Husband-and-wife recording duo Out of the Grey (Scott and Christine Dente) have drawn upon their relationship for inspiration over the course of their decade-plus recording career: spiritual concerns and the complications of married life have been recurring themes in their music. Scott's passionate guitar work and Christine's pure vocals have been matched with the talents of some of Christian music's most notable producers.
Scott and Christine Dente were both attending Berklee College of Music in Boston when they met in 1985. As they became closer friends, Christine shared her faith with Scott, encouraging him to attend Bible study classes with her; he eventually became a Christian. They honed their performance skills by singing and playing top 40 music in Chinese restaurants around Boston, drawing from early influences like Linda Ronstadt and Pete Townsend. By the time they married in October of 1987, their music and their relationship were tightly intertwined.
After their marriage and graduation, the Dentes moved to Nashville to pursue a career in Christian music. For a time they earned money by waiting tables at the same restaurant, while they wrote songs and played music in their off hours. Christine then landed a job at Opryland in the Country Music USA show and Scott played guitar for singer Kim Hill on Amy Grant's Heart in Motion tour. The duo took on the name Out of the Grey in 1990. "The name was actually part of a lyric Scott had written," Christine told Rich Stevens of CCM Magazine. "It paints a good picture of how Scott came out of this relativistic philosophy and embraced God. And that's what we're about, helping people out of the grey."
While their debut performance at a youth camp with a memorably bad sound system didn't light any fires, while producing their demo they chanced to meet someone who passed their tape on to Peter York at Sparrow Records. Soon they were working on their debut album with renowned Christian music producer Charlie Peacock, producing a self-titled 1991 debut album that won them many fans. Their initial hits on Christian radio included "Wishes," which reached number one on CCM Magazine's charts for two weeks, and "Remember This."
The duo's debut album was named one of the 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music in CCM's book of the same name in 2001. "Out of the Grey offers relevant expressions of life and faith," April Hefner wrote, "of longing and discovery, of wonder and certainty, all basked in a light of faith that is apparent without being preachy." She described Christine's voice as "often ethereal and breathy but never weak" and "Scott's biting and inventive turns on electric and acoustic guitars were balanced against Peacock's clean, simple production, which let the songs speak for themselves."
The release of their debut album was followed by extensive touring, including a 20-city tour with Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman and a 43-city tour with Charlie Peacock. Some felt their greatest strength was their live performances. "The distinctive melodies of the guitarist's soul mate merged to create an unforgettable harmonic blend of voice and instrument," wrote CCM Magazine's Rich Stevens of one concert performance. CCM's Hefner claimed that seeing the band in a live setting was "still perhaps the ultimate way to hear Out of the Grey." Much was made of their onstage banter, with Hefner calling Christine "the straight answer to [Scott's] sarcastic witticisms."
With the release of The Shape of Grace in 1992, Out of the Grey established a firm footing in the Christian music market. The singles "Nothing's Gonna Keep Me from You" and "Steady Me" both reached number one on CCM Magazine's charts. CCM's Stevens wrote: "The Shape of Grace is truly a cause for massive celebration. Even more exciting than the sensational songwriting, unforgettable melodies, exceptional production (by Charlie Peacock) and music that just makes you want to move, is the joyous spirit and message behind the songs." Once again, the duo went on tour with Steven Curtis Chapman, this time for 54 dates. As if that weren't enough to keep them busy, the couple had their first child, Julian, as well.
The albums Diamond Days, released in 1994, and Gravity, released in 1995, kept Out of the Grey singles on the charts for the next few years. The albums were a masterful blend of words and music. Douglas McKelvey noted this achievement in the liner notes for their greatest hits album a few years later: "[T]hey've also had this remarkable penchant for investing the music, the arrangement, even the very instrumentation of a song with as much literal and poetic meaning as the lyric itself. They treat music as a language...." Despite the success the band experienced in the mid-1990s, Christine confessed to interviewer Robin Parrish years later (as quoted on the Christian music section of the about.com website) that "Gravity is not my favorite recording, by any stretch. I don't listen to that record. It conjures up bad things to me." Both she and Scott were feeling the constraints of trying to write more commercial music.
In 1997 Out of the Grey released their fifth Sparrow album, See Inside. They had sought out a new producer to challenge them and found Brown Bannister, famous for producing Amy Grant and Steven Curtis Chapman. It was a match they were happy with. "With See Inside we had such a clear picture in our mind of what we wanted to do now," Christine told Akins from CCM. "I think this album is very cohesive. It's definitely a departure. It's got the edge and the urgency we wanted it to have, and I get to stretch out a little bit vocally."
Sparrow released a compilation in 1998 called Remember This: The Out of the Grey Collection, but by 1999, the Dentes had parted from their longtime record company. "We've had other people tell us what we should do, and that didn't really work commercially," Scott explained to Laura Harris at Musicforce.com. "Then we've done what we wanted to do. That felt great, but that earned us the dismissal from our label." The duo felt like they were at a crossroads and did a lot of soul-searching. "We want to be clear and say we know it's not necessarily the end of the world for a recording artist to lose their record deal," Scott told Debra Akins of CCM Magazine. "But it's the equivalent of losing your job and losing your confidence.... A recording artist without a place to record is not a recording artist anymore. We were a leaky boat." When they signed with Rocketown Records in 2000, the Dentes found a match that rejuvenated them. They called their 2001 release 6.1, a reference to their sixth album and what they saw as a new version of Out of the Grey. They were happy to be touring with their three school-aged children in tow, homeschooling as they went along.
At Rocketown the duo felt a renewed commitment to creativity and honesty in their music. As they started on another tour, promoting their first new recordings in four years, the Dentes spoke hopefully to Robin Parrish: "The new record ... harkens back to the first record, in that we knew what we wanted to sound like, and yet carry along all the experiences with us from the last ten years." The Dentes made it clear that they were doing more than trying to write commercial hits or please others. "Sometimes there's a pressure [in Christian music] that narrows art," Christine told CCM's Akins. "Different people are attracted to different kinds of art, and the kind we are attracted to is a lyric that doesn't spell everything out.... This time around, we were told to forget about the mentality of trying to write a certain way," Scott added. "It's been a long time since we've been able to let go and feel the freedom to do what we like and be what we want to be."