Meet my friend Josh. A few months ago, Josh was in town, and we were at a local coffee shop catching up on life, industry biz, and the things God has taught us in the last few years. Josh has always been one of my favorite colleagues. He’s been one of TMC’s BIGGEST cheerleaders since we were introduced many years ago. He regularly texts the 3 of us (me, Dave & Bill) encouraging messages, and lets us know that he’s listening. One of things I love most about Josh is that he really is a fan of the music. He’s not allowed life, failures, or jadedness to seep into his heart.
Over coffee, Josh challenged me to step it up on my blog. He told me what I already knew. “You could be doing so much more, Carmen!” And he is right. I don’t write nearly as often as I should. I have ideas in my head all the time; they just rarely make it to fingers & keyboard. But, being the opportunist that I am, I said to Josh, “Guest blog for me. Tell my friends everything you just told me. Oh, and throw in a recipe too.” Josh loves to cook. I also asked him to share a story behind a song he has worked. And yes, that last line is “industry speak.” Josh is what you call a “Record Promoter.” Record labels hire him to promote singles to radio stations. There is A LOT more that goes into it than just this. As a matter of fact, there’s SO MUCH MORE that goes into the music biz, way more than folks realize. One example: why you have singles (one chosen track on a record) promoted/released to radio in a systematic way, as opposed to every single song on the record all at once. And now with Pandora, Spotify, Streaming … the music business has changed dramatically in the last decade+. I’m getting a little to deep at this point, and most folks probably aren’t all that interested, but, suffice it to say, Josh champions music, artists, and fully believes that our genre can change people’s lives. Including his own.
So meet my friend, Josh. Oh, and one more note: For King & Country did not let Josh go. He was working for their label at the time. So, I just wanted to make that clarification. He actually still works with them (and their record label) quite a bit, independently now. Only God can do that. I’m going to share his story first, and then his soup. Josh is married to Amy and they have two children, Alex & Abby.
This isn’t as much a story behind a song as it is a story of how God used a song in my life exactly when I needed it…a lot like He does for you if you have ears to listen.
Someone recently asked me what my biggest failure in life was and what I learned from it. Have you ever reflected on that? It’s really tough to look back and remember what it all felt like, but I remember it like it was yesterday. For me, it’s important to look back because when I do, I can clearly see the faithfulness of God in my life.
I lost my job in July of 2013. It was my dream job. I worked with people I loved and respected and I had an opportunity to play a role in launching the careers of some incredible artists, including a band you might know called for KING & COUNTRY. A lot happened in this season of my life that’s not important for this post, but what is important is that I failed…big time. I didn’t handle the things that came against me the way I wanted to. The success that we had went to my head. I bought my own hype. I responded in pride way more often than I even realized. It all led to a moment where I found myself on the outside of this company I loved so much. I was so afraid.
My wife and I had an 8 month old at home (who’s 5 now). We were 600 miles from our families and we were freaking out. On top of that, the loss of this job hurt. It hurt much worse than I ever imagined it could hurt. My initial response was “I’ll show YOU”. I started my own company. I thought I was going to save the music business. I did a lot of things I’m proud of in those two years, but what I’m most fond of as I look back was the time I spent working through that hurt…examining it, exploring it, feeling it. I realized during that time that I was building my entire life on what I did for a living. It became my identity. It became the thing that made me feel like I mattered…like I was someone.
It was easy to see this in some ways because everything I worked on for two years completely failed. I’d start on a project or managing an artist’s career and would have success with it. I’d start thinking I was something again and then it would all change…and fail…or I’d lose the client. I joined forces with a dear friend of mine who was having great success and then he lost his biggest client. It was a crushing blow. Nothing was working. It was like God was stripping away every layer of pride in my life until all I had was Jesus. I spent so much time seeking after God during those months. I didn’t know what else to do.
There are a thousand layers to this story that I won’t expand on here. However, I will share this. There was a moment in January of 2015 where I realized clearly what the Lord was doing. You see, He wants US. He doesn’t need us to become “someone”. He made us in His image. We are special…precious and honored in His sight (Isaiah 43:4). He rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). My failure led me to surrender. My greatest fears and pain led me to seek after Jesus. I didn’t need a career or success and realized quickly that those things, at the expense of my kids, my family, my marriage…they aren’t worth it. No money or success in the world is worth my kids growing up without me around…or my marriage falling apart. Matthew 6:33 says “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.”
I spent months and months seeking God. I yielded my dreams to Him. I became willing to do anything to provide for my family…even to the point of packing up our lives and moving back home to live with my parents for 10 months. I had no idea what I was going to do but I knew this: God would provide. He would do it.
In this period of surrender, He brought a good friend into my path who wondered how I was doing. I shared with him that I was miserable and broke and broken and that I was quitting the music business to move back home and that I was done…but so good with that. God was working and I knew it would be ok. He wasn’t ok with me quitting so he asked if I’d be involved in promoting music to radio stations again (which is my foundation in the music business). I said yes…I’d do whatever…as long as God was in it.
I had just spent the previous 34 years of my life doing things MY way. Seeking after MY dreams. Building MY kingdom. If anything good was going to come in this new season of my life, it would be because God did it. Not me.
One of the very first songs I got to share with radio stations was from an artist named Lauren Daigle. The song was called “First” and it was my theme song during the darkest times of my life up to that point. I had listened to it every day just to remember that Jesus was truly all I needed. Reflecting back on this gives me a lot of joy. He’s really been in every detail of my life…and yours. He wrote the story (read Psalm 139).
This song that had been medicine to my soul was one of the first songs I got to work with in a new era of my life and it became of the biggest songs in all of 2015. God has continued to bring me songs that I need EVERY day of my life…”Trust In You” from Lauren Daigle, “Great Are You Lord” from One Sonic Society, “King of the World” from Natalie Grant, “O Come To The Altar” from Elevation Worship, “Have It All” from Brian Johnson, “It’s Gonna Be Ok” from Brian and Jenn Johnson, “Take Courage” from Kristene DiMarco, “Do It Again” from Elevation Worship, “Reckless Love” from Cory Asbury. I need these reminders of who God is, what He’s done for me and how He continues to be faithful.
If you’re in a place where you have nothing left. Seek after Jesus. He never fails. He is enough. He is faithful and He is good.
Here’s a playlist I made of the songs that carried me through my darkest moments:
This is Josh Part 1. – The Story. I think I resonated with Josh’s story more than I realized. I had my dream job in country radio. And then in a flash, I didn’t. I thought my career world was over. But then, God gave me exceedingly and abundantly more than I ever could have imagined. And in the process, I found Him again. Maybe I’ll share that story soon. But, in the meantime, Josh. Part 2 – The Soup. is coming next.