Conversation: Chris Sligh
From American Idol to Christian radio
Chris Sligh is best remembered as a top-10 contestant on American Idol Season 6. But the mop-headed, wisecracking crooner is also
finding a place in the Christian music world with his new album, Running Back
to You. TPE Staff Writer Christina Quick recently spoke to Sligh about his
faith and career.
tpe: How did you decide to audition for American Idol?
SLIGH: I tried out on a whim. A friend paid for my hotel and
drove me down. Only in my wildest daydream did I ever expect to get on the
show. I don’t look or act like your typical American Idol contestant. But I
ended up making it to the top 10. It was pretty crazy.
tpe: Did being on the show change you in any way?
SLIGH: I think it has to change you at some level. I went
from no one knowing who I was to 30 million people having seen my face. It was
a little weird.
Fame doesn’t equal a career, but it opens up opportunities
to have a career. I got to make an album and sign with a record label, so
that’s pretty exciting.
tpe: Why did you want to record a Christian album?
SLIGH: For four or five years, I tried to make it in
Christian music. Then I moved into mainstream. I felt like during the
competition God was calling me to do Christian music and create a record for
the church. That’s what I ended up doing.
tpe: How did you come to accept Christ as Savior?
SLIGH: My parents were missionaries in Germany. When I was
15 years old I became a Christian. But it wasn’t until I was 21 or 22 that I
made the decision to follow hard after Christ. It was just a matter of coming
to a place in my life where I decided I should make my faith my own. I think
everyone who grows up in a Christian home has to decide whether to make that
Christianity their own instead of just leaning on the heritage of a godly
tpe: What difference has that decision made in your life?
SLIGH: The idea of having a relationship with Christ as
opposed to just having a religion defines everything. It becomes a worldview.
Whatever you experience should be viewed through the lens of scriptural
evidence and principle.
tpe: Were there any challenges in terms of maintaining your
Christian testimony and integrity during the American Idol competition?
SLIGH: I tried to stay accountable and maintain my Christian
friendships. I was involved with my church back home as a small-group leader
and worship leader. Stepping away from that was difficult. During the
competition you have to work seven days a week. You don’t really get a Sunday
off. So that was hard. But there was nothing that actively challenged my faith.
tpe: Was the hectic schedule hard on your family life?
SLIGH: It still is. I’m not home a lot. I’m out on the road
promoting my album and working on touring. That has changed the way my wife and
I approach our relationship. We have to be intentional about making time for
each other. It’s been a fun road for both of us, but there have been
tpe: Judging from your MySpace page, you seem to have
maintained friendships with some of the other Season 6 contestants. To what
extent do you stay in touch?
SLIGH: I stay in touch with Phil Stacey. We became very good
friends. He and I were the only ones, other than the top two, who got signed
with record labels. I’m also good friends with Blake Lewis and Chris
Richardson. We had a tight-knit group.
tpe: Did the relationships you made on American Idol provide
opportunities to share your faith?
SLIGH: There were times when I was able to share my faith
with others who were involved with the show. I definitely made friendships that
opened up those opportunities. My faith is no secret. I talk about it in
interviews all the time. It’s such a big part of what I do and who I am, it’s
going to come up.
tpe: What’s ahead for you?
SLIGH: I just want to be able to make music and connect with
people, touch lives and bless the church. If God allows me to do this for a
career, that’s awesome.
I’ve started writing for a second album. I’ll be doing some
producing as time goes on.
I listen to a lot of music and try to stay in the
tpe: How does that Bible reading time help you as an artist?
SLIGH: A lot of times as I’m reading through Scripture, I’ll
get an idea for a song I want to write. Mostly it’s helping me learn to trust
God. When you do what I do, it’s easy to want to take control and have it all
on your shoulders. I’ve started to learn more and more that everything I could
do, God can do it way, way better and come up with better scenarios than I ever
I would love to have made it further than 10th place on American Idol, but I left everything in God’s hands. I don’t think I could have
done it any better than He did.
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