Q&A with April  

Q & A with April  

1.    You often speak of your faith.  Why is your passion for secular music? 

I speak about faith because at this point in my life I’ve discovered pretty much everything is spiritual.  I know what it’s like to know *about* God but not really know Him.  I’ve been the girl who seemingly had everything:  the family, the ministry, the job, my dream house, and at the end of the day something was off. I wasn’t fully living His will because I didn’t fully trust Him. I still tried to take care of myself in some ways.  I made the choices I wanted to make – or the ones I thought people wanted me to make –and got burned.  The people I tried to please left. 

Then, through a bizarre array of circumstances I still can’t wrap my head around I found myself in a place where it seemed like I had nothing except me and a beautiful daughter who I had no idea how to provide for.  I had no idea what I was doing.  The ministry opps, the church, the family and friends, all of it vanished.  It was just me and the Lord.  I learned really quickly I wanted all of Him.  In that place I NEEDED all of Him.  It was during this season I realized that He was good. I'd grown up in church 3 times a week and missed it.  The revelation of His incomprehensible goodness was a game-changer.  I knew for sure my purpose on the planet was to let the world know God is good.  That He loves them like crazy!  So when I surrendered, that’s when I found myself on this path.  I love the honesty in secular music.  I love the Christian market. I write it often. But my heart burns to connect with those outside the church who may not be hearing truth or good news.

 

2.    What do you feel is your calling? 


I feel like my calling is just like every other Christian – live by faith and not by sight.   To be more concerned about my reputation in heaven than on Earth.  When I didn’t know where to turn, a wise person told me to take the gifts the Lord had given me and use them to right the wrongs I saw in the world.  She said, “He gave you those gifts to use them!”  Never be scared to do that.   

So He gave me a crazy passion for music and writing it and performing it, so I’m gonna do that.  And the larger platform He blesses me with, the more people I can tell how awesome He is is.  I don’t have it all together yet, but I am very honest about that.  I love country music because you can tell the truth.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  That’s the real life I’ve lived and exactly what Jesus died for, so I’m all over that! 

Oh?  You were asking about with music? Ha  My dream is to be a mainstream country artist….with a little pop thrown in there, too.  As I tour, I will bring Love Them Now out on the road with me.  That way I can run my race in mainstream music, but the Lord can be on hand to touch those who are looking for Him.   


3.    Do you share your testimony? 

I’ll tell anyone who will listen!  And I do .… often against their will. Lol  No, I’m just kidding….mostly.  I share a little bit in a blog I wrote called, “What I Plan To Do And Why.”   One day I will write something more formal. I share it live and in my songs.  Anywhere really; you can't shut me up, which can be problematic because as I writer my mouth choses the most colorful and descriptive words.  I'm working on learning to share my heart using only "church words," but I haven't gotten there yet.

But that’s just the thing, I am who I am, but He is the GREAT I AM.  He’s still working on me.  But He is everything that’s good, and every good thing comes from Him.  I’m convinced if everyone really knew Him, they’d want Him and all He has too.  That’s why I founded Love Them Now, so I can take a portion of His goodness with me to distribute everywhere I go. 

I didn’t do this thing because “I want to be famous.”  I didn’t choose it.  My Master did. But it’s been a hard road.  How could I not sing anything else but country?! HA  I went from thinking God was harsh and disappointed to understanding He was over-the-moon in love with me.  That even though I’d sucked in so many areas of my life, He would turn around and use those things for good. 2009- until this year have been what I call “The Dark Years.”  It was tough.  REALLY tough.  I can’t even count the number of days I truly believed I could not make it one more day.  So, no, I haven’t been performing a ton. I’ve been at home trying not to die.  But He really is enough, you know?  And if we seek Him we find.  He’s saved me in more ways than one, and if you’ve been where I was and you could see what I see about where I’m going –you couldn’t keep your mouth shut either! 
 

4.    What is Love Them Now? 

Named from Luke 10:27 (He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”)  So Love Them Now is a non-profit I created to go on the road with me.  Actually, I say “created” I’m in the process of filing the 501 c-3 paperwork now (hello – crowdfunding).  The idea is to have Love Them Now present offering inspirational and ministry resources to those who are hungry for it.  Eventually, I’d even like to have a prayer team out on the road with me. People shouldn’t have to look so hard for answers. 

