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Dreams Music Video World Premiere

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Today it all begins! My album is officially out and I feel every emotion imaginable. This has been a long and amazing journey for me, and although it may appear to just be the release date of my album, it is so much more than that.

I decided to release the music video for Dreams first, as this song was really the beginning of it all. Finding my individual sound was a challenge for me because I’ve been in a group for my entire life. I wanted to approach the making of this album with fresh eyes and ears and discover my own sound, but to be honest I had no idea how to explain what I wanted. I’m not even completely sure that I knew what it sounded like, I just knew I’d know it when I heard it.

After a long search through some incredible and talented producers, I found Jusamelody. When I heard the track for Dreams I immediately told my husband, “I need to write to this right now.” Thankfully he is the most supportive man in the universe, so he took our daughter to go play so I could get to it. I sat in our office and began to write. The song just flew out of me like it had been waiting to be written all of my life. Dreams was the first song I wrote for this album that sounded like ‘me’. It set me free in a way I wasn’t expecting and truly inspired the rest of the album.

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I started dancing when I was 4 years old. I was in a mall with my mom and I saw a group of girls tap dancing and said, “I can do that!” My mom must have laughed because not only was I just a 4 year old, but I was a 4 year old with Pigeon Toes (my feet turned inward when I walked.) But she believed in me and thought maybe it would help, so she enrolled me in a class anyway. It became my life and I danced competitively for the next 11 years. I stopped pursuing a career in dance only to begin pursuing my career in music.

This brings us to my new music video. Let me preface this by saying that I haven’t danced in 10 years. Dancing is something that sets me completely free. For me it is an outward expression of just letting everything go, and I was terrified to do that in this video since it had been so long. I thought for sure it was one of those things that your mind still believes you can do, but in real life you’re just going to break your hip. But this song is about following your dreams. It’s about silencing the voices that tell you what you can’t do and focusing on the one voice that matters. Dreams is about believing, and the beauty in walking with the Lord is that you don’t even have to fully believe in you… You just have to believe in Him. You just have to get out of the boat, place your feet on the water, and let Him do the rest. It’s terrifying and exhilarating and worth every bit of the risk.

“Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” - Amelia Earhart

Click here to purchase my new solo album Honestly:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/honestly/id903096728

 

Behind the Song: Low

I was raised in a warm, loving, Christian home. My parents are my biggest role models and they are everyday, real life examples of what walking with the Lord looks like. They’ve always made their decisions based on God’s Word and they wait on the Lord in faith, no matter what they are going through. I am so thankful for this upbringing. Honestly, I have no idea what I would’ve gotten into, had I not been raised in such a loving home.

But because I was surrounded by so many good experiences, I never really had a lot of contrast. I was no angel, but I didn’t have a dark past to look back on as a reminder of the difference between walking alone and walking with the Lord. As a result of that lack of a ‘turning point’ in my life, I always felt like I didn’t really have much of a testimony.  Even though I knew that was a lie, deep down, it was still how I felt.   I can only speak for myself, but as someone who has been a Christian for all of her life, it can become a struggle not to find yourself feeling a little too comfortable and stagnant in your walk sometimes.

This song is about a time when I felt numb. I’d come to a place in my walk with God where I was just going through the motions. It was a time when I was running on fumes. I had all of the right verses perfectly tucked away in my heart, ready to activate when I really needed them, and somehow I thought that was enough…

The truth is; when I’m not growing, I’m just standing still, and it’s when you’re standing still that the things that are chasing you can catch up with you. There was no major event that triggered this feeling, only a slow growing complacency, which is the most dangerous, in my opinion.

I was reading Hebrews in my study bible and there was a quote that really hit the nail on the head so perfectly.

“We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves that we have been liberated.”          – D.A Carson

You don’t have to have completely walked away from the Lord to be in major need of a change; it’s the gradual decline that really gets us sometimes. The kind of decline that creeps up on you so slowly that you barely realize it’s happening. The day I finally realized this was happening to me was an unbelievable punch to the gut. I had everything I could ever ask for and I was suddenly burnt out, short-tempered, annoyed, and negative.  At the time, I didn’t understand where this feeling was coming from.

