Indie pop/CCM artist Chayah Miranda releases her debut album No Other Way on April 15th. I recently had the privilege in doing an email interview with her about the album, her thoughts about what she wants listeners to gain from listening to it, as well as her hopes and what she wants to accomplish in 2014. Check out the interview below.
Question 1: This is your first album, but this is far from your first time performing- you have been performing at school talent shows and other events since a young age. How has your talent for songwriting made you who you are today as an artist as you release these songs for listeners to hear?
Songwriting has allowed me to be free in telling my story and experiences from my point of view without boundaries. That’s the beauty of songwriting, as well as the fact that it also allows me to say things that would normally be difficult for me to talk about. I am able to express what I am going through and experiencing at that moment in time. As a songwriter and artist, I’m always looking to find different and new ways of telling my story, experiences, and message.
Question 2: If anyone hasn’t really heard much (if at all) of your music, what do you hope the listener can gain after listening to ‘No Other Way’, both in a musical sense and lyrical sense? Who do you think you can compare your music to, for the sake of increasing the intrigue of people who may or may not be sure to purchase/listen to your album? Personally, I think you sound like Rachael Lampa, Rebecca St. James and Jaci Velasquez!
Thank you Jonathan! I appreciate your kind words! Rachel and Jaci are amazing vocalists and it’s an honor to hear that I sound like them! To answer your question, if I had to pick an artist who I could say my music is similar to, I’d say it would probably be a mixture of Britt Nicole, Rachel Lampa and Natalie Grant.
As for what I hope the listener can gain after listening to my album No Other Way, first in a musical sense, I’d hope that the music would bring them joy and peace. I want my music to take them to the throne of God where there is hope so that they might remember that no matter what they are going through and struggling with, everything is going to “work out” for them and God is on their side. I hope the music would bring them a sense of peace and the knowledge that they need not fear, and to put their trust in Him. So, hope, peace, and joy is what I would want the listener to take away from listening to my album.
As for the lyrical sense, my songs talk about God’s love for us and our relationship with Him. My hope is that the listeners who already have a relationship with God are brought even closer to Him through the words of each song and that their relationship with Jesus would only grow deeper each time they’d listen to the lyrics. As for the listeners who are hearing the Gospel for the first time, my prayer is that the lyrics of each song would lead them to open up their hearts to God and let Him in. I want all listeners to hear His voice speaking to them – to their hearts, to their needs – and I hope that the words would bring them comfort and that it would lead them to seek Jesus. I also pray that the lyrics of my songs would bring them to understand, experience, and to know His deep love for them, what He did for all of us, and that these lyrics would encourage listeners to give their hearts to Jesus.
Question 3: Your first single is ‘Higher’. From my understanding, both the song and the album as a whole describes a moment where we’re asking the Lord to come down and unveil our eyes to see Him in His glory as we worship Him with all our hearts, lifting Him higher, but also knowing that there’s hurt in the world and actively pursuing opportunities to make the world a better place by showing Christ’s love. What does the album (and song) mean to you?
This whole album and my first single “Higher” mean so much to me because it’s my way of praising and worshipping God for all that He has done for me; for loving me and walking with me even when I didn’t know He was there. This album is a testament of what faith in Jesus is and does to us. It is also the proof of His love and faithfulness to us so long as we put Him first, put our trust in Him, and walk by faith. This album will always be a reminder to me of the great things God can do through and for us.
Question 4: What has been the overall general highlight of creating ‘No Other Way’? Were there any difficult songs to write, record or perform from it? Any song that spoke to you from God about your walk with Him, and is there anything that you would want listeners to know when they hear the album?
For me, recording the songs after writing them and hearing them come to life was definitely the highlight for me. It was just so surreal because it’s something I’ve dreamt of my whole life. Each song is beyond what I wished it would be.
I think one of the more difficult or challenging songs that I wrote on this album was “Let Go” because it came from a place of pain that I was dealing with in the very moment of creation. I really wanted to express that pain but also share the truth about letting God take over and carry our burdens.
As for any songs that were challenging to record, I’d say probably “He Loves Me.” I naturally do a lot of belting when I sing, so Josh Robinson, my producer, needed me to sing a bit softer in certain parts of that song. I had to really control my voice in the studio because it’s definitely different singing in the studio than in a live venue.
I’d say “Found In You” is one of the songs that can really get to me when I’m performing it, and it’s also that one song that speaks to my heart from God simply because it paints the picture of my experience and relationship with God almost exactly. Whenever I perform it, it reminds me of all that God has done for me, so I start to get a bit choked up when performing it live. I’m just so thankful for His goodness, love, and mercy towards me.
And as for what I’d like the listeners to know when they hear the album, is that I wrote this album to let them know that there is a God in Heaven that loves them so very much and that He is waiting patiently for each of them to give Him a chance, to let Him in and to see all the wonderful things He has been waiting to give them. He helped me write and create this album and He can most certainly help and guide them with their dreams and goals if they’d just let Him in.
Question 5: What has God been teaching you on the road as you travel and perform your songs at concerts and festivals? Is there any song that you have sung on your travels that God has ministered (or still ministers) to you with?
