Friday, March 16, 2012


Seriously, why have I been up since 430am?!  I need to probably be sleeping right now but I'm just laying here wondering why I'm not, therefore, I'm not. :)

I've been wanting to restart my blog again for a while, so now is a perfect time. No distractions, nobody calling me, nothing but my notepad on my iPhone and my available mind.

I don’t even know where to begin because it's been so long since I've written to you.  2012 has been good to me and it's only March!! I'm back doing what I love...playing shows.  The shows are a little bit different than a few years ago though. Most of the shows are just myself plus three musicians. And guess what, we're not riding on a fancy bus.... at least not for a while. We are actually riding across the country in whatever large SUV I can rent that weekend for a good deal.  To most, this might seem like a step backwards in the life of a touring artist but for me, I am back doing what I love so it’s a step in the right direction! Quite honestly, I laughed more on our last trip to Alabama in a Ford Expedition than I ever did on a bus. Haha.... getting to know the guys a little better is really awesome. Sure, there are times in the car where we are all tuned in to our Facebook, email, iTunes, or whatever, but for the most part we are entertaining each other somehow, some way!!

When I'm not driving to play a show, I'm writing and recording the follow up to my "Alive" project with Jason Collum. It's been a fun process trying to decide what to write about or what instrumentation to use on the tracks.  My thinking as far as production goes has been simple is better for me. I want to recreate the sound on the road that I can in the studio so complicated tracks are not what I'm looking for when we are working.  And like always, words and emotions are what draw me to a particular song/artist so that is very important to maintain in these new sessions.  I can't wait to get this new music to ya!!

NEW VIDEO!! I bet by now you have seen my new video for "Whiskey and You"! I am so proud of this video so check it out on this site or or and if you like it, please vote for it!!

Personally, I am doing great! Health wise I am feeling awesome. Of course, I always think I would feel better if I lost 5-7 pounds so I am always working towards that goal, but other than that, I am fantastic. I live a little more now too! If I want to taste a dessert, I taste it!!! If I want a glass of wine, I order it.  If I want sweet potato fries with my burger, I order them! I might only eat a few but I have them!  Life is more fun for me like that!  In the near future, I am going to get really strict with myself for about 6-8 weeks and eat very clean (no processed foods, only lean protein, clean veggies). I haven't done that in a long time and want to give my healthy living a kick-start!!

I'm in the process of planning a new website with Douglas. What I'm most excited about the site is that it will be really easy to navigate and I will be able to do small, short blogs every day if I want to...and right now I want to!!! That will be coming in the next few months.

It's almost 6am now which means Mama's alarm will be going off soon and the sun will begin to peek through my blinds.

It was so awesome writing to you this morning! I can't wait to do it again. In the meantime, please come out and see us on the road!! I love saying hi to all of you!!  Show schedules are updated on this site!  I am also still signing my CDs if you order them from my website and as always, I will sign after every live show!  Thank you all for your continued support of my dreams!  See ya on the road soon!!
God Bless You!!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Who Needs Mistletoe?

Why now? Why did I decide to record a Christmas project in the summer of 2011?  I’ve been asked this question now a few times so I thought I could better explain the birth of “Who Needs Mistletoe” in a blog.

It’s kinda funny because over the past year, I’ve had a hard time changing my thinking on when and when not to start new albums.  Being an independent artist now, I can record anything I want and when I want. I had always been under the thinking that I could only record when I was told I could.  The only things that I now have to consider before beginning a new project are my bank account and my schedule.

Since I released “Alive” early this summer, Jason Collum (my producer, co-writer, band leader) has been trying to make the concept of “I can do whatever I want” stick in my head. It took a while to stick, but it finally did.  He suggested a Christmas project during the making of “Alive” and I pretended to listen but just nodded my head and shut it out of my mind.  I was of the mindset that I needed to focus on my new album and not even think about the next one.

But one day I kept thinking about it, so I decided to mention it on facebook to all of you.  I think I even said something along the lines of “I’m thinking of recording a Christmas project one day, what do y’all think?”  All I needed to hear was one of you say it was a great idea and after that, it was a great idea to me.

I told Jason I was ready to start the project and he suggested I write one song for the EP and I said ok.  It took he and me several times of getting together to write anything because it was in the middle of summer and I just couldn’t get into the Christmas spirit when it was 100 plus degrees outside.  I think I even once said, “Jason we can’t write a new Christmas song because everything has been written.”  He never gave up on my creativity or the idea of us writing a new song for this project.  

Finally, Jason and I got together once more to attempt writing a Christmas song and he said the hook, “Who Needs Mistletoe, I’d rather be under you.”  It made me laugh and I knew that was our idea. He had mentioned it to me weeks before but I often half-ass listen to Jason and I thank God that day I was listening and paying close attention that day.  Haha!! He is not offended by my selective hearing, I am just always thinking about so many things when we are together working.  He’s constantly saying to me, “What are you thinking about?”  The only time I am really tuned in fully is when we are recording!!! I’m working on getting better at that though!!

So, after I told Jason I loved that Idea, we found a melody we liked for the song and the lyrics just started pouring out of both of us.  It obviously needed to be a sexy song so I just pictured me sitting on a man’s lap while he was dressed up like Santa and it was easy to tell the rest of the story!!  We pretty much finished the song in one day and knew it would be on the EP and we would call it “Who Needs Mistletoe”. 

