Person: “You’re releasing a new album?!”
Me: “Yeah, it’s my debut pop EP!”
Person: “Awesome! Is it Christian?”
Me: *Blinks three times* “Well, I’m a Christian and I wrote these songs about love and relationships.”
Person: “Oh, so it’s not Christian.”
Me: *Blank stares* [Insert frustrated emoji face]
When I first started writing songs 13 years ago (please don’t do the math in your head) I wrote about EVERYTHING. My very first song was a prayer, asking God to lead me to the path He had for me, confessing my willing heart to do His will and asking Him to keep me pliable. After that followed songs about life, relationships with people and the hurts we experience, regrets, uncertainty, and, of course, boys (duh, I had just graduated high school). The songs I wrote continued in that vein through college, with each topic always varying, dependent upon my life circumstances and the lives of those around me. When I signed to a couple different Chicago-based production companies post college, I was asked to write songs for other singers, so I dabbled with other topics, even those I had very little knowledge in….like “clubbin’.” :)
When I transitioned into being an Indie artist, my plan was to release a Pop EP of some of my favorite songs about relationships (relationships including both dating relationships as well as my relationship with God).
Then, something crazy happened. I wrote my very first praise and worship song.
In the past, I had tried many times to write “those” songs, and it always came out super cheesy and cliché, so I just figured that wasn’t my niche.
So when the Lord poured out His specific anointing on me and I began to write in the praise and worship genre, sometimes writing 3-4 songs a week, I couldn’t ignore that anointing and I shelved the Pop EP, making the executive decision that after I saw this new calling through, if I still had a desire to release a Pop EP afterward, I would.
Fast forward a couple years and, well, guess what folks? Not only did I still have that desire, I wrote all new material in the months following the release of Prayers & Songs. I also just so happened to write about 20 more praise and worship songs. And even some Christmas songs too.
What can I say? I’ve stayed pretty busy. :)
So now, I’ve kicked off this next venture: 3 new albums that I hope to release in 2016, the first being the pop album, You Loved.
And before I even recorded the first album, I began to sense some slight push back here and there, because on You Loved, I don’t mention the name “Jesus.”
So it got me pondering the question I’ve asked myself as an artist many times over, “What makes something Christian?”
The sentiments expressed by both authors are, essentially, somewhere along the lines Christian culture started to deem inanimate objects as, “Christian” when the term “Christian” can only be assigned to an individual a, Christ follower.
This idea is one I’d wrestled with my whole life as an artist, but had never seen it put into such poignant words. They even challenge their readers that if something is in fact deemed “Christian,” shouldn’t it be the best there is? Like if we’re going to call a movie a “Christian movie,” the movie should have the most beautiful cinematography & cinematic scoring, an exceptionally well-written plot, extraordinary acting, the hair, makeup, and costume design should be exceptional, and everything else, down to the last button and thread. If we’re going to call it a “Christian film” it should be the best film ever, after all…we’re doing it for The Almighty God.
Now let me ask you a sobering question: are those the kind of standards we see in most “Christian films?” In “Christian music?” In “Christian literature?” In anything else we deem “Christian?”
It kind of makes you angry doesn’t it?
It makes me angry as an artist, because no matter the content or topic, I want to create incredible art that is a direct reflection of The Creator I have a personal relationship with.
It makes me angry for my Christian friends who are artists. Some of them sing country music, others do pop or folk. Some of them write jingles for commercials or do film scoring.
So, I ask you…
If a Christian paints a picture of a cross, does that make the painting a “Christian painting?” What if she paints a flower? Does that now mean it is NOT a Christian painting?
These are questions more Believers need to ask themselves because, unfortunately, we as a society have accepted the notion that something can only be deemed “Christian” if Jesus is mentioned in the art. There’s actually a legitimate term for it in “Christian music” genre called JPM’s, which literally means, “Jesus’s Per Minute.”
Now, this is where I feel it necessary to state for the record, that I believe my “calling” as an artist is within the realm of praise and worship music and I don’t plan to leave that realm any time soon. There is nothing more powerful, and nothing brings me greater joy and fulfillment than writing and singing songs to The Creator of the Universe. However, I have full confidence that God gave me the words and the melodies to these pop songs just as much as He did the praise songs, and He will use them to encourage people in a different way than a song about the garden of Gethsemane or trusting God in the wilderness; encouragement will come from You Loved just the same. After all, if we are honest with ourselves, all different kinds of music move us. It may be the Swift song you listen to when you’re getting ready to hang out with your friends, the Coldplay song you run to, or the soft, instrumental music you play in the background when you’re reading in bed at night; music has power.
So with that, I’m pleased to announce that as of today, You Loved, my debut pop EP is available for preorder on iTunes!
Here’s to hoping it encourages, challenges, and inspires YOU to be brave and LOVE.