For a guy with such an unusual name, Bebo Norman is a pretty relatable guy. And that ability to connect with a wide range of listeners through the power of story is what eventually kickstarted the Georgia native’s career as a singer/songwriter.
Getting his start by playing Young Life camps and touring with fellow Christian artist Caedmon’s Call, Bebo was an independent artist before being an independent artist was considered cool. In fact, he often sold his first album, The Fabric of Verse, out of the trunk of his car or at local coffeehouses where he played acoustic sets.
After criss-crossing the U.S. on his own terms and selling 50,000 of his albums independently, Bebo eventually signed a record deal and as a result, Ten Thousand Days was released in 1999. Recorded in the tradition of more folky artists like James Taylor and David Wilcox, Bebo’s rambling storytelling was almost as beloved as the songs themselves.
While the songs from his first two albums, the aforementioned Ten Thousand Days and Big Blue Sky (2001), garnered some radio airplay, Bebo’s real breakthrough came with 2002’s Myself When I Am Real. Featuring hit singles “Great Light of the World” and “Falling Down,” the album earned him multiple Dove Award nominations.
Always staying on the pulse of what’s being talked about in modern culture, Bebo’s latest self-titled album, featured “Britney,” a collective apology for the unique struggles girls face in today’s world inspired by pop star Britney Spears.
“'Britney’ is a song about what our culture says and does to young women these days. It’s about the lies we tell them about fame and money and what’s beautiful and what will give them life,” Bebo explains. “Ultimately, it’s an apology for those lies. But more than that, it’s an invitation. An invitation to the truth about a God who is bigger than the pain this world so often leaves them in.”
Bebo Norman released Ocean, in September 2010, with songs that were co-written with other Christian artists Brandon Heath and Laura Story. The singer recently released his eighth studio album, Lights of Distant Cities (October 22, 2012), which features his new song "Broken."
Norman admits that writing hopeful songs on Lights of Distant Cities, was a constant struggle,“The last few years have been pretty intense - a long, slow progression, or digression, into a spiritual desert,” Norman says, in regards to the process of writing songs in the dark of the desert. “I struggled to write anything hopeful. But I wanted to be true to the season I was in, so I simply wrote about the hopelessness I was experiencing.”
He continues, “My tendency is to allow the darkness to override the hope I have in Christ. A few months prior to recording I experienced an intense season of recovery and renewal, I finished nearly all of the songs after the recovery process. So you have desperation and recovery – darkness and light – represented within the same song.”