Don't let the Thunder Scare you Away from your Dream.

So, the last few blog posts have been analogy's of "Walking Toward the Rain", then "Standing in the Rain", meaning walking toward the dream God has for me & Standing in the middle of the dream happening! (If you haven't already, go back & read those posts!)

Well, it's not all butterflies & roses doing your dream. I had a moment of "Wow!! I can't believe everything is happening and I actually get to do this dream that's been in my heart for over a year!" Then, The thunder rolled in the midst of the rain & the tone changed to fear & I thought "How am I going to do this?!?! Am I good enough?? How can I do this with kids?!" I had a panic moment that almost scared me away from what I was supposed to be doing. Most of it wrapped up in insecurity of "what are people going to think of me?" Or "who am I to think I can do something like this with 2 kids & do it well?" Especially in a season with a cranky toddler who is getting her 2 year old molars and testing me more than ever! 

I'm telling you that voice of fear or the thunder can send you running, but you have to stand your ground in the midst of fear & DO IT AFRAID.

You see I'm not new to this concept of doing things Afraid. In fact, most of my music "career" has been BIG opportunities that I said yes to even though I was afraid & felt small & insignificant, but you know what? I did them! I didn't let my fear stop me!! Courage isn't the absence of fear, it's doing it in spite of being afraid!! 

It's not easy though. The process can be grueling. For this I am constantly in prayer, surrendering my fears to the one that brings the rainbow 🌈 in the midst of the rain. God is true to His word & I have to TRUST His promises are true. That "He'll never leave or forsake me." That "He knows the plans He has for me.." Also, remembering the words that He's spoken over me & holding tight to them.

I had the most incredible experience at church on Sunday that is like a crazy full circle moment. Hang with me as I describe this crazy/cool God Story!

Me & my hubby Brett were at our Church Jesus Culture Sacramento & worshipping & all of a sudden Brett leaned over to me & started praying for me. He told me he saw a picture of my music being like a Joshua Tree in the Desert. Cool & Unique, like how people come from all over to just take pictures of these unique trees. They also THRIVE even in the desert because their root system is very extensive... Remember my desert picture of me walking through the desert toward the rain?! I resonated with that picture so well! 

Also, When we in SoCal visiting friends a year ago, we pulled over to the side of the road to take pictures of the Joshua trees in the Mojave Desert! They were so cool & we were just captivated by them & kept looking up facts about them.  At the time, I was reading my pastors book "ROOTED" & he talks about thriving no matter what season you're in because you are rooted in Jesus. That rooted people have extensive Root Systems with Jesus. 

Get Banning's Book "Rooted" here 👇🏻

http://jesusculture.com/rootedbook/

All of that came back to my memory as Brett shared this picture with me!! 

As Dean, one of our pastors got up to share the message, he told his story about dealing with disappointment in his life in ministry & his dreams. Me and Brett resonated with everything he was saying! He shared a verse out of PSALM 107:4 that leapt off the page at me..  IT WAS TALKING ABOUT THE DESERT. 

"Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
    looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
    staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
*THIS PART THOUGH 😭* --> Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
    He got you out in the nick of time;
He put your feet on a wonderful road
    that took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
    the starved and hungry got plenty to eat."

Listen to the message here 👇🏻

https://jesusculture.com/sacramento/podcast/?listen=freedom-from-disappointment

Me and Brett went up to Dean to talk to him after the message & encourage him about how much his message spoke to us. We shared our story of disappointment of how we both gave up our dreams but how God has been giving us NEW dreams even in a desert season.

Not even a second later, I turn to leave & a woman is standing in front of me & she says "Hi! You don't know me, but I felt like God gave me a word for you!" Shocked, I said "ok.." she went on and said "I feel like God has placed a music & creative gifting in you & he wants to bless & use it!" -- I immediately broke down in tears! I told her, "thank you so much, you don't even know what that means to me! I'm a singer/songwriter & just started recording an EP & I've been really scared & that just means so much!!" 

Can we all just say, "WOW." 

