DECATUR, Ill. -- If an audience listens to Decatur contemporary Christian band Four Wall Flight long enough, the theme of dreams fulfilled is sure to be broached. The group's three founding members, Kelli Kopetz, Katrina Fisher and Gretchen Cawthon, met as members of Maranatha Assembly of God in Decatur and decided that their collective dreams to perform weren't so unattainable after all.
"We talked to each other about our dreams and basically asked, `Aren't we too old for this?"' Kopetz said. "And I said, `I don't think we are. Why can't we try?' We started singing and playing together on the church worship team and had a good vocal blend. Everyone enjoyed performing together, and things started taking off naturally after that."
For the past few years, Four Wall Flight has straddled the line between a hobby and full-time endeavor for the group, but the one thing that has remained constant is its members' passion for live performance. The love of making music is only surpassed by their desire to reach out and do good in their community.
"The name Four Wall Flight kind of explains our mission itself," Kopetz said. "It's less praise and worship than a lot of Christian groups and more honest and real. We wanted it to be relatable to people outside the four walls of the church. We wanted it to `take flight' and be relatable to absolutely anybody who takes the time to listen."
To the group, being "honest and real" means tackling topics not discussed in other artist's contemporary Christian music. This includes the negative side of Christian living.
"We have songs about topics like struggling with depression or going through dark places in your spiritual life," Kopetz said. "We're committed to that reality, because these are things that all Christians go through but don't always want to talk about in their music. We don't want to hold back from that."
Joining the three ladies of Four Wall Flight are two newer male members, guitarist Bryan Vaughn and keyboardist Kent Renfro, who round out the instrumental side of the group. The men were not with the group, however, at the time of its first recording, conducted in a Nashville studio and released in April. The week spent recording in Nashville was a complete novelty to the members of Four Wall Flight, but a valuable experience as they seek to continue expanding the reach of their message.
"It was about eight days straight of 14-hour sessions," Kopetz said. "It was exhausting, but it was also a really great learning experience and a wonderful bonding time. We were thrilled with how the recording turned out."
With that recording in hand, Four Wall Flight had something to present to Decatur Celebration Director Lori Sturgill this year, and its members were beside themselves with excitement when they were chosen to perform on Celebration's Christian Stage, opening for Dove-nominated Christian pop band 33 Miles. It was far and away the biggest audience that Four Wall Flight had ever had a chance to address at one time.
"We were thrilled to find out we would be playing there. We didn't expect to be chosen at all," Kopetz said. "It's a privilege to get to minister in this city. I love Decatur -- we all do. We love the ministries here and volunteering and helping out. We're just one more voice of hope in the community."
Along the way, the members of Four Wall Flight hope to continue spreading their message of "realistic Christian living."
"The music is definitely Christian in nature, but I've had people tell me it's not `Christian lite,"' Kopetz said. "We cut our teeth on praise and worship music, but for our own songs, we wanted something more personal and honest about what the Christian life is really like. It's not fluffy stuff."