Most times in life you aren’t given a paved, golden road to success. Usually you have to dig deep and trek a mountain trail to the top that isn’t as clearly marked as you’d like it to be. Sometimes you only have your internal compass to guide you to your destiny. There will be obstacles, and oftentimes, many of them.
I’ve mentioned that the church I grew up in was very strict. It had a lot of rules, even those not necessarily in the Bible. One of them was that anything not Praise & Worship was less than ideal. Any music that wasn’t Christian was labeled “worldly”. I went to this church for 20 years, so it has taken me a good ten years since leaving to rid myself of the mindsets that were berated into my head. It happened layer by layer. It was a lot of praying and struggling and learning from mistakes to rid myself of the tight bindings that particular church put on my mind, soul, and emotions. It was a tough sojourn to get free, and one that I will have to fight again on occasion.
In 2004, I released a praise & worship album, which ended up being frowned on by the pastor, despite that I asked her permission to make it. As a married adult the age of 26, with 3 children, I asked permission to create my own record, out of my own pocket. Weird, is a good word to describe that. I’ll just leave that there.
From 2004-2010, I considered myself to be in the Christian genre. I had an EP release in 2007, that did fairly well in the roots genre. I had a lot of open doors in the roots music world, so I entered that completely in 2011. I will always do roots music of some sort. Sometimes my roots music will have a throwback sound, and maybe someday I’ll have a roots album that is more mainstream. But it will always have the roots of rock, blues and soul in it, with a dash of country. It is what is natural to me.
In 2012, I released “Black Ball”, and it got a lot of good reviews from press. It also did pretty well on roots/Americana radio. I was signed to a label from 2012-2015 as an artist. Right now I have a music licensing deal with the same label for two of my releases. I’ve had decent success.
So why am I not a star?
Well, mostly because I haven’t been able to take the time to gig like most really successful artists do. The most gigs I’ve ever done in one year is 65. This was in 2012, and the following years were around 35-50. This year was about 20-25. Why haven’t I gigged more?
For one, I don’t like gigging without new product to promote. “New” as in 0-2 years old. I haven’t released a new project since 2012. There were a couple of factors. One was that I was trying to solidify EXACTLY who I was as an artist. I had the “old friends and church family” that were passively aggressively suggesting that I was doing the devil’s work by not doing Christian music. There were others who were wanting me to sound more like Celine Dion. My heart was telling me that neither of those directions were right for me. So I had to take some time to figure that out. Now that I know, I’ll be releasing a new project next year, and my plan is to tour at least 100 dates from the day I release the album, to that same date the next year.
I have six other reasons that I haven’t gigged more. They are my husband and my 5 children. I’m going to get personal here, but hopefully not incendiary. We’ve had a lot of emotional turbulence in the past 10 years. To make a long story short, we’ve had family, friends, and ex-pastors make social carnage out of us, not only in our personal life, but also in the music business, just because we decided to find our own way due to their lack of integrity. The hurt put upon us ranged from the minimal gossip with mild ostracization to full-on harassment, attempted blackmail, identity theft, and stalking. It has been a very rough road for all of us. My intuition told me that things weren’t stable enough for me to travel anymore than I was already doing for music. I don’t think that people truly understood the turmoil we were going through, but I’ve learned that it is impossible for most people to understand the weird, bizarre things we went through.
HOWEVER!!! We’ve removed the bad apples from our bushel of family and friends. We’ve found a new home away from the old church dramas. We have new friends that love us for who we are, and don’t treat us like projects. We may have a few hiccups along the way, but it won’t prevent me from working this music thing hard for the next handful of years. I’ve got a good game plan for this time period. It isn’t a rocket trip to the top either. It will be a lot of hard work. However, our family life is stable. The kids feel safe. Eric and I are doing really well. (Still in love and all that jazz.)
So, in summation, I’m not a star, because not everyone will be. Success isn’t measured by performing on the Grammys and being signed to a major label. For me, success will be working hard, and getting my music out to as many people as I can, while it pays for itself. That’s where I’m at now. My music pays for itself– just. I want to take it to where it gives us little bit of cushion. I’m able to gig more now to make that possible. That will be starting in the spring! I’m very excited.
I know who I am. I know where I’m going. My family is happy. I am happy.