Friday, September 14, 2012

Interview: Christa Black

I am so excited to do my FIRST interview on my blog in a VERY LONG TIME today.

I get the distinct privilege of helping you get to know the super awesome Christa Black just a little bit better today! Her book, God Loves Ugly, and Love Makes Beautiful released this month, and when I was approached to host an interview with her, my response was something like, "HECK YEAH!" Obviously I was a bit more professional in my email reply....

Christa has done such cool things in her life like tour with the Jonas Brothers, Michael W Smith, and others, as well as written some amazing songs!

She also has a pretty cool name too... just spelled wrong. HA!

Okay, I'll stop gushing now. 

Without further adu...

K: God loves Ugly... and love makes beautiful. As a kid who had a HUGE issue with thinking she was ugly (picture overweight, thick glasses, tooth gap, hand-me-down clothes from my sisters that were cool 4 years prior....) this title absolutely intrigues me. What's the story behind such a powerful title?

C: Oh girl, I was right there with you on the ugly kid perception, except I was rail thin, red hair, freckles, with knobby knees.  Not the picture of the blond cheerleader beauties I saw around me growing up in Texas!

I found, however, that the lens I saw myself through wasn’t just about my reflection.  It was about a heart that believed it was truly unlovable.  My very first memory of life outside the home was sexual, so every time I looked in the mirror, all I could see were all the horrible things that had been done to me.  It wouldn’t have mattered if I had looked like Angelina Jolie--I believed I was far too shameful to be worthy of love, so ugly was all I ever saw.

Beauty isn’t just a reflection issue.  It’s a perception issue.   

This led to years of addictions, depression, eating disorders, perfectionism, control--anything to fill and numb a heart that was in constant pain.  It wasn’t until I began allowing the medicine of God’s unconditional love into the shameful places of my heart, healing me with grace, that the fruit of my life began to change.  

When you know you’re loved, you look in the mirror and see someone worthy of love.  Now, I see more and more beauty every single day!

K: Wow! You have an amazing story, Christa! I think that line, "Beauty isn't just a reflection issue. it's a perception issue." is just completely amazing and so very correct! 

Next question: I'm a fan of dreams. Not the crazy ones in the night that you wake up and leave you thinking, "I really need to lay off the Mexican food or something..." but the "Someday I want to ______" kind. 

You have a fabulous career, a great guy by your side, and now a book out. LOTS of dreams come true, I would imagine. So... how would you finish this sentence now? "Wow, wouldn't it be cool to someday __________?"

C: Be the next Oprah!!  (YEP, I SAID IT!)  

Every time I would watch Oprah, I’d bawl like a little baby.  She was always doing things so close to the heart of God--helping broken families, funding orphanages, and pulling out the best in people as she interviewed them.  I think it would be so fabulous to have a show someday that just restores, heals, and brings hope!

K: You'd make a FANTASTIC Oprah! 

Okay. So, I know everyone goes ga-ga over the fact that you toured with the Jonas Brothers. I, personally, think it's more cool that you worked with Michael W Smith. I guess that makes me old??? (No offense Michael....) What was the coolest thing about being on tour with such big names? Any fun behind-the-scenes stories to share?

C: Touring with the Jonas Brothers was like getting sucked up into the biggest tornado you’ve ever seen and just holding on for the ride.  It was fun, and fast, and crazy and I’m SO glad I did it, but I don’t think I could ever do it again.  Every city we went to, there would be hundreds of girls camped outside of our hotels, banging on our vans and shaking the buses.  One time while in Mexico city, a girl pushed her way into my hotel room screaming, “Neeeeiick!  Neeeeick!!!  Where are you, Neeeeeick??”  After physically picking her up and placing her back outside, I looked at her and said, “I mean, come on.  Do you think I have him hidden under my mattress or something??”  It was definitely an adventure, and one I’ll always be glad I took.

Smitty (or Michael W. Smith) is way more than just a boss.  He hired me out of NYC, so when we’d have days off in between touring, he would just bring me home to live with his family in Franklin, TN.  In fact, I was just a bridesmaid in his youngest daughters wedding on Saturday!  His girls are the sisters I never had, his sons are my little brothers, and his wife Debbie is literally the kindest, most servant-hearted woman I’ve ever met.  I adore that family, and they’re even more amazing than you might imagine.

My favorite Smitty story was during a show somewhere in Australia.  It was the beginning of the last song, the lights dimmed, the music intro began, and all of a sudden, someone began hopping past me on the stage out towards Smitty.  I looked down, and Nick Vujicic (who wrote the amazing book Life Without Limits) had been pushed onto the stage and was hopping up and down with a DVD in his mouth next to Michael!  (For those of you who don’t know, Nick was born without arms or legs).  We all danced around during that last song “I Am Free” with Nick just hopping around with us!

Touring the world with amazing people for the past 11 years has been the greatest privilege a girl could ever ask for!

K:  Okay, the girl in the hotel room... that is HILARIOUS. And how fun that Smitty and family welcomed you so wholeheartedly! Debbie IS a sweet lady... I met her a few times when we went to church at New River Fellowship (although it's been a few years, so I'm certain she'd have no clue who I am now, ha!

I just took a peek at the song-titles that you wrote. OH MY GOODNESS! Those are some amazing songs that I've sang in worship many times and LOVE! If you had to pick one, which would be your favorite? (Okay, you can pick two if you are really indecisive!) 

