My close friends have always referred to me as a “free spirit.” Not in terms of acting irresponsibly (although we all have our moments), but because I’ve never allowed myself to be bogged down by unfortunate circumstances or lack of support. Cliché as it may be, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” and I’ve always told myself that there was no reason to give up what I loved for reasons the outside world imposed upon me. Even through times of discouragement. Even when it seemed like I’d hit the end of the road. For the most part. I attribute my own driving force to music, but the question I definitely get asked the most is, “What keeps you going?”
It’s not to say that I don’t have those moments of uncertainty (which any relatively sane person will occasionally have). But with disappointment and frustration comes the opportunity to try again, with the chance to exceed even your own expectations. It presents a challenge to rise to, and opens the door for a new kind of determination to form. Maybe it’s a self-defense mechanism, maybe it’s a learned reaction, or maybe, for me, it’s just my own stubborn nature keeping me afloat. Or maybe it’s something else entirely.
I was reminded of the extent of this determination a few days ago as I sat in the green room at a TV station. With about half an hour left to relax before my interview and performance, I settled into the fluffiest, comfiest chair I could find, and savored my regular mug of hot chamomile tea. A young woman walked in and offered me more tea, which then turned into her voiced curiosity in regards to my progression as an artist. The conversation moved from the growing success of my single “Magic,” to the instruments I played, to the songs I’ve written and who I’ve worked with, and finally, to what life was like as a young teenager in Ohio.
“Wow, your parents must have been loaded! They let you move all the way to New York … I mean, all the money they must have spent on recording your demos and your lessons and getting you an apartment in New York, I mean, wow, you are so lucky! What did they do for a living, to make all that money?”
I cringed on the inside, but smiled for a moment in silence once she finished her excited rant. She gave me a quizzical look when I didn’t immediately respond, and at that moment, someone rushed in to tell me it was time to leave the green room to start my interview. The only words I managed to say to the young woman before I was hurried out of the room were, “WHAT money?”
Those two words were the most accurate response I could have come up with. I had the love of my family (though they didn’t understand my drive at first) and I had my love of music. Other than that, back then I was on my own.
Granted, I’m sure it would have been an easier journey for me if the young woman’s assumptions had been true. However, in that case, I doubt that I would have appreciated the culmination of my efforts and dreams as much as I do. Every small step is a leap forward, and I would hold on tight until I could take another step. Now, there were always obstacles on the outside, but I knew I couldn’t let them break in. It’s that driving force, that determination, that love.
Even when it seemed like no one believed in me and I didn’t have a cent to my name, it was there. And from there, my music and I grew, together. We grew, and learned, and found our way to the very people I create for. People began to take notice of this love, this determination, and those who supported me stood strong and grew with me. My fans, my friends, my family, my “guardian angels”… These are the people that inspire me to create, who love what I do, who stand up for me in the same way I stand for them. We’re growing together.
I can safely say that The Beatles weren’t kidding with “All You Need is Love.” Or, at the very least, love is where it starts.
That’s what keeps me going, anyways.