Saturday, December 14, 2013

Interview with Singer/Writer Tara Johnson

At the 2012 ACFW conference in Dallas, I sat at a table with a young lady that I immediately fell in love with. She talked of Christ's love and faithfulness and gave me a demo CD of her songs. What a kindness that was. I thanked her but never realized how much that CD would minister through the next year. The title song is "It's a Brand New Day." Talk about encouragement, it's there.

I emailed this lady and asked if I could interview her. She graciously accepted my offer. Help me welcome Tara Johnson to my Writing with God's Hope blog today.


    Tara, when did you know you wanted a career in singing?


   I remember being tucked into my bed at the age of six and daydreaming about what my life would be. I was suddenly struck  with this image: I was looking out from the middle of a well-lit stage, microphone in hand, watching a large crowd listen as I sang. But honestly, as I got older the thought that I could ever be a singer felt ridiculous. For one thing, I didn't think I was that good! I spent high school and the first part of college determined that I wouldn't go into music. As much as I loved it, it didn't provide a very stable income. Instead, I entered the education program...and was miserable. God finally caught my attention and I ended up changing my major to music with emphasis in voice and songwriting. The rest is history!

 
      When did you make your first CD?

   In 2002. It was a custom album a friend of mine and I put together before I signed with Incubator Creative Group.

 

       How many CDs do you have?

   "Sweet Mercy" and a Christmas album entitled "O Holy Night" along with lots of individual singles. I need to get them compiled into a new project! With itunes shifting so much of the way music is sold, it's much more feasible these days to work on individual singles than huge CD projects. I'm guessing that CDs will soon become a thing of the past, another item to add to the retro pile along with 8 tracks and vinyl records.

     Ah, yes, I still have some records that are keepsakes.  Do you write your own songs?

   Yes, much of the time. My concerts are a mix of original music and cover tunes but I love to write my own when I can. And whenever I need a good laugh, I work on creating parodies. For example, I changed the old song Daddy's Hands to Daddy's Hair. It's a tribute to my awesome Dad and his, um, hair-challenged predicament. :)

 
   That's funny. Do you have another job or career besides music?

   Yes and I confess it's hard to describe. There's no good job title for it. My manager calls it 'being a musicianary'! In 2004, I signed with Incubator Creative Group which is a record label and management company out of Santa Clara, Oregon. Basically, I help encourage people battling depression, people pleasing and grief, all struggles I've dealt with in depth. In fact, this past year I wrote a book about it! (Hollow Victory: How to Identify & Disarm 5 Landmines that Make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie) I travel to churches, women's retreats, prisons (basically anyone who is willing to put up with me) and talk about how radically God has transformed my life. So along with music, I do a lot of public speaking, comedy and writing.

 
  Do you still go to writer’s conferences with your mom?

   Absolutely! We are planning on attending the national ACFW conference in St. Louis next year. It's a great time for both of us to get creatively energized, deepen our craft and bond a little closer. And laugh. We always laugh.

 
Does your mom still write?

   At the moment, no. Her job is full-time and extremely stressful. She is brimming with ideas but hasn't had a chance to start fleshing them out yet. But when she does, I'll be her biggest fan! Actually, I suppose I already am.

 
 If one song could tell your life story, what would that song be?

   Wow. That's a tough one. That's like asking a chef what his favorite recipe is! I would probably have to say a song I wrote called December Songbird. Over the past several years, I've lost two babies in miscarriages and have learned that praise is a choice. This song encompasses the idea of what Job declared. "The LORD has given and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Come what may, I will continue to praise His great name.

         Tell us something about yourself that we might not have heard.

   Haha! I've been doing that game on facebook where a person is given a number and they have to list a certain number of things people may not know about them. So I suppose that list can apply here too! Here are my top six:

          * I've done my fair share of cow-tipping.
* I can only sleep on the cool side of the pillow.
* I used to have a wall-hanging in my bedroom growing up that spelled out my name     with each letter hooked together. T-A-R-A. My brother would come in and re-arrange them on a regular basis to spell A-R-A-T. 
* My nieces and nephews call me "Aunt Spaz" and think that's my real name.
* During our wedding ceremony, the church caught on fire. True story.
* I am the biggest history nerd of all time.

           Where do you do your best writing or practicing?

   I can write just about anywhere but my favorite is my front porch when the weather is nice. I have a bench surrounded by flowers that I can relax in while I type away on my laptop. Usually if I'm out there, my kids are too. Getting to hear their squeals and giggles as they ride their scooters or play with their dogs on the front lawn is a great way to write.               It's also my favorite place to study my Bible.

          I love to practice music at my piano, mainly because of the sweet memories it brings. It's an old player piano that my Grandpa gave my Grandma on their first anniversary. That was over sixty years ago. When I was little, I would sit next to Grandpa on that old piano bench and giggle as he played Has Anybody Seen my Gal?. Every time he sang "five foot two, eyes of blue", he would elbow me in the ribs and grin. I always think of him when play that old piano.
 
Thank you, Tara , for stopping by to answer all my questions.  I've loved getting better acquainted with you.

Tara Johnson is a singer, author and songwriter from Alexander, AR.  In 2004, she signed with Incubator Creative Group, a Christian and ministry based record label out of Eugene, OR.  Tara loves to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share her testimony of how God led her out of a life of people-pleasing and depression into a new walk with Him. 

 This past year has kept Tara busy with singing engagements, counseling with people who are battling depression and writing her fourth book Hollow Victory.  In 2012, she won the Bronze Medal in the Frazier awards hosted by My Book Therapy and has articles published in Plain Truth Magazine. She and her husband Todd have been married for sixteen years and the Lord has blessed them with five children:  Bethany (10), Callie (7), Nathan (4 months) and Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane who are with Jesus.

 You can contact Tara at  www.TaraJohnsonMinistries,  through facebook, twitter (@TaraMinistry) or email her at tara@taraministries.com
 

 
Janet, here - I'd like to add a footnote of my own. Tara recently sent me her book Hollow Victory: How to Identify & Disarm 5 Landmines that make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie.

I began reading it right away, but as posted previously, I'm a slow reader. Also, I keep a fiction and a non-fiction book going at the same time. I wanted to give this short review.

I find Hollow Victory encouraging, inspiring, and helpful. The story of the Songbird touched my life. We must learn to deal with grief, depression, people-pleasing, perfectionism, and fear/anxiety to live in victory. Tara gives us ways to disarm these using God's tried and true methods. These landmines destroy compulsive people like me. I can and will use Tara's prescribed methods for myself and teach them in my weekly Divine Dining weight loss classes here in Wichita Falls, TX.

Thank you, Tara, for being obedient to God in writing this book. Thanks also for sending me a copy. I highly recommend it.

2 comments:

Anne Greene said...

Interesting post!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Anne. Tara really ministers in many ways.