When I was asked by Believe Brand to write this, I couldn’t refuse
I met Iman, a representative of Believe Brand at an event that my band was performing at in Indianapolis, IN and Iman represented the company that hired us. Right off as the party was going forth, I noticed Iman’s positive energy through dance and personality. I was so taken by it that I actually pulled him up on the stage during one of our songs so everyone could be effected by what I was seeing.
Cut to the end of the night after the show I walked up to him and introduced myself and we exchanged social medias, not phone numbers, (because we are millennials…lol) and once we connected on social media, our conversation when straight to God, inspiration, and all things spiritual.
It was absolutely amazing! We both recognized the believer in each other.
Iman asked me to write about my journey in music thru the eyes of my faith and how God has guided and maneuvered my steps:
I have always been a church kid. I was raised in Des Moines, IA, the heartland of America.
My parents are believers. I appreciate so much how they raised myself and my three younger sisters with those spiritual principles. My faith in God is the filter through which I express my musical art, how I entertain and interact with those who love and support what I do, and it’s also what helps shape my life-long ambitions and endeavors.
I sang in kids choir in church, played in the church band when I was a teenager and all the while a very real artistic desire to define myself musically was developing.
We’re not talking, “oh I just love being on the praise and worship team…” I was studying talents like, Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, James Brown…these dynamic once in a lifetime wonders…and I was hooked! THAT’S what I wanted to do in life. As I grew up, this unsatisfied hunger to be the next greatest one started to develop.
Graduating from a Christian Academy and moving into the workforce as I attended college felt great. . . at first.
I was still getting called to sing at weddings around town, I was very active in my church youth department and even sang on the praise and worship team, so I was able to exercise my musical talent in a very uplifting and inspiring way. But I have to say I STILL wasn’t satisfied.
I always wondered growing up if it was right for me to have these feelings of wanting to sing in such a big way because God teaches meekness, and humbleness, and “let another man praise thee” all of these teachings which I tapped into to make me believe that maybe, just maybe I wasn’t supposed to chase a life that was a little risky and puts me in a place where I really have to exercise my spirituality defensively vs passively practice it in a safe zone where all things God were all around me.
After college I had had enough.
I would be at work crying, days of depression, lots of nights feeling like I served no purpose in the world because in Des Moines, there was no outlet for the level of musical excellence that I wanted to practice.
There was no industry that I could thrive in. Don’t get me wrong, my home state is AWESOME and I would not have wanted to grow up anywhere else in the world. I love my family, my friends, and the experiences that I have had growing up in such a wholesome environment. But…denying who I was and what I wanted to be simply because it wasn’t something my current environment couldn’t provide, I had enough of that. It was time to do something different.
That something different came in the summer of 2011.
I decided to move to Atlanta, GA where there was a real music industry that I could thrive in. Yes my faith would be challenged, yes it wouldn’t be easy, yes I would be faced with challenges that I hadn’t ever even dreamed I would have to face, but I was willing to take that risk…and I took it. I moved.
When you do what God wants you to do, you might think, it will all be easy for me if I just follow the plan.
The temptations, the one step forward, two steps back, the disappointments, the situations that you think there is literally NO way out of…it’s all part of the journey to becoming the version of yourself that you were meant to be, and I experienced EVERYTHING!
I will say that by taking the leap of faith and being met with crazy challenges, life has turned me into an absolute survivor. I am not afraid of anything. I never except the idea that there are no options left, life has taught me that anything is possible.
Well things in Atlanta weren’t going the way I planned for a few years…life was beating the crap out of me financially, spiritually, and mentally. I was feeling lost again, those feelings of depression, loneliness, and confusion as to my purpose were coming back.
I was just biding my time trying to survive and i have to ad bit that I was beginning to wonder if I had got it all wrong…what if all these years were just in my head, what if none of it’s true and I have turned into that guy that is living in a personal reality that is really a fantasy to the real world…those were my true fears.
