I've been playing for 2 ½
years. I started out with a really bad guitar.
One of those beginner guitars that you never ever
heard their name - that's cool - stuff like that.
It just looks really cool. It was like faded blue.
Stuff like that. Now I've got myself a Taylor.
A c-314. It's really rockin'. I'm so thankful
and so grateful.
How many guitars do you have?
Guitars that I wanna say I own?
I've never paid for a guitar in my life. They've
all been gracefully given to me. I have an Ibanez
12 string that I've never played. But it doesn't
have any strings on it, so I'm just looking to
donate that somewhere. That, and I have one that
an endorsement company gave me, it's called a
Daisy Rock guitar. Oh, please no. It's like flaming
hot pink - I can't do that. (laugh) And then I
have my Ovation Celebrity which I've played for
a long time and I still play that sometimes. But,
just when I pick up my Taylor I'm just like mmmmm .
And the Taylor is the one that
you play in your shows?
I play my Taylor right now, yeah.
It's really cool. I'm really excited about it.
I had writer's block for like six months -
got the guitar - and I was like dude, poppin'
out songs every four minutes now.
So what inspires to write your
songs - what influence do you have from other
Well, that's kind of an obvious
question and we all know that (Jennifer Knapp).
But in more depth, writing songs is like a shrink
to me. What I get out of writing songs are a release,
comfort, understanding, and a better knowledge
of who I am in Christ, and who God wants me to
be. It's kind of like questions and cries and
calls - all my songs are about my life - and most
of them about my disappointments, because I just
I have way too many of them to write anything
happy. (laugh). I'm kidding. I'm not like that.
But, I mean, people inspire me. I mean, everyone's
like a certain artist inspires me and influences
me. Yeah, I have tons of those. I've got everyone
from Jonatha Brooke to Diana Krall to Patti Griffin
to Beatles. Love the music!
Ashley Cleveland rocks. I like a lot of melodic
stuff like Bush, and I love Luna Halo, and I love
Earthsuit. Just good music in general. That all
influences me, whether it's cool or whether it's
not cool. I'm gonna listen to good music, I don't
care. I love Frank Sinatra. But that's musically.
But writing and stuff like that - that's just
living my life. God influences me completely.
Just taking some time to go chill and be quiet
and listen and think about everything.
If you write with just a guitar,
and you play with just a guitar. Where did the
production on your CD come from? Was that you
wanting to experiment?
My CD is the process of me finding
out who I was, and kind of experimenting, and
kind of saying "well, I'll give the label
some leeway and they can take it the direction
that they want, somewhat."
Your first CD, honestly, has to appeal to a wide
audience, because you've gotta build that fan
base. You can't just be in that genre that's just
secluded to a fan base of like 15,000 people in
the world, are the only people that like that
kind of music. That's cool if you wanna do that,
but that's not what a record label has in mind.
(laugh) If your heart's there, then that's for
you and not for a label.
Do you have another album on
No, not real soon, but there's
always another album coming out. I haven't gotten
anything figured out. I'm writing right now -
I'm always writing. I don't have a certain time
slot that I write. I just do it because it's part
of who I am. So I've got some good stuff. It's
sounding fragmented. I'm kinda scared, because
most of it doesn't have solid choruses or hooky
lines, and stuff. It's just like three verses
and one chorus, maybe. But I love it, I love it,
I love how it sounds. I love how my songs are
developing into stories more than just telling
you what to do, or "be this" or "be
that". It's a story line. I like that. I'm
sure somebody out there likes that.
What's been the most challenging
thing in your career thus far?
Having expectations, and having
them be broken one after another.
Well, I have really high expectations
of what I think should be - what I think should
happen with an artist in the industry. You find
out that a lot of things aren't always what they
seem. For instance, coming into this whole thing
a about year and a half ago is like I was this
iddy-biddy consumer. I never grew up on mainstream
music. I always had a Christian CD, Christian
tape in my tape player. So, I absolutely loved
it. I loved all that stuff. Just meeting the people,
it's like "Oh, really .cool? .I
loved you .forever?" (laugh). There's
a lot of people in the industry that deserve so
much respect and then there's a lot of people
that I'm like "Oh, I'm praying for you."
We all have our trips.
Do work with Jennifer Knapp
Yeah - I was on the road with
her for a few days. I don't get to talk to her
a whole lot, 'cause she's been on this Bebo Norman,
Justin McRoberts deal on tour. But when I do talk
to her - it's like, she's my mentor. She's the
one that's showing me the law of the land. Just
totally showing me what to do and not to do. Just
being total mentor, total influence, and I'm just
sitting by the sidelines listening, and taking
it all in. She knows exactly what she's doing,
and she's doing a good job of it. Steve, on the
other hand, is more of the business, nitty-gritty
stuff, you know? But she's really cool. We
have mentioned doing some summer festival dates
together, just slipping me in, and stuff like
that. And even if I don't get to play, I'm so
cool with that. I don't mind at all. I'm just
like, I'm here along for the ride, and the ride
can be as important as playing, because you get
to see everything that goes on. You really have
to learn. Everyone is like "well, living
on the road you have such a hard life, and it's
such a free life.". You have to learn a lot.
