Not a Competition
It’s a normal Sunday afternoon and I’m scrolling through Instagram when “BAM”, I see that Jamie Grace has just announced the title of her upcoming sophomore album. On most occasions when this young superstar makes announcements regarding her music career, I smile, admire it, and then move on. But this time, with this post, my heart sank.
Why?, you may ask. Well, tell me what you would do upon discovering that an artist 10x more well known than you, (who looks and sounds a lot like you) just announced that her new album has the same EXACT title as your own humble, self-funded, debut album?? That’s what I had to deal with that day in early November 2013 upon learning that Jamie Grace had also titled her album “Ready to Fly”. Suddenly the air felt like it left my lungs and I had this deep sinking feeling in my gut.
I was hurt, discouraged, and somehow felt mistreated. It felt unfair. For over a year I had been working on my Ready to Fly album and ‘hashtagging’ it on all my social media posts–getting a cumulative total of maybe 400 ‘likes’. Jamie Grace, on the other hand, announces the title of her album and gets 4,000 likes in one hour! lol It’s comical now, but at the time, I was so angry–blinded by the belief that somehow I was an underdog in a competition who just lost to the defending champ.
I contemplated changing my title to make room for the younger singer, who I had befriended and had started following on YouTube years before she was signed to Gotee Records. I reached out to family to help pray about what to do as well as turned to Facebook, where I asked my friends to weigh in on it. An overwhelming majority suggested I stick to what I had, come what may. In the end I did.
I did so because I know what “Ready to Fly” means to me: To me, Ready to Fly is about my personal story of overcoming hardships and learning to trust God in the midst of it. More specifically, it chronicles my experiences from 2 years ago where I faced the disappointment of having fallen in love with a guy who at first showed interest in me and then turned around and chose another girl. As a young adult who had dreamed about her “Prince in Shining Armor” for years, I went into that situation pretty wide-eyed and came out with a shattered heart.
I was soo convinced that I had heard God–I was certain that God told me this man would be my husband. But behold: the very opposite was true and it killed me. I never cried so much in my life than during that season. It was the first time that I experienced pain so deep, it was physical. Naturally, as the kind of person who wears her heart on her vocal cords, I took to writing my deep feelings on paper through music. Through the process, God healed (and is healing) my heart, restored my hope, and gave me the songs for “Ready to Fly”. In a nutshell, I learned that I could have “Joy!” even in the unknown and that learning “What it Means to Trust” is about knowing that God is good, and that’s all that matters. I learned that even when I’ve got the “Singleness Blues”–eager to get married, I need to heed to “Wise Words” that say there are beautiful things to cherish now; and one day when my future husband finally does come to pursue me, I will be able to look at him and say, “You Won” my heart.
Heart healed and perspective changed, I came to realize that I have a message to share with the world. Fast-forward to 2013–> I go on to spend a year working on the album with Producer Andrew Ehrenzeller and wrap up recording in October of 2013.
A month after that is when I stumbled upon the Jamie Grace news. Though I’ve long since chosen to stick with the title, I found that I still felt some funky stuff in my heart toward the whole thing. Over the last few months, I’ve found trouble enjoying Jamie Grace’s stuff without feeling a tinge of bitterness and fear–fear that people would say I copied her. Fear that I’ll never be able to make my mark in the Christian Music Industry because someone more popular than me stole my thunder. For the most part, I did my best to ignore those emotions
The straw finally broke the camel’s back when I read an article earlier last week that detailed the contents of Ms. Grace’s new album. To my disbelief, the album covered eerily similar topics! (ie: learning how to wait, trusting and praising through hardship, impatience about waiting for ‘the one’). It was over. I called my mentor and started yelling, “Are you kidding me?? What the heck is happening?? I’m reading her article and it sounds like they’re describing ME! Never mind that we’re both black, both sing and play guitar, both are pastor kids, and both live out a message of purity and inspiration! Grrr!”
Thank God for my mentor. If I could write a Psalm, it would say, “Blessed be older, wiser mentors who know how to knock some sense into young adults who are missing the big picture!!” lol
My dearest Marie Mazzeo helped me to stop playing the victim card and realize that
IT’S NOT A COMPETITION.
Both Jamie Grace and I love and serve God and still He allowed us to plan to declare the same message in the same month! (My album comes out on January 21, hers January 28.) As Marie helped me see, that’s probably because the earth needs this message right now, which is why we were both inspired to write it! Just like with the four authors of the 4 Gospels, they successfully proclaimed the same message from 4 beautiful, different vantage points. Maybe, just maybe, God wants Jamie Grace and I to influence our individual circles of influence with this message–one of learning to wait, and to wait well. The focus then becomes the message and not the messengers.
Sigh. At the end of the day, it all comes down to staying the course and being faithful to what we feel led to do. For all I know, Jamie Grace and I could end up touring together on some “Ready to Fly” campaign that empowers girls of all ages to embrace integrity and patience! You never know.
I am no longer disgruntled and in fact, am delighted to walk this journey alongside Jamie Grace with my eyes set on blessing my generation with our message of hope.
As promised, here is an exclusive preview of my song, “What it Means to Trust.”–available for purchase 1/21/14.