I've never seen something spoken a year ago, come so full circle! I mean, I'm such a doubter, but now I don't know if I can doubt anymore! 😆 

I think that's the thing you have to cling on to in the midst of fear. Not your insignificance & how small you feel, but HOW BIG God is! 

But also, I think we don't really step into our power because WE DON'T KNOW WHO we are & WHOSE we are.

Gideon in the Old Testament was instructed to defeat an army of over 100,000 with 300 men. 😳 He was freaked out (as anyone would be!). But God let Gideon peek into the enemy camp to listen in on what they were saying about Gideon's army. And guess what?!?! The enemy was terrified because GOD was on their side!! That encouraged Gideon to know it was going to be ok! And guess what?!?! Gideon's army won & they didn't even have to fight! The Enemy army ended up turning on itself!

What if we realized WHO we are and WHOSE we are? What if we realized the enemy is scared to death of us walking out in our dreams because he knows how powerful we are? The thunder is just a scare tactic, but we can't let it scare us away from our dream!! 

We have to remember God is on our side! That He is our strength when we are weak & faithful to His promises! 

So, Dream Afraid. Conquer fear. Know WHO you are and WHOSE you are! You are more powerful than you know!!

----

Update!!

I just got some DEMO'S that my producer Jeffrey Kunde is working on & I'm SO Excited you guys!!! It had my parents crying within seconds of hearing & just really moving in general. This is going to be big & hit hearts, I just know it! 💓🎶🎉👏😭💕✨

How to Independently Release an Album

I'm about ready to start recording an EP & I wrote a little "step by step" of "how to independently release an album" a while back that I've been referencing I thought I'd share!!

You see, I'm a singer/songwriter & I've released 4 Albums independently! I've had some cool successes from each of those releases. I've had songs featured on MTV's Laguna Beach, Nickelodeon's teen channel Noggin, an independent film, Radio play & lots of local press! All of this doesn't come easy, it takes lots of emails, phone calls, connecting and more! Here are a few things I've done over the years when releasing albums. Hope it helps you get a better game plan for your release! 

How to Independently Release an Album

- It starts with an idea, that turns into a song, that turns into a group of songs that carry a specific theme or message you want to convey. That plus A TON of work, planning, scheduling & practicing happen in between all of that. You have to keep a timeline & have a plan to have a successful Album Release!

 Step 1: SONGWRITING.

-It starts with a song. Whether you get a melody & hum it into your iphone, or get some powerful lyrics that you scribble into your journal & piece it together later, or co-write with a fellow singer-songwriter, an album starts with songwriting.

-Everyone’s songwriting process is different, but going into making an album, I like to have all of my songs finished. Yes, you might get some ideas on the spot in the studio, but you don’t want to waste precious studio time trying to finish a song! That can get expensive because a lot of studios charge by the hour!

Step 2: CHOOSE YOUR SONGS. SET A THEME.

-Many times the songs you choose for your Album have a specific theme or message you want to convey. It’s great to have a theme or message as a jumping off point for photo shoots & music videos that help with promotions!

I released an album called “Out of the Woods” & I did a photo shoot & music video in the woods & most of the songs on the album talk about coming out of the “woods” of anxiety, depression & finding out who I was outside of all of that. It was a powerful message & I was able to convey that concept & message through not only the music but the art & promotional materials! It was cohesive & powerful.

Step 3. POLISH YOUR SONGS.

-Once you’ve chosen your songs, POLISH THEM by playing them over & over, make demos of them to listen to & memorize them, & show them to trusted friends. When you show them to friends, be sure to GLEAN from what they say, but don’t let other people’s opinions sway you from your heart about the project & songs.

Step 4. START FUNDRAISING.

-Whether you raise the money yourself or do a Go Fund Me or Kickstarter Campaign, make sure you have ALL of your funds raised before you start recording! Give at least 2-3 months for the process.

 Step 5. CHOOSE A PRODUCER.

-Choose a producer that GETS your sound!