After we wrote that song, Jason and I got together a few more times to talk about the rest of the songs that we would record for the EP.  We talked about so many songs that I loved.  It was tough deciding which ones would be right for me and for this project.  So, what we did was make a really long list of songs that I loved and then we got out a guitar and sang through them.  The ones that felt most comfortable and most like me were the ones we decided to record. We decided to do 7 songs because it’s the perfect number!! J

Next in the process, we decided the instrumentation of each song.  We disagree quite a bit on this part of the process because we both have different ideas of what we think each song should say through the production.  We always openly listen to each other’s ideas and normally, it’s very clear whose idea is the best.  In the process, we decide which instruments should take the lead and which should take the background.  We also talk about background vocals and which songs need them and which don’t.  No matter what we decide in these meetings, it always changes when we get into the studio and start working.  For example, we initially did not have background vocals on “Pretty Paper” or “Away In A Manger”.  I suggested to Jason that I would try some, so we did, and they worked. 

This project was interesting because I sang all the vocals over a time period of few days. We both stepped away from them for a little bit.  After a while, I listened to what we had recorded and decided after listening, that I didn’t like any of my vocal performances and wanted to record them all over. I hesitantly told Jason and he said ok.  Our challenge at this point was finding the studio time to re-sing the vocals.  We were on a deadline to get the music to mixing and mastering at a certain time. We also had a date to get the mastered music to the printers by in order for me to have something to put on the website for sale by November 1.  We found a few nights that the studio was available and we re-sang every vocal.  I explained to Jason that I hope everyone listens to this EP for many years to come and I wanted it to be exactly how I wanted it to be. He definitely understood and after a few late nights, I was excited to listen to my songs!!

After we finished the vocals, we took it to our mixing engineer, Jimmy Jernigan.  Jimmy mixed “Alive” so he knew how I preferred the tracks and vocals to sound.  This was probably the easiest part of the entire process. 

Then, we took it to Tommy Dorsey for mastering.  Mastering took about a week and finally I was more than ecstatic about how my new music sounded. 

Throughout this entire process, I was speaking with Douglas Boultinghouse on a daily basis about how I wanted the album artwork to look.  Douglas is so amazing; all I needed to say to him was, “I just want it to look classy, feminine, and to find a look that never gets old.”  Meaning, it looks like a classic country album in 25 plus years.  Then, Douglas took those ideas and ran with them!!  He is such a brilliant designer and I believe he created exactly what I was looking for, not only for my album cover, but also for my brand new website, my Facebook page, and my twitter page.  (Thanks again Douglas).

After all decisions were made for the album artwork, the music, and all the licenses were obtained (Michelle Schreiber helped with that), we were ready to send the album to the printers!! 

Dropping off a project to the printing company is exciting but I always tend to feel a little lost afterwards.  I had just spent long day after long day making this album and now I had to wait for it to print!!  That was a long few weeks to wait but I finally got them back and I haven’t stopped smiling yet.

During the wait time, I thought of special packages that we could sell on the website for the Christmas season.  We again called Douglas and he helped us design the page on the website for the packages. I LOVE how they turned out!!

I am coming up on a week since the release and I am having the time of my life signing all your CDs!! I also love making lots of trips to the post office! Thank you so much for all of your support.  If you haven’t ordered one yet, don’t forget I will sign them for you and mail them to you ASAP!!  Also, take a look at my packages on I am so excited about the packages because they give you a chance to get a little of everything!!

“Who Needs Mistletoe” is a project I’ve wanted to record my entire life.  I’ve always wanted to make a Christmas project. So much thought and time went into every single part of the production of this record. I hope you enjoy it and that it brings you and your family joy for many Christmas’s to come!!  Merry Christmas y’all!!

Track Listing:
1.   Blue Christmas
2.   Who Needs Mistletoe
3.   Pretty Paper
4.   I’ll Be Home For Christmas
5.   O Holy Night
6.   Away In A Manger
7.   Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Musicians that played on "Who Needs Mistletoe"...

Dan Agee - acoustic, electric guitar
Jason Collum - acoustic guitar, drumsm percussion
Mason Embry - keyboards, Wurlitzer, rhodes
Michael Rinne - acoustic bass
Mike Ulvila -  dobro, mandolin, background vocals
Julie Roberts – background vocals

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I woke up this morning with two dogs sleeping next to me. I had car keys waiting for me to grab, gas in my car to get me to the trails I run, and Kashi cereal and milk for breakfast before I left for my prison visit. 

I didn’t mention that I wore a bright yellow shirt today, I had makeup to go on my face, nice tennis shoes to put on with my fairly new blue jeans, and a cheap hair tie to pull my hair back in a ponytail. 

Oh yeah, I chewed cinnamon Orbit chewing gum and drank vitamin water zero on my drive to the prison while I listened to the radio and talked on my IPhone.  I am so blessed.


I just walked in from my prison visit and I’m thinking about these women I just saw and I’m thinking about me.  Yes, they are behind bars because they committed or have been charged with committing some sort of a crime, but they are human and have a heart that needs to be loved just like I do.

