Seven years ago, if you would’ve told Rita Springer she’d record another album, she might not have believed you. “I would’ve been fine if I’d never recorded another record,” she says in reference to her previous studio album, The Playlist. That record took two years to make, and soon after its release, her record label went bankrupt. When Rita worked to get The Playlist CDs from the defunct label, she found out they had been accidentally left on a loading dock in an abandoned warehouse in Mobile, Alabama. Just like that, two years of work disappeared without a trace.
It’s easy to see why she would be reluctant to return to making albums. “I still loved leading worship and writing music,” she says. “But to record another record, I thought Those days are gone!” So as an artist in residence at Gateway, she turned her focus toward mentoring and sharing her decades of experience to help young worship leaders all over the world.
In fact, in 2014 she was traveling to meet with worship leaders at Bethel Church in Redding, California, when God spoke to her in a way that was both devastating and invigorating. “Out of the blue, He said, ‘I want you to record another record,’” says Rita. “I had to pull over because I was nauseous. He said, ‘Let’s work through why you feel this way.’ Over the next few months, He removed that thread of industrial disappointment and took me back to why I initially started making music.”
Her struggle and subsequent victory inspired her to name the new record Battles, which was recorded live at the Gateway Grand Prairie Campus. One of the songs at its centerpiece is called “Never Lost,” a song about trusting God to fight your battles because He has never lost one. Teaming up with songwriter Catherine Mullins, “Never Lost” talks about victory from an interesting perspective—in the midst of the battle. The chorus sums it up: “Wind, listen to the sound of power on my lips. / Jesus has broken the curse. / He has never lost a battle.”
In many ways, this lyric points to the central theme of Battles. “The album is really about victory from the perspective of the battle,” says Rita. “If I called the album ‘Victory,’ people might not be able to relate because for some, victory seems far away. But by calling it Battles, I could talk about how God is fighting for us and defending us, and He has already won!”
Rita believes it’s the best album she’s ever made. While many artists have trouble saying the albums they make later in their careers are as good as their earlier work, she attributes it to a word she received from God years ago. “He said, ‘Rita, I’m going to do more in the latter part of your life than I ever did in the former,’” she says. “I grabbed ahold of that word!”
One way she has kept her music fresh might be her close relationship and mentorship of young worship songwriters around the world—many of whom she calls upon for help with production and songwriting. “They call me Mama Bear,” she says. That diversity was represented on the platform during the recording of Battles. She had members of Bethel Music and Gateway Worship together to be her backing band that night. “I just wanted the stage to look like my family—like my kids,” she says. “To me, that’s why this album is so great.”
“Never Lost” is on Rita Springer’s new album, Battles, which will be available in the Gateway Bookstore and on iTunes on March 24.