Point of Grace is an all-female Contemporary Christian music vocal group. The trio consists of Shelley Breen, Denise Jones, and Leigh Cappillino. The group started out as a quartet in 1991, with original members Breen and Jones, as well as Terry Jones and Heather Payne. In November 2003, Terry Jones decided to spend more time with her family after giving birth to her third child, and left the group, with Cappillino joining in March 2004 for their 2004 release I Choose You. In June 2008, Payne announced her retirement from the group, in order to spend more time with her husband and four children.
The group's debut self-titled album was released in 1993; since then, they have been recognized as one of the top Contemporary Christian music bands in the United States. In 2003, they released their ninth album, 24 – a compilation of 24 previous hits.
1991–1992: Early years:
Point of Grace was formed at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Denise Masters, Terry Lang and Heather Floyd, who knew each other from Norman, Oklahoma, coincidentally found themselves at OBU, and got involved in music. They sang in a vocal group called 'The Ouachitones,' which was made up of 14 girls. Within the group, the girls formed a trio, and after a sound check for an Ouachitones performance, the girls were singing a cappella when they were told by an onlooker that they should do something together. Shelley Phillips had come from Little Rock, Arkansas to OBU with a scholarship in vocal performance. She sang in a group called the Praise Singers, made up of four girls and four guys and they traveled around the country performing concerts. She became friends with Terry and Heather through Denise, who was her roommate and sister in the social club Chi Delta. After Heather, Terry and Denise made plans to form a trio and sing together over the summer, Denise went back to her dorm room and told Shelley about their summer plans. After Shelley suggested that the trio became a quartet, it seemed to be the perfect fit.
They called themselves Say So, taken after Psalm 107:2 where it says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." It was a do-it-yourself project, and group's tasks were delegated according to ability. Heather took care of publicity and album sales, Terry took care of the money, Shelley was in charge of booking and Denise was in charge of music. Before their performances, they were the ones who would haul their equipment onstage and set it up. They developed a following that summer, and spent the remainder of the year singing every weekend. After many fan requests, they recorded an independent album, and became favorites in the South and Midwest. Despite not seeing a reason to pursue a major record deal, the girls, encouraged by their family members, attended the 1992 Music in the Rockies Christian Artists Seminar in Estes Park, Colorado. They wowed the crowd and the judges when they performed "He's The Best Thing" and wound up winning the Overall Grand Prize in the Group competition.
The girls found that, after their performance, there was major record label interest, and the group decided to sign with Word Records. They then moved to Nashville to start work on what would become their self-titled debut album.
1993–1995: Point of Grace begins:
On August 23, 1993, led by the No. 1 single "I'll Be Believing", Point of Grace released their self-titled debut album. It was quickly embraced by fans and critics, who compared the group's tight harmonies to that of pop group Wilson Phillips. The album's next five singles also reached the top of the charts, a feat unmatched to this day. The group's catchy sound, inspiring lyrics and fresh-faced image increased their following, and songs like "I'll Be Believing" and "Jesus Will Still Be There" became fan favorites and regulars on their concert set lists. In 1993, they were named New Artist of the Year at the 24th GMA Dove Awards and embarked on a national tour with Wayne Watson for whom they sang backup after opening each concert. After that tour ended, they began doing concerts on their own.
The girls assembled in the studio towards the end of 1994 to begin work on the follow-up to Point of Grace. They met with 35 different songwriters. On March 15, 1995, The Whole Truth was released. The album's first single, "The Great Divide", shot to No. 1 and became the girls' seventh consecutive No. 1 single. Its message of the gospel touched so many lives, and is a favorite among the members of the group and their listeners. Lyrically, the whole album had an evangelistic feel, with its messages about God's love, Christ's sacrifice and Christian life. The album performed very well on the charts, charting at No. 1 and staying there for 13 consecutive weeks. After it left the No. 1 spot, it remained in the Top 10 for 45 consecutive weeks. It was certified gold by the RIAA in 1997 and the remaining four singles also reached the top of the charts. The girls embarked on a nationwide tour with Phillips, Craig & Dean and special guest Cheri Keaggy, and were also a part of the Young Messiah Farewell Tour, along with artists like Sandi Patty, 4Him and Larnelle Harris. They also contributed songs in several special event albums. They recorded a new rendition of the hymn "Fairest Lord Jesus" for the Hymns & Voices album; the song "Hold On To Me" for the My Utmost for His Highest project and a new take on "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" for the album Christmas Carols Of The Young Messiah. The hard work on The Whole Truth paid off; they were named the 1996 Group of the Year at the Dove Awards and also won Doves for Pop/Contemporary Recorded Album of the Year (The Whole Truth), Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year ("The Great Divide") and Special Event Album of the Year (My Utmost For His Highest).