I was thinking about all of the things that I have in my life.  All of the things I noted above are just things from my every day life that I often take for granted.  It takes experiences like the one I had this morning to remind me that the Kashi cereal, the vitamin water, the car I drive, and the cheap hair tie I wear are gifts to me. These women walk into the Bible study in their blue or orange jumpsuits with nothing but their ID number and their Bibles. They also walk in with lonely hearts, but more often than not, are ready to hear the good word and be reminded that they have a second chance in this life.  These women are mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, girlfriends, etc.  Most have been dealt a difficult path from the very beginning of their lives. They have faced all kinds of abuse, have had drug/alcohol addictions, and have lived/worked on the streets for long periods of time. Each woman has a different story and every prison I visit, I eagerly wait for her to open up to me about her pain so that I can hopefully choose a song that might help her know she is not going through this life alone.  My hope is that when I leave the prison, they know that they always have God and they always have people praying for them to find their purpose. And, that while they are in there, they find healing in the silence of those four walls that they now call home. I pray that through that silence, they are able to hear the positive voices that were once covered up by the voice of sin and that they can learn to live their lives according to the law of God and the law of God is only love.

 I sit in amazement as these women so boldly volunteer to read the scripture out loud to the group. Tears come to my eyes when I hear them struggle over how to pronounce words like “capture” and “spiritual”. I wonder why I was afforded to be educated and these women were left to find their way on the streets.

In this moment, I am also reminded how fortunate I am that I had an amazing Mother to guide me in making the right decisions so that I am not behind those prison walls.  If Mama had not been my guide and loved me so unselfishly, who’s to say I wouldn’t have made the same mistakes these women have made. Most of them have been searching the streets most of their lives for that unselfish love and most have come up short.  Today, I came to the revelation once again that they are not that different from me and that’s why I feel it’s my purpose to get out of the bed on Saturday morning and go sing to them. 


The prison is divided into sections called “pods”.  Different pods hold different types of inmates. Some inmates are awaiting trial for serious charges, some inmates are just waiting to be transferred to another prison, and some are in a particular pod because they are all going through a drug/alcohol rehabilitation program.

The pod we went into today is one I’ve been to before and we actually meet in their kitchen. You would have no idea this room was a kitchen unless someone told you because there is no stove, no refrigerator and no sink.  There are only tables where the women’s meals are prepared and distributed. I am assuming that’s what happens on these tables but I’ve never been there at “chow” time so I don’t know for sure. The kitchen also has a strong scent of Comet or Ajax or bleach…I couldn’t really pin point the exact origin of the smell. 

Nonetheless, this room has some of the best acoustics for singing that I have ever experienced in my life.  I didn’t have a guitar or instrument but I had the walls of this prison kitchen that carried my songs into even one of the other pods.  I don’t think it’s any accident that we have Bible study in that kitchen. It’s the most perfect place; these women are being nourished by the word of God in a kitchen!!   I feel strongly that God wants the women to hear the words to these songs and these particular walls provide an ambient sound reminiscent of the old records I love.  You know the ones where they placed a microphone in the middle of a room and everyone just played and sang and they captured all of the room noise and the sounds kind of echoed off the walls? Well, that’s what this room was like.

For security purposes, I cannot bring a guitar or any type of instrument in the prison. So today, I printed out the lyrics for both “Somebody Does” and “Stronger” to take to the women.  I wanted them to be able to keep the words to my songs after I left. Then, they could refer back to them if they wanted/needed to.

I passed out the words to the songs and asked everyone to look at “Somebody Does”.  The women had just been talking about how they feel alone and so ashamed of the reasons they are behind bars.  One inmate told us about her son that was about to enter college.  She smiled the biggest smile in the world when she spoke of him. She is so proud of him, but she is dealing with the fact that he is not proud that she is his mother.  She cried as she told us how much she missed him and how she hasn’t heard from him since she was locked up.  She has attempted to write to him but he will not acknowledge her. 
The group talked about her situation for a while and when we were finished I told them that no matter how alone they feel, there’s someone out there that’s praying for them and hoping for a second chance for them and for the life they’ve always dreamed about having.  Then, I started to sing “Somebody Does”.  I wrote this song for my own reasons but as I was singing it, I felt like I wrote it for each one of them.  They never looked up at me or made eye contact with me but I could see they were listening because tears streamed down the face of each woman. 
I watched the women for most of the song but had to look away when I could feel that I was about to lose it too.  I didn’t want to mess this song up. I wanted them to hear every word, so I did my best to hold it together.  When we were finished one woman said, “I know I’m going to hear that song again one day. Thank you so much for that.” 

I don’t know if I have ever enjoyed singing that song so much as I did today in the prison.  It took on a whole new meaning for me that made it so special.  Now when I sing that song, I will always think about that kitchen and those tears. “Somebody Does” now has a deeper purpose for me.

Finally, one of the other inmates told the group that she felt like she just couldn’t take it anymore in there.  She felt almost like she was losing her mind a bit in her prison cell.  She said all she could do was cry and sleep.  Her story led me to ask them to look at the lyrics for “Stronger”. I sang that song, we held hands, said The Lord’s Prayer, hugged each other goodbye and the women walked back to their cells and I headed towards the front gates.

