I did it. I put in my notice at work to make this happen for real.
I'm leaving the comforts of security and for the first time in my life I'm committing myself 100% to music and storytelling.
At the age of 25 (almost 26...) I can confidently say that the Lord has given me a voice that's meant to sing and a heart to share stories.
Before I would say it being pretty sure but not confident in it. I questioned why I felt what I felt. If you've been following my journey for a while, you'll know that music has always been a part of my path. Circumstantially, I wasn't in a position where I could fully commit because I worried too much about the inconsistency of income. After I graduated high school, I moved out for college from my mom & never went back - a single parent dance teacher, with her income the best I could do to help her was take care of myself so I wouldn't burden her.
"...I was living just to work..."
I worked a ton of odd jobs from being a hostess, tutor, ice cream scooper, retail, etc.. while keeping up with YouTube and performing at gigs. At one point I was working as a hostess, I'd leave that shift to work at my retail gig, and switch every other day with working at a cafe. Then I'd have to play around with my schedule(s) if I had booked a gig where I would have to leave on the weekend, and start over again that Monday. It just got extremely exhausting...even disheartening. I couldn't keep up anymore. I worked just to survive - felt like I was living just to work, and I wasn't creating enough content with the time I had left that could help me get to the next level.. What could I do when I had to pay for my student loans, my bills, my car, and rent? My mom was still living in the bay but I thought LA was where I had to be at to stay relevant. That's where I had the most musical connections and a support system. From there I moved to Korea for some time due to another music opportunity, reunited with my father after 10 years where a lot of forgiveness and healing happened, then a new door opened.
"... the more I devoted my time into the workplace, the less I heard the music."
I'm in Atlanta now. I'm going onto two years and I now consider this my 3rd home (1st the bay, 2nd socal) I never would've THUNK that I'd end up here. I'm married to the coolest guy who pushes me more than anyone to be my best, yet accepts me just as I am, and I have the best dog who I consider my son (currently curled up next to me.)
I got plugged into finding a community by working at lululemon athletica, where everyone gets their favorite stretchy pants, for over a year. At one point I was going to lock it in as my forever gig. "I could see myself growing with this company," I said to myself. Good vibes, hard working team that's now become family, and they constantly push you to pursue your vision and goals. I started to restructure my vision and goals with this new idea of what I was meant to do. All my musical aspirations I had been working towards prior was getting compromised. I thought, "This could make me happy." I was getting a regular paycheck, flexible enough to do shows every once in a while, but the more I devoted my time into the workplace, the less I could hear the music. I barely recorded music and as much as I told myself I was a writer, I had no inspiration to write songs.
"... I cried out to God earnestly about all my worries and He told me to worry no more."
This is where God stopped me at my tracks and gave me this awesome opportunity to take part in season 8 of The Voice. It all happened all of a sudden, but He used it to take me from my comfort zone and threw me into what I had been missing. He surrounded me with other musicians who had big dreams and voices causing me to face the truth: This was my heart's true desire. He used my voice my whole life to lead me through life, even to Him, and I was squandering it because of my own fears. I was scared of failing, scared of looking like a fool, scared of being financially ruined.. I cried out to God earnestly about all my worries and He told me to worry no more. In the end, regardless of no chair turns, I was enlightened. I knew it was not the end for me, but the beginning.
"When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; He brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" - Psalm 118:5-6
Ever since I was a kid, I always knew I wanted to be a singer who performed on stage and traveled the world. I just didn't believe that it could really happen for me. Both of my parents were artists who struggled and were ultimately crushed when everything didn't work out the way they planned. Their identities were bound so tightly with their work that it's what defined them. But for some reason I just couldn't stay away from music. I sang at every talent show opportunity, sang in jazz bands, performed in musicals, and on a whim began posting videos on YouTube which led to this career. With my supporters/fans growing through it, God used beautiful souls to encourage me. I still couldn't wrap my head around it and doubted what I had. How could I really make this work? I'm not the ultimate vocalist. I can't accompany myself on guitar like John Mayer. I don't look the part - whether it be that I'm Asian-American or that I'm not thin or pretty enough. How can I actually believe that this will work for me if I don't fit the standard? Lightbulb - because it's not completely up to me. I put in the work, but the Lord has already taken care of all of it.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." - Jeremiah 29:11-13
"I know that it is not what I DO but what He has already done for me. "
My confidence is in my God, but I pray that no one confuses it with arrogance. I know that it is not what I DO but what He has already done for me. Have you noticed I haven't uploaded a single video of music in the past few months? Well, God provided me with a gig last month at Harvard, this month in Colorado, and next month in Massachusetts - despite what I did or did not do. I asked Him to make it clear to me what He wanted me to do, and He's been trying to show me all along! It was my own lack of faith that caused fear to imprison me.
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26
I am pursuing a music career in faith that He will use me through it for His glory and not mine. I will finally be spending this time in my life engulfing in my art and truly working on my craft.
"This is my leap of faith..."
After my Massachusetts gig next month, I don't have any promised income or potential gig lined up. This is my leap of faith; that as I devote myself to songwriting and performing, that it will all work out.
Will you be a part of my story and be a patron?
This is where I ask you to check out my Patreon page in hopes that you'll become a patron of my art. Through my music and this blog I'll be keeping you up to date on this lifelong journey and if it's in your heart at all to be a part of it, it would be freaking amazing. Will you be a part of my story and be a patron?
Patreon is much like funding campaigns like kickstarter or gofundme, but instead of a specific project, it is a continuous funding for artists. Arts patronage historically was a way of income for musicians and artists where patrons of the arts would provide financial support as clients. Through it you could be a patron for $1 per work I upload/write up and even cap it per month.
Click the picture to head to my Patreon page:
Here's an extremely transparent breakdown of my financial goals:
As of now as I write this blog post, I have 9 patrons adding up to $59/per work. To match my average income working retail I would have to make around $1,200 monthly. With my goal to my patrons of 3 videos and 1 blog post a month, I would have to have my Patreon support be around $300/per work amongst however many people, with the assumption I have no shows lined up. Otherwise, I'd have to upload around 21 videos a month assuming no one's capped their support... but that would disallow me from being able to invest in gear (like a new microphone since my old one broke), save up, take vocal lessons, pay other musicians, etc...
I know that it isn't easy for everyone to be patrons financially, but your prayers, spreading the word of my music, purchasing my music on iTunes, or listening to me via Spotify also makes a difference.
My honest prayer - Lord, I am going to devote my life to music. Though the world tells me that this isn't safe or practical let me be reminded that Your love and power knows no bounds. I pray that You will continue to take away my doubts, fears - let not the enemy come between me and Your calling. Keep him away from the good work and music to be made. I pray that the finances will be taken care of so seamlessly that I may bless others and organizations in Your name. Please use my voice and music to help others and not just myself; let my life be a living testimony that lives can be changed and obstacles can be conquered.
Thank you so much for reading all of this, whoever you are.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8
Photo Credit: Ben Rollins