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!!


  1. Julie,
    I just wrote a long response and when I went to post I received an error. So I'm going to try and recreate what I said!
    I was shocked to read how you felt about Men & Mascara. Mostly because it is my most favorite album out of all the music that I own. It is by far the most listened to in my library of music, and I have a lot of music. There is something about the album that speaks to me. I don't know if it was because of the time of my life when it was released or if I can relate to most it not all of the songs? In the end it doesn't matter why, just that it is. And that I can listen to it no matter what mood I'm in, sad, happy, angry, lonely, nostalgic, over-joyed. It always works for me. Men and Mascara makes me feel not alone, Chasin Whiskey makes me realize I'm not the only one to make mistakes and First To Never Know was my move across the country song. I would never have made it without your second album.
    So I guess I'm trying to thank you. To thank you for pouring your heart and soul into this album even when you must have had nothing left to give. Thank you for creating an album that I listen to on a daily basis. I need your music, it is the sound track to my life.
    I will be at the show you are doing in Sacramento in May, I look forward to hearing old songs and new.

  2. As I read this I was almost in shock,I had no idea of the medical issues you have dealt with.You are such a strong person. To thank God
    for the stumbling blocks takes a person of great faith.It gives me as a Christian a blessing to know you feel this way. I must confess, I am not a fan of country music in general,but I do own your CD's and will own the next one as well.I have great memories of my two daughters taking my cd's of you and playing them and singing as loud as they could. May God continue to bless you.


  3. Julie,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I sincerely hope you can continue to combat the illness and keep it at bay.

    I was very happy to read that you went back and re-visited Men and Mascara. I know a 20-something male isn't exactly in your target demographic by M&M is very, very close to being my favorite album that I own and I listen to it all the time, both in the car and on my mp3 player.

    While I honestly think you could sing the phone book and make it moving, every song on your second album is clever, moving, and feels very real. A big reason why I think radio didn't play that record much is because it wasn't dumbed down for them, it wasn't "pop" enough for them. A Bridge that's Burning is probably my favorite on the album, and Chasin' Whiskey gets me every time---you are perhaps the only singer alive that can make "oscillating fan" sound sexy.

    I don't want to make it seem like I don't like some of your upbeat songs, but your smokey voice seems to bring out the hurt in the lyrics of your "downer songs"...for amazing effect.

    My only "issue" with you, as I joke with my wife around the holidays, is that you somehow turned "Silent Night" into a sexy song!

    Again, thank you for sharing your story and I can't wait for new music, I've been waiting for years hoping to see news of a third album!

    Thanks for your music! I was lucky enough to see you at a "Guitars and Stars" show back in 2006. I hope you get out to Rochester, NY again sometime!

  4. Julie,

    After reading your latest blog I was compelled to comment. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to. I'm not sure if you get to reading all of these, but maybe you do. I must tell you that I am absolutely AMAZED by your ability to stay so positive in your times of trouble. Your devotion to God and the work he set you out on is admirable, to say the least. I had no idea you were struggling with medical problems while pursuing your dreams. Your ability to stay focused makes you a hero to me. I pray that the Lord gives you all you hope for in life and a long career.

    I'm sure you wont remember, but I met you once when my band had opened up for you and Brian McComas at the Dane County Fair in Madison, Wisconsin. (2005, I think) I had been a fan of your music before then and am a fan to this day. I remember you being nothin' but smiles! You were kind enough to autograph a T-Shirt from our local country station for me. Truth be told, that T-Shirt was hung up behind my amp in our bands practice spot until the day we moved out.

    I was very interested in reading your insights into your sophomore album. I hope it I'm not being too bold in offering a bit of insight myself. I know that it might not mean as much coming from someone you don't know, but if you could, please indulge me.