On my way out of the kitchen, a woman named Georgia from another pod came out and said “I heard you in their singing and I loved that song.  Will y’all come back and pray with our side too one day?”  I told her that we would definitely try and that I would remember her in my prayers.  Those kitchen walls carried that song all the way in there.  That was work from above.


As I walked out of the prison, I walked through so many secured doors.  Each had to be unlocked by different guards from that particular area of the prison.  On our way out, we also walked by the showers and I could see a guard standing outside the shower watching over each woman as she bathed.  That broke my heart.

Then, I walked back to the front and was given back my driver’s license and all of my belongings.  As I walked out the glass door to the prison it began to pour down rain.  I ran in the rain to my car and freedom never felt so great to me.  The rain was so perfect.  It was like I was washed clean in the rain…almost like a baptismal.

I left with a heart full of hope today.  I hope those women find peace and that they feel love in their lives.  I also left with a confirmation to myself.  I am definitely living my purpose on this earth.  I am meant to sing at fairs, festivals, theatres, listening rooms, churches, bars, clubs, arenas, and prisons.  I am meant to take my music everywhere and I hope that it reaches whoever might need it that day.  I am very blessed to know my purpose and I thank you all on this page for all of your support.  That support allows me to do this each and every single day. 

God Bless You!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I haven’t written a blog in what seems like forever to me.  I have been struggling on what to write about and I didn’t just want to write about something that didn’t matter to me.  I have even found myself asking those closest to me what I should blog about and my dear friend Patti just kept telling me, “It will come to you girl, when it’s supposed to.”  And, she’s right, it finally came to me tonight.

As most of you know, I spent part of my week last week in Charlotte, NC and part of it in Texas filming a new video.  I chose a week ago to drive to Charlotte vs flying to Charlotte.  I chose that for a few reasons but the main reason being is I like the alone time being in a car for 7-8 hours gifts me.  I use that time to listen to music, develop song ideas, talk to God, and just think about my life.  So many people ask me why I make that long drive alone, and they all try to talk me out of it, but I truly love it.

On my drive to Charlotte last week, I spent quite a bit of time with my new record that you will all have in your hands soon!!  I made mental notes of things to change, instruments to add/delete, and even tried deciding what sequence the songs should appear on the album.  As I listened to the new album, I began to think back on the times I spent recording my first two albums.  I realized I remembered every detail of my days, nights, and all the time I spent making my first record.  I can even tell you what meals we ate at the studio and that was almost 8 years ago now.  I enjoyed every single minute of my life during that process.  It was my dream & everything I’d always hoped for!!!

Then, I began to think about my “Men & Mascara” album and couldn’t remember that much about it.  For some reason, I blocked out that period of time from my mind and I was struggling to recover those details on my drive.  Probably no one but my Mama knows this, but I haven’t even listened to that album in over a year.  When anyone asks me about that record, I just say “it didn’t do as well as my first one but I’m working on my third one that’s very much like my first one.”  I even realized I have stopped singing songs from that album.   My sweet fan John A. asks me every writers round show that I do to play, “First To Never Know”, & I just cant bring myself to sing it and I WROTE the song. 

Somewhere between the release of my debut album & the recording of “Men and Mascara”, I lost confidence in who I was as a singer and a person.  I worried so much about pleasing other people that I found myself recording music that didn’t represent me as an artist.  One song in particular was not honest and I think all that heard it knew it.  All of my songs mean something to me but this song did nothing to me emotionally and I was trying to make myself believe that it did.  The song was called “Girl Next Door”.  My team believed if I recorded that song, that radio would play me a whole bunch.  Guess what, they knew it wasn’t honest and didn’t play it.  So, I lost all my confidence and thought I couldn’t sing anymore.  I thought no one liked my music and that I wouldn’t get on radio anymore, ever.  I also began to stop believing in that whole album.  Everyone kept saying to me “It’s good but not at all like your first one.”  They believed they were so right! 

I had so many different circumstances in the recording of my 2nd album that weren’t present the first time around.  First of all, we changed production teams which changed the sound of the record. Second, you know everyone says you have your entire life to record your first one and no time to record the “sophomore” album? Well, it’s true.  I recorded one or two days here and there when I was off the road and we pieced it all together to have the finished product called “Men and Mascara”.  Throughout the recording process I began taking vocal lessons because I thought that since radio hadn’t latched on to some of my songs that I couldn’t sing anymore.  I even went to some radio visits and when they’d ask me to sing live on the air, I would get panic attacks that I hid very well.  My guitar players knew what was going on I think because they’d always jump up and play something amazing to hide the fact that I couldn’t  even breathe.

Another circumstance that I was dealing with when recording my 2nd album was I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  It all started when I was on the road touring for my first album.  I’d be in the middle of a show and couldn’t hold my microphone anymore.  I’d have to switch the microphone between my hands, back and forth to get through a song.  Sometimes during a show, I would get these electric shocks that would start at the back of my head and felt like it would spread all over my head.  I would be signing in my autograph line after a show and while writing the name my fan would give me I couldn’t even see what I was writing.  My vision was very blurry most nights.  If I was in the gym, I couldn’t even hold weights and you know how much I love to work out.  I also had really bad headaches almost every single day. So, as soon as I could, I made an appointment with my primary care physician who then referred me to get an MRI of my brain and neck.