10% of everything the label and music do will go back into funding LTN, so we can do much more than just offer resources.  We want to be a carrier of the Father’s heart and go about doing good (Acts 10:38).  

But we do more than just show up at concerts.  We have provided food to some very worthy people and causes – people who literally were living by faith waiting on the Lord’s provision. We’ve helped patients who needed medical care and supplies and others who just needed a “happy” to brighten their day.  Disaster relief funds, supporting our troops, and a group who goes on call 24-7 for children who are being abused…that’s just some of the things LTN has supported already –without the platform.  I’m so excited to do more! 

5.    Is this something you’ve always wanted to do? 

Hmm…no.  I mean, yes.  I don’t know.  When I was a little girl I’d put a baseball bat and close it halfway in a drawer and pretend I was singing into the end sticking out.  I’ve written poems and songs for as long as I can remember; I thought everyone did until I was an adult.  I loved music above all, but it wasn’t something “real people” did for a living, so in that way, the idea of doing it for a job never crossed my mind. 

I have always loved people and been passionate about helping them in whatever way I could.  I think that’s why I became a nurse, but it was never enough.  I always wanted to help MORE people.  Then when I surrendered to do ministry full-time I truly believed I would live in a mud hut somewhere.  It was at a time when I didn’t even really know for sure how to hear from God.  I knew Bible people did and maybe some super-Christians, but thankfully He put people in my life who showed me how He is dying to speak to each one of us.  Ha!  But trust me, no one was more shocked than me the first time I thought I heard Him tell me to write a country song!  So just to prove Him wrong I wrote the first song ever aimed at commercial success and entered it into a contest…and won.  I've just kept going, and God has continued to bless it.


6.    What do you think your idyllic career will look like?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

Ideally, my music career will look a lot like other artists you see on the radio.  I want to tour – especially country tours – with other artist I respect.  I want to have commercial radio as a platform.  Pretty much how you’d imagine your favorite country artist.  Mine will be a little different because I do write some non-country songs.  I’ve been writing a lot more “pop-y” type songs lately.  Perhaps that will open up some doors and  some additional tour spots. 

However, in 5 years, I hope to have graduated a little more to where I can call the shots on touring.  I’d like to say, Ok, It’s the school year.  And let Georgia-Claire have a regular child-hood, then in the summer months tour (although she’s pretty set on home-schooling, so I’m sure she would tell you it should be vice-versa). Ha. Wait - except 5 years from now I hope to have met my super-hot Jesus freak and had a baby or two...and adopted like 10 more - you know? - if the career is going well.  ha

7.    Do you have a team in place or are you still approaching this alone? 
Wow.  For a long time it was just me.  Right now I have a team in place that could easily help me reach the charts.  I’m finally able to record songs that sound like something I would actually want to crank up on the radio!  However, it takes a ton of money to be noticed by radio and go on tour.  At some point, I will probably either have to partner with a major label or come into a TON of investor funding.  Honestly, I don’t care which route.   

I’ve been somewhat of a rogue in how I approach things, not because of pride etc., just the opposite.  I know exactly what my purpose is and exactly how to accomplish it. I don’t even feel like I’m doing it for me.  Because my motivation is to help as many people as possible (and the larger music platform the more people can be touched by Love Them Now), I’d definitely be down for partnering with a major should someone catch the vision and serve as a catalyst instead of a hindrance.  While the scariest part is being in way over my head, there’s also tremendous freedom in knowing it’s not up to me.  I just have to do the little bit I’ve been called to do and let God do the rest.   

8.    How do you do it?  How do you juggle everything being a single mom and working long hours as a nurse (anesthetist) along with forming a record label, recording the album of a lifetime, multiple merch lines as well as Love Them Now (my non-profit)? 

