If you really want to know what this record felt like to make, put everything you love inside a burning building and watch all your dreams burn to the ground.
And then, watch love rain down and drown the flames. Let it rain for a while. Let it pour.
When my tour bus burned down last summer, I was devastated. Yes, it was just a material thing that could eventually be replaced. And, yes I am certainly very grateful no one was hurt in the fire. But, there's a little more to it than that.
To me, that bus fulfilled a dream. I didn't grow up a "cool kid." And, music was my escape from all the teasing and ridicule. I held that guitar, and I felt unstoppable at age 12. And, I dreamed every night that one day I'd become a rock star and own my own tour bus. And, that maybe then I'd be cool.
Well, if you're on the edge of your seat, brace yourself. I did not become cool. Not even close. I'm such a nerd. Haha! But, that little girl's dream did come true! I found my own worth in the gift that music has brought me, and I did get to buy my own tour bus. And, then I had to watch it burn down.
When I walked onto my bus after a show, and when I slept in it every night waking up to the smell of fresh coffee in the lounge, it felt like those 12 years on the road paying hard dues was totally worth it. I could see the proof. I was living on it!
That's why it hurt me so much when that dream went up in flames. My fans were amazing. Someone started a fundraiser and we were getting boxes of supplies on the road to help us get by. Someone even heard our story and was so touched he gave us his motorhome to finish the summer tour. The love and response was unsolicited, unreal, and life changing! I could hardly believe it.
Honestly, I couldn't have finished the tour without that support. And, I would have completely drowned financially. Although we had a blast on the road, when I got home there was still this looming cloud that just kind of felt like, "now what." All my money was gone, I had nowhere to live, I wasn't sure what direction my career was going to go in or if I had the energy anymore to keep going.
My manager, Jeff, is just an amazing guy. He always sees the positive side of things and he never stops believing the best in any situation. I really look up to him and have so much respect for his wisdom and attitude about life. I really don't know how he does it sometimes, because the music business is so hard. When I came back to Nashville, he and I had a few heart-to-hearts about my music and my career. Essentially, I told him that I was completely done with doing things my own way. I'm happy with the accomplishments I've made so far and the lessons I've learned along the way, but my way was just exhausting, not to mention lonesome and stressful. I was ready to try something different and fresh. In my music and in my life I finally had just the right amount of "not giving a crap" what anyone else was doing or saying. My life and story was unique, and that was valid enough for me. We just looked at each other and said, "are we gonna do this or what?"
I signed with American Roots Records and In Tune Entertainment in December of 2016, and the changes so far have just been phenomenal. It's almost like the bus burning down for me was the last straw. I had finally had enough, my energy and resources had run dry, and that is what pushed me to a breaking point. Not in a desperate kind of way, but in a spiritually cleansing kind of way. It was incredibly painful, and there's still a deep sadness there. But I look around me and I see that this record, my relationship with Jeff and our team at American Roots, my label mates, my songwriting partners, all of it the beauty that came from ashes. Had I not hit that rock bottom, I may not have come to those realizations at the time that I did, which led to the amazing space I'm in now. I am finally in love with the music again! I spent 8 hours arranging a Led Zeppelin medley a few weeks ago to play with my band on the road. I'm writing gobs of new music, and I'm not afraid to explore different sounds.
To break it down, I can so clearly feel the pain, and I can so vividly feel the beauty. And, I have enough space in my heart for them both. The beauty shines through the ashes, and that's how this album got it's name. The title track was written with my friend, Gary Nicholson who also experienced a fire in his home studio a few years back. God is just amazing how He connects us and how He loves us. And, even though it hurts sometimes, I'll gladly let the love keep pouring out.
Thanks for reading, y'all! Love and blessings,
P.S. If you would like to pre-order "Beauty In The Ashes," here is where you can get a signed hard copy. You'll also get an advanced download of "Smoke On Velvet." You can do the digital thing here: http://bit.ly/2oa2k8k