Son of Bob and Carol Champion. Addresses: Record company--Essential Records/Brentwood Music, publicist, Nina Williams, One Maryland Farms, Suite 200, Brentwood, TN, 37027, phone (615) 373-3950 ext.525. Fan mail--P.O. Box 25249, Nashville, TN 37202.

The 1996 release, Transformation, reflects Eric Champion's new sound on the first album released on a multi-record deal with Essential Records/Brentwood Music. Simultaneously, the change in musical style stems from Champion's own spiritual odyssey as he "comes of age." This release on the new Christian label displays a maturation in sound; Champion leaves behind the computer aided techno-sound used on his previous five albums released under the Myrrh label. More recently, he has combined his pop sound with electric guitars, and adds backup rhythm accompaniment. Not surprising, the promotional campaign used to launch, Transformation, was entitled, "What's up with Eric?," designed to call attention to his musical metamorphosis into what he feels is more of a modern rock sound. Champion hopes that his 1996 album appeals more to a younger audience than did previous contemporary/pop albums.

Champion, 25, seems to have discovered his place in the music world. Since starting in the business at age 18, Transformation is his sixth album released. Perhaps becoming a part of the music industry has been a natural progression for Champion. His mother and father were both professional musicians, and as a child he traveled with his family performing in both club and ministry settings. Champion also appeared in commercials as a youngster. In an interview with Frank Chimento, of 7ball magazine, he stated "we were like a Christian version of the Partridge family." Since his family had been part of the entertainment business since his childhood, Champion's next step was to find his own personal niche.

When Champion was about 16 years old he discovered computer- generated music. Using keyboards and computers he began creating techno-sounding music. He was influenced by Howard Jones and Thomas Dolby, and the computer assisted musical sound created in the 1980s. Among his other influences were Led Zeppelin, U2, the Beatles, Radiohead, and REM. In 1990, at age 19, he released a self-titled debut album under the Myrrh Record Label. He would go on to produce four more releases with Myrrh Records.

On the 1994 release, Vertical Reality, his last release on the Myrrh label, Champion fuses the techno-rock sound with lyrics clearly influenced by his taste for science fiction literature. The Christian theme also weaves through the tapestry of his lyrics. Incorporating fantasy and sci-fi themes, Vertical Reality tells the story about a society so assimilated by computers that individuals no longer have the freedom to think for themselves. Their minds and lives are controlled by a massive mainframe computer called "Govtrol," the institution which controls the world. The theme underlying the sci-fi/fantasy is an old one: humankind's search for God. The members of this imaginary society are being controlled by the computers and whatever information is chosen by "Govtrol," to be included in the massive database.

Champion uses the unreal world of sci-fi/fantasy to ask important questions about the individual's relationship to God. In an on-line interview on the world wide web, he stated that "the theme {of Vertical Reality} was simple: getting to know God in a real and closer way, and applying that to your life." The questions raised in Vertical Reality may be set in a fantasy landscape, but they are clearly meant for reflection in our current reality.

The messages in Vertical Reality reflect Champion's thoughts and feelings about God, and how his music is an expression of his Christian ministry. He hopes to reach young people with his sci- fi/fantasy themes and to make them aware of messages from the Bible. After touring with the Newsboys, Champion realized that he needed to create a focus for himself and his music, otherwise someone else would create it for him. After creating some demos with another band, it became apparent that Champion was creating music in a new direction. He told Chimento that Myrrh Record's reaction to his new sound was something like, "Whoa, we don't know about this." He soon began working with Charlie Peacock, who encouraged Champion to follow his vision. He decided to leave Myrrh and sign on with Essential Records, where he was given free range in musical expression and was not required to produce a certain sound.

The 1996 release, Transformation, was the result of Champion following his creative path musically, personally, and spiritually. It's about making changes, as he encourages others to question themselves and their relationship to God. It is also about challenging oneself to reach self-awareness in spite of life's many obstacles. Leaving the computer generated techno-sound behind, Transformation explores the rock-grunge world of music. Champion told Leon van Stensel in an on-line interview that "Transformation talks about a very painful and effectful change that happens when you're trying to change from this old sinful man into this new creature. A lot of questions come into play with that and I'm into it myself."

The initial release of Transformation sparked controversy with some Christian retailers. After realizing that the image of himself on the CD cover poised with a toy laser gun could be interpreted by some as promoting violence, Champion agreed to tone down the cover photo.

Even the setting for Transformation was unusual. Rather than recording in a sound studio, Peacock suggested recording it live. A ranch-style house that Champion fondly called "a Brady Bunch" style house, based on the television show of the same name was rented for the purpose, and was transformed into a studio.

Transformation's first cut "Dress Me Up," weaves a tale about a man who wants to rid himself of his old nature, and using clothing as a metaphor for change, he wishes to put on the new clothes only God can give. "Life Form," continues the theme of change in one's life, moving either closer to or further away from God. In "Temptannie," he sings about the power of sexual temptations and his fight to overcome them. Then showing his flexibility and sense of humor, he re-invents a song previously recorded by Amy Grant called "Every Heartbeat."

Although Champion's music clearly has Christian themes, he denies being a preacher. He would like to be known primarily as a communicator and an entertainer and he intends for his music to stimulate people to grow. When asked by Chimento what he envisioned as his next step, Champion replied, "It's kind of cross that bridge when you get to it. My goal right now is to find some great guys and put together a great band and just play and play and play." Besides his song writing, he has ideas for comic books, screenplays, and novels. He also dreams about opening a performing arts school for underprivileged children someday.

by Debra Reilly

Eric Champion's Career

Recorded five albums between 1990 and 1994 with Myrrh Records; released Transformation on Essential Records, 1996; toured with Newsboys.

Eric Champion's Awards

NAIRD Award Finalist for "Short Form Video -'Dress Me Up,'" and "Contemporary Christian Album," 1996; "# 4 Favorite Alternative/Modern Rock Album of the Year," CCM Magazine Readers Poll, 1996; Finalist for "Favorite Male Vocalist of the Year," Campus Life Readers' Poll, 1996.

Famous Works

Further Reading

Periodicals

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 8 years ago

hey eric champion_can i get the lyrics to your song "calling you" i love the song but i want to know all the lyrics correctly...thanks. ive been trying to hunt down the artist for years by just knowing the second verse...and this year i found it...yay!

almost 9 years ago

Hey Eric: I'm looking for your mom and dad's address. Can you help? Bill and Mary Hardin Macon, GA