Ha.  I’d tell you, but it’s kind of a fog!  The truth is I have to sometimes let some “good” things go for the greater good.  I really try to pray about everything and only put attention where He would have me put my attention that day.  Today my attention is on posting a video to tell you guys what’s up! Lol 

Thankfully I’ve been able to use this break from performing to focus on the music and merch, so there are so many substantial things already in place.  That’s been a huge blessing!  On a daily basis, I usually have to be at work between 6-7 am and often work until 9 pm depending on what’s going on in the OR. I also do an internship and volunteer for Father’s Heart Ministries, so that and Georgia-Claire fill my evenings.  I use my breaks, days off, and long drive times (baby girl meets her day who’s 4 hrs away) to pray, regroup, make deals …and voice dictation… I use a LOT of voice dictation on my phone.   


9.    Are you performing anywhere right now? 

I wish!  Speaking of the preceding….while it did start out as a break out of necessity, I’ve been ready to get back in the game for over a year.  But the pieces weren’t in place.  Last year I cashed out my 401k and recorded a record that ended up short of the sound I was going for.   

I’m ambitious in a lot of ways, but I’m a mom first and foremost forever.  Taking the little time I have with her to play a show here and there  - while it would be a blast! – isn’t always the best use of my time.  Aside from a few church performances, I’ve laid pretty low the last few years.  I’ve been working on a solid foundation (for myself and the companies and non-profit).  I want to get at least a portion of this new record behind me and use that as a tool to fuel a tour.   

Before the break I performed a ton acoustically as a songwriter – just me and my guitar.  I did a few things w/a band for festivals etc.  Then on the Little Pink Ribbon national campaign I had the opportunity to do live performances on radio, the tv studio, you name it.  I miss it sooo much!  The whole tour I wasn’t even nervous. I just kept thinking, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life!”  So before this summer is over- you’d better be seeing my name somewhere! lol 


10.    What made you do decide to launch a crowd-funding campaign?  

That’s a great question. This is so not “me.”  Turns out I’m waaay more comfortable being the giver.  Actually I’d had a few people in the industry suggest it before, but I always shrugged it off.  Then a guy named Russ Walden, whom  I really respect in the ministry, told me as he was praying for me “crowdfunding” kept coming up.  He said, “I heard it very clearly.” Lol I was like, “Awh man!”  You know how when something just resonates inside you, and you know it’s true.  This was the thing I’d been fighting so long.  I didn’t want it to be true!  

Finally, I realized that as much as I love to help people with Love Them Now, and how fulfilling it is to invest in someone’s dream, if I didn’t obey I would be robbing people of that.  The truth is I’ve been praying for the right “investors” for years – as soon as I felt led to start my own record label.  I knew God would provide because where there is vision there is always provision, but it took a little bit of humbling myself to go this route.  

11.     What would you say to those who choose to come along aside you? 

I’ve been praying for you!! Ha  Not just that you’ll give a ton of money (of course that’s cool, too), but I’ve been praying for YEARS for the people He would bring along side to support this vision.  Even if it’s just a seed you sow in prayer for this thing, I am truly calling for a Luke 6:38-kind-of-blessing. That what is given back to you will be GOOD measure and “running over, will be poured into your lap,” (NIV).  That something so wonderful will happen and He’ll bring this donation to mind reminding you how He sees and is going to do something very special for you.  I can say that because I know my Daddy-God.  He is so good.  And there is no way in the world we can ever out-give Him. I know that from personal experience.  And the bigger the sacrifice, the more He blesses (I’m not saying you have to give to the point of a huge sacrifice for me (lol); I’m just saying that’s how I’ve seen Him work in my own life). 

So here.  Let me quit talking about it and can I just pray for you now? (I swear, if you knew me you wouldn’t think this was weird). Ha 

Father,  
You’re so awesome!! Thank you so much for preparing a way where there is no way.  For turning dark places into light and uneven places into a plain (Isa 42:16).  I thank you for drawing – not just any people – but the right people God.  For the ones who know in their knower or their gut that you have appointed them for such a time as this.  For the ones who You choose to bless.  Thank you for these people! May I never let them down! 

I bless them with such heavenly blessing they be extravagantly and overwhelmingly touched to by You.  That you would remind them of their reward, and Your thanksgiving would be upon their lips.  Thank you for holy multiplication for them and for all of Your work.  For helping us do more to spread Your name and goodness and accurately carry your heart. 

