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Wife of Ben Zobrist a player on the Christian pop scene

Baby showers and album releases seem to go together for Julianna Zobrist. When she posed for the cover of her first CD, "The Tree," the wife of Tampa Bay Rays utility player Ben Zobrist was eight months pregnant with son Zion. And when she planned the September release of her second CD, "Crazy Fearless," she didn't know daughter Kruse Allegra would be arriving that same month. "One day, I'll get the timing right," she says with her trademark infectious laugh. Life is all over the map these days for Zobrist, 27, but no complaints here. "It's all good," says the woman known as "Jules." No, it's better than that. "It's awesome."
Two children: a healthy 3-year-old boy and a 7-month-old girl. An All-Star husband with a contract from a baseball team that values him. A rising career as a Christian pop singer that is building momentum with concert dates and two CDs. Homes in downtown St. Petersburg and Franklin, Tenn., right outside of music-crazy Nashville. Lots of support from a bustling extended family on both sides. And, the thing she considers most important, a shared faith that keeps the couple grounded and best friends. Both are the offspring of preachers, growing up in solid Midwest homes where Christian values and beliefs were stressed. "Above all, we want to be a powerful witness together for the Lord," she says. "He's done so much for us, and we want people to know how amazing he is. Every day is a reminder how blessed we are." On Easter Sunday, April 8, Zobrist will showcase her music – something she's been at since "I came out of the womb" -- in a free public concert at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. Her husband, regrettably, can't be there. He'll be at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg with his fellow Rays, in a showdown with their archrivals, the New York Yankees. The concert is part of a free family-friendly festival hosted by Relevant Church in Ybor City, which Zobrist attends occasionally. Besides the concert, the event also includes a kids' zone, an egg hunt, a live petting zoo, a come-as-you-are church service and several mobile food trucks. "It's like the best day of the year. Easter is the resurrection of Christ, which is what our faith is built on," she says. "God is opening doors all the time, and this is one of them. I'm thrilled to be a part of it." Relevant Church staff shares that love. Carl von dem Bussche Jr., creative arts pastor, asked Zobrist to come on board months ago. He had a connection because two members of his band, Arc the Sun – guitarist John B. Sutton and bassist Taylor Ard – also play with Zobrist's band. "Not only is she talented artistically, she's also down-to-earth and super fun," he says. "Everyone just likes hanging with her because she's great to be around." As for her music, he says, "Think Katy Perry. Cool, edgy, something you want to dance to. Twenty-somethings love her style. That's an audience we're trying to reach here, and she fits right in." What impresses von dem Bussche the most about Zobrist, though, is her commitment to her spiritual life. Both she and her husband "wear their faith on their sleeves, without being overbearing or cheesy" about it, he says. "They know their priorities. They're both very successful in what they do, but faith and family always comes first," he says. "That's something you don't always see in people who are in the public eye, or become celebrities in their fields. But with them, they built a foundation and they're holding to it." That determination to keep their priorities straight was challenged when the couple scheduled Zobrist's cesarean section for Sept. 17. Though it was a vacation day for Ben, he ended up delaying his return to the team by a day because their infant daughter needed a procedure at All Children's Hospital. Some fans were irked because the team was in the midst of a crucial playoff race in the American League East. "You get a lot of pressures in this business, even by some of our dearest fans," she concedes. "But that decision was a no-brainer for us. We would never compromise on something like that." Happily, she says, "We got a lot more support than criticism." Zobrist loves being a mom. Having two children is "definitely more fun, definitely more complicated" than when they had only Zion. "I used to be able to wing it. Now I have to actually sit down and plan out my schedule," she says. For her husband, the wise and structured one, that's easy. But for the rocker, who just can't help dancing when the mood strikes, it requires a little more self-discipline. "I guess I'll always be the wild one between the two of us," sighs Zobrist, known for her eclectic wardrobe and changing hairstyles. So what's next? She doesn't intend to let her degree in commercial voice at Belmont University and her blooming music career go to waste. Her new CD, delayed due to Kruse's arrival, comes out April 10. Not only does she sing, she also co-wrote the songs. One of them, "Behind Me," will be her husband's walk-up song this season. For now, she will find ways to fit the music in, maybe put out more singles on a consistent basis. But a girl can dream about all the possibilities in a not-so-distant future. "We're going to ride this baseball wave as long as we can," she says. "And then, maybe I can do this fulltime. There's no rush. Everything is so awesome, and I'm just enjoying it all."   EASTER FESTIVAL     Where: Curtis Hixon Park, downtown Tampa When: April 8 Includes: 10 a.m. kids' zone opens; 10:30 a.m. egg dump; 11 a.m. Easter service; noon, food trucks open; 12:15, live concert, headlined by Julianna Zobrist Sponsored by: Relevant Church, Ybor City Information: www.easterisnear.com or (813) 247-7000

TBO.com, keyword: Julianna, to hear her music and learn more about the Easter festival.

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