NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As three young women in a rock band, the Barlow sisters could easily play up their good looks and play down their Christian beliefs for a shot at mainstream success.
But that would make BarlowGirl a lot like the character they sing about in "Five Minutes of Fame," a song from their latest album "Another Journal Entry."
"I always said the thing that meant the most to me was my very integrity. Who would have thought I'd ever trade it all for popularity," sings Alyssa Barlow, 24, who formed the group with her sisters Rebecca, 26, and Lauren, 20.
The Chicago area trio has five Dove Award nominations at Wednesday's annual Gospel Music Association awards show, including group of the year, rock/contemporary song of the year ("Mirror"), rock recorded song of the year ("Let Go") and album of the year ("Another Journal Entry").
They know firsthand the temptation they sing about in "Five Minutes of Fame."
"From Day One when we started, you always hear from people who say, 'Don't you think that if you girls were not so verbal and if you didn't share about purity so much that you would be more popular?" said Alyssa Barlow, who also plays bass and keyboards. "But this is stuff that we believe in and stand for."
They believe in it enough that they've taken a vow not to date. While they have male friends and go out with men in groups, they don't go on traditional one-on-one dates. They believe God has one perfect man already chosen for them and, when the time is right, he will bring them together.
"We felt we could dedicate these single years to finding out who we are and not being so distracted by the recreational dating scene," Alyssa Barlow said. "I'm still attracted to guys. But for now I get to know guys as friends. At the end of the day, one of the best pieces of advice I've gotten from married couples is to marry your best friend."
The sisters come from a musical family. Their father, Vince, is a musician who wrote children's music at Willow Creek Church in Chicago. Their mother, MaryAnn, started each of them on piano lessons when they were 7 with the understanding was that once they learned piano they could switch to any instrument they wanted.
As for influences, they cite three.
"Honestly, we grew up on oldies music: The Beatles, the Mamas & Papas and James Taylor," said drummer Lauren Barlow. "That's what we started singing to. And then, as we grew up, we started listening to Christian stuff."
They began writing in their early teens and continue to write most of their own songs. They mix harmonies with rock guitar and have been compared with Evanescence, a moody hard-rock band with female lead vocals.
And while they say they're not chasing mainstream airplay, they're not running from it either.
Since their 2004 self-titled debut, BarlowGirl has had four No. 1 singles and received national exposure on NBC's "Today" show.
"We're just focused on doing what we're called to do, and if the secular market wants to open its doors, we'll be more than happy about it," said guitarist Rebecca Barlow.
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