1996–1997: Growing up:
In July 1995, the girls signed a major book deal with Simon & Schuster. They had been featured in major publications such as the Ladies Home Journal and TIME Magazine. The book was written by the girls along with Davin Seay. In it, each member told her life story, and the other chapters were divided into question-and-answer sections were the girls addressed topics like dating, sex, clothes, family life, and friends.
Along with the book, the girls also began work on their third album. This project was a growing pain of sorts for them. John Mays, the man who had signed them to Word Records, had left his position there as A&R to join Sparrow Records. The girls were left to make all major decisions, and for the first time, were executive producers of their album. They took their time with the record, and the result was Life Love & Other Mysteries, released on September 9, 1996. The book was also released that same day, subtitled "Advice and Inspiration from Christian Music's No. 1 Pop Group."
On the day of the album release, Word Records chartered the Dallas Mavericks' DC-9 jet and the girls flew to five different cities in one day to promote their album. During each stop they performed their current single, "Keep The Candle Burning", which went No. 1 on the day their album released. It became the girls' twelfth consecutive No. 1 single. A music video with footage from their whirlwind promo tour was released a few months later. The girls announced that they would be co-headlining an arena tour with 4Him, who had just released their album The Message. The tour hit major markets and was very successful, leading both groups to add a spring leg, which went into early summer of 1997. In 1996, the girls contributed the song "Follow the Star" to the album Emmanuel: A Musical Celebration of the Life of Christ. They were not able to go on the tour, with Avalon taking their place.
Life Love & Other Mysteries has been one of their most successful albums to date. It was certified gold by the RIAA in 1997 and platinum in 1999. The album debuted at No. 1 and stayed at the top of the charts for 10 weeks. It was one of the Top 5 selling albums throughout 1997 and one of the Top 10 selling albums in 1998. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album in 1997. The girls were also nominated for the 1997 Group of the Year at the Dove Awards and "Keep The Candle Burning" was nominated for Song of the Year. The girls gave a memorable performance of the song during the live The Nashville Network broadcast from the Sommet Center, with the whole audience swaying little flashlights back and forth. The girls continued touring until September of that year and took some time off when Denise's first child arrived in October.
1998–2000: Artistic establishment, media attention, and hiatus:
Point of Grace began work on their new album in late 1997/early 1998. Brown Bannister, who had previously worked with such artists as Steven Curtis Chapman and Amy Grant, was brought on to handle production. He brought an exciting twist to the girls' music. They were looking for a more progressive, live band sound for this album, and there was less programming than their previous efforts. Chris Eaton was also brought along to handle the vocal production, and the results pleased the girls, as the vocal arrangements were far more intricate than before. It would be interesting to apply these vocal arrangements on a live show setting, and on their one-off concert dates in the spring and summer of 1998, the girls previewed some of the new songs, such as "Jesus Is", "Steady On", and "Better Days." They took a pause in the middle of recording for Terry to give birth to her first child in April.
The remaining members appeared at the 1998 Dove Awards, where they were nominated for Artist of the Year, Group of the Year, and Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year for "Circle Of Friends", but the band went home empty-handed. During The Nashville Network broadcast of the show, pre-show host Kathy Troccoli informed fans of Cole Devore Jones' birth April 15 (a week before the Doves), calling him jokingly Terry and Chris's "tax return".
In July 1998, a new single was released, the title song from the album Steady On. A CD single was also released to Christian bookstores. There was a pop remix and a dance remix version of "Steady On", as well as enhanced content on the CD, such as brief bios from the girls, excerpts from a new devotional book, a photo gallery, and other anecdotes. The album was released on August 4, 1998, and debuted at No. 1 on the SoundScan sales chart, and remained in the Top 10 for 7 consecutive weeks. It was certified gold by the RIAA in 1999 and platinum in 2002. The lead single and title track soon reached the top of the charts, becoming Point of Grace's 16th consecutive No. 1 single. Five more singles followed suit, making it a total of 21 consecutive No. 1s.
In October 1998, the girls launched their first tour as a headliner. "The Steady On Tour" was also the first time they toured with their own band led by Dana Cappillino. In 1999, they won Dove Awards for Group of the Year and Enhanced CD of the Year for the "Steady On" CD Single. At the 1999 Grammy Awards, they were nominated for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album for Steady On. Heather married in 1999 in the middle of the tour. They contributed the song "The River" for the Experiencing God album, the song "Forever On And On" for the Streams album project, and "Love Won't Leave You Now" for The Mercy Project, dedicated to Mercy Ministries of America.
