If you are just getting caught up on your blog reading, we are in the middle of a month of risking here at Lark & Bloom. An Uncomfortable January has been full of stories and thoughts from people who are getting out of their comfort zones and chasing their dreams. ( click here to read them all ) Today, I’m happy to interview Jen Stanbro, a stay-at-home mom turned recording artist.
Describe your dream of being a recording artist? Have you always wanted to do it?
Yes! From the time I was a little girl.
A childhood memory that resonates within me still today is of this time when I was watching one of Mariah Carey’s first ever concerts on TV. She was brand new to the scene so I couldn’t have been more than 7 years old.
I remember listening intently to every note she sang, every little melodic twist and twirl, every colorful vocal nuance. Every detail danced in my ears and all the way to my soul. I was simply and beautifully overwhelmed with appreciation and admiration for the power of music, and at a mere 7 years of age, I was moved to tears.
I wanted to make my own music. I had songs inside me that wanted to shine forth. And I dedicated my time to my craft. I’d sit in my room with my cassette player (did I just date myself?) and practice singers’ vocal riffs till I could sing them. I wasn’t born with as huge a vocal range as some of the crazy amazing singers out there, but I was committed to making the most of what I had.
Although recording my own material has always been a quiet desire, up until recently it was not anything I pursued with any amount of ambition. I just loved to sing…and to write.
What kept you from doing it earlier?
I have always felt brutally uncomfortable with the idea of marketing myself. I’ve tended to avoid anything that would expose me to being rejected by anyone. If no one ever heard my music, no one could criticize my music.
Stepping out to make an album meant displaying my soul-exposed songs for all to hear. The thought of being criticized for self-expressions that are so closely tied to who you are is a scary thing.
Not to mention the other possibility…to be unnoticed (an equally unpleasant form of rejection).
I have this natural attraction to the path of least resistance. Knowing that the pursuit of a recording career could be a very difficult and hurdle-filled road, I was perfectly content settling down and living simple and small.
So up until October 2011 the desire to record got stuffed in a box and buried in some attic corner of my heart, collecting dust.
But as a follower of Jesus Christ I’ve read a great many stories in the Bible where the characters are flawed. I’m grateful for how God in His patience and wisdom allows their flaws to shape their path, while still keeping His providential hand of guidance on their lives.
In my case, as much as my “flaws” kept me from recording in the past, I believe it all worked as it was supposed to and this album was supposed to happen precisely when it did. God gave me the boldness to overcome my fear in the very season I needed it.
At some point, you bit the bullet and just did it. What was the turning point for you?
A great band, Shane & Shane, came to our church to play a concert. We got to hang out with them a bit and I felt this urge in my spirit to share my music with them. For me the thought of sharing my music or talking about myself to them made me want to find someplace to hide. But the feeling was so strong that night, I couldn’t shake it. So after much reluctance on my part, I shared one of my original songs.
Shane & Shane were super gracious and encouraged me to come record at their studio in Texas. I prayed and prayed to see if this was something God wanted me to do…10 months later I was convinced.
To cover the cost, the producer recommended I do a Kickstarter campaign. At the end of my campaign I had raised more money than I would have imagined in 60 days from 200+ donors.
The following month I was on a plane with my family to spend three weeks recording my first full-length album.
After you recorded your first song, what did you feel like?
Quite honestly I felt majorly insecure about my voice. The musicians were so good, I thought for sure listeners were going to say, ” I wish that singer would shut up so I can hear the awesome music behind her”.
But through it all I felt a true sense of purpose. I felt like all the crazy circumstances that had come together were enough to convince me that God had a plan for this music. Who was I to stand in the way with my silly anxieties? So, I pushed through the nerves and made it happen.
And I’m so thankful I did.
What is the main lesson you learned from getting outside your comfort zone and chasing your dreams?
That it is well worth the risk! As scary as it seemed, deep inside I was not willing to be that “path of least resistance” girl anymore. I’ll never go back to living that way again. I don’t want to be driven by or hindered by what other people may or may not think. I want to do the hard things and reap the greater rewards. And if in the process things don’t go as I intend, I’m willing to learn all that I can from it and keep moving forward.
My personal life quest is to shine God’s light, love, and goodness on as much of this world as possible. I hope music will be a platform by which I can serve in greater and more practical ways. In order to live to our fullest potential, I believe getting uncomfortable is inevitable.
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Jen Stanbro is a wife, mom, musician and worship leader, teacher, writer and seeks to be a source of encouragement to everyone around her.
Check out her music and read more about her at JenStanbro.com