is an American singer-songwriter who works in the contemporary Christian music, contemporary folk, and adult contemporary genres. He became a recording artist as well in 1996 after signing a contract with Rocketown Records and releasing his debut album, Deep Enough to Dream
.Early yearsChris Rice, a native of Clinton, Maryland, grew up as the second of four sons born to bookstore owners. His parents, and other adult mentors, influenced Rice's Christian faith and his early work with youth and college students.Having taken only three years of piano lessons as a child, Rice did not aspire to a career in either music or student work. But frequent invitations to speak and lead music at his church's youth group events led to more such invitations throughout his college years at the University of Maryland, Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, and Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Communication. While leading music and coaching high school soccer teams he began writing songs. What began as weekend and summer work with youth and college students soon turned into a full-time career during his twenties and thirties, and prompted Rice to write and perform mainly on the guitar.For those two decades, Rice spent his time as an itinerant speaker and songwriter/musician, playing for high school and college conferences and camps nationwide. This schedule prepared Chris for his career as a signed recording artist, touring the country with a full band.
Career as a songwriter
Rice's songwriting career began in the mid-1980s, after moving from his Washington, D.C., home to Nashville, Tenn. During that period several of Rice's songs were recorded by other artists, including Kathy Troccoli and Terri Gibbs. Rice's "Welcome to Our World", an original Christmas song since recorded by Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant and John Tesh, moved Smith to urge his new label, Rocketown Records, to sign Rice as its first artist in 1996.
With the help of Monroe Jones' production skills, Chris Rice recorded Deep Enough to Dream
for a September 1997 release. Past the Edges
followed a year later. Rice's third album, Smell the Color 9
, was issued in late 2000.In 2001, Rice released two piano-only, instrumental releases, The Living Room Sessions
and The Living Room Sessions: Christmas
, recorded on Rice's own living room grand piano.His sixth album, Run the Earth... Watch the Sky
, released in March 2003, Chris again joined the production talents of his longtime friend and collaborator Monroe Jones. The album's first single was "The Other Side of the Radio".These four studio releases (plus the two instrumental releases) fulfilled Rice's contractual commitment to Rocketown and they issued several compilation albums, Short Term Memories
and Snapshots: Live and Fan Favorites
, following his departure in June 2004 and February 2005 respectively.
New record label
Rice signed with independent label Eb+Flo Records, and made a marketing and distribution agreement with INO Records who had distribution through Sony/Columbia removed the limitation of catering his music to Christian radio formats.His fifth studio album, Amusing
, released in August 2005. For the first time in his career, Rice released radio singles to AC and Light Rock stations around the country, the first single being a light romantic song entitled "When Did You Fall (In Love With Me?)" which reached No. 8 on the Pop AC radio format and enjoyed Top Ten status throughout the middle of 2006. A second AC hit, "Lemonade", began climbing the AC chart in 2007.With his success on the AC radio format, Rice released a side project hearkening back to his roots, a vocal hymns album, Peace Like a River: The Hymns Project
, in November 2006.Rice released What a Heart Is Beating For
in July 2007, further positioning him as a pop artist. Only 2 of its 13 songs contained faith themes.