Chynna Phillips' mother and father were members of the 1960s successful singing group The Mamas and the Papas, and she herself achieved fame as a member of the pop sensation Wilson Phillips. She went on to become a household name in the 1990s with such hits as "Hold On" and "You're in Love."
But today Phillips is singing for Jesus as part of the new duo Chynna & Vaughan, whose debut project, One Reason, released Tuesday.
Photo: Chynna Phillips (left) and Vaughn Penn
"This is such an important time in my life," Phillips said. "Although I did accomplish a lot of the things I wanted to ... as a member of Wilson Phillips, nothing compares to what I'm doing now. Nothing is more gratifying as a Christian believer than being able to thread my faith and love for Jesus into my music."
"We are doing this because it's our calling," added singer-songwriter Vaughan Penn, whose music has been featured in more than 100 films and television programs, including Grey's Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Numb3rs, Boston Public and The Hills. "We want our music to bring light to dark places and offer healing for listeners."
Although both women had experiences with God as teens, they drifted away from faith as adults. Phillips says as a teen she got involved with the wrong crowd but turned away from a harmful lifestyle at age 19. Penn said she got confused "not about Jesus but what does it mean to have a Christian life, to walk a Christian path."
But in the last several years, the women each had dramatic encounters with God that they say restored them to the plan He had for them.
Despite a successful career, marriage to actor Billy Baldwin and three children, Phillips said she began to feel something was missing in her life about six years ago.
"There was nothing to complain about, but I was just feeling empty," Phillips said. "I thought, I know there's more."
Phillips says she cried out to God. "I got on my knees and I said, 'OK, whoever You are, wherever You are, I need You to reveal Yourself to me because I'm ready to commit my entire life to serving You."
A week later, her brother- and sister-in-law Stephen and Kennya Baldwin were at Phillips' house praying for a niece who was going through a difficult time. While the group was praying, Kennya suddenly told Phillips: "The Holy Spirit is telling me that I need to pray over you, Chynna. Would that be OK?"
As soon as Kennya Baldwin laid her hands on Phillips, the floodgates opened. "I just cried my eyes out," Phillips said. "I started to shake a little bit and I knew I was home. I was like, 'OK Jesus, You have confirmed. That's it. I am home. You are God. I will never worship or adore any other God. You are the God; there is no other God.'"
Penn had been a Christian for years but says a life-threatening illness deepened her faith. Doctors told her she needed to have surgery, but she sensed God telling her not to undergo the procedure and that He was going to heal her. "This was a very, very definite, 'Tell them no'" to surgery, she said.
While she was in the hospital, Penn says a Christian friend introduced her to the band Casting Crowns. "The Holy Spirit jumped off the music into me," she said. "It lifted my spirits and told me everything was going to be all right. God grabbed me, and He also grabbed my fever and started bringing it down."
She began to listen to as much contemporary Christian music as she could. "I couldn't get enough," she said. "I was like, 'Lord, I love writing songs. I love using my gifts for Your glory. And when I get well, I just want to do music like this, to praise You and help others to find hope and healing like I've found.'"
She left the hospital, still undergoing treatment, but says God miraculously healed her and gave her a passion to use her talents to glorify God. "It's not about me," Penn said. "It's about the Lord and having the confidence in God to do this work. And as soon as I really embraced that and after I was sick and got healed then I had the strength to do this the right way."
Penn and Phillips met in 2007 and quickly began writing songs. The duo say they've found true joy, peace and fulfillment when they dedicated their lives and talents to God, and now, as Chynna & Vaughan, they desire to share the hope they found in Christ with those who are hurting.
To preview songs from One Reason, click here.
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