I wasn’t ready to give up at all, but I had given so much of my life, focus and attention to this, and believed in it so much that I was not prepared at this stage of life with any plan b. I never ever considered the act of suicide, but in my mind I was thinking…well what do I do if this legit doesn’t work out…I had believed for so long that I was on earth for a purpose and the thought of that possibly not even being real, I just couldn’t imagine it!
Last year, 2017, I got a call from a friend of mine Lamont Leaks to audition for NBC’s “The Voice” Season 13. His call completely took me by surprise. I hadn’t talked to him in a few years and to be honest I was so blindsided by it that I said “no” hah!
I was living in such emotional pain and seclusion that I just really didn’t believe I could come close to getting past an audition, I was alone, I had no people around me to encourage me, I was always the one spreading positivity because I knew what it felt like to feel invisible…I was just in a very weak place…
He called me again, 3 days later, and I said okay.
This must be a sign from God that I need to at least try this.
Lamont said “what do you have to lose?”
He doesn’t even know how true those words were…I had spent so much time in Atlanta just getting beat around that I was down…”well, lets do it I guess.”
Well I went for it. I was flown to LA, and started working on the show. My first audition was actually the televised Blind Audition. Normally there are rounds of auditions you have to go through with the show producers before getting to that point on these talent shows, but I, with a few other lucky artists was sent right in.
As the show works, the way you move to the next round from the Blind Audition, is you have to get at least 1 judge to like what they “hear” since their chair is turned away from you and they are making there decision purely on the voice they hear.
All 4 judges turned their chairs based on what they heard.
The moment was absolutely ELECTRIC!!!
Here I was standing on a stage at Universal Studios in Hollywood, CA, having just sang my heart out, I have Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson, and Blake Shelton all smiling at me, the crowd there was on their feet in absolute thunderous applause
In that moment I looked to my left and there in the crowd was my friend Lamont with his arms folded across his chest looking at me like…”how do you like me now?”
I couldn’t contain my emotions, I just started jumping up and down screaming! “This is it…this is the start of a completely new level! GOD, GOD, I know you’re up there! Thank YOUUUUU!”
I couldn’t contain myself at all, I was out of control! Hah!
I chose Adam Levine to be my coach and through all of the rounds, he really taught me so many valuable things about where my mind should be about my art. As the competition when on, the contestants were getting picked off left and right, Adam kept choosing me, and I really appreciate him giving me that chance to show my talent on such an incredible stage!
As with everything, all good things come to an end. At the first live show…we are down to 12 people. The judges are no longer in control of who stays and who goes. I was eliminated from the show. But as I on my way to the airport, the words that Adam Levine said to me at the blind audition rang in my ear…”this is just a stepping stone in the never-ending staircase of your career.”
Lord Jesus let it be!!!
I am now recording in Nashville, TN. I have so many more new fans and supporters of my music. My first single is “Hey Marjorie” it is out now on all streaming platforms, I am currently working with a music director to create show and the band and I will start touring shortly. At the end of the day, I realized something…the way my life has gone, there is NO way that I can say I did it without God. God was the sole and specific architect of my journey thus far.
Make no mistake, my ambitions are lofty, I will never be satisfied, but it is incredible to know that God got me!
God got me!
I’m not where I want to be. I don’t think of myself at this point as an ultimate success story, but my feet are still on the ground and I am running. I know where my blessings come from. I know who is allowing me to be who I am.
My encouragement to anyone reading this is that life is a journey… it’s not a destination.
I’m sure you’ve heard that before…but we are programmed to do a thing and then get rewarded. That’s not the overall scope of life…when you think of the “pursuit of happiness” it’s only when you’re dead that your loved ones take a final tally of your life.
Stay encouraged, stay dreaming, and never ever give up. Take risks, don’t live according to any one else’s standards. You are a unique individual with a unique blueprint for your own life. Get comfortable with who YOU are and although life isn’t always going to feel like sinking down into a bath where the water temperature is just right…you will enjoy the ups, and be able to survive the downs…stay encouraged and bless my friends!!!
- Jon Mero, member of the Believe Brand Co. Family.
Follow us at @believebrandco on IG.
Like us on Facebook!
OR Grab some apparel today @ believebrandco.com
Follow my personal accounts on IG: @ImanXII