Jaci Velasquez: Well, the whole approach was different for this record. One, I was pregnant during the time I was writing for the record and recording the record and I'm now married [to my husband] Nic, so that changed things immensely. After having a son and being pregnant with him and everything, my perspective on humanity changed in every way possible. I've been a Christian since I was five years old, and I've been a pastor's kid the entire time, and I've always been in the church. So I've always heard "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" and all of those core values to Christianity and being a believer. But I think after having [my son] Zealand, it's changed even more. Missions seem so much more important and relevant than they ever were. But not just missions. I'm talking about seeing people in a different way and knowing that you're someone's child. To me now, everybody seems like they could be Zealand. I was watching a movie the other night with Nic. Zealand went to sleep, and we were up watching a movie, and it got violent at one point. Somebody was hurting somebody else. It grieved me in such a giant way. And I'm not a weird, over-the-top, Bible-thumper kind of Christian. I can handle just about everything, but after having Zealand, it changed me. When I saw this person getting hurt, and it was just a movie, it was fiction, I just thought 'if that ever happened to my son, I would go crazy. I would die and I would just go crazy.' And I think that this record is about those kinds of feelings that I have towards humanity. When I'm driving down the road and I see somebody that's having a problem, I just have a love for people in a different way than I've never had. I see them in such a different way. I want to make sure that I'm always a good picture of the light that God has put in me. We're his hands, we're his feet here on this Earth, and that's what we're called to be. It's very easy to take that lightly, but we can't take it lightly. It's not just in missions work that you can make a change. You can make a change right now, right here. Just to be engaged and be a listener…people don't do that enough. I don't do that enough. So Love Out Loud was kind of my call to action for us as believers and me personally as a believer. I had that baby in my stomach and was like "I gotta make sure that all the children in the world have shoes" and "I gotta make sure that if anyone's ever sick that they have a fighting chance." Because that could be Zealand. What I don't think people realize is that when you're pregnant and you have a baby, it's like suddenly your eyes open to God. It's like you're able to hear His voice closer and more sensitive than ever before. When Zealand was in my tummy, things affected me in such a deeper way. He's [Zealand] taught me more about life and love and God than I'll probably ever be able to teach him. And he's only five and a half months old. It puts things in perspective for sure, and that's what Love Out Loud is about. It's about healing and restoration and grace and how truly life is like a vapor. It comes and then it's gone so quick.
Jaci: You don't have to say a while back. It was forever ago. *laughs* And I feel it. If we're just gonna be honest here, I was 15 years old when I recorded Heavenly Place. You look at the messages on the record and I was listening to it one day. I was listening to "If This World." It goes "If this world is a lonely place for you/ Fall into the arms of love." At the time, I don't think I'd experienced anything so heavy that I felt completely lost and alone in the world. Now, I'm 28 years old, and I've been through a lot of personal life turmoil. I've been through some really deep valleys. I have a story to tell, whereas at the time when I made Heavenly Place, I was 15 years old. Like the song "On My Knees," I really didn't understand what it meant. I really didn't have any idea what it meant. I was so young and naïve. Now I'm 28 and I went through a few real tough years. I like to say that I accidentally got married when I was 23 and one year later, I intentionally got divorced. The thing was, my parents divorced when I was 19. I promised myself that I would never be like them.
Jaci: It was so late. The truth is, you get so used to life with your parents being together that it's almost harder when you're older for them to split up because it's like a death in the family, except everyone's still alive. But it's that same kind of pain. I promised myself that I'd never be like them. God had a different plan. The truth is, Jesus has His hand in everything…all things. So it takes a longer road to get there. I said this earlier today, and I don't think the guy understood what I was saying, but in the 13 years that I've been doing music professionally, I've made a lot of bad choices professionally and personally that people applauded me for. And I made a lot of bad choices personally and professionally that I was the only person that applauded for them. But you know what? If all those choices mean that I get to be back where I am right now and I'd end up here, then I'd go through it all over again. And I'd probably make the same choices. So it's not regrets. It's "Gosh, I wish I could've taken an easier road to get to this point." But for some of us, it takes a longer road. I learned that, and that's what the record is about too. I took the stories of what I've experienced in the past five years, and it was just my opportunity to let people know that they're not alone. Sometimes Christian music can be a little bit like "Let me just tell you the good stuff, let me tell you the promises, and we'll leave out the other stuff." But the realistic thing about Christianity is that's not realistic. It's not like that by becoming a believer suddenly means your life is gonna work and everything's gonna work and everything's gonna be perfect. In fact, you're gonna get hit much harder than you would if you weren't a believer. I feel like with this record I wanted to let people know that they're not alone. Just because you're a believer doesn't mean you're gonna have everything figured out all the time. I feel like when things were happening during my personal life that there was this big scarlet letter on my chest and everyone was like "Whoa! Don't get near her." What we need to do with each other, because we're believers and because we're called to love each other, is love each other even more in those situations and be an ear that bends and love each other through things. Because, why else are we here? What else is it all for? We're here to be a light for Jesus and to be His light.