After "The Steady On Tour" closed in the Spring of 1999, the band began work on their first Christmas release. The album was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee; London, England; and Montreal, Canada. Bannister again handled production, and A&R man Brent Bourgeois and vocal arranger Eaton were also brought back on. The orchestra, arranged by Carl Marsh and Ronn Huff, was recorded at the Abbey Road Studios in London. The end result was a lcollection of holiday favorites and new originals. On September 27, 1999, A Christmas Story was released. The fact that Life Love & Other Mysteries had just been certified platinum and "The Song Is Alive" had just become their 21st No. 1 song caught the media's attention, and they appeared in several media outlets and on shows such as Donny & Marie, ABC's The View, and The 700 Club. All four members started the tour together, but Terry, who was 9 months pregnant with her second child, left the tour halfway through, leaving Heather, Shelley, and Denise to perform as a trio.
After the tour, the girls took a year-long hiatus, regrouping occasionally for Women of Faith conferences and one or two one-off dates. Word released Rarities & Remixes, a collection of remixed hits from their first two releases, four songs from their independent album, two rare tracks, and a live version of "Circle Of Friends".
2001–2003: A fresh (re)start, Girls of Grace, and 24:
After a hiatus, the girls regrouped in early 2001 to begin work on the follow-up to Steady On. They worked with six producers: Bannister, David Tyson, Nathan Nockels who played keyboards for them in the Steady On Tour, Tom Laune, Glenn Garrett, and Wayne Tester. Each producer brought a different sound, which is what they were aiming for when they started work on this project. The lead single, "Blue Skies" was an instant radio hit, and soon went No. 1.
The album, entitled Free to Fly was released on May 1, 2001, and that same week they opened the Dove Awards telecast. The girls promoted the album during the summer of 2001, performing at the major Christian festivals and doing their own concerts, while preparing for The Free To Fly Tour. There were rumors that the tour might be canceled due to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but Heather cleared this up, stating that, more than ever, people needed to hear the message of hope. In honor of the ones who lost their lives in the attacks. They closed each show with a cappella rendition of "America The Beautiful".
In early 2002, Point of Grace began work on a new project. The Girls of Grace project slowly became a reality. They worked with the Tennessee Choral Academy, and female artists such as Rachael Lampa, Joy Williams, Out of Eden and Jaci Velasquez contributed to the project with their talents. Point of Grace previewed the Girls of Grace devotional book, workbook, journal and album during the 2002 GMA Week and premiered one of their songs from the project, "All I'll Ever Need", on the 2002 Dove Awards telecast. The girls continued performing concerts until the summer of 2002, when they took a few months off. Shelley and Heather gave birth to their first children in September, and in the same month, Terry gave birth to her third child.
The Girls of Grace album was released on August 20, 2002, and the first conference took place in October in Lakeland, Florida. To start things up on Friday night, the girls would give a high-energy concert. On Saturday, there were many speakers, such as Susie Shellenberger of BRIO Magazine, Nancy Alcorn of Mercy Ministries of America. They addressed topics such as self-esteem, sex, family issues, friendships and relationships with God. There were also musical guests. On the first series of conferences, Joy Williams helped provide music. Out of Eden was there for the 2003 and 2004 conferences. The Katinas also played in a few select 2004 conferences while Jaime Jamgochian and M.O.C. provided music and worship in 2005 and 2006.
In 2003, the commemorative album, 24 was released, featuring the group's 24 greatest hits—as well as a new song, "Day By Day". They also released their first DVD, entitled 7, which contained the videos to seven songs. In November 2003, they published a hardcover book titled Keep The Candle Burning: 24 Reflections From Our Favorite Songs. The group spent 2003 doing one-off shows, "Girls of Grace" concerts, and appeared on Michael W. Smith's Christmastime Tour.
2004–2006: Lineup changes and new sound:
In November 2003, Terry Jones announced she would be retiring from Point of Grace. She was finding it harder and harder to handle a full-time music career and being a full-time wife and mother. She wrote a letter which was posted on the group's website, along with a letter from Heather, Shelley, and Denise. They made it clear that they had no intentions of carrying on as a trio, and called upon band leader Dana Cappillino's wife Leigh to join her husband on tour. Terry's last tour with the group was the 2003 Christmastime Tour with Michael W. Smith, and her last concert was in Little Rock, Arkansas, on February 28, 2004. Leigh had been officially on board since January 1, 2004, but her first concert was in Atlanta, Georgia on March 12, 2004.
