Tell us about your upbringing. Did you come from a really musical family?
Yes, my family is very musically inclined--especially on my Dad's side. The people on my mom's side can all carry tunes and some of them play instruments, so they influenced me as well. We didn't do things like sing together regularly or anything, but we all enjoyed music tremendously.
And you took piano?
I did--for millions of years. I don't think it really taught me much though, because I didn't practice enough.
How old were you when you lost your sight completely?
I think I was about two or a little younger. It was a hereditary condition from my Dad's side of the family, so my parents knew that it was a possibility. The doctors did try and do operations to save what they could, but there just really wasn't any hope for it.
You got your degree in Music Education and thought you were going to be a music teacher. What happened along the way?
Lots of things happened. I didn't get a teaching job, first of all. All my prospective employers freaked out and said, “There's no way we're hiring a blind person!” I wanted to teach, but wasn't sure that I wanted to teach badly enough to move out of the Nashville area to a place where I knew no one. I started applying for just regular administrative assistant jobs and eventually got one that had flexible hours, which is just unheard of. The flexibility gave me the opportunity to go and write music with different writers. It was during this time of craziness that I was introduced to a publisher who took an interest in my music. He decided to sign me as a writer and then proceeded to introduce me to an amazing producer (Monroe Jones) who agreed to produce a demo of three of my songs.
And then that demo eventually found its way into the hands of Rocketown Records?
Yes. After finishing the demo, Monroe gave a copy of it to several of his friends, one of whom was Don Donahue at Rocketown. He called so that we could get together to talk and when I got there I found out that Michael W. Smith was going to be there too! As they say, "The rest is history."
Does songwriting come easily for you?
Yes and no. I'm one of those people who labors over songs for three or four months sometimes. I don't like to do anything slowly; I'm pretty impatient. But I just keep working on it until I can get it to where I want it. The first single, "Free" is a song that I wrote in an hour, which is a record-breaking thing for me. It was a concept that had been in my mind for months, and I didn't know exactly how to express it. I really think that the Lord gave me the words. So in that sense I guess I do have a creative side that finds that writing comes easily, but I rarely feel that.
Have you heard people comparing your music to anyone in particular?
They say my lyrics are like a female Chris Rice, which is a huge compliment to me. I'm all over that. A lot of people say that I sound like Sarah McLachlan or Shawn Colvin. You know, the folk/pop style.
Did you ever in your wildest dreams think you'd be doing this?
No. I could have never imagined this. It's neat to think about the valleys and the fires that have taken place in my life in the last few years that have prepared me for this. Because it's not something I expected, it's something that I don't take for granted. I realize that it could go away tomorrow, and that's really okay. There've been stress points, of course, but I pray that I'll be able to enjoy each moment anyway. And even if my musical career lasts a long time, you only make your first record once. It's been a great deal of fun.