Kristi Mathews has come a long way from the girl who graduated from William Blount High School 15 years ago.
Back then she was known as Kristi Pearson. She had yet to face the challenge of being a single mother, overcome a painful and difficult relationship, or suffer the loss of her father and grandfather to cancer. Marrying the love of her life, Chris Mathews, was years in the future.
But, its the ups and downs of life and how individuals respond to them that make people who they are. Without her faith, Mathews said, little of it would make sense.
This month Mathews released her second compact disc, named for the title track, "Who Could Fathom?" More than 300 people came to the release party on May 19 at Grounded Coffee and More. The CD boasts four original songs, two of which, the title track and "Because You Are," are co-written by Mathews and fellow East Maryville Baptist Church praise team member Morgan Jordan. The remaining tracks are some of Mathews most requested songs and include "You Made Me Glad," "Grace Flows Down" and "How Can I Keep from Singing?"
Mathews said shes always had a passion to sing even though she can only read music "enough to stay afloat on the alto line."
"People always said I was a little girl with a huge voice," she said. Her first official gig was a radio commercial when she was 2, but lately, she says shes "become obsessed" with leading others to experience the joy felt from true worship.
"If you worship with freedom and genuine love its an offering
to God of the highest degree. Anything less than our best is
a sloppy sacrifice," Mathews said. But, she adds, "You dont have to be perfect to worship."
In addition to singing on the praise team at her home church, Mathews performs for many other churches, local charities and events such as the Hope for Today Cancer Awareness fundraiser, two outdoor concerts for the Christian Music Connection of Knoxville and an outdoor concert at the University of Tennessee where she took requests from the 4,000 attendees and covered songs by Janis Joplin, Reba McIntyre and Christina Aguilera.
"Everywhere Id go, people would ask if I have a CD, and I always had to say no," Mathews said, but then God started opening doors.
Having recently quit her career of nine years to devote more time to her family, Mathews found the time and the energy to begin making her CD. What she lacked were the finances.
"When money became an issue, I started praying for confirmation that I was doing the right thing," she said. "Having quit work, money was tight. But within a week, someone gave me an envelope with $500 cash in it, and said they wanted to help me." After a few more spontaneous and generous donations, finances were no longer an obstacle. "I never questioned anything again. God is faithful and continues to provide," she said.
"Who Could Fathom" can be purchased at Maryville-Alcoa Christian Supply in New Midland Plaza and East Maryville Baptist Church on Brown School Road in Maryville. For booking information or to order a CD, e-mail Mathews at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.myspace.com/kmatpraise. Also watch her website for upcoming performance dates in the area.