my whole life. But being a ‘girl singer’ from Texas, it only seemed natural to me to want to be a country music star."
Christy Sutherland has spent more than a decade in Nashville performing country music. During that time, she garnered two major-label recording contracts, a staff writing position for one of the most successful publishing companies on Music Row and multiple appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Her songs have been recorded by several top stars.
While working in the country industry, she read her Bible and prayed every day. And when she finally began putting Scripture in her songs, a door she’d never knocked on opened wide.
As a songwriter, Christy has suddenly become a presence on the Christian-music scene. "I Believe" was recorded by Rizen, who included it on a 2005 album that earned a top award nomination from the Gospel Music Association. "You Call Me Yours" is on 2007 CDs by both the legendary Sandi Patty and the new group Prelude. "God Is In This Place" is published in a popular Word Music worship choral. "Cry in the Dark" was picked up by Lifeway for its Christmas musical. All of this happened in the aftermath of losing her country-music career in one tumultuous week.
"It was January 2005," she recalls. "After writing for the same publisher for 10 years, my contract ended. The label that I recorded for was purchased by another label, and instantly I was without a recording contract. The next Saturday night I was scheduled to play the Grand Ole Opry.
"I moved in with a couple of girlfriends from church because I couldn’t afford to keep my apartment anymore. I was at rock bottom, living out of a bedroom. I took a job at a cosmetics’ counter at a Nashville department store. I would hide in shame whenever somebody from the music business would come in.
"Jaime Dudney worked at that same store. She had been an actor on As The World Turns, but left the show after a couple of years. We became fast friends. She started telling me about her brother, Matt. I’d known him in college, and I remembered him. On June 12, 2005, he came into the store. I had told my producer, ‘God is bringing me my husband this year.’ She said, ‘Are you serious?’ I said, ‘Yeah, you watch.’ But what I didn’t know was that he was coming into the department store where I was selling lipstick. He asked me out. By our second phone call, we knew we were going to be married."
Christy Sutherland and Matt Dudney were wed on July 14, 2006. Matt and Jaime are the children of Ken Dudney and Barbara Mandrell. Country superstar Barbara won a Grammy for best inspirational performance and a Grammy for best soul gospel performance. She is a huge fan of Christy’s performing and writing, as well as a mentor. In Barbara’s words, "Christy Sutherland not only has a strong, incredible voice and is an anointed songwriter, but she also has very polished stage presence. To me, that’s what it takes to capture and keep the attention of the people." Matt, who is a professional chef, does his part, too.
"Matt has Scriptures taped up all over our kitchen. Anytime I say anything negative, he comes back with the Word of God, like, ‘If God is for you, who can be against you?’ It’s just exactly what I need, encouragement."
An accomplished voice coach, Christy gives private instruction to a number of recording artists as well as conducts vocal seminars tailored to worship leaders.
"In Nashville, Christ Church has been my spiritual home and my rock for over six years. I thank God for the journey. His dreams are so much bigger than our own. There are no words to describe the joy it brings me, having the honor of taking His gift of music all over our great country."
Thursday, June 24th Christy will give a free concert at the Civic Center at 6:30 p.m. A Love Offering will be taken to cover her expenses.
Friday, June 25th Christy will teach private vocal lessons at the Performance Studio.
Saturday, June 26th from 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Christy will teach a Praise and Worship Seminar. She will work with students of all ages who are on Praise and Worship teams or individuals who want vocal training. This will be at The Father’s House.