After all these doctor appointments, I would make my way back to the studio and work on my 2nd album and wait for the results.  One day all of the executives of the label were going to come listen to what I had recorded so far and I was so excited to see what they thought, but I got called away by a neurologist to speak with me about my brain scan.  So, as my label listened to my new music, I listened to this doctor tell me I have 11 lesions on my brain and that I had MS.  He told me there was no cure but there were medicines that I could take to slow down the disease.  He also suggested I come back the next day to do a spinal tap.  He would take fluids off of my spine and study it and if the chromosomes or whatever he called it looked a certain way, that was another indicator of MS.  

So, Mama (always my rock) and I went back the next day to do the spinal tap.  I am pretty tough but as I signed the form saying I wouldn’t hold this doctor responsible if something went wrong with the needle going into my back, I cried like a baby.  Mama did too.  I signed it and prayed his needle would go where it needed to go and only there and that’s exactly what happened.

A few days later while still working on my record my neurologist called me to tell me the spinal fluid did not indicate MS.  But because the brain scan did and all of my symptoms did, he wanted me to start some medicine.  I chose to not begin any medications and just tried to be as healthy as I could be on my own.  That meant, exercising daily, getting 7-8 hours sleep a night, and eating healthy most of the time.  The doctor was ok with my plan but wanted me to get new scans every 6 months of my brain and log the symptoms in a journal as I have them again.  So, that was 4.5 years ago and that’s exactly what I’ve done.  All of my scans have been the same up until the end of last year and my brain showed 12 lesions.  I still have times when my hands quit working or when I can barely pull up a pair of pants, but when I really take care of myself, I feel great!  Sleep is a definite for me!

I know that was deep and a lot of information that you probably had no idea about but It is a big part of my story.  As I was recording that record, my mind was on my record, then it would switch to my health, then back to my record. 

So, I think all of these things combined is what I’ve tried to block out over these past few years. I cant remember the meals we had at the studio during the 2nd album, all I remember is watching my phone for a call from my doctor. And I believe I haven’t listened to the “Men and Mascara” album in over a year because I thought I didn’t do a good job with it. I am my worst critic and I wanted to block all that out while I worked on my new record. 

BIG NEWS for me is that on my drive last Monday to Charlotte after I listened to my brand new songs, I decided I wanted to listen to my 2nd album again.  I listened to the entire album from the top to the bottom.  Started with “Paint and Pillows” and ended with “All I Want is You”.  That was a HUGE STEP for me.  As I listened, I thought about everything that went on during that recording process and how I got through it all with God’s help!!  And I listened more and more and listened on my drive back from Charlotte today, I came to decide that I LOVE MY SECOND ALBUM!  It’s not perfect and I probably should’ve sung things a little different but it represents exactly who I was and where I was supposed to be during that time of my life.  ALL OF THE SONGS (except for Girl Next Door) SPEAK TO ME!  I am so proud that I finished that album and I think I grew so much as a person during the recording process.  I have been listening to that record ALL NIGHT!  I’m trying to make up for over a year of ignoring it and trying to forget about it.  That HUGE WALL I put up is down now and I believe I did a great job!

As I put the finishing touches on my third record, I remember every single detail.  There were stumbling blocks along the way to make this one,  but I climbed right over them.  If you don’t know by now, I am not giving up on making my albums and getting back on the road to you all!! 

My tentative plan is to have my record ready by Memorial day weekend to sell at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and on itunes of course!  If that changes, I will update you but plan that for now!!!  I am excited and I’m anxious to tell you all the details of the recording of every song. 

Thank you God for the stumbling blocks that have been placed on my path.
They are making me a stronger person and I know more now about who I am as a person and as an artist than I did 7 years ago (when my debut record was released).  Thank you fans  for your patience.  I know you are waiting and have been waiting forever for me to figure this stuff out but the “walls are coming down” and I can see you all holding my new CD in your hands on the other side of this…very soon! 

Finally, I want to Thank Mama.  She has been to every doctor appt with me, she listens to every song I write, and tries to help me understand myself sometimes when I just can’t.  I also have very encouraging friends and family members that remind me why I need to continue fighting this good fight!!

In closing, we all have walls or stumbling blocks on our path that we have to figure out how to cross and get around.  God NEVER leaves you to figure this out alone.  Ask him what to do.  Trust in Him and not in someone that does not have your best interest at heart.  God places amazing people in our lives to help us and we have to recognize them and never lose our faith.  God knows I wanted to have about 5 records out by now, a house with a front porch for Mama, have a movie out, making more movies, have platinum records,  etc.,  but He also knew He wanted me to learn some things about myself and prepare me for what’s to come. 

I am SO, SO excited about this new video I’m working on and also about my new record.  I’ve put in years of work on these projects and I hope you LOVE THEM like I do!!!

I am driving back to Charlotte in a few weeks…..wonder what new “walls will come down” during those 7-8 hours?  I do know that I will be listening to my “Men and Mascara” album!!

Thank you for always boosting my confidence in myself and my music!  I love what I do and your sweet, kind words are what I live for each day!  