I ask you to set a hedge of protection around each giver now.  I thank you for flooding them with Your Spirit that they would know for SURE Your pleasure with them.  Bless their socks off Lord!  Help me to help more people and be a bright light of blessing for Your name (and not act crazy...or embarrass my mama!). 

In Jesus’ BEAUUUUTIFUL name I pray,  

Amen 

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  1. I'd Wish For That

The Only Thing Degrading About Country Music Is the Media 

The Only Thing Degrading About Country Music Is the Media

Women degraded in country music.  It’s definitely not a new point of view.  Don’t get me wrong; I agree there’s some issues related to women in my genre.  In country music, we’re human.  Therefore we have issues. We’re still the greatest genre on the planet.  It's just that I would be more likely to address things like who’s taking responsibility for offering these selections to radio causing people to turn the station when women come on (because history clearly supports it’s not a “women” issue, I propose a mix of rationales with the weight primarily falling on labels lack of understanding for changes in listeners and how they use radio) or the use of inappropriate advances by industry men towards younger up and coming females.  … I would even go out on a limb and say I’m not thrilled with the surge of hook-up songs.   BUT… a guy calling me hot?  Ha!  It does not make the list.

My love for country music is up there with my love for American and support of our troops.  I don’t play.  I guess with free speech there will always be negative press.  But is it just me, or is there SO. MUCH. WHINING? 

You know who’s not whining?  The fans.  I don’t mean the above 40 who complain how it’s not country anymore (sorry, dad).  I’m referring to the ones who actually consume music and attend shows – you know - the ones who basically keep our industry alive.  We can’t always please those who long for a disproportionate use of ballads and every production to sound like it came from the 70’s.  But we can offer them something.  And they could perhaps take a look at what’s paying the bills and keeping country on the map.

I really want to bust out with a chorus of “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” but instead, as I pleaded when explaining the rationale for the success of brocountry, I’ll probably just stick to what will probably be my mantra for as long as I live, “Can’t we all just be PROcountry?!”  Because there’s never harm in supporting each other.  I don't even have to like you to support you.  I can do it just because it’s the right thing for the greater good. What if we all focused on how we could fuel each other's successes?

Tearing someone down will never build you up.  At best, it can only cause others to join you on the ground.  Like a wise lady said, “You can run with the chickens or fly with the eagles,” God gives us a choice.

It wouldn’t be fair to call out the one article that inspired today.  After all, there have been many bloggers and journalists over the last two years to make accusations regarding the degradation of women in country music. Heck, even Maddie and Tae thought they were supposed to keep their mouth shut and ride along!  I’m just saying that is not my experience … or the experience of anyone I know. 

The fact is our guys are accused of degrading women.  Look up the synonyms for degrading: humiliating; mortifying; shameful.

Those are not attributes of complimenting your woman (I would hate to be a fly on the wall if these guys google the lyrics of "Get Low"!).  Instead, it sounds more like what some media has been doing to country music, either intentionally or unintentionally, for the last few years.  Ironically,in the last few years country music has seen enormous amounts of growth.  In fact, we’re gaining new radio listeners during a time where streaming is dominating.  That’s kind of a big deal.  It would seem, as it did when I defended brocountry, the fans have spoken, and they are not offended. 

See, it’s COUNTRY music.  We describe things.  Show it; don’t tell it.  That’s what we teach our baby song-writers.  Sure, we could talk about ugly girls, but that would just be mean and probably sell a lot less records.  As a female listener, we like to think they’re singing about us.  Or at least that our man’s thinking about us every time he hears it.

You can ask any married guy.  Not complimenting your woman on how she looks or what she’s wearing can get you into big trouble!  We LOVE it when you tell us what you like!  Please compliment us MORE!  Obviously, that includes things other than our physical appearance. But last I checked, we didn’t spend the summer growing out the hair on our legs and letting our toenails morph into daggers.  We actually put a great deal of effort into looking hot….it’s kind of our goal. 