-Really do your research of studios & producers. It’ll make all the difference! You don’t want to get stuck with a producer who doesn’t get your sound. You’ll end up getting frustrated instead of feeling inspired & excited about the project. I suggest sitting down for coffee with potential producers & interviewing them first to see if you mesh! Check their past work, ask friends, & go with someone who loves your music too.

 Step 6. FIND QUALITY MUSICIANS TO HELP YOU RECORD.

-Once you find the producer that will represent your music well, see if they know musicians or find musicians in your circle that will play your music the way you want to hear it. If you don’t know of any, throw it out there and audition a few!

I had a crew of musicians I could count on that knew my style & music.

Step 7. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

-Practice with your band like crazy until you have the feel & sound you want for each song.

A lot of times I’d have different musician friends or back up vocalists featured on different songs. So even if you don’t have a full band to practice with, shoot the artists the demos you worked on in the beginning to practice with then get together with them & make sure they have all the parts worked out.

Rely on your producer to help if you’re unsure of certain specifics in a song like interludes, lead guitar parts, vocal effects & more. That’s where your producer shines! As long as you have the base of the song, the producer can help you add the layers & flare.

Step 8. MAKE A PLAN FOR TRACKING & MIXING YOUR SONGS.

-Get together with your producer & make a plan for tracking your songs in the studio.

A lot of times I start with acoustic guitar & scratch vocals to a click track as a jumping off point. Then start adding the other instruments like Drums, Bass, rhythm electric guitar, lead electric guitar, keys or synth, strings.. whatever elements you want in that specific song.

-Get all your musicians scheduled & crank it out. The tracking process can be as quick as a week, or as long as 3 months, depending on your producer & your work schedule.

-After tracking, leave plenty of time for MIXING. It’s important to get all of your levels just right.

Step 9. MASTERING.

-After tracking and mixing the next step is to Master your album! Mastering makes your music “Radio Quality’, evens out the volumes & transitions from track to track. My friend has a quick turn over rate for mastering (2-3 days) but many times mastering can be a 2 week or more process from listening, to any changes, to the final product.

Step 10. COPYRIGHT & REGISTER YOUR SONGS TO A PERFORMING RIGHTS ORGANIZATION.

-While you are mixing & mastering your songs, send your mixed songs to the Library of Congress to be copyrighted. Also, register your songs to a performing rights organization like ASCAP or BMI so that you can get royalties if your song is played on the radio, used in a TV show or Movie.

Step 11. PHOTOSHOOT & ALBUM COVER DESIGN.

-While you’re getting your songs mastered, do a photo shoot for your Album cover & promotional photos. Make sure you keep with the theme of your album.

-Hire an artist to design your Album, promotional materials like a Bio with a picture, Facebook Banners, posters, T Shirts & maybe something unique like a plushie with a download card!

-Maybe even have your designer help make your website design more cohesive.

-Also, choose a company to duplicate your CD’s to get a template for your designer to design the front, inside & back of your CD. I go through Discmakers or CDbaby.

*DO NOT schedule a CD Release Show until you are in the final stages of this process! Sometimes things don’t go to the plan & you may not have your duplicated CD in time for the release show!

Step 11. CREATE A BUZZ.

-Once you have your Mastered songs back, think about making a semi-professional music video! It’s a great way to introduce your album to the world & have your friends SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!

-KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. Know your marketing campaign towards for your audience.

-Another way to create a buzz is to take a bunch of fun video & photos of the studio process & share them on youtube, Facebook & Instagram. Make sure you use HASHTAGS! Also, following people with similar interests will most likely get you followed back! 

-When you know your Album Release Date, send a Digital Press Kit with your songs, Bio & Promo photo to Local News Stations, College Radio Stations, Local Bloggers, College Newspapers, Local Newspapers, Local Magazines, alllllll the internet radio stations & more. I did this not expecting much, but I had a TON of Press before my release! It was awesome!

-Offer freebies! Free Song, free song art, get creative!

Step 12. GET YOUR MUSIC ON THE INTERNET. (ITUNES, SPOTIFY, AMAZON & MORE)

-Once you get your Masters & Album artwork approved, get your album on the internet! I went through CD BABY to get my music on all of the Internet download & streaming sites! I think you could do it one at a time, but it would be a lot. I think it took about a week to get everything through. CD BABY tracks all of your sales & sends you money via Paypal when someone buys your music, it’s great for the indie artist!

