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Soul Music

At 18, aspiring Christian singer Mandie Pinto has her priorities in line.

May 01, 1997|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Many young singers in Los Angeles would sell their souls for a recording contract, but not Mandie Pinto.

Pinto, a contemporary Christian music artist who performs a benefit concert for L.A. Baptist High School on Sunday, knows where her priorities lie.

"I've always dreamed of being a recording artist," said the 18-year-old. "But more important [is being] a witness for Christ."

In addition to doing all those things that aspiring artists do--rehearsing, writing songs, arranging photo and recording sessions--Pinto is active with her own ministry for Christ.

"My goal is to help other people see Jesus in an exciting way," she said. "It's all for the glory of him. It's a way of service for me--knowing I serve God the best I can."

Pinto publishes a newsletter, which is distributed to over 2,000 people, and she has a Web site. She's been a featured performer at the Rev. Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove many times, including in the church's recent "Glory of Easter" extravaganzas.

She went to Nashville in January, where she met with Christian music record company people. She plans to relocate to Nashville soon.

Pinto realizes that she may face doubters because of her youth and relative lack of life experience, but she replies with Scripture--1 Timothy 4:12--"Don't let anyone think little of you because you are young. Be their ideal."

Raised in the Valley, Pinto started piano lessons at age 8 but didn't start singing until she was 13. She recorded her first album of contemporary Christian music at 14.

Musically her recordings sound much like the pop material one would hear on radio stations such as KOST-FM--but the lyrical content is much different. Instead of the misery of lost love, these songs concern themselves with the joy of eternal salvation through Christ.

Pinto's favorite artists include secular stars Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, as well as Christian music artists such as Sandi Patty and Point of Grace.

"I love what I do," Pinto said, "and it's wonderful to do something you love and to serve the Lord."

* Mandie Pinto performs a benefit concert Sun., 6 p.m., at Reseda Baptist Church, 18644 Sherman Way, Reseda. A free-will offering will be taken. (818) 881-3651.

*

Her Way: A record company exec once told singer-songwriter Marti Stevens that her songs were hard to listen to. To his ears, the songs didn't have traditional hooks, and the poetry of her lyrics required too much thinking.

Stevens, who's performing Saturday night at Coffee Junction in Tarzana, was at first dismayed. But upon reflection, she realized that those attributes are not necessarily bad. In fact, they were the very things that attracted her to her own favorite recording artists--she liked songs that were different, that required listening and had some thought behind them.

"I want to know what an artist has," Stevens said. "I want to hear if they have any depth. And that's also what I want to accomplish. Also, I like artists who write their own material.

"Composing is such a powerful thing," she said. "Whether people like the music or they don't, I make the albums for me."

She self-released her first cassette album, "Obsessive Behavior," in 1995. She's currently working on her second, "Let the Dog Walk Himself Tonight," which she plans to release in the fall.

"The music is kinda folky and it's hard rock," Stevens said, "I don't know what to call it."

Stevens grew up in the Valley but also spent some time in the Midwest. She grew up listening to country music and the blues. She's been performing for over 15 years, but took some time out to get married and have a son, who is now 5.

"It's a balancing act, just a typical '90s woman," she said.

Stevens will be performing Saturday with her backup band, which includes members of the band Hardly Sisters.

"For me, music is not 'do or die,' it's just who I am," Stevens said. "It's a part of me I just have to express. Sometimes you just gotta express yourself, even if you get in trouble."

* Marti Stevens performs Sat. night at Coffee Junction, 19221 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. No cover. (818) 342-3405.

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