God Bless you ALL!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day: Like It? Love it? Could skip it?

For about a month now, I’ve been thinking about writing a blog about “love”. Since having been part of such a wonderful journey with Patti’s kidney donation, I have come to meet so many people like Patti; people that spend their lives loving and being the good, faithful servant we all strive to be. In my entire life, I don’t think I’ve witnessed love like I did during those few weeks. I have definitely felt loved by my family and friends but seeing what I saw at that hospital made me feel totally different about love.  I now have hope for love, I believe it exists and is real, I’m no longer afraid of it, and I want to experience it first hand! 

I watched as Patti showed such an unselfish love by giving John the gift of life, her kidney. She was willing to risk her own life to save his life. I think that kind of love is hard to find. But, as I sat at the hospital with Patti, I began to see that kind of love more and more.  Maybe my eyes were just more open to it, but as her friends visited her throughout her stay there, I came to see so many people with that kind of love. It was undeniable that love like that exists and that so many people in the world are capable of exuding it.

One particular couple came to the hospital several times during Patti’s stay there. The very first time they walked in the room I couldn’t take my eyes off of them. I was drawn to the energy they gave off. I believe they have been married for almost 30 years and they have two beautiful, grown daughters. Every time the wife spoke to Patti, her husband would just stare at her and take in every word she said.  He didn’t want to miss seeing one breath she took.  As he spoke, I noticed she did the same thing.  
It was one of the most beautiful loves I have seen in my entire life.  They made each other laugh and you could just tell they were truly each other’s soul mate. They live to be in love with each other.

After they left the hospital one day, I asked Patti how someone could still be so in love after being married for almost 30 years.  She said she has asked them that before and their answer was that “they have the same best friend…Jesus.” They keep Him in the center of their life and He guides their marriage and the life they share with one another.

For weeks, I have thought about this particular couple over and over again.  Last night, I was invited to a valentine dinner at their house and I watched them some more.  He was by her side in the kitchen the entire time.  They NEVER stopped smiling at one another.  I left last night thinking about them some more. I bet every single day of their life is like Valentine’s Day.  That kind of love is a gift from God.

Since I wanted to write about love, and Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, I thought why not make this blog about Valentine’s Day!!!

When I think about Valentine's Day, I think about my Grandfather...we called him PawPaw. PawPaw went to heaven a few years ago but for 20-something years he made an impression on me every Valentine’s Day!

Growing up, I spent lots of time at MawMaw and PawPaw's house. From the time I can remember, PawPaw would come home from work on every Valentine’s Day and give MawMaw a big heart-shaped candy box with an assortment of chocolates in it. You know what I'm talking about don't you? The ones where you never know what you're eating until you actually bite into the piece of candy?!  MawMaw's face would always light up when he handed it to her.  Her heart-shaped candy box was never plain looking; there was always something special about her box. It might have gold glitter writing on it or maybe even a raised, silk surface on it. It always looked beautiful to me!

Then, he would give my Mama and her two sisters a medium-sized heart candy box with assorted chocolates in it. Finally, he would give my two sisters and me a small heart-shaped candy box with an assortment of chocolates in it. So, before he came home on every Valentine’s Day, he would buy 7 assorted chocolate heart candy boxes! Can you imagine how expensive Valentines Day was for him?!  It' was something I always looked forward to. We couldn't wait to open our boxes. My sisters and I would open them and squeeze each piece of candy to see what was inside of it. If it happened to be a flavor we didn’t think we'd like, we'd trade with one another! Those were fun times!!

Another fond Valentine’s Day memory was taking valentine cards to all my classmates when I was in elementary school.  Mama would buy me a box of little cards and I would fill them out for everyone in my class. But first, I would pick out my favorite card and write it to the boy in class that I wanted to be my boyfriend.  Then, after all the cards in class were distributed, I would look through all of mine and find the card he gave me and hope that he wrote something special on it. That is too funny!! 

As an adult, it seems like I'm always single on Valentines Day! I remember two times actually having a dinner on Valentine's Day with a guy I was dating!  I wonder why that is? I like Valentine's Day but I just haven’t really celebrated it that much. It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate it because I am truly a romantic.  I would LOVE to celebrate it, but I’m just always single on February 14! I’ve decided that God has so many exciting Valentine Days planned for my future and He’s just saving them for me!!  :)

I've asked some of my friends what they think about Valentine’s Day and their opinions go from one end of the spectrum to another. Here are some of the things they have said to me:

"I love Valentines Day! I have a new dress to wear out for my dinner! I can't wait!" (Obviously, a girl said this)

"It's such a commercial holiday. Shouldn't you act like you love someone all year round?" (One of my guy friends said this).