As I travel and perform these songs at many different places, God has been teaching me to walk by my faith and to fully trust Him even though it may not make sense to me at the time. God is teaching me daily that He has my best interest at heart, regardless of the situation, and is always there by my side. He has shown me that everything I’m doing through this music is because there’s a bigger picture. There are peoples’ lives on the line that need to hear the Gospel, the truth about Jesus and His love for them. He has taught me that my purpose is to help Him spread His gospel, to help change and touch lives through the music.
“He Loves Me” is one of my favorite songs on the album which still ministers to my heart whenever I sing it because it’s message brings to mind the cross; that Jesus came here because He loves all of us and that He died, paid our ransom, to save us. That’s just how much He loves us all!
Question 6: Is there any artist or band that has influenced your music, whether it is through songwriting, singing, or just the recording of the album? Any musical style from other artists that you have found creeping into the songwriting process and musical composition of songs placed on ‘No Other Way’?
Throughout the years, I grew up listening to a lot of pop, R&B and Jazz, which has, of course, influenced my music and songwriting. I grew up listening to Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Natalie Cole to name a few. Because of my musical influences, I think you can hear bits and pieces from those artists that influenced my musical style and writing. However when writing for this particular album, I didn’t listen to much music to be influenced or inspired by. I just kept writing and finding my own voice as we worked on this album.
Question 7: What has God showed in your personal life (or on the road as you travel and perform your songs of encouragement) that you have feel needs to be shared (either through song or encouragement) so that other people can hear your story?
In my personal life, God has shown me that taking time each morning to devote to Him in prayer and Bible study is the fuel behind all that I do everyday. Communication with God is so important. And the more I do that, the more I trust Him, which strengthens my faith in Him and allows me to literally walk by faith. God has completely provided everything to help me make this album, so all I need to do is to keep spending time with Him everyday and to continue to trust Him in everything.
Question 8: How is the rest of 2014 for you? Are there any tour plans for the remainder of the year, whether it is inside the U.S. or around the world?
My team and I are definitely working on booking shows for this coming summer’s music festivals around the country and also at Christian music conferences throughout the rest of the year. I’d definitely love to go overseas to Asia and Europe as well, which is also something my team and I are working on eventually doing.
Question 9: Another music video in the works after ‘Higher’ (maybe ‘No Other Way’ or ‘Let Go’)? Here’s hoping that you continue in the music industry for quite some time (on various occasions, new artists/bands release an album or two, then travel off into the world of oblivion for a time)!
Yes, the acoustic video of “He Loves Me” is going to be coming out in May. I’m also looking forward to doing official music videos for my singles.
Question 10: You have been in the music industry and performing on stage for a while. What keeps you all grounded and places things in perspective as you travel and create music? Is there any song, or Bible verse, or even famous quote that reminds you about why you do what you do and the motivation behind it all?
For me, my mom keeps me grounded. She always helps put things into perspective wherever I am or for whatever I’m doing. She reminds me of why I do what I do. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is from 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” I love this verse because it tells me that God’s grace will never run out, nor will Christ’s power that rests on me. He is my strength, the One who sustains and strengthens me in all I do and He is my motivation.
Question 11: To young musical artists wanting to break into the music industry, is there any advice that you can give as to how to succeed in the industry yet also keep your beliefs, values and integrity intact?
I believe that the very first key to success in any industry is to put God first and to put your trust in Him and ask Him daily for guidance, wisdom, knowledge and perseverance. Another component to succeed in the music industry is education. As an artist, I’ve had to put in many years to develop my craft in singing and writing as well as learning the music business. You’ve got to really learn as much as you can about both the art and business sides. I also think applying the knowledge you gain from your education and putting it into actual work, getting out there and doing it yourself, will teach you a lot more than just reading about it. Experience has really been the best teacher for me. One last very important piece of advice is to surround yourself with people that you really, truly trust. When you have those types of people around you, most likely they share the same values, beliefs, and integrity, they will help keep you firm in your values. So choose wisely and pray about every aspect of the journey. He will not fail you if it’s in your best interest.
Question 12: For those who are reading this interview who could be feeling down or worried or anxious about their life circumstances or even their own future, what advice can you give them?
Put your trust in God. Put Him first and ask Him to take control of your life and personal situation. Once you let Him in, all your anxiety and worries will go away because you’ll have faith and will know that “with God all things are possible.” He is there to give you the very best.
Question 13: What do you do in your down-time (if you do have any between shows etc…)? Listen to any good music or watch any good TV shows?
In my down time, I love watching the food network. I’m a huge fan of Iron Chef America, Chopped, Giada, and Anne Burrell! And on days I have off, if I can, I’ll cook and bake something. I also just love being with my dogs and my cat. Just spending time with them. I like going to the beach and taking my dogs for a hike. I really do miss them when I’m gone so l enjoy making up time with them.
Question 14: Is there anything else that you would like to add that hasn’t been covered in this interview yet? Any parting words, encouragements or even confronting pearls of wisdom you are willing to part with and hopefully impact the readers of this interview with?
I think I’d like to just say that I’ve experienced God’s unfailing love, His faithfulness and goodness, and I just want everyone to have that same experience. Know that He is there to help you through whatever it is that you’re going through or whatever dreams and goals you may have. This album is only here because I believed in Him, and if you believe in Him, He can and will give you so much more than you could ever dreamed of. Put your trust and life in His hands and experience the love that God has for you!
Be sure to check out No Other Way releasing next week.
[Update 4/15/14- the album has since released and can be streamed in its entirety on bandcamp or below]