After graduating from Belmont University with a degree in business, she had plans to chase her country music dream. And she made great strides, spending over ten years working and performing in Nashville’s country music scene.
Christy garnered two major-label recording contracts, as well as a staff writing position for one of Music Row’s finest publishing companies. She performed many times on the prestigious stage of the Grand Ole Opry and had several songs recorded by top country acts.
Things seemed to be lining up according to Christy’s plan, until one fateful day in January of 2005. In a matter of only three days, she lost nearly everything she had worked so hard to obtain.
Christy felt as if she had hit rock bottom.
“I had everything taken away from me in three days. On a Tuesday, I lost my publishing deal of ten years. Then, on that Thursday, I found out my record label had been bought out by another label, and I had lost my recording contract,” she recalls.
“I could no longer afford the apartment I was living in. And on top of that, I had just ended a relationship with a man I thought I would marry. I remember thinking, ‘What am I going to do? I’m 31 years old!’” Christy says.
But God knew.
Christy accepted a job at a makeup counter in a Nashville department store and moved into a spare bedroom with some girlfriends from church. It was there she sought God about her next move, and He didn’t keep her waiting long.
“One morning, He woke me up and spoke to me so clearly. He simply said, ‘I want you to sing for Me.’” she says.
This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to Christy, as she was no stranger to Christian music. She grew up singing in churches and had even won the Female Vocalist prize on the 700 Club’s National New Artist Search while in college. At the age of 19, she sang on the stage of Lakewood Church, the largest congregation in the country.
“Gospel music always came so easily for me,” Christy says. “I realize now that all of the groundwork had been laid, but then, all I could think of was how much I wanted a career in country music.”
The decision to change genres was a tough one for Christy because she was aware of how many doors God had already opened in country music. However, she knew that He was redirecting her toward something new, and she was ready to do what He had asked of her.
When she was faithful to do what God had asked, He too showed Himself faithful.
“It was like in the midst of all this devastation, everything started coming together. In the most horrible time, it all started falling into place,” Christy says.
Immediately, songs began to pour out of her. When she wasn’t working at the makeup counter, she was writing songs-- most of which ended up being recorded by major Christian artists and printed by major print companies. In fact, Christy has had over 50 cuts on various records.
A few of these cuts included “I Believe,” which was recorded by Rizen, “You Call Me Yours,” which was recorded twice by Sandi Patty and also as a single by Prelude, “God is in This Place,” which was published by Word, and “Cry in the Dark,” which was used in a Lifeway Christmas musical.
Triumphant Quartet scored a top-5 hit with her song, “Somebody Died for Me.” As a result, it became one of the Singing News Top 10 Songs of the Year, was nominated as the Singing News Song of the Year, and won the Absolutely Gospel Traditional Song of the Year award in 2011, as well as a coveted BMI award in 2012.
“I was having a lot more success as a songwriter when I was a makeup girl than when I was a staff songwriter! But I believe it’s because this is what God wanted me to be doing,” Christy says.
That’s also when God brought another major blessing into her life—her husband, Matt Dudney.
“One summer day in 2005, he walked into the store and asked me out. By our second phone call, I knew he was the one I was going to marry,” Christy says.
Thirteen years after they first met at Belmont University, Matt Dudney and Christy Sutherland started dating. Then, on July 14, 2006, they were married.
That day, along with an amazing husband, Christy also got amazing in-laws, something she is continually grateful for. Her mother-in-law, country superstar Barbara Mandrell, is not only Christy’s mother-in-law, but also a mentor, co-producer, and fan.
“Christy not only has a strong, incredible voice and is an anointed songwriter, but she also has a very polished stage presence. To me, that’s what it takes,” Barbara says.
Her belief in Christy is obvious, especially by the fact that she came out of retirement to co-produce Christy’s 2011 release, Greater Still.
“Mom Barbara and I have a lot in common. We have similar tastes. I felt like we were always on the same page,” Christy says.
She also loves working with Matt, who left his 17-year career as a chef to manage her career.
It didn’t take long for Christy to start capturing people’s attention in the gospel music world, as an artist as well as a songwriter.
In 2009, she was awarded the Christian Music Hall of Fame Visionary Award for Southern Gospel Female Vocalist of the Year. She has won the SGN Scoops Diamond Award Christian Country Female Vocalist of the Year four times and has won the Artist Music Guild Award twice for Song of the Year. She also received an Emmy nomination for the “Hands of Hope” project benefiting victims of domestic abuse.
In addition to winning prestigious awards, Christy has performed on legendary stages, including The 700 Club, TBN’s Praise the Lord and the Hour of Power international television programs. She has also been featured on Dr. Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral Christmas and Easter television specials. She has sung for the late Rev. Jerry Falwell’s well-known Thomas Road Baptist Church in Virginia and Liberty University’s 9,000-student convocation.
She performed on the Bill Gaither Women of Homecoming video and has appeared many times on Bill Mack’s national satellite radio show on Sirius/XM’s “Willie’s Place” channel. Add to that list that she is an accomplished vocal coach, giving private lessons to some of today’s most talented recording artists and leading seminars for worship leaders, as well as an actress and a speaker, and you’ll wonder if there’s anything she can’t do.
Christy made her acting debut in Welcome to Inspiration, where she starred alongside Jason Crabb and Larry Gatlin. She also makes time in her busy touring schedule to encourage and inspire women by speaking in conferences across the nation.
Still, despite her success, Christy’s heart remains the same: to reach people with a message of Hope. This heart is without a doubt evident to all who meet, see or hear her. Some of her favorite stops on the road each year are prisons and jails, where she and her husband minister to the inmates.
“I love going there because they’re so hungry for God. There’s a jail in Houston, Texas, where we go down to ‘the tank,’ which is the worst section of the female unit. It’s awesome to get to love on those women and tell them that Jesus can make them new… That’s why I do what I do,” she says.
In the past, Christy has traveled on missions with the James Fund and evangelist Michael Gott, and is currently privileged to be involved with Mike Barber Ministries.
She’s also incredibly excited about her recent partnership with Feed the Children—an organization which provides disadvantaged children all around the world with medicine, food and school supplies. In 2013, they distributed $215 million in food and essentials to over 10 million individuals in the United States alone.
Christy’s life is proof that God never wastes a hurt, and that there is always purpose on the other side of our pain. She is more grateful than ever for the opportunity to share her faith through her music.
“I believe that all of these things happened to me for a reason. They made me stronger,” Christy says.
“One of my favorite scriptures is Romans 8:28, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.’”