    I believe every artist goes through this same feeling from time to time. Whether they be painters, writers, sculptures or musicians. Hindsight is always 20/20. I think that you did give your heart and soul to every song you sang on that album. From what I can ascertain, you are incapable of doing anything otherwise. I think your fans feel it too. I liken it to someone giving a Christmas gift that they are not sure if they put enough thought into it or whether or not the receiver will find it useful. In my experience, some of the greatest gifts I have cherished the most have become that way because of who gave them to me. They have become a part of my life because the person who gave it is special to me. I think records are the same way.

    Unfortunately the medium in which musicians and artist have been given to share our art with friends is a very flawed and sometimes corrupt one. Don't let businessmen, singles and chart positions take your love of your art away from you. After all, as the good book says - “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

    So, please, keep giving giving your fans gifts. They mean more to us than you can imagine.

    On a side note: I'll be moving to Nashville at the end of October to follow the path I believe the Lord has put out for me and when I get there, I look forward to seeing your name on the marquee. :)

    Drew B.

    P.S. Sorry this was so long – I do that sometimes. :)

  5. I've loved your music since the first time I heard it....and have always thought you are such an incredible person. Hearing our story, and how you have dealt (and deal) with it, takes my view of you to a whole new level.

    CAN'T WAIT FOR THE NEW ALBUM. Now, I'm gonna go listen to Men and Mascara.... :)

  6. As Rascal Flatts said in song--"God Blessed the broken road that you straight to your peace of mind"
    That broken road you were on lead you to where you are now and WHO you are today--a stronger and more focused woman.
    Rock on Julie, rock on!


  7. I am glad an artist can come out and speak against a record company making them record a song. i always felt the Saving Jane tune was out of place on your record but thought the rest of the record was AMAZING.

    Julie your voice was a breath of fresh air when it broke onto radio with Break Down Here. Subsequent singles didn't get the same chance as your first single-- Wake up Older was great, Men and Mascara was great, and even though it wasn't a single I loved Paint and Pillows .

    I am excited about this new album and really hope you'll come out to play at the CMA fest this year.

  8. Hey girl! I'm not surprised you had the strength to share this and I hope you will be blessed by knowing how many people care. God has great things in store for you!
    Love ya!

  9. I'm so sad to hear about your MS battle, but I am very happy that someone else is in the limelight to talk about MS. I hope that you use your story to help others who are battling this disease also. Thank you for continuing on in your career and showing us that MS can slow you down, but it doesn't have to stop you completely.

  10. Julie, I just wanted to thank you for sharing something so personal with your fans. I know that's hard, but I think it made me (and apparently others) admire you even more. I have been a big fan of yours since before your first album even came out (that album is STILL in my CD player in my car and hardly ever comes out), and you've just always seemed like such a wonderful, strong person. As I've read your twitter, facebook, and blog posts, I've learned that this is true! You are a great role model for young women, much much more talented than most people I hear on the radio these days, and an inspiration to everyone! I can't wait to hear your new music and wish you the best of luck with everything.

  11. Dear Julie,
    Although I'm not familiar with your music, I am a 16-year survivor of MS and have a good sense of what you're going through.

    I will keep this short for you, but I want you to know how proud I am of you coming out of the closet about your MS and living your life anyway.

    Too many people back off from life when they receive a diagnosis because they think it will damage career/relationships/standing/friendships/earning power etc. It takes a lot of guts to let people know, but it's absolutely essential to lift the veil off MS and let the world know that even if you stumble occasionally, you're not going to let it knock you over.

    Since my diagnosis I became a husband, a father to the three most amazing little people, a firefighter, a minister to incarcerated teens and kept a career and house going. MS is not the death sentence we heard about as kids watching those movies for the MS Read-A-Thon in grade school.

    We're still us. Still full of fun. Still full of love. Still productive. Still faithful and faith-filled. And maybe -- just maybe -- we're a little bit wiser because we have a little bit bigger perspective about what really matters in life.

    Be well and I'll keep you in my prayers.