So on behalf of all the non-offended country girls, I would like to tell the writers and artists:

(Yes, you may also write about other things,) But first and foremost, "Thank you for noticing."  Although, let’s keep it real. You’re probably gonna have to get beer for the both of us at some point.[1] 
 

[1] in response to critics on Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” line “Go get me another beer” as sexist

Be Who You Are 

Be Who You Are


“Be who you are.”  That’s an interesting phrase, isn’t it?  Claimed by many, lived by few.  Doubly used as both an encouragement to grow into Christ, and also (at least for me) a crutch to stay where I am when to change or grow seems too hard.  In the latter scenario, “Be who you are” becomes the mantra for acceptance. 
 
For example, “I’m always gonna be ___,” because even though it makes me feel like crap and is basically ruining my life, I have to learn to accept it.    Healthy acceptance is a GOOD thing.  It’s just I’ve found in my own life if something is hurting me spiritually, physically or emotionally – or basically is accompanied by a bunch of negative emotions – guess what? I don’t have to accept that crap!  That would be a lie from the enemy.
 
“What enemy?” some of you may ask.  That’s right I just went old-school.  In case you haven’t thought about it lately, he’s usually the voice in our head that tells us exactly what we want to hear – especially if that choice is for our own demise.   Yet he likes to disguise himself as an “angel of light[1],”….I think that’s because he knows he sucks and is on the losing team, but that’s just my theory.   The factual truth about him is he is:
  • the father of all lies, incapable of truth[2]
  • seeking to steal, kill, and destroy you and your loved ones[3]
  • prowls like a looking for someone to devour[4]
 
Today as I was loathing myself for waking up and jumping straight into business instead of hanging out with the Lord and reclaiming my 20 year-old-self-body I found myself thinking, “I need a tattoo.”  Something that I could literally print up and down both arms, so I’d never forget what it is I’m supposed to be doing. 

(I used to want on my left forearm:  Not my will.  And on my right forearm: Thine be done.  Turns out they don’t have metallic gold permanent ink! …which is probably best considering I have commitment issues. : )  I appreciate the idea of tatoos …. I’d just need a new one each week!). 
 
As I pondered what “life words” it’d take to actually set me right this time, my mind filled with “Be who you are!”  I literally laughed out loud (LLOL) because that’s the exact same phrase I’d used, (to use some Beth Moore terminology), to say in my pit!  (“Well…that’s just who I am.” [Head down. Eeyore voice.  Insert pathetic whiny sad face emoji].   
 
So in honor of being who we are in a GOOD way – it did me some good to review a few truths today.
 
  1. I am going to be okay – no – I’m going to KILL it.  Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
  2. I am loved, not in a “when I get it right” kind of way, but right now, today, in a just-as-I-am-loved kind of way.  Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  // John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
  3. I have friends, TRUE friends, starting with Jesus.  John 15:15 – I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 
  4. I am smart; I can always know what I need to know.  Jeremiah 33:3 – Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
  5. It’s all good.  Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  // Psalm 84:11 – For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
  6. I am blameless.  The righteous of God.   (I figured this one needed a little more proof. haha)  2 Cor 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. // Romans 4:3  What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. // Romans 3:22  Even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ unto all and upon all that believe: for there is no difference. // I John 4:17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
  7. I am exceedingly blessed, and He WANTS me to receive it (afterall, if Jesus died to give it to me, who am I to cheapen it?)  Luke 12:32 – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”  // Psalm 34:10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.// Ephesians 3:20 – Now to him who is able to do immeasureably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. 
Yeah, He’s pretty good.  I don’t know if this excites anyone else, but I LOVE that He’s not just good in theory or on paper; He’s good towards ME. That’s huge!  Zephaniah 3:17 even says, He doesn’t just like us, but He rejoices over us with singing!  How cool is that?! 
 
He hurts when we hurt (Zech 2:8), and loves us like crazy.  Yet I figure, if He can be laughing and singing today, so should I.  I'm praying this over all of us today:
 
Job 8:21  He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy!
 
 
 
 
[1] 2 Cor 11:14
[2] John 8:44
[3] John 10:10
[4] 1 Peter 5:8

What I Plan To Do ... and Why 

What I Plan to Do …. And Why 

(Released March 3, 2015) - First blog as "April!"