It's a lot of like getting your priorities straight,
time management, and things like that. Because
if you don't have that on the road, oh, everything
just falls underneath you.
How many shows have you played
since your album came out?
I was on the Strangely Normal
tour with Phil Joel. It was a lot of fun. There
was always something spontaneous going on. I did
that tour, and that was my first round of shows
that I've ever done back to back. I have not paid
any dues, which is the sad thing. I mean, I'm
only 16, I don't even have my license.
What are your favorite songs
to play - of yours?
I love, love, love playing "Search
Me". Absolutely love it. I think it's because
that's the one that I've practiced the most, and
got down to a key. I love playing that one. That
one's always so new and so refreshing to me. I
love the fact that even when I'm having the dirtiest
day, worst day and I have to go up and play "Search
Me", and talk about how God searches us,
and I really don't want it. But I have to sing
this song, so in the midst of all of the things
that I don't have to do, God searches me anyways.
It's like "I don't really wanna do this,
but I have to open up my heart...". I'm refreshed
in the process.
What's your favorite book,
or who is your favorite author?
Right now, I'm kinda still reading
"Everything You Need to Know About the Music
Business". I really love, like, turning my
brain on for a second, and getting to know the
nitty-gritty inside appeal of the music industry,
and what I should do, and what I shouldn't. I
like to read things that help me further me, whether
it be in my career, or in my relationship with
God. I love fiction. I've read a lot of fiction
when I was 15, 14, read a whole lot - like I'd
check out 10 books from the library. Now it's
like "Read a lot of fiction, now I need to
read something that'll help me". I've gotta
go get my eyes checked, dude. Everytime I start
reading it's like "I'm falling asleep".
Either that, or it's just my lack of.
Does it ever feel, being at
such a young age, that when you're talking about
God to your audience, that they're just ignoring
you because you're a teenager, and they think
that teenagers can't know as much about God as
a 45-year-old? It's kind of a weird question.
No, that's a great question. You
know, "Growing Pains" is about me and
give us some credit at my age. I think sometimes
I do struggle with that, because I have different
audiences. Like, next week for GMA week, it's
gonna be a tough cookie, because I'm gonna be
playing in front of all these older people that
have seen it all. They just sit back, hands folded,
like "show me what you've got". I don't
like that. I like to help out, and kinda minister
to the people. It'll be a little weird, but I'll
hopefully just stay focused and remember that
God doesn't put an age limit to a willing vessal.
I always say that, because it never says anything
like that. It does "Wisdom comes with years",
of course. Like, Proverbs is all about your parents
having widsom cause they're a little bit older.
All those stories about how little instances where
people my age have - God has worked through them
to influence everyone around them. I just think
"Be smart in what you're saying, and try
to have things to back it up". Basically,
if you have the Bible to back it up, what are
they gonna argue with? I think you're always gonna
be faced with that - a tough cookie in the audience.
There's so many ways to soften those people up.
You know, when people seem all hardcore, it's
just like, all you've gotta do is love on them
and be compassionate. I'm just a teenager.
My songs are my life. It's like
a journal, it's my diary. I know somebody out
there would be willing to listen to it. I'm trying
to be as honest and blatant as I possibly can
without scaring everybody. We as Christians like
to beat around the bush so much. It's gonna have
hard times. Nobody ever said it was gonna be easy.
It's just life and you gotta deal with it. You
always have someone that's gonna be critiquing
you, and not liking things, and just a little
analystic about it. But, you don't have to live
for those people. You don't live for your audience
- you live for God. For me, what I get out of
my live shows - I don't care if I please my whole
audience, because I know you can't please the
world. If I'm speaking to 4 or 5 people directly,
and they're being affected, and they're having
a spiritual release with God right then and there,
then I'm just all over that. Because those 4 or
5 people matter SO much. Maybe they were having
this crummy day of horribleness, their parents
walked out kicking their dog. It's like, they
needed something, and hopefully I can convey that
through what I was feeling at the same time too.
I went to a show - Sara Groves
- new artist. I love her live shows, and she says
it so well. She says she's living her life for
everybody, and she could never hold up to the
expectations of it, and she was writing a song
one day and God was telling her "You can't
do this - you're so burnt out - you have to live
your life for an audience of One". I was
sittin' there, totally worst day of my life, stressin'
out, bawling, crying, and I was just like "Yes
Sara, you know exactly what you're talking about,
I'm am SO doing that now". And that's how
you have to be. People are people, and people
fail. God doesn't. Period.
Well put. Well, that's about
it. Thank you for your time.
Well, thank your for your time
and effort. My effort is just rackin' my mouth
off. Anyways, thank you, and I'm sure I'll see