Step 13. RELEASE YOUR ALBUM!!!!!

-After you’ve finished steps 1-12, you’re ready to release your album! Have friends & family help you spread the word on social media & hashtag like crazy! You’d be amazed at the amount of unique visits you’ll get to your videos & photos just from a hashtag!

-Plan an Album Release Party! Make the release special, get some local press on “the list”, invite all of your friends, family & everyone who helped you make the album. Have a table with behind the scenes pictures & video. Design the stage extra special. I used vintage looking lights, it set the vibe I wanted & made for cool photos. Also, invite local musicians to open with 3 songs to make it a music community event/celebration! Highlight the musicians you appreciate!

-Make your merch table EPIC. Display your Albums in a unique way. Find a Vintage Suitcase to display your CD’s in or get some cool lighting to display your music in a unique way. Draw people’s attention!

 

Standing in the Rain: The Life EP

This is an exciting follow up from my last blog post "Walking Toward the Rain"! It's a really cool story of FAITH. If you aren't into that sort of thing, just hang in there with me! You won't believe how this all plays out! 🙌

I have had a blast playing local shows & have had a really great response to my music which has been super encouraging. I've felt a stirring in my heart for a while that "Now is the time" to sort of pursue some of my dreams with my music, but it's hard & Scary to step out, you know?

To sort of set the stage I've gotta take you back a few months. 

I had the amazing privilege to attend the Jesus Culture conference in Sacramento with one of my friends in Ohio & God spoke SO MUCH through the speakers & the worship. They kept singing songs like "Fresh Outpouring" & "Let it rain" & I just opened up my hands to receive it! He gave me that picture of walking toward the rain (read last Blog) & I was ready to soak it up and stand in it!! I felt God sort of calling me out & giving me a fresh vision. Random People at the conference would come up to me and say things like "I feel like God is opening doors for your music" or "there is POWER on your music". I also felt like God was asking me "what do you want?" I sort of wrote out what I wanted to do with music & that I wanted my music to be heard, not on Christian Radio but everywhere. That He'd open doors for me to be able to encourage other artists & use my music to help people who are hurting & use my story to make an impact. I also got a verse in Isaiah 6 where God touches a coal on Isaiah's lips to anoint him to speak to the people God called him to. I felt like He was speaking that over me too! <---- This stuff seems so crazy right?! Who am I to dream this big or do this stuff?!?! Keep reading..

Fast forward a few months later, April 4th to be exact. Me and My husband went over to our friends house for a worship and prayer night & just as we were headed out the door, one of the guys there stoped the us in our tracks and says to everyone "hey everyone, this lady has an amazing gift for worship!!" Before I know it everyone is surrounding me and praying over me. Some really specific words were spoken over me that had to do with using my story to help others, restoring dreams I had when I was young pertaining to music & also that doors were opening & that people of influence would hear my music & that something big was going to happen in the next 60 days. So much more was spoken over me that was exactly what I had been hearing from the Lord & what I was about but they HAD NO CLUE. They didn't know me at all! That's how you know God is really speaking. <----- again though, I was thinking who am I that God would use me? I'm 30, I'm a stay at home mom, I don't know anyone here.. we'll see if all this really happens.. but a fire had lit in my heart. Hope was rising up!

I'm blessed to be in an amazing community of people who have encouraged me in this process! They have encouraged me to play music, invited me to lead worship at our city Group & prayed for me & championed me to not give up on my dreams! One of my good friends even took some promo photos for me to use for my music & I ended up writing a song for her project she is working on!! They called out things in me I didn't even know were in me! It gave me courage to try. 

I started dreaming again about a Project called The Life EP. It'd be all songs about my current stage of life, motherhood & marriage! I wrote out my concept, the songs I'd have on it & my dreams for it & started to get really excited, but I didn't really know any one who recorded here!

