Chris Sligh: Christian, Rocker, and Christian Rocker
The former 'American Idol' finalist talks about why he simultaneously is and isn't a Christian musician.
BY: Interview by Lilit Marcus
During his stint as a finalist on the sixth season of "American Idol," Chris Sligh was infamous for his snappy humor and take-no-prisoners attitude. He remains a straight shooter with the release of his debut album, "Running Back to You." He talked with Beliefnet about getting expelled from Bob Jones University, whether religion matters in the 2008 presidential election, and how doing "Idol" was simply "a means to an end."
How do you define Christian music?
I don't know that I would define Christian music. I don't know that Christian is an adjective—it's more of a noun. So, I don't know that there is Christian music. I would say that I'm a believer. Christianity defines who I am, so, any music that comes out of me is going to be encapsulated into me singing about my beliefs and religious system.
What's your approach to addressing Christianity in music, and also being able to make secular music?
I would say probably half the record is directed more directly to the church, and the other half is just whatever I want to talk about. One of my favorite quotes is [from] C.S. Lewis where he says "We don't need Christians to talk about Christian things. We need Christians to talk about many things." I feel like that's kind of an art that's been lost over the last few. We have this delineation between Christian music and mainstream music, and I just don't know that in life that there's supposed to be a delineation between our Christian walk and our regular walk.
On your blog, you've linked to the Barack Obama "Yes, We Can" video. Do you agree with him politically?
I'm not a politician. I don't really feel like it's my place to talk a lot about politics.
I like a lot of what Barack Obama stands for. I'm in the middle of reading his second book. I read his first book and really appreciate his view on a lot of things. It seems a lot more reasonable than so many politicians nowadays, both on the right and the left. It seems like even though he would define himself as a liberal Democrat, his views are actually more moderate than just about any Republican or Democrat that I know of. He's a brilliant orator, which I think America needs at this point. I think that we need somebody that's going to be able to handle criticism and maybe wipe away some of the sins that our current president has inflicted on the world. When it comes to Bush, I think he is a great man. I think he's a man of God. [But] I think he, in his recent years, has not presented America in a light that I think America maybe should be presented in.
A lot of people use their blogs or Internet message boards to say negative things about people. Do you read negative comments about yourself? Do you think about them? Do you respond to them, or do you just try to stay out of it?
I've seen some of it. I laugh at a lot of it because most people's snappy comebacks about me have to do with my weight. I made fun of my weight before any of you did. I know I'm chubby. Who cares? It doesn't make me any less of a musician or any less of a human being. I make fun of my weight on my blog. If that's the best that they can come up with then, it's not really hurting my feelings.
I know that several female contestants from the show have complained about feeling a lot of pressure from within the show and outside the show to change their appearance or look a certain way. You even have a blog talking about your diet program. Did you want to do that for yourself or was that something you felt pressured to do?
I could care less about what everybody else thinks. I want to lose weight because I want to be around for years with my wife and hopefully my kids. I want to be healthier. I was an athlete all through college, so it's kind of frustrating to look in the mirror and not see the person that I recognize from five years ago.
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