Just one year ago, the Christian music world was introduced to Gretchen Keskeys via her instantly acclaimed debut album “Walking In The Spirit” (Creative Soul Records), but in that relatively short amount of time, the singer/songwriter who according to CCM Magazine Contributing Editor Andy Argyrakis may very well possess the most magnificent voice since Sandi Patty has seen her ministry expand exponentially. In addition to concerts and women’s conferences all across America, the California-based artist became quite an online sensation, sharing her songs alongside an inspirational testimony that spoke of miraculous deliverance from anxiety and depression. It’s no wonder why her rapid-fire sophomore release “Pure Hope” can not only boast such an optimistic title, but also resonate with an increased artistic confidence and additional confirmation of this God-ordained calling for the wife and mother of three children whose unique media-centric upbringing (more on that later) could’ve very well led her down an entirely different path.
“When I write a song, I don’t necessarily factor in what people would like to hear or what’s popular, but they come more out of my conversations with God in simply talking or praying through the day,” explains Keskeys, who got her start as a worship leader with Warehouse Christian Ministries (which many CCM luminaries such as the late Keith Green have appeared). “Take for instance the new song ‘This Time,’ which looks back at the places I’ve fallen or worried about what other people were thinking rather than simply saying ‘this time I will trust you God.’ And then there’s the song that inspired the title, ‘Running On Pure Hope,’ which came to me before I even started thinking about doing another album, basically from the excitement of what God was doing in my life.” I do believe the songs are very encouraging because they are inspired by scripture and the hope that we have in Christ. He has made my ministry possible.
And what an amazing ride it’s been from from the overwhelming and downright life-changing responses on social networking for her previous project’s lead single “Then I Met Jesus,” to appearing on nationally syndicated television shows “Babbie’s House,” CTN’s “It’s Time for Herman & Sharron,” Cornerstone Television Network’s “Real Life,” CTN’s “Bridges,” Dove Broadcasting’s “Nite Line,” WATC-TV’s “Magnify,” WREG-TV’s “Live at 9” and “Christian Music Spotlight,” plus prominent radio programs such as “Game Changers with Lisa Faulkner,” “The Long Version with Fletcher Long,” “Kingdom News” and “Debra Evans in the Morning” (amongst many others). However, if it wasn’t for stepping up to the microphone in church throughout the 2000s or giving her life entirely over to Christ earlier in life, chances are Keskeys could’ve ended up on an entirely different path.
In fact, it just so happens that her parents were the authors of the runaway best-selling book “I’m OK – You’re OK,” while her father was crowned by LIFE Magazine as “the father of pop psychology.” Nonetheless, her folks (and mother in particular) were generally supportive of her commitment to faith (no “Mommie Dearest” needed here), especially as it proved to be the ultimate answer to paralyzing fear and insecurity (that even briefly creeped back up in the more recent past as she waited with uncertainty when “Walking In The Spirit” went out into the world).
“I know what to expect this time, I’m at a stronger place spiritually and I’m in a place where I’m happy with whatever comes of it,” she says of “Pure Hope.” “When you first do something, you can get a little feeling like ‘this could be a total failure,’ but even from the couple of songs I’ve snuck out from the new project, a lot of people seem to be excited. Those ‘uncertain months’ also inspired the song ‘Adversity,’ and though they were difficult times, I am thankful for them because it has caused me to look even more to Jesus and He can use all of it for good!”
That’s already been the case as Keskeys has connected with listeners from literally every walk of life, from fellow Christians at various stages in their faith, to those of any belief background struggling with addictions, some recovering from suffering abuse and others trying to get back on their feet following a season of homelessness. “Pure Hope” indeed has the potential to resonate with literally anyone given the sincere heart from which it was written, while its author is also quick to credit some of her previous experiences in the media and entertainment industries as giving her the proper tools to communicate to such a wide plane of people. Whether it was her earliest opportunities as a page at NBC, landing roles on a primetime special, several soap operas, writing for the nightly news, studying at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and receiving her Screen Actors Guild card, the multitude of experiences forged a lifelong commitment to preparation and professionalism, plus later, inspiration on so many levels as an artist.
“I think my favorite thing about writing the news was the ‘kickers,’ which is the last story of the newscast and one where you often get to have fun with plays on words,” she recalls. “I loved using my creativity writing those stories and I find songwriting has similarities searching for just the right word in the right spot to create the best story! In between acting and being an artist, I mostly missed expressing myself, but now in my music and worship leading, I have found that again and it brings me such joy to share my deepest heart for who Christ is, what He has done, what He is doing and what He promises to do. I am truly fulfilled, and as my song ‘In Him’ proclaims, ‘every want, every need, everything is found in Him.’”
Jesus Christ has healed her, given her confidence and security she never had, brought endless peace and joy and amazing loving people into her life. Where there once was darkness, there is now light. She loves Jesus and is looking forward to all that is ahead!