“I have to buy something else?  I spent all my money on Christmas gifts for him.  It’s a girl holiday anyway, right?” (A girlfriend said this)

“I stay at home on Valentine’s weekend.  It makes me sad watching all these couple out having fun and I don’t have anyone.” (A few friends thought this)

“Oh, I think it’s so sweet! I have been ready for Valentine’s Day since last Valentine’s Day!” (A girl said this)

“It’s SO EXPENSIVE! Roses are triple the price!” (A guy said this)

“I go all out. I have a hair appointment, a new outfit, and I’m going to cook for him!” (A very excited girlfriend)

“It’s so stressful. I don’t know what to do. I want to do something she’d like but I have no idea!” (A really sweet guy said this)

“If I’m in a relationship, I love this day! If I’m not in a relationship, I get a little sad so I go out and buy myself a valentine’s card or candy!”  (A girlfriend of mine)

So, as you can see, everyone has a different opinion about the day set aside each year to celebrate your love for someone.  I’m sure that each person has different opinions about Valentine’s Day depending on their life that year.  So many factors can influence how you feel about that day.  Some of those are: finances, whether you’re single or not, in a new relationship or in a committed long-term relationship, etc.

Like I said before, I actually like the holiday!  I like to buy Mama something and also my nieces a gift (if only I could remember to get it in the mail to them).

Y’all know I love the Bachelor show! I think I love it because I love all the fun dates they seem to go on. I would LOVE to go on fun trips or do fun things like they do with someone I love. Every date on the Bachelor (unless there’s drama) seems like it’s on Valentine’s Day. I am definitely a hopeless romantic.  I look forward to the day when I can plan a trip on Valentine’s Day with someone I am totally in love with!  Good things come to those who wait!! 

While I wait, I will spend my Valentine’s Day like I do every other day of my life. On Valentine’s Day this year, I have booked a writing appointment and at dinnertime, I will do a kickboxing class! I’m not gonna sit at home wishing I was at a romantic, candlelit dinner!  I’m going to do something for me!! I hope that all of my other single friends find something to do and that all of my friends that are in relationships (dating or married) have the best night ever! 

I feel so lucky to have seen such beautiful love this year. I can honestly say I used to be a little bit cynical about love. The songs I love the most are songs about falling out of love. That will probably never change; it’s just in my makeup and who I am. Coming from a very broken home has something to do with that I’m sure. But, I do think I am a different person now.  I believe in LOVE and I want to love. I want to spend my life with someone that doesn’t look beyond me to see what’s waiting in the wings.  I want him to watch every syllable that I say and believe that I am God’s gift to him.  I now know that’s not living in a fantasy world...  It exists and I am going to have that one day!! 

Monday, February 7, 2011


Saturday February 5th
I said to the girls of Lewis County....  
Just be who you are girls.  Don’t try to be like anyone else.  God made you special and He made you the size He wants you to be.  He doesn’t want you to harm your body because you think you need to look like the girl on the cover of a magazine or on your favorite television show. You are beautiful and please promise me you will always follow your dreams.  Don’t ever give up on your dreams! You Promise?

We promise!” said the group of 130 girls aged 10-14 in Lewis County, TN this past Saturday……….

Monday February 7th
I woke up this morning, just two days after that speech to the Lewis County girls. I started my day like usual, did my gym routine, came back home, opened my computer to check emails, and realized I was kind of sad today. I thought maybe it’s the dreary weather, but I don’t think it’s the weather at all.

Last night, I went to a Super Bowl Party and had a great time but also had a very definitive moment for my life there.  At the party, a very successful songwriter was talking to me, and he said,
 “Are you singing at all anymore?”
“Yeah!  I’m singing!  Making a new record,” I quickly said.
“Oh great, I can’t wait to hear it,” he said.

Now, to most all of you, that probably sounds like a very nice conversation and it was.  But truthfully, it killed me inside and I was pretty embarrassed.  I don’t ever want to be asked if I’m still singing.  Singing is my purpose and what makes me happy.  If someone asks me that question, what does that mean? It means I’m not doing what I was born to do!  I’ve thought about this since I left last night and I haven’t been able to get it off of my mind.  My conclusion is I need to get my stuff together and get back out there.  This transition time for me has taken long enough and now it’s time to move forward.  No more excuses about the flood or anything else for that matter.  Those things happened and I need to learn from them and move on!!  

Some days I get so overwhelmed at trying to figure out this path I chose for myself when I was a little girl.  It seems so easy right? Just get booked and play shows.  The reality is, it’s not always that easy and as I’ve been searching for ways this morning to make it all happen, I got a little down. 

I talked to Patti this morning about all of it and she reminded me that I shouldn't take that question so personally.  Simply because one person did not know what was going on in my life doesn't mean I'm not on the right road. Just because I am not where someone else thinks I need to be doesn't mean that I'm not exactly where God wants me to be. Then she reminded me of one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 29:11 which says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  I've said it a million times about my conversations with Patti...I am little bit wiser now!!!

I also talked to God this morning and pleaded with Him to show me where to go next and what to do to get back on the scene singing my songs. I don’t want anyone to ever ask me if I’m still singing.  As I thought about these things, it occurred to be that on Saturday ( just two days ago), I was standing in front of 130 young girls begging them to not give up on their dreams.  Why is it so easy for me to tell someone that?  I need to take my own words and live by them.  I gotta tell you, I will NEVER give up on my dreams, but like most people, I have days where I beg for a miracle or I beg for a sign or I beg for another break to get me back out there.  Today was that day for me.  Mama always says, “Nothing worth having ever comes easy.”  And like always, Mama is right.  I know one day I will look back on this period of time in my life and see how much stronger I am because of it.  I will see how much my faith grew and I will see that God was always there.  He never leaves my side and He is walking with me every step of the way on my journey to figure out how to get where I want to be. 