I am pleased to announce this Tuesday March, 10 2015 will mark the first release from Out East Records!  Last year I cashed out my 401k to:
1.  Defend country music in a song called “Bro Country,”  and
2.  Create my own record label so I could link it with the nonprofit Love Them Now.
This is also super-exciting because it will be my first release since I dropped the last name as an artist!  Yep, think like “Pink”, except “April.” J  (I thought about changing my last name to something like “To-Be-Announced” but that’s a lot of letters!)
 
Tuesday I’m releasing two songs, “What I’d Say” and “Bro Country.”  Actually, what I wanted to say is “What I’d Say,” (see what I did there) but I feel like Bro Country is what I need to say…at least what somebody should say (I have a whole soapbox on how brocountry is actually a blessing; I plan to share that in a couple of days).
 
So that’s the what.  It has occurred to me that in my 2+ year break from music many things have changed, and I haven’t been as faithful to keep you up to date as I should.  The break wasn’t because I didn’t have anything going on music wise, in fact, on the surface it seemed even more promising than now.  I had a couple publishers throwing around the word “deal,” a few major label holds for A-list artists and more than one producer with street credit ready to crank out album #2. Yet I took time off.  Now I’m seemingly coming back alone.  Here’s the scoop…& possibly more info than some of you care to know about why.
 
Some of you already know I’m a nurse (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist to be exact), and I pay my bills practicing anesthesia in Alabama.  What you may not know is in 2008 I told the Lord I would gladly do full time ministry. I thought I might start an orphanage or maybe live in a mud hut in Africa.   I was pumped to do that! 
 
My thing was I’d had a heart for the Lord as far back as I could remember, but I had NO idea He had a heart for me.  I was in church three times/week  and missed it!  I figured if I missed it while trying so hard, there must be other people out there missing it, too.  Learning of God’s goodness was the first game-changer for me.  I knew for sure my purpose on the planet was to let the world know God is good.
 
Before that, between my failures and his anger life was tough.  I knew He didn’t hate me; He was God.  But I was certain He was disappointed.  My theology was:  God is holy.  I suck at being good.  He’s pissed.  I really should walk the fine line of still having fun and staying out of hell.
 
Don’t get me wrong.  I wanted to be do-gooder, but I couldn’t pull it off.  I did my best to pretend like I pulled it off as not to disappoint all the actual do-gooders at church.  Plus, it would embarrass my mom (small town).  
 
But then goodness.  GOODness.  That He is so pure and kind and full of love He isn’t nearly as easily offended as many of the people I know.  That He knew I was going to screw up before the foundation of the Earth, and He picked me ANYWAY.  His plan is still good for me ANYWAY.  I learned that letting Him be Lord is easy when your heart is secure in His goodness.   You can trust Him!  He’s not out to get you but to lift you up.  Yes, YOU!
 
That sounds silly to some of y’all.  But I came from a culture where pretty much everything fun was considered sin.  I heard plenty about sin and hell.  And holiness. But no wonder I couldn’t pull it off? The Bible says it’s God’s GOODNESS that brings us to repentance, and tragically, I knew nothing about that.   In fact, the guiltier I felt the better. 
 
I’d heard about lots of rules and trying really hard.  Can you imagine when I learned that Jesus came so that we could know FREEdom and REST?   And all of the crap-choices I made, I don’t have to feel bad about them because God will use them.  He’ll supernaturally turn what the enemy used for harm and use it for good.  My good.  And your good.   
 
He wants only good for us because He adores us like crazy!  Heck, if sin were good for us, He’d be for that, too.  Everything goes back to how much He loves us and wants to prosper and bless us.  If you had to describe the kingdom in 2 words it would be love and forgiveness.  Don’t believe me?   Just ask Him.  He wants to show us!  Feel like you’ve been slighted?  Tell Him that, too.  He can handle it!  He cares about relationship more than anything.
 
That’s a long way to say I’m all with Jesus.  ALL in.  Combine that with my purpose #2 for being on the planet:  To create and perform music, you see why I can only operate in a scenario that includes Love Them Now (the nonprofit I launched in 2013).  Linking Love Them Now to the label is the best way I can think of for keeping my ministry separate from my music, but making sure I can do both at the same time. 
 
