“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” ~Henry David Thoreau
BarlowGirl Rocks! By Teri Ann Olsen
Alyssa, Rebecca, and Lauren Barlow are three talented sisters best known collectively as BarlowGirl. They live together, work together, and play beautiful music together. Now in their 20’s, the trio from Elgin, Illinois were homeschooled before becoming the popular contemporary Christian group they are today. Alyssa recalls, “One day, when we were supposed to be doing home school, Mom was gone, so it was like, ‘Let’s write a song!’ So we wrote one…. Of course, we had to confess to Mom and Dad what we’d been doing instead of doing school.”
In the late 1990’s the girls were the back-up band for their dad, Vince Barlow, a children’s worship music leader at Willow Creek, a suburban Chicago megachurch. When his daughters began performing their own songs at various events, they elicited such a good response that Vince realized it was time for them to trade places. That’s when BarlowGirl was born. They released their first studio album in February 2004.
BarlowGirl is a family affair, with dad Vince and mom MaryAnn serving as the girls’ managers and mentors. They all take to the road together on every tour. Their older brother Josh is also part of the family business, which they consider to be first and foremost a ministry. He and his wife run the BarlowGirl website and moderate the forums.
Rebecca or “Becca” is the oldest daughter, born on November 24, 1979. Alyssa is the middle child, born on January 4, 1982. Lauren, the youngest, was born on July 29, 1985. The sisters grew up in a highly musical environment. Their home was always full of melody, and family reunions were giant sing-alongs. Each of the three girls was given piano lessons starting at age seven, followed by guitar and voice lessons. Lauren discovered her natural talent for playing drums when she was 13 years old.
Despite their musical backgrounds, none of the girls had originally intended to go into music as a career. Rebecca was interested in automotive mechanics, Alyssa dreamed of acting in Broadway shows, and Lauren wanted to work at SeaWorld. Lauren explains, “We were all ready to go do our own thing, and He called us and turned us around and said, ‘I have something for you to tell the world’.”
Although they grew up in the 80’s-90’s, the Barlow sisters were raised on golden oldies from their parent’s generation like the Beatles, James Taylor, the Mamas and the Papas. Compared to their peers, “we were so out of the loop,” says Alyssa. “We did have Amy Grant’s old records and thought she was the coolest thing ever,” adds Rebecca. Their own music is a refreshing blend of rock sounds and melodic voices with positive messages.
The three Barlow sisters didn’t get their values from watching MTV. Instead, they pattern their lifestyle around Romans 12:2 which says, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” For these young women, the main thing isn’t being a celebrity and getting rich; it’s living godly lives, having a sense of self-worth, and being true to who they really are even when they’re not perfect.
The Barlow girls’ honesty shines through in albums like Another Journal Entry. “As soon as we could write, Mom bought us each a journal and showed us the importance of writing down our walk with the Lord,” Alyssa explains. “During songwriting, we open up our journals and say, ‘What in here of my struggles can I lay before people that they will connect with?’” They pray about their songs, contemplating how they can be an encouragement to others through the things that God has taught them on their own journey.
Although at first glance the threesome may look like typical rock stars, they are radically different role models than most young women in the public eye. In today’s culture, the fact that they boldly stand for purity, modesty, and commitment is considered extreme by many. However, “I think that abstinence should be a given if you are a Christian,” says Lauren. The Barlow girls don’t believe in dating around but rather are using their single years to grow closer to Jesus, confident that God will reveal their future spouse in His perfect timing.
Homeschooling and a lifestyle of family togetherness seem to have been an excellent preparation for what the Barlow girls are doing now. Parents Vince and MaryAnn Barlow sum it up by saying, “We decided early on when we homeschooled the children that it’s about character, not knowledge, and so that’s what we tried to instill in them.” To learn more about BarlowGirl, visit their website: www.BarlowGirl.com.
UPDATE: Becca, Lauren and Alyssa Barlow bid their fans farewell on October 31, 2012, after ten years of singing, touring and recording together. Read more…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barlow_Girl – Wikipedia entry, last modified on 11 September 2008.
http://www.briomag.com/briomagazine/entertainment/a0005500.html – “A Singing Sisterhood” by Martha Krienke, Brio Magazine, October 2004.
http://www.briomag.com/briomagazine/entertainment/a0006745.html – “No Pretending” by Martha Krienke, Brio Magazine, May 2006.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/music/interviews/2004/barlowgirl-0304.html – “Reluctant Rockers” by Mark Moring, ChristianMusicToday.com, 3/01/04.
http://www.afajournal.org/2004/nov-dec/11-1204family.asp – “BarlowGirl Stuffs Stockings with Spiritual Values” by Rebecca Grace, AFA Journal, Nov-Dec 2004.
http://www.willowcreek.com/wcanews/story.asp?id=WN05I22005 – “The Rise of BarlowGirl” by Timm Boyle, Willow Magazine, Issue 2, 2005.