C: I think my favorite song is definitely One Thing Remains.  Years ago, Jeremy Riddle, Brian Johnson and I started a songwriting group together while living in Redding, California.  We were just 3 friends who loved to worship and wanted to write great songs to lead on Sunday.  We’d all been radically impacted by the truth that God’s love never runs out--no matter what we’ve done or are currently doing.  His love never gives up on us becoming the best we can be.  And in death and in life, we were absolutely confident and covered by this violent, radical, neverending love.  When I started getting tweets that 40,000 people were singing our song at Passion this last year, I just lost it.  All we wanted to do was write a song that led people into an encounter with that radical love, and it was happening.  A truly humbling experience.

And then, of course, I love God Loves Ugly because it’s simply my testimony.  When I wrote it and Jordin Sparks called asking to cut it, she said, “Christa, this isn’t just your story.  It’s my story and the story of so many people who don’t believe they’re worthy of love.”  I believe that listeners can be led into the same experience I was having when I was writing that song, and have watched thousands of people ‘get it’ while hearing that God truly does love the ugly places of their lives, and continues to love them until beauty rises from the ashes!
K: Amazing songs, Christa! Well done!

So... my husband is a songwriter (in the book business we'd call him unpublished... not sure what title that is in the music biz besides a-dime-a-dozen) What advice would you give him--er-- someone who wanted to break into the music industry? *wink* 

C: Be faithful with what’s in your hand.  I didn’t even try to push my way into the industry.  I began writing songs in treatment for my eating disorder as therapy, a publisher heard the songs through a friend, and I found myself in Nashville with a deal!  Now, the deal was terrible and I didn’t take it, but it got me to Nashville, where I got my first gig with Jennifer Knapp after playing violin in church one Sunday.

There’s no map, there’s no formula.  Be faithful with the talents that you have wherever you can.  If that means in your little hometown church, then do it with all your heart.  If that means at your local coffee shop with 3 people, sing your guts out.  James 4:10 says to “Humble yourself before the Lord and HE will lift you up.”  So many people try so hard to exalt themselves, but when you’re faithful with what’s in your hand, when you’re seeking to serve and love the people around you, God will open doors that no man could have ever opened.  

You might not find yourself on tour with The Jonas Brothers, but the success of God is measured much differently than the success of man.  Be faithful with the ONE.  Be faithful with the people in front of you right now.  Find contentment and joy in releasing what God has given you, and leave it up to HIM to promote in due time!  

(And you get rest and relationship and peace and joy in the journey!)

K: FABULOUS advice!!! One us "book writers" can take to heart as well.

I make it no secret that I'm a romantic at heart (thus the reason I write Christian romance... it works, huh!) I have it on good authority (your website...) that you're married to a fantastic guy. Care to share your real life romance story with us? How did you all meet? Was it love at first sight?

C: I was driving with Smitty to the airport one day, and he was about to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary with Deb.  I said to him, “Smitty, love at first sight stories don’t happen anymore, like you and Deb.”  I wanted them to, but I didn’t believe they did.

The next day, I walked into my favorite coffee shop, Fido, and there sat a hunky guy couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off of me.  We had a lot of mutual friends, shook hands in introduction, and then both of us got extremely awkward as he packed up his stuff, jumped on his motorcycle and sped away.  

I found out later that when he shook my hand that day, he knew.  He left and immediately made two phone calls, one to his best friend and the other to his mom.  He let them know they needed to start praying, because he had just met the girl he was going to spend the rest of his life with. (:

Studhubs, as I like to call him, continues to blow me away every single day.  We just had our first son, Moses Grae Lionheart, who is now my Studbub.  My life is just full of Studs and I wouldn’t have it any other way!  

K: Studhub and Studbub... LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Your life is full of studs... mine is full of a prince and a whole bunch of princesses. :-) 

CONGRATS on your first little one! I LOVE BABIES... (thus the reason I had 5 of them...)

And what a fabulous story! 

THANKS so much for letting me pick your brain and for sharing your heart, Christa. It was a blessing and an honor!

Discussion: What are some places God has healed in your life?


Answer the question, "Wow, wouldn't it be cool to someday ___________________?" 

Christa Black is a popular blogger, speaker, and singer-songwriter whose songs have been recorded by multi-platinum-selling artists Jordin Sparks and Michael W. Smith.  She has toured with The Jonas Brothers, Michael W. Smith, and Israel Houghton.  After years of battling depression, addiction, and a chronically broken spirit, Christa was radically shaken by a God who truly loves ugly.  She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and son.  God Loves Ugly is her first book and corresponds with her CD, God Loves Ugly. Visit Christa’s site to learn more and read the first chapter!


Jessica Nelson said...

Okay...WOWOWOW, what an amazing, beautiful interview! I don't know much about songwriting but I love to sing and am so thankful for people like her who lay their heart down to music for us. I just loved everything about this. Great questions and great answers. Thanks, ladies!

Vijesh said...

Good interview, I remember I saw you playing violin in Michael.W Smith album. I loved the word Hope placed at the side of the blog too.

Cori said...

I am reading this book right now and am honestly having a hard time getting through it...mostly because it's REALLY hitting home with me right now.

Krista Phillips said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jessica! I'm not a singer OR a songwriter, but I still LOVE a good song:-)

Krista Phillips said...

I've heard Christa playing with Smitty too... FABULOUS, she was:-)

Krista Phillips said...

Cori, I'm right there with ya, girl!

Jessica said...

Great interview. She seems like a really sweet lady. I have meet Nick Vuijick and he is a really cool guy. Her book sounds interesting. I am going to check it out. Thanks for this interview again, it was really fun to read! and I can relate to some of the things she has struggled with.