I hadn’t realized that there are so many things you can replace God with, and that I had done just that. I had been depending so much on my responsibilities, my roles, and my relationships instead.  So much of my happiness was wrapped up in others instead of in Christ alone. After a while I realized that when I was alone I felt, well… really alone.  I poured so much of myself into my concern for what others felt, thought, and needed, that I ended up feeling completely empty. Let me just say that taking care others should definitely be a priority in our lives, but we can’t take care of anyone if we aren’t allowing our Savior to take care of us first! For me, this had everything to do with my pride. The voice inside of me that kept saying, “I’ve been a Christian for forever, and I’m totally fine! I’m just busy, I’ll get back to feeling good eventually.”  God was just waiting for me to let go, to stop trying to fix things myself, and give it all to Him.

This song is about that time in my life when I realized I needed a change. I was barely holding on, not because everything was horrible, but because it wasn’t; I had just become completely complacent in my walk… I had this strong foundation, but that was all I had. I was no longer building on it; I was just standing there. This was a time in my life when I learned that there is a significant difference between mature contentment and complacency, and if I was to grow, there was no room for the latter.

The chorus says, “The truth is; I don’t know you anymore, not the way I want to. The truth is; I’m surviving on this storage, and I’m running low, low, low.”

God’s Word should be breathing new life into us each and every day, and though our walk with the Lord is not about feelings, we can’t deny that we have them, and we tend to share those feelings with everyone but Him. For me personally, so much in my life had changed and I had been putting myself dead last for quite some time. I thought by doing this I was being noble, but the reality is; by not taking the time I needed to take to be poured into, I was putting God last, and by doing that I was robbing not only myself, but my Creator, and those who needed me throughout each day. Yes, my life had changed, I was in a new season, and I was definitely not going to have endless hours on a tour bus to journal in my bunk in silence and solitude like I used to. But that didn’t mean that a quick 2-minute devo was going to be sufficient fuel for what God wanted to do in my life. I realized that it wasn’t His word that was no longer speaking to me; I just wasn’t listening… I wasn’t giving myself time to listen, and the truth is; there is always time.

One of our hardest battles is between what we know and what we feel. Don’t lose heart when you’re feeling low, we know that the end of one chapter is really just the beginning of the next. Take the time you need to build upon your foundation.  Sometimes the best project you can work on is you!

Click below to listen to a snippet of “Low” featuring the extremely talented Deraj, and check back next week for a new snippet and Behind the Song blog entry.

Behind the Song: Honestly

With this post I begin my new blog series “Behind the Song.”  I thought it was only fitting to start with the title track on the album, “Honestly.” This song really encompasses the theme of the entire project, so I’m excited to dig in and share the heart behind it.

When I started doing music I was very young.  It all started in 1998 with three curly headed kids and a trip to Aachen, Germany. We went there to write and record our first “official” SoulJahz album. I was fourteen years old and in the eighth grade. We took our spring vacation and an extra week off from school to go chase a dream and see if it was something that would become a reality. We came home with a seventeen-song album and some major label record deals. If we’d ever doubted that this was our calling, those doubts ended right then. Thus began our journey…

We spent the next thirteen years writing, recording, touring, and following our dreams as “Souljahz” and then later as “Washington Projects.” Those years are so precious to me and I am so thankful to have been blessed with such amazing opportunities. After my husband and I had our daughter Selah in 2011, I took a break from music to learn to be a Mom, something I’m still learning and will continue to learn for the rest of my life! Last year I felt a tug on my heart to step back into my calling and ministry in music and was presented with the opportunity to release a solo album. To be completely honest, at first I didn’t want to. I’d never wanted to do a solo record before. I always loved the comfort of having my big brothers around me, and that was the way I liked it.

