Among the artists this year returning from previous Winter Jams, bigger in 2015 than before is Francesca Battistelli.
Battistelli last played Winter Jam in 2011 and she\’s since had two no. 1 albums, a no. 2 album, three no. 1 singles, six more singles hit the top 10, five more Dove Awards than in 2011 and more. This year is a bit different and she\’s grown quite a bit as an artist.
Her last album- If We\’re Honest hit no. 2 on the charts and is one of her most personal yet. Needless to say Winter Jam 2015 is one of the biggest for Battistelli, who took some time to sit down with The Front Row Report recently.
FRR: How’s WJ going this year, you’ve done it a few times.
Francesca: Yea, that’s right. It’s going great. It’s a really great lineup and it’s a really fun year. I love Winter Jam every time, so no exception.
FRR: If We\’re Honest has been out just under a year now. How has it been supporting this album coming off Hundred More Years?
Francesca: It’s been a lot of fun. I think the more I do this the more I feel like I’m dialed in, and it may be my favorite one so far. It was a blast to make this record, and it’s been a blast to tour it.
It’s fun when you get to a point with a record or especially a single people start to know it and they’re singing along. And it’s been cool along the course of this tour to see “He Knows My Name” become a song that a couple of people know to one that know people know and are singing along with, and that’s always encouraging. At least they’re hearing it on the radio whether they have the album or not. Hopefully they’re looking for that too, so it’s been a lot of fun.
FRR: I feel like If We\’re Honest is one of the most personal albums you\’ve wrote so far. Was that something you planned on from the beginning or did it just kinda come out while you were writing the music?
Francesca: I really think it just kind of happened. I love that you even noticed that because I say that a lot, that I think this is my most personal record. When we wrote “If We’re Honest,” the title track, I wrote it with two really good friends and I was just sharing with them things that had been going on in my life with different friends and how I was just dealing with some stuff. That song came from such a real place and was my favorite.
I mean, as soon as I wrote it I was like “ok, this song is special” I think from that point on, just about halfway through the writing process, I knew that would be the title and I think that informed some of the rest of the songs and how there’s no point to not share what I want to share.
I’m not trying to impress anybody or fit in to any box, so I definitely tried to write songs that came from the heart. Not that I didn’t before but there’s a new level of freedom I found.
FRR: I agree and you\’re at the point in your career- a few albums in- where you\’ve established yourselves with the fans. The last time you did Winter Jam, you were fairly new but now fans know the music and it\’s like they know you.
Francesca: It’s been a lot of fun. Just for me personally, that was our first tour with our son and he was about 3 months old when we did it last time. And so now he’s 4 ½ and our daughter is 2 ½ so just from a practical perspective it’s a lot different just having two kids on the road, but it’s a lot of fun.
My husband’s dad is one of the founders of NewSong and so he’s on the tour as well, so the kids travel with their grandpa, which is hilariously awesome, and it’s hilarious that they don’t realize it’s not normal- they have no clue. They don’t understand that other kids don’t tour around America with their family, so that’s really, really fun.
They’re on their scooters all day around the arena just having a blast. But I think for me every Winter Jam is a little bit different because the 10 artists are different. And this year I’m realizing, more than 4 years ago, that I haven’t toured with everyone on this tour before but I pretty much know everybody and it’s really cool to just go “alright I’ve met all of these people and toured with a lot of them.” It really is like a yin yang when you do Winter Jam. Getting to be with 150 people who you know a lot of- it’s a lot of fun, so unique. And for the fans it’s an incredible night. And this lineup is so good, I don’t know how they’re going to beat it next year. You’ve got so many good artists, so that’s a lot of fun.
FRR: Can we just keep the same artists on Winter Jam every year?
Francesca: There you go- works for me!
FRR: It doesn\’t stop after Winter Jam for you. Not long after this tour, you\’re jumping on The Bible Tour, which you did last year. From what I understand, it\’s a really cool concept and unlike any other tour. From your experiences, can you tell those who haven\’t been to one of those shows what they can expect?
Francesca: I did it last year and I’m excited to do it again. I think it’ll be cool to see how it grows and changes. Really, it’s a tour that encompassed all different footage from the Bible miniseries the Son of God. The people who created that sort of helped launched this tour- Mark Burnette with Roma Downy and so it’s gonna be different from last year I’m told, there’s going to be something on the screen pretty much no matter what. The cool thing is, you’ve got these artists’ songs explaining what’s going on on the screen.
So I’ll sing a song that’s one of my songs, that’s not something I wrote for the tour and you’ll have footage on the screen with some story from the Bible and see how they correlate and so it’s exciting and unique.
It’s funny, I did it last year but it’s up and down all night, you go sing a song and then you come off stage and take a break and then you go sing a song so none of us really watched it. I think it’s really cool but I’ve never seen it. Great artists this year, Steven Curtis Chapman, Brandon Heath, Danny Gokey so it’s going to be neat.
FRR: So what\’s the rest of 2015 looking like for you? More touring? Maybe writing?
Francesca: Two months of not touring so I get a little bit of time off. I’m gonna start working on the new record …just writing and then something in the Fall and then we’ll probably do our Christmas tour again. We’ve done a Christmas tour for the past two years, so just keeping busy!