  12. Julie,

    I wanna say that was very brave of you to share your story. I had wondered what had happened with you cause you had not made any music in a long time. Although MS is not curable it is controlable and you can live your life to the fullest singing your music and making your fans happy. I am in the music industry and I know it can be mind blowing some times but it all works out the way you want it to in time. I think you are a wonderful person inside and out..(I dated your cousin for a while she always talked about you..lol) and I think when you put your mind to it, anything is possible through Gods help of course..lol good luck on the next album and hope to hear it soon.

    "Big Country" Greg Lee
    Entertainer/Promoter Orlando, FL

  13. God has blessed you and through you has blessed us all! I'll be praying for you!

  14. Julie,

    This was an amazing post. Please do not think for a minute that your music is anything but moving, inspirational, entertaining, and best of all...FUN!!! I've loved it from your first release and truly look forward to your new album. Having Renee in my life for many years, I know the kind of support you have in your friends. It seems you have a wonderful family support system too, and that will always help you through personal and professional strife. Keep your head up, you are beautiful!

  15. Beautiful post. Your vulnerability, authenticity, and honesty is stunning. I loved Men & Mascara, it put brought to the surface what I was feeling though college heartbreak. I also ave always LOVED the album cover (proof - http://hdub996.wordpress.com/2008/12/15/1215of-the-day/)

    Can't wait to hear the new stuff.

  16. Hey Julie! Just read your post and I'm so encouraged by your positive outlook on your MS diagnosis. HE is truly our rock and shield as we walk through the trials and triumphs of MS, isn't He?

    My first MS symptoms reared their very ugly head in Sept 2006, when I was 39 years old. Over the course of a week, I totally lost my ability to walk. I seemed to be "stuck" that way and doctor's gave me little hope of recovery. It was at that point, that I tried a very benign and not widely known medication called "Low Dose Naltrexone" (LDN) Within 3 days I regained my ability to walk and began my journey to recovery. I've still experience MS symptoms and will relapse from time to time, but for the most part I can live a totally normal life. I praise the Lord for His gift to me!

    I wanted you to be aware of this medication, so you can check it out for yourself. It has been nothing but a blessing to me. You will find that LDN coincides with your desire to battle MS with a healthy lifestyle because LDN has no side effects and it is plant-based. I feel that it is truly a miracle drug for so many of us who struggle with MS. Here is a link to website so you can learn more.... http://www.lowdosenaltrexone.org/

    Wishing you the best on your new album (looking forward to it too!)

  17. Hi Julie,

    As a young woman who was also recently diagnosed with MS, I just wanted to leave a note here to express my support for you. I have created my own blog to help myself and friends better understand this disease and what it means to live with it: www.missmultiplesclerosis.com If you'd ever consider a guest post I would be honored!

    Your music and positive attitude are such an inspiration.

    Looking forward to your new album,

    Miss MS

  18. Julie, your struggles will make you stronger. Never EVER doubt that you can sing and remember, no matter how many records someone else sells, no matter whose career you envy (and let's face it we all have that green monster), nothing anyone else says or does can invalidate what you do, if you do your best. I'm a guitar-player and bandleader, and for years, I lived in fear that the big shots I knew (you know some of them too) didn't respect me because I'm just a weekend warrior. But one evening about 11 years ago, one big shot called me up onstage, WITHOUT KNOWING IF I COULD PLAY, and turned an entire song over to me. I am thankful it was a song i'd played many many times, in that arrangement, because it was like falling off a log but the aforementioned big shot did not know that. I could have trainwrecked his gig. Thankfully I didn't, and he and I have become very good friends. Since then, I have gained the confidence that eluded me for so many years, with help from many people we both know. If you ever get to California and need a guitarist, I volunteer. :-)

  19. Julie,
    It takes an incredible person to share everything that you have shared with your fans. I admire your faith and I know that God will give you all the strength you need to get throught this. Medicine and staying positive will also surely help. You were meant to sing and I know that you will never let anything get in the way of your dreams. You speak to people everywhere and positively impact their lives each and every day. I hope you know that you really do make a difference. Never doubt your abilities. You are amazing! Thank you for being who you are.