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To Britney, from Bebo

Pop princess finds herself the subject of a song by a Christian singer

Pop princess finds herself the subject of a song by a Christian singer

October 30, 2008|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

Christian singer-songwriter Bebo Norman was flipping channels one evening when he saw Britney Spears strapped to a stretcher and being whisked away in an ambulance.

"There was just something in her face that just seemed to put me in my place. She just looked lost," he says during a telephone interview from the road in Waco, Texas.

Norman says in that moment, Spears' situation broke his heart.

What came out of that experience was his song, "Britney," dedicated to the pop princess. And instead of a scornful account to change her wicked ways, Norman decided to reach out to her: "Britney I'm sorry for the stones we throw/We tear you down just so we can watch the show/Britney I'm sorry for the words we say/We point the finger as you fall from grace."

He says he aimed the song not just at Spears, but at modern American culture as a whole.

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"We're all flawed," he says. "Who is not?"

Norman will perform Sunday evening at Bethel Assembly of God in Hagerstown as part of popular Christian band MercyMe's tour "All That is Within Me." He's also promoting his own album, "Bebo Norman."

Norman says he didn't play "Britney" on stage for three months after he wrote it because it was outside of his normal subject matter.

"Eventually, when I did, it resonated," he says.

There's been no word from Spears herself on what she thinks about being his inspiration, but Spears' mother, Lynne, e-mailed Norman. But, he says, he never expected to hear from the pop star at all.

"It just never crossed my mind," he says.

A search on YouTube shows that Spears' fans have embraced the song as her comeback anthem. The videos show snippets of her at work while Norman's song plays.

It's been two years since Norman released a studio album. His last album "Try," released in 2006, won him critically acclaim and fortified his place in Christian music.

For Norman, songwriting is about the craftsmanship of the songs. When approaching an album, Norman says he takes his time because he wants it to be more than a collection of songs.

"Songwriting to me is telling one's journey," he says.

He says in a lot of ways he's changed since releasing "Try." He's still a relatively new husband to wife Roshare, and new father to 18-month-old Smith. He's also moved onto a new record label.

Norman thinks one song on his new album -- "Ruins," the fifth track -- says the most about his journey. "Let the ruins become the ground you build upon/Let my ruins become the start."

Although he's in the Christian music genre, Norman says he doesn't see his music as his ministry. Instead, he sees it as a gift from God that he's thankful for.

"For me, music is in so many ways a way to tell a story. That's really the point. We all have a story to tell," he says.




If you go ...



WHAT: Bebo Norman with MercyMe

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2

WHERE: Bethel Assembly of God Church, 515 E. Wilson Blvd., Hagerstown

COST: $23 general admission; $30 Gold circle

MORE: For more information about Bebo Norman, visit www.bebonorman.com or www.myspace.com/bebonorman

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