When my career began 1 Timothy 4:12 was my inspiration. “Do not let anyone despise your youth…” I knew that I was called to do what I was doing despite the fact that I was very young. Now that I was a wife and stay-at-home Mom, I knew in my heart that the most important things I’ll ever do will be within the walls of our home, so I wasn’t sure if I had a calling outside of that anymore.

The chorus says, “I’m too old for these games, but I’m way too young to feel this way, honestly. It’s time for yesterday to up and fly away. I’ve got so much left to say, honestly.”

Sometimes we forget that we live our lives in seasons. Change scares us and we can easily hold ourselves back by refusing to move forward. The world is in such a hurry to say your chances to be who you want to be are over, and we need to stop believing those lies. Thirty is not the new forty, forty is not the new sixty, each day is new, and it’s never too late to grow. A tree’s leaves change, even fall to the ground, but it just keeps growing, all the while never forgetting that it is a tree. It comes back to life each year even more beautiful than the last.

It’s taken me a year to make this album. Something that usually took weeks has taken an entire year. Here’s why I’m not sorry… I was living. You can’t write honest music without writing about what you know, and you don’t know anything until you know it! If you have ever met my Dad you’d say that was a total Ernie Washington quote! Sometimes you have to go through things before you can really write about them. This song is about that journey for me. I realized that for a period of time I hadn’t been growing. Instead I’d been trying to grow backwards, which in essence is really just shrinking.

When I was younger I always tried to keep my professional life and my personal life somewhat separate. When I came home I wanted to be a teenager, and do teenager things. I didn’t even like talking about my career with new friends because most of the time it would change the entire conversation. I learned quickly that I preferred to keep it to myself and to just get to be me when I was home. I thought that being a recording artist looked one way, and being myself looked another, and that was the way it had to be. So now that I was a wife and stay-at-home mom, I was afraid to pursue what I knew I was meant to. What would that even look like now? Silence is a lot to ask of a little one, although to her credit, there are a few lines on the album that were recorded with her sitting on my lap.  It took a few extra takes, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

I knew going into this that I wasn’t going to have the luxury of writing songs with an endless amount of time, surrounded by silence and inspiration for days. I was going to be lucky if my toddler took a nap that day, so I’d have an hour to write and eat and unpack our boxes and move into our new home…and stare…at the wall. Kidding! (Don’t judge me, I have a two year old. A two year old who stopped taking naps for eight months. Eight months, people!)

I just didn’t see how this was going to work and it wasn’t just the circumstances that had changed, I had changed. I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore! Music was a huge part of my life for such a long time that in a way, I’d allowed it to define me.  When I stopped doing it, it felt like I became someone completely different.

I asked God to show me what I should do… Did I still have something to say? Did He still want to use me this way? The next morning I had two messages in my inbox, two random emails from two completely unexpected sources, someone from the past and someone from the present. One was from a woman my age who attended a concert of ours over a decade ago and wrote to let me know that she has been following me via social media since and felt led to email me thanking me for being an inspiration. The second was from a young woman who is very dear to my heart, away at college, asking for recommendations for a daily devotional.

There is nothing in this world that could convince me that any of that was a coincidence. Sometimes tiny paragraphs can be HUGE confirmations, and although we all get emails all the time, I specifically asked the Lord to show me if I still had a voice, and I woke up to not one, but two answers. They probably have no idea how much of an impact those short emails had on my life!

God told me to make this album, and to make it by being honest. No gimmicks, no game plans, no trying to figure out who my ‘target audience’ is. He just told me to write. When the time presented itself, when the inspiration showed up, write about it. So that’s exactly what I did. I wrote from my experiences and I wrote from my heart. I pray that it reaches anyone who needs to hear it.

It took some time, but you can’t rush things that need time to grow. The process of making this album has grown me more than I can even put into words. While I thought I was making it, it was really making me.

Click below to hear a snippet of  the title track “Honestly” from my upcoming album & check back next week for another “Behind the Song” blog entry & snippet!