Imagine you are at a concert (Taylor Swift, U2…idk…) and you know how they have those booths or tents set up for merch?  My dream is to have a country music show where Love Them Now can simply be present at the site.  It can have its own booth.  It’s not in anyone’s face, and it certainly isn’t forced.  But for those who need or want it, it will be available offering ministry resources –and hopefully one day – ministry opportunities.     
 
So far I’ve had one major label meeting.  It went great actually.  He loved everything I played him and my ideas, too.  But I’m not sure how most majors would feel about Love Them Now and their presence at shows.  For me, if I can’t do what I was created to do, what’s the point? 
 
I actually took the last couple years off from performing because I felt like the Lord was calling me just to hang with Him and get to know His heart.  He is a GREAT hang! 
 
Pre-break, when I would pray over a music meeting or something I would be like, “Lord please let...” blah blah blah.  But there came a point last year when the Lord reminded me of how I used to ask Him to do things for me.  I felt like He was saying it’s time for me to move forward again with music saying “Remember how you used to ask Me to do things for you?  Now I’m asking you to do this for Me.” 
 
And now… (drum roll ….) …  it’s time!  I know for sure I have to get Bro Country out there or my head may explode.  But I’m excited for the world to hear the other songs and to get back on the road.  I haven’t had my own band since Memphis! 
 
I’ve never heard of a dual single release, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do on Tuesday.  Obviously, I would love to have a major label’s benefits and promotion, but I know I need the freedom to run the race I was called to run.  Besides, maybe there’s a way to have that and still be able stay in my own lane?  We’ll see. 
 
Someone once compared my journey [to a music career] to an Indiana Jones movie saying when I took a step in faith a stone would appear under my foot.  They said I would do that a few times and before I knew it the whole bridge would appear.  If you and I were together right now I would raise my glass and say, “Here’s to bridges! .... And the friends who take the journey with you.”  God bless America.  God bless country music.  And God bless you! 

The Blessing in Bro Country....Power in PRO Country  

The Blessing in Bro Country…. Power in PRO Country
So today marks the first ever single release for Out East Records!  Actually it’s a dual-single release….which is kind of an oxymoron…DUAL…SINGLE…so technically does that mean we are releasing a “double?”  Idk.  All I know is I’d planned to release “What I’d Say” on March 10th  far before my “Bro Country” soapbox grew to colossal size.  

I’m sure if I had fancy marketing people like a major label they would tell me to release one of them later, but I can’t afford to hire those people.  Instead it’s just me typing from my bed lying on my tummy enjoying a strawberry Blow-Pop.  Ladies and gentleman – I present – your marketing team.  

(I’m also just getting to the gum – which is my favorite part!  As we speak I am interpreting it as a sign that I’m on the right track in life in general.  That I, too, am just getting to the good stuff, if you will ☺).  Hahaha  Like Brad Paisley says, “It’s funny because it’s true!”  Smh….

But today isn’t about the single release, ah hem, err…”Double.”  I told you last week I would elaborate on why my head might actually explode if I didn’t release Bro Country right now, so here goes.  

At first I only wrote the song out of anger over the negative press (besides, when else am I going to get to work in the story of my Pa’s frustration over George Strait?).    I’m a girl, so (obviously), I am not Bro Country. But I am very much PRO-Country.  I love ALL of it…in a depth that may not be normal.  All that to say, the disrespect got me pretty fired up.  It was like messing with my family!  You won’t walk away without a limp (….maybe that’s just my family).

So I did what any responsible single mom would do; I cashed out my 401k to produce my first record defending it making sure to break every rule (a time change? C’mom!) and include every obnoxious reference I could find (9 Things You’re Guaranteed to Hear In A Bro-Country Song …no offense Elena Sheppard).  The idea was to keep it light:  making fun of the people who make fun of it while making a little fun of it myself, too.   Annnnnd then I never released it.  Why?

