The Religious Artist - phony or real?
I thought for about a week whether I should write this blog. I was not sure if this would be helpful or harmful. I have written things that did more damage than good. It has been a part of my learning experience as a writer and musician. I decided to write, because a decision to move forward after wrestling with your heart is well worth the gamble.
For the last year, I have been battling with what industry in music I fall under. Half the people who know Jeevo say I'm a Christian or Relgious Artist. The other half feel I'm more secular than religious. Both sides either really don't want to claim me, or they really want to keep a tight grip on me. I get mixed reviews. I get mixed responses. The interesting thing about those that really enjoy my music is that they could care less where I am categorized - they just appreciate real music - whatever package it comes in.
I started off in my career never wanting to associate with the Religious music industry. I was not a fan. I did not like what came of it. The rap was outdated, the chord progressions were overdone, and the airy voice of the singer/songwriter who talked about God like a friend or incestuous lover never boded well with my musical palette. The problem is that I always talked about God in my lyrics. I couldn't help it. Everything I wrote talked about something of religion - something of faith - something of spiritual thirst.
In music, your category is important. It doesn't matter what anyone thinks. How you market yourself dictates where you are going. It's that simple. Sure, there are those that defy categories - but they started in a category before they defied the rest. You need a platform. You need a starting point. You need a home - be in the form of a record label, genre, or demographic of fans that are more loyal than white on rice.
In 2008, my first album came out. The places that invited me were Spiritual. But as I interacted with Spiritual artists, they rubbed me the wrong way. They were competetive, but not in the street way - the way I can respect. They were passively competetive. Smiles on the outside, jealousy on the inside. Artificial words with artificial well wishes. They constantly made me feel small, and not wanting to play this game. I was well on my way to being a pretty novel Christian act - but I bowed out - I couldn't do it - I wasn't ready to mix my faith and my profession in a way that would leave me jaded for the rest of my life. I couldn't see the worst examples of my faith in the midst of my calling. I was not formed deeply enough to handle it. I couldn't keep wanting love from what I thought would be my family - Christian artists who cared about the same things that I did - and keep seeing their ugliest sides. I couldn't keep interacting with a religious industry that was no different from the secular industry - if not worse because they threw "God words" around to cover up their deceit.
I realized that in music, everybody just wants to get noticed. And when you get noticed, people think you are taking something away from them. I suppose this is the same in any profession - but it is highlighted in music due to its publicity and that talent is judged so overtly and frequently.
Those of you who know me personally understand that this is not venting. I don't vent. This is also not out of bitterness. If it were, I would keep it to myself.
Then comes now - 2012. I have been excited to be categorized as whatever it takes. Call me a heretic - call me a pastor - call me a rebel - call me an evangelist. I am willing to wear whatever shoes I need to present my art. I don't mind being endorsed in any way - but my allegiance to a category will not be based on how I am endorsed. If the church endorses me, I don't owe it anything. If the secular endorses me, I don't owe it anything. If pop endorses me, I don't owe it anything either. I don't owe genres anything. I don't owe people anything. I have to say it because I'm tracking my growth in real time. These blogs are so people will know how things really transpired - how the process and journey really went.
I sent my recent music video "Won't Say A Word" to all the Christian artists I know. I also sent the video to all the secular artists I know - - - -
Results: Did not get 1 e-mail or phone call back from any of the religious artists; In contrast, I got a 90% response rate back from secular artists. Granted, I sent the video out to everyone I knew - but I also valued all the feedback I got from each person.
I think the only difference between religious artists and secular artists is the content that they put out. I think it would be foolish to assume that religious artists are better people than secular artists. Perhaps I was naive to think so before I started doing music. Perhaps I had my own misconceptions and pre-conceived notions. I love Christians - but I hate many of the things they do in the music industry. I do not understand backward competition. I thought we were all on the same team. But - it seems like we are leading each other to competition and not love - envy and not encouragement - comparison and not humility.
Dear Fans - I am going into the studio to record my 4th solo album. This blog I have is for you - so you know what reality looks like in real time. I try my hardest not to disguise the things that really go on. I hope you understand why I am so honest. I hate having to come off as immature or having a sour attitude - I feel very compelled to write certain things so we can all grow together. There are enough politicians - not enough of everything else. I love you guys.
Dear Christian Artists - Pay more attention to your souls than your music. Pay more attention to heavenly rewards than worldly ones - I'm just quoting your Bible. I love you guys.
Dear Secular Artists - Stop writing things that you don't want your mother or children to hear. I love you guys.
Jeevo - Album #4 - Let's go. Peace, and much love to you!