Leigh's first album with Point of Grace was I Choose You, released on October 12, 2004. It featured a rawer, less glossy sound. They also worked with producers with whom they had never worked with such as Mark Hammond, Wayne Kirkpatrick and David Zaffiro. Brent Bourgeois, who produced the song "Forever On And On" from the Streams album also produced one track. The album was the most progressive of their career up to that point. They spent the remainder of 2004 doing promotional appearances and participating once again in Michael W. Smith's Christmastime Tour along with The Katinas. In February 2005, they began the I Choose You Tour with Scott Krippayne and special guest Charity Von. The tour took the girls through 30 cities, and the show's set lists featured cuts from I Choose You as well as songs from their back catalog.
After the tour, the girls began work on their second Christmas release. The girls spent the summer of 2005 recording, which, like A Christmas Story, featured holiday classics and original songs. Winter Wonderland was released on October 4, 2005. They launched their first Christmas tour, the Winter Wonderland Tour in late November, playing 16 concerts. The show had John David Webster, who was featured on Winter Wonderland, as a special guests, and local choirs participated in every show.
In 2006, the girls resumed their Girls of Grace activities, and began working with Michael Passons, formerly of Avalon, who began to tour with them. On one-off dates, the girls would have acoustic segments where Dana and Michael would be featured on guitar and piano, respectively, along with vocals from the girls. Heather also gave birth to her third child in 2006. The girls launched the 2006 Winter Wonderland Tour with special guest Scott Krippayne.
2007–2009: How You Live:
The girls spent the first half of 2007 finishing their latest release, entitled How You Live. During that time, they contributed an a cappella rendition of the hymn "All Hail The Power Of Jesus' Name" to the WoW Hymns project, which was released in March 2007. The girls promoted the first two singles, "All The World" and "You Are Good" during GMA Week in April, and have been singing a few album cuts during their recent concerts. The album finds the girls returning to their musical roots, and an earthy sound not yet explored by the girls. They shot a video to the single "How You Live (Turn Up The Music)", in mid-June, and premiered it on their website in early July. Led by the single "All The World", they released the album How You Live in late August. "All The World" was reasonably popular and found its way into the Top 40 in the Mediabase charts. The follow-up single, "How You Live (Turn Up The Music)" did far better, peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot Christian Adult Contemporary Chart. The album peaked at number fifty-six on the Billboard 200 and at number four on the Top Christian & Gospel Album Charts. The unexpected success of the album and single earned the group five Dove Award nominations, including Song of the Year for "How You Live (Turn Up The Music)", Group of the Year and Artist of the Year. "How You Live" was released to country radio in April 2008, entering the country charts at #56.
In February 2008, the band embarked on the All The World Tour with guests Selah and Michael Passons, who has become the group's standard keyboard player.
In February 2008, Point Of Grace was nominated for five Dove Awards, including Group of the Year and Artist of The Year. The girls performed their single "How You Live (Turn Up The Music)" with Cindy Morgan, the song's writer. They picked up the award for Country Recorded Song of the Year and Cindy Morgan took home the award for Songwriter of the Year, for "How You Live (Turn Up The Music)." On the same week of the Doves telecast, they made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage, solidifying their growing acceptance in the country music market. They have been back on the show several times since their debut.
In June 2008, Heather Payne announced that she was retiring to spend time with her children and to support her husband in his ministry. Breen, Cappillino and Denise Jones announced they would continue as a trio, and recorded new music for the re-release of their album How You Live, released in October 2008. In a recent chat session, Shelley Breen noted the group's recurring keyboard player Michael Passons, who is a solo artist and former Avalon member, sings selections of the group's older four-part harmonies.
The band released How You Live: Deluxe Edition and Tennessee Christmas: A Holiday Collection in early October, and went on their annual Winter Wonderland Tour in early December, with special guest Ronnie Freeman.
In 2009, the group began by again appearing at the Grand Ole Opry, performing "I Wish" and "How You Live (Turn Up The Music)". Their song, "I Wish", won the Dove Award for Country Recorded Song of the Year for songwriters, Cindy Morgan and Phil Madeira.
On August 23, 2009, the group appeared on Fox News Channel's Huckabee, performing "King of the World", the last single from How You Live accompanied by Mike Huckabee on bass guitar.
2010–present: No Changin' Us, A Thousand Little Things, Directions Home:
The album No Changin' Us, produced by Nathan Chapman, was released on March 2, 2010, and featured a more country sound. They embarked on a fall tour with Mark Schultz, called the Come Alive Tour. Along with the album, came a cookbook, called "Cooking with Grace", which they wrote with Julie Adkison.
The summer of 2010 was spent recording a new holiday album, Home For The Holidays, which was released on October 5, 2010. The group headlined a Christmas tour in support of the album.
A new album called A Thousand Little Things was released on May 1, 2012.
A new album called Directions Home was released on April 7, 2015.