Long before the world had ever heard of Maddie and Tae or Maggie Rose, it occurred to me the point wasn’t to be made with fans.  Most of you tell me you’ve never even heard of bro country!  (Which btw Cambridge Dictionary’s blog defines it as “A sub-genre of country music sung by young white men, featuring songs with macho themes such as trucks, drinking and partying.”  Or what fans generally call “hits.”) ☺

Whew.  Sidenote: I just spent an ashamedly large amount of time typing (and deleting)  regarding soapbox #1…the one that got me to write Bro Country in the first place.    I don’t have time to go there (and let’s face it, nobody wants to read a blog that long) but I am committing to later in the week elaborating on:

1.  Why fans don’t want every song to be uber-deep even if it is rich in craft.  I thank God for’em, but that’s not the songs we typically put on repeat.  We need them ALL.
2.  How, as a family, we should be celebrating with each other’s successes.  Plus, it’s rude to talk bad about your neighbor….famous or otherwise (and lastly)
3.  My (poor) songwriter friends who think they’re too good to write a bro song are crazy.

Ok.  Back to the blessing (I think I need another Blow-Pop brb).  Got it. Watermelon this time.  I’m also heating up some left-over Marco’s (pizza).  I’m sure I’ll blog later about how healthy food it a trap.

So where was I?  Yeah.  I let it go because the whole debate is stupid.  I’ve wanted to say so (as well as present the points from Soapbox #1) every time I hear someone in the industry say, “No bro country.”  Or “Bro is on the way out” but I’ve refrained…until now.  A recent road trip left me with an entirely new perspective on music and a heart so full I cannot be quiet any longer.  Here’s why:

It took a whopping 24 hours back home in Mississippi before I had this revelation. I was driving through downtown Amory, MS trying to process all I had taken in.  For those who don’t know I’m from rural northeast MS (Booneville…graduated from New Site technically which is even smaller) but have since lived in Memphis, Nashville and now Huntsville, AL.  I’ve always said, “You can’t fake small town,” but I am now convinced after my trip back home – you can forget.  

I’d forgotten what it felt like to be in a family torn apart by drugs.  Even that sounds trite, but try living in it?  Try living with abusive parents or a spouse because you don’t have a way out.  Try losing everything you’ve got only to find you’re now responsible for someone else’s kid because their parents are too incapacitated to care for them.  And you have no idea how you’re going to pay the power bill.

To have cancer and no insurance.  To be told you’re “inoperable.”  To learn your husband is cheating, but you’re a stay-at-home mom to your disabled child living with his parents and nowhere to go.   To lose a child who was just starting to raise his own family.  To be the dad who’s – by the grace of God – newly sober but unable to find a job because a small town doesn’t always forget.  Plus, it’s hard to get to work out in the country with no license…and it’s hard to pay your fines to get your license with no work.

Can you put yourself any one of those situations?  Artists, that’s the kind of stuff your fans are dealing with!  These are real people with real lives whose pain runs deep.  For many the only good time they will know that day is the 3 minutes coming in through their radio, and that is a big deal.  A big deal.  Dare I say it?  Yes.  I believe it is a blessing.

There are few things in this world that can interrupt your life in such a way you forget about whatever’s dragging you down leaving you with a much-needed mental vacation.   Music is one of them.  So trust me, Mr. Music Man, when I say that country fans don’t give one rip about your anti-bro-agenda, and no amount of time spent on “The Row” will ever qualify you for having your pulse on small town life or what makes us feel good/alive again??  These concepts may seem simple-minded to many of you, but it still sounds like a dang good time to many of the rest of us.  

Should we branch out?  Yes please (I love you Sam Hunt)!  But the sales have spoken, and like it or not bro is relevant.  “Cruise” and “That’s My Kind of Night” were #1 how many weeks?  There’s a reason for that.  As a fan we depend on artists, not just relating to us, but to be a voice for us.  

Life is hard.  Jesus may be the answer, but music may be the Band-Aid.  Bowing down to industry pressure might make you politically correct, but it will not make you a hero.  Only touching lives does that….and sometimes those lives just want to drink a beer and chill.

Can’t we all just be PRO-Country?  I think we could and should.  There’s power in that which benefits us all.  See Mark 3:25 KJV.

#brocountry #PROcountry 
#PROcountry #brocountry