By: Rihanna Teixeira
Growing up, we all have big dreams. If you ask a classroom of kindergartners what they want to be when they grow up, you’ll hear answers ranging from astronauts, to doctors, to actors, and teachers. We are born with an internal desire to be and do something great. For me the stage was all I dreamed about.
At the age of six, I discovered my mom’s Amy Grant records (yes, records) and began playing them on repeat. Songs like El Shaddai, Sing Your Praise to the Lord, and Father’s Eyes became my anthem and my family quickly caught on that I had an obsession. Night after night, I would literally spend hours in my room with the music blasting, pretending that I was singing on a large stage, and everyone in the audience was there to see me. Becoming a singer quickly became a focus in my life and at eight years old, my parents finally allowed me to pursue it.
I spent a lot of my time singing and performing at events and in choirs. As I became a teenager, I was a force to be reckoned with. I had no fear in calling and asking random event planners if I could sing at their event. I offered up my talent to anyone who seemed interested. It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I felt like my dreams were finally becoming a reality. I was in Los Angeles for a singing competition and was approached by a man in a shiny suit who claimed that he could make all my dreams come true. My mother and I drove to his office and from there he schmoozed us with a fancy dinner and conversation filled with names of Hollywood big-shots. Before I knew it, I was recording my first demo at Paramount studios; the experience was surreal.
One thing led to another and I found myself on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia to record with a Grammy award-winning producer. This time, I didn’t have my mother, or anyone for that matter, with me. I still remember the fear that overtook me as I stepped off the plane and realized that I would be alone for the next few weeks in a city I knew nothing about. It was during this trip that my voice began to disappear. I remember trying to speak up during the writing sessions if I didn’t like an idea, and I would be quickly shut down. The producer would mock me saying, “I just wrote Mariah’s new album and it’s number one. Do you really think I don’t know what I’m doing?” I ended up recording three songs with him, all of which I hated.
My voice was no longer my own.
Looking back, I realize that what I really needed was support. A ministry like RYFO could have saved me from a lot of anxiety and fear that I was facing alone. I needed someone to process with or just vent to. RYFO’s Host Homes have an amazing opportunity to really speak life back into the areas of musicians lives that may be shut down. I encourage you readers that aren’t part of RYFO’s ministry to consider becoming a host home. In doing so, you could be the one who prevents a musician from losing their voice.
You Aren’t Good Enough
By: Rihanna Teixeira
Rejection. It just might be one of the most emotionally catastrophic life experiences we all face. As children, our peers reject us when they won’t let us sit with them at the lunch table. We go home and cry into the arms of our parents as they do their best to patch us back up. As teenagers, rejection rears its ugly head when our crush goes with someone else to the school dance or when we don’t get chosen for the team we spent years dreaming of being on. Unfortunately, even adults can’t outrun the occasional rejection. We don’t get the job we interviewed for or the promotion we’ve spent years working towards. Rejection hurts. Badly.
Now, imagine facing rejection anywhere from 1-4 times a week for years on end. Imagine working 80 plus hours a week with zero to little pay and having to live off ramen and dollar menu items. Imagine having to hear that you’re not good enough and that you’re wasting your life away from friends and even family members. If you imagined all those things, you might just have a taste of what it feels like to be a musician.
Chasing your dreams is hard. So much so, that the majority of Americans stop pursuing their dreams and settle for a typical office job by the age of 23. The daily grind of actually actively pursuing a dream takes an emotional toll on a person, particularly for artists. Musicians spend hours of their time creating music. They sacrifice sleep, time with family, and nights out with friends just to give life to a song that they carry within them. They sing at open mic nights to an audience of maybe 10, while dreaming of singing at a stadium. They get denied by agents and managers who tell them that their songs aren’t good enough. Their appearance isn’t marketable. Their voice needs more work. They are faced daily with the chance that all this work may quite possibly lead to nothing. Yet, they keep going. They sleep and travel in that stereotypical “band-van” that might not make it to their next destination. They give their all at every singing event despite the terrible sound system or audience turn out. They pour their hearts out into every song knowing that the general public will have the opportunity to tell them that they aren’t good enough.
One of the many reasons I love RYFO is because it was started by two guys who experienced what it was like to chase a dream. They realized that musicians don’t have to walk this path alone, if they can help it. They understood the power of offering an aspiring band a hot meal and a warm bed to sleep in even if it’s just for one night. They decided that a “fan” can be so much more than just a consumer. A fan can actually stand beside them and actually give back.
So, the next time you go to see your favorite local band play or if you meet an aspiring musician, encourage them. Tell them why you love their music. If you can, offer to buy them dinner. Offer them a place to stay. Tell them that you believe in them. Tell them that they are good enough.