by Matt Conner
“I’ve wanted to do this for years.”
Nikki Leonti is referring to Reunite CCM, a one-night, SoCal-based event in early November that brings together several favorite female vocalists in recent contemporary Christian music history—names like Stacie Orrico, Crystal Lewis, Rachael Lampa and, of course, Leonti herself.
“It’s pretty awesome to have a group of friends who wouldn’t have necessarily done an event of this sort right now, but because of our friendships and how close we are, we’re like, ‘There’s no one else I would reunite with but you,’” says Leonti.
“It was a perfectly timed situation. When I presented the idea to the girls in a group text, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, especially with Stacie having not done a show of this nature in a really long time. I was pleasantly surprised when all three of them said, ‘Let’s do it. We’d love to make it happen.’ Within a day of them giving me the green light, I’d already booked the date and venue and started rolling on it.”
Several years have passed since each of the aforementioned ruled the charts as popular young artists, but each has stayed quite busy with family responsibilities and flourishing creative careers—even if they’ve remained out of the Christian music spotlight. Leonti in particular has enjoyed a very successful musical career.
“I was in Nashville for several years on tour with Carrie Underwood,” she explains. “When I quit that job, I moved to L.A. to see what I could do out here. It wasn’t long until I’d signed a deal with Warner Bros. and had a duo. Through that, I found this love for writing for film and television and commercials.”
Being based in Los Angeles has been an ideal locale for Leonti as she’s written for major ad campaigns like Ford, films like Ice Age or songs for artists like Jessie J and Robin Thicke. As an example of how L.A. affords her multiple opportunities, Leonti offered up her recent schedule as proof positive.
“Last week I sang backgrounds for Katy Perry at the Hollywood Bowl. Today I am going to record backgrounds for The New Messiah coming out next year as a live event with Adam Anders who did the Passion live last year with Tyler Perry. So every day is different for me. I never know where I’m going to be—writing or singing or performing. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Despite spinning so many musical plates, Leonti remains nostalgic and a true fan of contemporary Christian music—particularly from her era. That makes the upcoming Reunite CCM night such a passion project for her.
“I think I’ve had a case of nostalgia lately for these classic songs and Christian music in the nineties, particularly,” she says. “I think it was very special. Not discounting what’s happening now, but I connect more with the artistry that was happening then. There wasn’t as much of a worship-driven radio culture that there is now.
“I wanted to have those feelings again and experience some of that joy and passion that I had for the music at that time. I love old Christian music. I do. It’s something that has been very powerful in my life.”