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!!