NASHVILLE Becca, Lauren and Alyssa Barlow crowded in front of a computer camera on Oct. 29 to bid their fans a final farewell after 10 years of singing, touring and recording together as the sister-trio BarlowGirl.
Lauren, 27, explained in the live chat that the transition happened as they sat down to write a new album. As they prayed, she and her two sisters realized God "had something new" for them.
"We asked God what to do.... God revealed He has something new for us but He hasn't told us what it is," Lauren said. "He told us BarlowGirl was done."
The sisters admitted crying for weeks. It isn't something they ever expected to hear, Lauren and Alyssa, 30, said. They expected it to go on "forever."
There were no tears Monday night. The sisters cracked jokes, laughed and poked fun at each other while explaining their next steps. They have no concrete plans, but for now they're spending time traveling for fun, enjoying nature and waiting. They also debunked a few rumors, explaining that they aren't retiring because of disagreements or because they want to get married.
Originally from Chicago, the Barlow sisters started out as backup singers for their father, Vince Barlow, who created children's worship CDs as part of his work as a youth pastor. As children, the sisters traveled with their father to local concerts and slowly started singing their own songs as part of the show. In 2000, they formed a band, with their father assuming role of band manager.
In 2002, Alyssa and Lauren dropped out of college while Becca, 33, quit her job to take up a contract offer, but six months later it fell through. That disappointment inspired their hit song, "Never Alone."
In 2003, they signed with Fervent Records, packed their bags and moved to Nashville. The following year, they released a self-titled album that sold more than 1 million copies. Their 2005 single, "I Need You to Love Me," held the top spot on Christian Radio and Retail Weekly's Christian CHR chart for 13 consecutive weeks.
The sisters toured internationally, using their musical platform to spread various messages -- among them, the importance of modesty, support for the pro-life cause as well as a more controversial message about not dating. On their website, the sisters explain how they chose to refrain from typical dating, expressing faith that God would bring them together with the right men at the right time.
"In the meantime we are not hiding in a closet avoiding all males. We are still living our lives, just without the pressure of having to have a boyfriend," they noted on the website.
The question about dating came up during Monday's live Internet stream. The sisters laughed, interrupted and finished each other's sentences while explaining their stance and encouraging fans to "not worry" about finding "the right guy," and instead to "find out who you are with [God]." They gave more advice in response to fan questions about a variety of topics: Don't worry about others' opinions; learn to be at peace in the moment, instead of worrying about the next season; and never dream small.
They sang three songs acoustically for fans: "Never Alone," "Beautiful Ending" and "Come Alive." They also released the video for their final song, "Hope Will Lead Us On," which debuted on iTunes early Tuesday morning.
"To give this up is not easy," Alyssa said toward the end of their chat with fans. "Music is our Isaac. We aren't giving [music] up, we're trying to be obedient. We serve the most amazing, kind, loving, generous God ... why would He let us down?"