I had to get that out there today.  It was on my mind and that’s exactly why I started this blog…so I could tell you everything about my journey.

Now, I want to finish telling you about my trip to Lewis County.... 
I was asked by 'Get Fit Tennessee' to visit a few counties in the state and speak with girls between the ages of 10-14 (5th-8th grade).  My focus for these girls is explaining to them why living a healthy lifestyle is important to me.  I am very passionate about this subject (as you know from my bikini blog) and I believe sharing my story with them is something I’m supposed to do.  I want them to have a chance to hear about eating healthy and exercising before they even have a chance to develop an eating disorder or poor self-image.  If someone had spoken to me on this subject matter when I was growing up, I would’ve probably done things a lot different as far as diet/exercise goes.

Here's me talking to the girls!
I introduced myself to the sweet girls and told them that I remembered being their age. I don’t remember everything about being 10 years old, but I do remember knowing that I wanted to sing country music.  I knew I wanted to get to Nashville and that I was going to make records one day!  I followed every move my idols made and tried to be just like them.  I’d watch music videos or read articles about my favorite artists just so I could see how to dress or how to wear my hair.  I would also notice their shapes and sizes.  They all had perfect bodies in my eyes and I wanted to be just like them. 

I did everything I could to be just like them!  The reason I chose Belmont University was because Trisha Yearwood went there.  And when I was at Belmont, I chose to stop eating so that I could be like my other favorite female singers on television.  I told these girls about how I starved myself and would run miles just to be skinny.  God gave me my voice and my drive to achieve my goals, and I wanted to give myself a skinny body.  I thought starving myself is what I had to do to get a record deal.  I’d come home from Belmont on holidays and Mama would look at me and tell me I wasn’t going back to Nashville until I ate some food.  So, I would eat at home just so I could go back to Nashville. When I’d get back to school, I would stop eating again.  I would make it through my day on a small can of green beans and a few pretzels every now and then.  I was so skinny and so unhealthy. 

I came back home a second time from school and Mama was serious when she said I was not going back to school.  How could I not go back to Nashville?  I have to be in Nashville to get a record deal!  I PROMISED Mama I would start eating and I did.  I knew if I didn’t, she would come and get me and I’d be back home wishing I had done things different.  It wasn’t always easy to stay on the right track because it became such a mental struggle for me. I constantly looked at myself in the mirror and thought I wasn’t good enough. 

Despite those mental battles, I continued to eat so I could stay in school and get my degree and that also allowed me to stay in Nashville and search for a record deal.  After I got a record deal, Mercury hired a trainer for me and it was the first time in my life that I knew what foods were good for me to eat and what exercises I should be doing for myself.

I told that story about myself as honest and as carefully as I could to the girls in Lewis County in hopes to convey to them how beautiful they each are and how much they have to offer the world. I wanted them to know that there are no perfect bodies and there is no perfect person on the entire earth.  God made us each different for a reason.  If we were all just alike, the world would be a boring place. 

I talked about my struggles now as an adult with trying to maintain a healthy weight because I mistreated my body as a young girl.  I totally messed up my metabolism and it has taken me years to get it all back on track. I told them how I still struggle sometimes when I look in the mirror and see things I don’t like about myself. Most importantly, I told them that I didn’t want them to go through all of that too. 

I loved coming off the stage to talk to the girls!

Finally, I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Surprisingly, many of them said SINGERS!!!!  Some want to be actresses, teachers, doctors, veterinarians, and one sweet angel wants to open up a dog shelter!!  These girls reminded me of me.  I got tears in my eyes several times as they shouted their dreams to me.  I want so much for all their dreams to come true.  I told them they needed to keep their dreams alive and NEVER give up.  The road is not always easy but God will guide them and they should NEVER give up.  I told all of the girls who wanted to be singers that I wanted to see their buses pull up next to mine one day at a festival or fair! 

Then, it was time for me to sing a few songs for them. 

I started with “You Aint Down Home” and then went into “Mama Said Don’t”. They really loved “Mama Said Don’t”!!  Some of the girl’s mothers were there so they were laughing with each other at some of the lyrics.  My last song was “Break Down Here.”  I remembered which girls told me they wanted to be singers so I invited them all up to sing the choruses with me.  The girls were SO EXCITED TO BE UP THERE and I just handed them the microphone every time the chorus came around.  Thank goodness they could sing it because I was getting a little choked up listening to them.  They were so beautiful and it just melted my heart. My hope for them is that they never stop believing in themselves, I hope that someone in their life is constantly reaffirming to them how beautiful they are, and I hope that NO ONE ever tells them they can’t do what they want to do!  Most important, I want them to always be who they are and not try to be anyone else.  If you know who you are and where you want to be in life and someone tries to discourage you, you keep going and say to yourself, “you wait, I will show you!” 

Here are the girls right before they sang "Break Down Here"

Thank you Lewis County for giving me some time to spend with your girls.  I had fun getting to meet them all after the show and I am a better person because of my time there.  Saturday was such an awesome day!  I can’t wait to travel to the next school!

Signing autographs for each girl!!