While it takes a few conversations with some people to uncover their life's true passion, it takes roughly thirty seconds when talking with worship leader Christine D'Clario. From beginning to end, it's clear that worship is her lifestyle, and proclaiming God's goodness, faithfulness and grace is her top priority—pure and simple.
Funny enough, that wasn't always the case. Until she experienced her true encounter with redemption in 2003, Christine was admittedly just another Sunday morning Christian.
Living the way she wanted the other six days of the week, Christine certainly looked the part while singing about Jesus and leading altar calls at her home church, but truth be told, she didn't really know Him.
In fact, she was smack dab in the middle of a very rebellious season.
But when you grow up in a home where church attendance—and service within its four walls—is a must, well, Christine not only knew the lingo but gave a convincing portrayal of what someone following God's plan looks like.
Blessed with a beautiful voice and plenty of charisma to boot, being on stage was a no-brainer for someone who loved music as much as Christine does. Trouble is, her heart wasn't really in what—and Who—she was singing about in church, and underneath the pristine façade, she was lost and still struggling to make sense of her troubled past.
See, when Christine was only six-and-a-half, her father passed away after a long struggle with alcoholism, and the self-proclaimed "daddy's girl" who shared his artistic tendencies, missed him like crazy. If losing her father wasn't already difficult enough, Christine and her family also ended up relocating from New York to part of her family's native Puerto Rico not long after.
While Christine's mother saw the move as an opportunity to "get out of the city" and start fresh, the new language and culture led to "a tornado of emotions" for the seven-year-old. And when her mother eventually re-married, Christine also had a problem with the "new man" in her life. Not feeling entirely welcome in her new stepfamily left her with a serious case of "orphan syndrome," and Christine desperately longed for an escape.
And that's precisely where music came in. It was her bliss in the midst of the chaos, and Christine gave herself completely to it. Finding kindred spirits in Crystal Lewis and Jaci Velasquez, artists who were both bilingual like she was, Christine loved singing along with anything that came in a performance track and entered numerous singing contests. Basically whenever she couldn't cope with what life threw at her, she found an oasis in song.
Unfortunately, not even music could keep her from trouble once she entered her teen years. In the midst of obeying her call to ministry, she was living a double life while experiencing college. Longing for love and acceptance, she found that in the arms of the wrong guy. When that long relationship eventually soured, all the loss Christine felt came back with a vengeance, and before long, she'd all but given up on a relationship with God. Loose living, a preference for darker, depressing music, even a couple of attempts at taking her own life became the new normal. Sadly, her portrait of what a father looked like was distorted because she felt like anyone who was ever close to her ended up leaving.
Him. In Scripture it talks about the behaviors that grieve the Holy Spirit, so that's exactly what I did. I was the biggest jerk ever, hanging out with the atheists, weed smokers and slackers. All I wanted was to be accepted."
Of course, God hadn't forgotten about Christine and met her in the darkest moment of despair—the night she'd basically given Him an ultimatum.
"I was being a real snot about it and basically I said that 'if you don't do anything with me before midnight, I will understand that you don't love me, don't exist, and I'll just go on with my life, go to hell, whatever, I didn't care.'"
Seemingly out of nowhere, a woman she didn't even know ended up speaking words of life and encouragement to Christine, a sure sign that God had, indeed, heard her and continued to pursue her regardless of her emotional state. Conveying that she had two choices—live wholeheartedly in His presence and be used by Him mightily to share His message with the world or pursue wealth and fame in the secular arena but without His presence—Christine knew exactly what she wanted.
That night forever changed the trajectory of her ministry, and more importantly, her relationship with God. And as she continued to work through her past, more tragedy was brought to light including abuse by several family acquaintances who were trusted as sitters. But as she let more and more of God in her life, healing and restoration began.
"It took 18 years for me to let go, forgive and receive restoration," Christine says. "And what I began to realize from that night, was that I don't want anything except for living in His presence because we were made to be united with Him."
And that's the chief message that Christine wants to convey to listeners. With her first English-language album Deeper (Integrity Music), Christine, who's already a household name with Latin America audiences, rallies against surface-level Christianity by introducing listeners to the God who saves, redeems, restores and heals.
In the past, every album Christine has done has been in Spanish, something she absolutely treasures. But with Deeper and its Spanish counterpart Mas Profundo, she's excited to introduce the project that "runs parallel with the season she's in" to both audiences.
"I've been through fires, deserts, I've been through the difficult process to heal such a broken past, and now I've understood that superficial Christianity just won't do it for me—or anyone who's had a true encounter with God," Christine says. "When you've had an encounter with God, you need more. It's an addiction of sorts. You've gotta go back to the fountain and get on a deeper level, that's what the album is all about."
Featuring songs written specifically with the global Church in mind, Christine's passion for her faith is evident from the first note. Whether it's a standout track like "Reign," which is basically a three-part chant that affirms who we are in Him, the soulful strains of "Faithfulness" or "Magnified," a timely anthem for the redeemed that serves as a big thank you to God for saving us, Deeper is filled with relevant reminders of the joys of being in God's presence.
Adding fullness and texture to Deeper is a varied, vibrant musical palette. Drawing from a deep well of influences, everything from organic instrumentation to dance beats to old soul sounds is represented. Perhaps, the best instrument of all, however, is Christine's expressive voice.
In addition to having a wide vocal range, it's her raw passion that bleeds out whenever she worships that can't help but draw listeners in.
"I always want to worship like it's the very last moment I'm alive," Christine says. "And I want to inspire everyone in the Church to feel that way, too. There's nothing more gratifying than being in His presence and worshipping with true abandon."