Well, I decided to just take a leap of faith & contact the ONLY recording studio that I knew of because a bunch of amazing artists at my church, Jesus Culture Sacramento record there. I got a reply back and found out it would be $50 an hour to record in the smaller studio (much more for the bigger one) & I got a little discouraged. I had maybe $150 in my music fund jar, and that would get me maybe a guitar track! Haha! BUT I remembered what God spoke to me & prayed as I was on a little walk with my family. My pastor Banning Liebscher gave a really good message one Sunday about asking God for specifics pertaining to what you need, so I asked. I laid out the amount I'd need & how I felt discouraged & didn't know what to do, but said I Trust you in the process & need your help. 

I came home & told my parents about the email & my prayer & they reminded me about some money that was coming in that was the exact amount I'd need to record the EP! I had an answered prayer that VERY NIGHT. 

I messaged the studio back & let them know I was good to go & they were so awesome working with me & with my budget! 

So, I am recording an EP. It's a miracle EP really. I can't even believe it's happening! Just as one of my friends said it's all happened within 60 days almost to the T!!

Jeffrey Kunde (amazingly talented guitarist for Jesus Culture)  is helping me with Preproduction & Jeremy Edwardson (pro producer/musician extraordinaire) is helping me record all the final vocals & instruments for a day up in Redding at Sound House Studios! & get this. I can record all the preproduction tracks in the comfort of my own home & won't have to worry about the kids!!  I was really worried about that as a stay at home mom! Every detail is just so perfect!
 
My dream for this EP is to get some of the songs licensed for TV & Film like I've done in the past with songs on MTV & Noggin! I'm also going to have it be sort of an introduction to the media & venues here in Sacramento to get to know me, since I'm new here. I'm also going to make a really fun/funny music video for my song "Mom Life" that I'm going to send to mom bloggers, mom conventions, mom YouTube folks & podcasters! Moms need so much encouragement, & I know the message will spread.

So here's to dreaming BIG & stepping out in faith! When it's God who is calling you, nothing will stop you! Seek out HIS will & don't be afraid when He calls you out! He wants you to use your specific story & gift to change the world. I want to be really vulnerable in this process, because none of us have it figured out! We need to know hey, if Heather can do it, we'll, maybe I can do it too! 😊

Walking toward the rain.

It's been over a year since I moved to Northern California. 

I am slowly getting more opportunities to share my music again in small ways, building a network & community, but to be honest, it's been hard. 

I'm naturally a dreamer and a doer, and being in a season of not dreaming or doing anything was really tough, but it grew my foundation & root system deeper still. I had to look inward, work on the things in me that needed growth and TRUST that God is the same God that opened doors for me in Ohio & He can do the same for me here. 

I practiced the guitar despite not having somewhere to play it, I sang though no one could hear me, I listened to worship songs, built community around myself, attended my church & soaked in the healing presence of God & I waited patiently in the process. 

I got a picture at my church's small group of me walking through a dry, cracked desert. As I looked ahead of me in the distance I could see a dark cloud and downpour of rain! I fixed my eyes on the rain and walked toward it. I felt like that picture was basically of the place where I feel like I am. It's dry, and nothing is happening yet, but I am walking toward the downpour of the Holy Spirit, abundance, opportunities & I'm preparing on the way so that I'm ready when the downpour comes. 

Person after person has given me similar words. One of my friends saw me as a seed starting to crack open and beginning to grow & that the opportunities would come. Another friend said they saw a bunch of open doors for me & another said my music would move in power in people's lives and heal. Even at my church Jesus Culture's Encounter conference, they played song after song that said things like "We need a fresh outpouring" or "Let it rain" and I just sobbed! It was like God was reassuring me, "the rain is coming. Keep walking toward the Rain, Toward me."

It's such a beautiful thing now when I get even small opportunities. I am SO GRATEFUL for even getting to play an open mic or leading worship at my small group. It's a gift. I used to take it for granted because I had so much going on, now I'm just grateful for every single opportunity! 

So, I'm walking toward the rain, preparing on the way. Enjoying every opportunity to share my music.