Jaci: Well, there are certain songs that are my favorite for certain reasons. One of my favorites is "Likely Story," because when Nic and I started dating, before we got married, I was still struggling with some guilt. I felt damaged. I had saved myself until marriage the first time, and I did it the right way, just like the good little Christian girl does. And then that ended, and I kind of felt used up. I felt damaged. Here was this great guy who treated me like a princess. We dated years ago, and now we're back together, and [Nic] was this great guy who loved God and feared God and who loved me. And I just felt like I wasn't good enough. So he would tell me "I want to marry you, I love you, I want to make a life with you." And I was constantly going "C'mon, really? You're just telling me what I want to hear. It was a likely story, so those were the feelings I had with that situation. God healed me and restored me of those feelings, and reminded me that "Jaci, you're beautiful, you were beauty from ashes. There is nothing wrong with you. I'm proud of you. You're my girl."
There are songs like "It's Not You It's Me." That's a really vital song for this record as well. This is a song about my dad. When my parents got divorced, I held a lot of unforgiveness towards my dad for a lot of years. I just felt really hurt by him. And after I'd gone through everything in my own life, I remembered I was talking to somebody and my feelings were "Why doesn't anybody have grace for me? We're Christians; we're supposed to have more grace than anybody else." I made a mistake and I'm glad that I'm not in that situation anymore. I couldn't stay living in a household where I was the only one who believed in God. I couldn't do it. So what God taught me through all of that was 'you're saying you wish other people had grace for you, but what about your grace for others?' My dad - he was my father. How could I go on living with no grace for my own father? That is like…insane! And I felt hypocritical after God taught me that. I felt truly hypocritical. And I realized 'how can people have grace for me when I don't have grace for them not having grace for me?' That's what I learned from all of it, and I know it sounds crazy. So in the song, the lyrics are "I gotta forgive/ I gotta let go/ Cause I am the only one I can control." And that's true. We talk about forgiveness all the time. It's a cornerstone of our belief system, our faith. And we have to forgive each other. We have to let things go. We've gotta move on. And you know what? The only way that we're gonna be able to do those things is by me doing it. Me starting with me. I'm the only one I can control. So that's one of my favorites as well and "Jesus (The Way)" is basically my worship song on the record. There are a few, but this is kind of a cornerstone for me as well.
"Jesus (The Way)" is taken from John 14:6 ("I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father except through me"). The song is basically about being clay in His hands and letting Him mold you into His masterpiece with all of our faults, with all of our sins, with all of our guilt, and laying it at His feet and saying "Here I am." And He does create beauty. He sees the beauty in us. It's only with Him that we can get back onto the path to Him. The lyrics actually say this: "Often I am shaken by Your love/ Oh it releases me from the bondage of my sin/ And through the cross adopted by Your grace/ You'll never turn your face." So the record is, once again, about restoration and healing and grace. The main thing for me is that I just want people to know that they're not alone no matter what their story is. And truthfully, my story is not that unique. I think our divorce rate is higher in the church than it is in the world, by like 10 percent. For me, I'm kind of looking at it and going "I know that I'm not alone. I know that I'm not really that unique at all." I'm thinking that maybe the record could help other people see the light at the end of the tunnel and when you wake up tomorrow, be happy, and know that God is always with you. Even when it feels like you're all alone in the world, and you're yelling in the middle of a crowded room and no one can hear you, He's always there. It's us that go in different directions, not Him.
Jaci: Well, you know, originally I created A'postrophe to house other artists always with the intention to maybe one day put my own records on there. And the other artists have gone different directions. And that was the main thing for me. I wanted to make a label that was artist friendly, and you know what? If you want to go a different direction, go. I get what it feels like to be tied and feel like "Oh, great, now I've gotta stay here forever and they won't let me do anything I want to do." I've been in that situation and I never want an artist to feel bitter or feel that weirdness towards me and towards the label. So when they went in a different direction, I was totally happy and fine and I totally wish them well. So when the opportunity came for me to do my record, I of course wanted to put it on my label. What I've learned is that it's actually a lot of work. Having your own label and doing everything independently is a lot of work because basically you take the brunt of everything. You take the hit work-wise and financially. If you make decisions that are not good decisions business-wise, the only one it affects is you. It's hard work, but it's great. When you're your own boss, it's hard. But, it's very rewarding when it works well.
Jaci: Right, and it takes your core people around you to be like "Look, you got it" to kind of put you at peace.
Jaci: It's true. We have to be at peace in the choices that we make. Because we can't go back and rewind time.
Jaci: *laughter* I'VE tried! If I could have never done that movie, I wouldn't have done that...
Jaci: Actually, that's what I'm working towards right now. I've gotten the question before "Do you like singing in English or singing in Spanish?" The truth is, I love speaking in English because I feel more comfortable because it's my first language. But I like the passion that the Spanish language brings to music. It's not that I like singing in Spanish better than English, but I just kind of like the singer that I've become when I sing in Spanish. So I will always do Latin music. I took a break from music as a whole for a while, but now with the release of Love Out Loud, I'm working towards the release of a Spanish record again. And hopefully I won't even stop at Spanish. I'm learning French right now and I'm learning Portuguese.
Jaci: Actually, I'm gonna start on that as well.
Jaci: Yeah. It's really important to me to be able to sing in different languages and to maybe teach my son different languages. I don't know, we'll see what happens. You never know.
Jaci: Well, actually my first Spanish record was kind of like that. There was some new stuff, but five of the songs were taken from my original English record and my second English record and translated.
Jaci: No, it doesn't always work, actually at all.
Jaci: Um... I'm really thinking about it. I think you just about covered it, hon! [Everyone can visit me online at] Myspace.com/JaciVelasquez and JaciVelasquez.com. Thank you!
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