Christie DuPree is not one to blend in. Her fiery red hair could be spotted from a mile away, but she embodies quiet confidence and a gentle, sweet spirit. One-third of the indie rock band Merriment, DuPree comes from a long line of insanely talented musicians (her siblings make up the band Eisley) and is keeping the tradition going. I recently caught up with her at Davis Street Espresso in Dallas on the tail end of her Colorado–Texas road trip and found DuPree, a Tyler, TX native, impossibly charming. Sipping on cappuccino and munching on a chocolate doughnut, DuPree would stop to hum unassumingly to herself while I was taking down notes from our interview, so I got to experience both her calm, godly wisdom and a mini-concert. I couldn’t help but be encouraged by our conversation about sharing the goodness of Christ within the music industry, God’s gift of common grace through music, and the art of preparing for marriage and motherhood in your 20s. Hopefully you will be encouraged, too, by Christie’s words.
Can you briefly share with us how you came to Christ?
Well, I was raised in a Christian home, so I was lucky enough to grow up knowing about the Lord. I am very thankful for my family for many reasons, but the main reason is that I grew up in a home that taught me the truth about Jesus.
What brought you to the music industry, and what keeps you there?
My siblings were in a band called Eisley. My mom sings and leads worship at a church in Tyler. [My parents] always sang to us as kids, and we just grew up loving to sing. My siblings started playing music when I was six years old, while I was still playing with dolls. But once I got older I was just drawn to it. Falling in love with music was just inevitable. It was something that I knew God had put in my heart and I want to keep doing music as long as possible.
What do you like to write about?
Whatever is going through my head. Sometimes it’s relationship stuff that I’ve been through. Other times, I’ll be writing a melody and fit lyrics into that. Sometimes it’s not directly my own experience, it’s something friends are going through. Then there are songs that are kind-of made up and don’t make much sense.
How does writing music and performing allow you to share the Gospel?
It has been awesome to see [sharing the Gospel through music] develop in my life. For a while, I wasn’t in a place with the Lord that I could do that. But I went through some rough stuff recently that brought me closer to Jesus, and having gained a following on social media through people who like my music, it has become somewhat of a ministry, and I’ve been able to share God through [social media]. It wasn’t really something I planned. But a lot of people are encouraged by it, and I've gotten messages from people who are saying they see God in a whole new light just from my silly words and it's so exciting. I never thought that God could use me or my story to bring glory to him, but he can use anyone who is willing, and I'm really thankful for him using me in whatever ways he has been.
What makes you happiest besides making music?
Right now it would be just hanging out with my nieces and nephews. They are the light of my life right now. [My siblings and I] are all best friends, so getting to experience their children growing up and being an aunt to them is amazing and such an honor. I also love writing and reading and drinking coffee. And photography. I don't consider myself a photographer, but taking pictures is so rewarding and so much fun. If I couldn't do music, I would probably pursue photography.
What is the greatest challenge of being a Christian artist in the sometimes dark, lost world of music?
Honestly, It hasn’t been that challenging in that respect. Being in the music industry is challenging just as it is because you don’t really make money. But you do it because you love it. I've always just tried to live my life as an example of Christ, in everything I do, including my music career.
How do you balance your expectations of musical success with God’s definition of success?
I feel like I’m always constantly reminding myself that any popularity that Merriment gets is not about me or for me. All the glory goes to God. Reminding myself of that helps me to balance it, because if I were worried about getting popular or famous, everything would go downhill pretty fast. There’s no reward in that. My goal is just to play music because I feel like it’s something God has called me to do. Whatever that means as far as what his plans are, I’m fine with that. If we do end up being really successful, that’s awesome, and if not, I’m okay with just doing it because I love it.
What is your favorite song you have written and why?
“Somehow” from our record we [recently] released. That one my brother and I wrote together. It was one of those songs that I didn’t really try to write, it just came out of me. It was a God thing. Those are always my favorite songs, when I really feel like it’s a song that God put in my heart. It wasn’t my own effort. [The song] is just about love and the desire to be married and having a peace about waiting for that.
What advice would you give young women who are interested in pursuing a music career?
I would say, don’t do it if you think that your music is going to be successful and make you a lot of money. Do it if you can’t stop writing songs and singing . . . if it’s something you really feel led to do, go at it with all you have, keeping in mind that no success amounts to anything if it’s not glorifying to God. Is he the center of what you’re doing? The music industry is just a mess. It’s chaos. I don’t feel like we’ll ever really make money at it, and that’s okay.
How do you balance your music with other aspects of your life—that huge family of yours, for starters?
It’s all very cohesive somehow. My family is all into music, and most of my friends are too. I just feel like everyone in my life is very encouraging about my music. I have a lot of free time to write music. It works out pretty well.
What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
It changes all the time. Right now, it’s Matthew 5:16, the verse about having a light [in Christ] and letting it shine to others. I feel like that’s something God is just doing in my life right now. For so long in my walk with God, I didn’t talk about him, not because I was ashamed, but I was worried it would scare people off. I didn’t want to talk about it because I didn’t want people to think, here’s a Christian band and immediately leave [if they had had bad experiences with the Church]. But recently I’ve been compelled to be honest about my struggles and what I’m going through with relationships and stuff. It wasn’t something I intentionally meant to do. Something that God was calling me to do was just to be open and transparent with my faith. It’s been really encouraging to see people who need to hear that.
In this generation of women especially, there are so many girls who don’t know God. Their idea of God is not at all truth; it has been distorted by the enemy. I want people to know a relationship with Jesus is not what most people make it out to be. I have been called to be honest about my faith and share what I’m learning and to encourage girls who are my age, and even people who aren’t. I’ve seen God do some amazing things, like emails from girls who thanked me. I don’t want to conceal or hide what I feel about God. People need to see what a relationship with Jesus is really like. If there’s any way that I can do that, I’m glad to do it.
What’s next for you?
We released a music video in October and now we're working on writing and touring for this next year. I’m mostly excited about where I feel like God is leading me in my life with Merriment. It seems very new. I’m excited to meet kids at shows and talk to them and be an example of Christ. My favorite part of touring is talking to kids and hearing their stories and trying to be an example. Not preaching to them but just caring about them and being open with them. I’m really excited about Merriment’s future.
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