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Battistelli performs Saturday at RezFest with The Afters and MercyMe

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 22, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 21, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.

Christian singer-songwriter Francesca Battistelli.

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: RezFest featuring MercyMe, Francesca Battistelli, The Afters

• WHEN: March 23. Gate opens at noon; outside stage begins at 1 p.m.; general seating begins at 3 p.m.; Interstate Battery stage begins at 4 p.m.

• WHERE: Brackenridge Main Event Center, Edna, 284 Brackenridge Parkway

• COST: Gold circle, $100; stadium, $20-25; balcony, $10-$15; parking pass, $5 per car; pre-show festival is free.

• INFO:Rezfestonline.org, brackenridgepark.com or 1-800-965-9324

Since Francesca Battistelli's 2008 album release of "My Paper Heart" - which generated four hit songs, "I'm Letting Go," "Free To Be Me," "It's Your Life" and "Beautiful Beautiful" - the singer-songwriter has grown to become one of Christian music's most beloved pop darlings.

The 27-year-old New York native is a five-time GMA Dove Award winner, including the 2011 "Artist of the Year" and "Female Vocalist of the Year" awards.

Battistelli also picked up a Grammy nod in 2009 for Best Gospel Performance with her hit single "Free To Be Me."

On Saturday, she joins The Afters and MercyMe as part of RezFest's pre-Easter concert lineup celebrating Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday.

Battistelli spoke with the Advocate about RezFest at the Brackenridge Main Event Center in Edna and why she's looking forward to celebrating Easter week in concert with thousands of her South Texas fans.

Let's talk for a minute about your own faith journey? Did you grow up in a Christian home, or were you a late-in-life convert?

I grew up in a Christian family and thankfully had a really great upbringing. I'm an only child so we're really tight-knit. It's just the three of us.

With your music, is your message more about bringing people to know about God and having a relationship with Christ or building up your own relationship with God?

There's definitely elements of both. I try to write songs that are honest and true to my life and my experiences. I want them to be encouraging, building up those who are already believers. But a big goal of mine is for others to hear and be drawn to Christ. Hopefully, it's a good mix of both.

You're performing at Rezfest the week before Easter. What significance does Easter have for you?

It's definitely a major holiday and one that is very celebratory in our faith and for our family. We're excited. We have a show that Saturday, but we get to fly home on Easter Sunday and we'll get to spend that with my parents and have some family time.

Do you have any family or Francesca-specific Easter traditions?

Growing up, with it just being me and my parents, it was often just the three of us. My mom is kind of a Martha Stewart, so she always had a beautiful table and a big meal. She loves having kids to dote on, so she's already been collecting stuff for the Easter baskets.

Last year, our son had a little egg hut with his cousins on my husband's family's side. We'll probably do something with them as well.

You're currently on tour with The Afters, and you'll also be performing with MercyMe at RezFest. You're all incredibly talented Grammy and Dove Award-winners. Are you fans of each other's music?

I'm definitely fans of all of them. This is the first tour we've had with The Afters, and I've liked their music since college. One of my first tours was with MercyMe, and I love their music. It's exciting, and I'm looking forward to the festival. It'll be really fun.

Is there a band, either Christian or secular that you would love to perform with?

There are a ton of bands that I'm a fan of. One of my favorite Christian artists is Sara Groves. We've talked about meeting and hanging out and doing a show together. She's a big inspiration for me.

I know you're from New York, and you've been singing and performing from a very young age. Now that your music career has become such a success and you're busy touring, do you ever get tired of singing? Is it still as exciting to be on stage as it was when you first started?

It's definitely exciting, and you have those moments of the night that are really gratifying and fun. It gets tiring just like anything. Anything you do over and over can feel like work if you don't make it fresh. You have to continue finding inspiration and remind yourself what a cool job you have.

When I'm having a rough day, (I remember) we have a great team of guys who pump me up. It's great because they do a very good job of that. They make me laugh. We just try to have fun on stage. Obviously, it's about the ministry and hoping people have a good experience, but we want to have fun with the crowd and let them enjoy what they've come to see.

What surprises you most about the Christians you meet at your concerts?

Just the ages. I think my fan base is girls, but there'll be guys and moms and people in college who come. The range of people who come to my concerts is surprising to me. I love that my music can reach all sorts of people.

Why do you think your music reaches across generations?

I think part of it is that my music is really honest and doesn't try to be anything it's not. I think people are drawn to that - that authenticity. I can be self-deprecating in my songs and there's a lack of "OK we have to be pretentious or on our best behavior because she's just like me. That song describes my life."

When you look back on your career in 40 years, what do you hope people will say or remember about your music?

I hope people are drawn to the Lord; that's the No. 1 thing for me. I hope people can say her life and music always pointed to God.

If you could talk to all of our readers right now, why would you tell them to attend RezFest?

There's going to be a lot of great music. For me, festivals are so much fun. It's like a regular concert, but there's a whole other element to it. Even for the bands and artists, we get to see the bands we don't always get to see because they're on tour. Festivals are like a party. You'll get to see more than you bargain for.

What else can we look forward to from Francesca?

I just released a deluxe edition of my latest record that came out in March 2011. We put six new tracks on it. It's called Hundred More Years, Deluxe Edition.

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