Beauty for Ashes…
Every person has a story, that one “defining moment” that changed their life forever: mine started as ashes in Colorado during the summer of 1984. Having just entered my teen years, I would soon learn that my older brother had been killed in a car accident.
Jesus knowing the real me, broken from within, would take those ashes and start me on a journey into the world of Contemporary Christian music. I was a young Christian, learning how to walk and grow in my faith—having accepted Christ as my savior at the age of six. I knew at that tender age that Jesus would never leave me nor forsake me; I also knew that I was forever secure in my salvation. Because I was so young, I had yet to understand what walking through the valley of the shadow of death, (Psalm 23:4) really meant.
Music was always loved and celebrated as I was growing up, as the musical roots resided on both my parent’s side. My father was an excellent country-western singer; my grandfather (on my mothers’ side) was a brilliant fiddle player, with an exceptional ear for music.
My father had his own Country Western band; He sang all over the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado performing when I was a child. He toured the more significant part of Colorado for more than 25 years bringing so much joy to the hearts of his fans. My father’s vocal talents resembled the legendary Marty Robbins. My older brother also sang, and would often join our father on the road; he was discovering his own musical roots, quickly following in our father’s footsteps.
From a very early age, singing always came naturally for me; I found the most joy when I would sing for the Lord. My grandfather informed my mother that I had perfect pitch and a natural ear for music. The ability to sing in any key as well as find the accompanying harmony notes I feel were a gift from God and a solid foundation for pursuing a musical career.
I grew up in the seventies and eighties when Contemporary Christian Music was beginning to emerge in the united states. My older brother and sister were influential in introducing me to some of whom I feel were the forerunners of this new sound in Christian music. Groups such as: 2nd Chapter of Acts, Petra, and Sweet Comfort Band was where I found myself identifying with at such a young age. These groups would pave the way for other artists such as: Amy Grant, Sandi Patti & Bryan Duncan, where I would later learn their songs and sing in church.
Because of my parent’s divorce (when I was eight), I didn’t see my father or brother all that often. I moved to Nebraska and then Kansas with my mother and sister, and my older brother (who was almost an adult) stayed in Colorado with my father.
Shortly after my parents divorced, I started piano lessons, but I would only stay with those lessons for about five years. My mother’s parents had bought me a piano, but my true passion would be singing, and I would not stay with my lessons; that is a regret I hold some 40 years later. Still, What little music theory I did learn during that time would further enhance my natural ear for music. Singing would become my lifelong passion, who’s flame could not be quenched.
As I grew, my talent grew more defined, and my desire to be something more musically grew. I wanted to be the next Amy Grant in the Christian music industry. I started singing in church at the age of 12; little did I know, that would be my start into the world of Contemporary Christian Music.
I was able to spend my 13th birthday with my father and brother in Colorado and during that visit, my father allowed me to sing on stage with him and his band, Simply Country.
We sang a duet of the famous Marty Robbins song entitled, Tie Your Dream to Mine. Due to the lasting impression that experience had on me, I would recreate this song years later as a tribute to him and the only professional performance we did together. It appears on my 2nd album, The Good Shepherd.
Singing with him that night would allow me to explore the artistic and personal side of performing; that experience would start a deep-seated desire that would never go away.
As I look back to those childhood moments, I have come to now realize that my father, Max Allison, is who inspired me to do something with my musical talents. His faith in my gifts has been my secret motivation and what’s driven me all these years. I can see that deep down, I’ve always had a longing for him to be proud of me; a hunger for the recognition of what I had accomplished musically with my life.
Some of my fondest memories are of that beautiful summer spent with my father and brother, and the musical experiences that I had, that would forever shape me into who I have now become. These special memories I shared with my brother have remained with me as well as haunts me, as that would be the unforgettable last summer, I would see my brother alive.
The summer I turned 14 would mark a significant turning point in my journey into the world of Contemporary Christian music. On August 17, 1984, in the early morning hours, my mother and I received a phone call that would change our lives forever. The sound of the phone ringing startled me from my sleep, and I tried to gather my senses. It was still ‘the middle of the night,’ and people usually do not call and arouse you from your blissful, peaceful slumber unless something terrible had happened. I instantly knew something terrible had happened. It was as if God was trying to prepare me for what was to come. My mother always had a saying in times like these, when you ‘just know’ something is correct, that you “know it in your ‘knower.'”
As I ran to where my mother had answered the phone, a sinking, dreadful feeling arose in the pit of my stomach. I can still hear the sound of my mother crying out after she answered the phone and received the horrible news – news that still haunts me to this day.
My only brother had just been killed in a terrible car accident at the age of 22. He had been driving home from work in the early morning hours and fell asleep at the wheel; he died instantly. My brother was my whole world, and he was such an amazing big brother. Not five days earlier, it was my birthday, and my brother had tried to call me to wish me a happy birthday. I was not home, as I was at my party, and missed his call. I remember trying to call him back, but I never had the opportunity to talk to him after that. Maybe it was a ‘blessing in disguise,’ and God was sparing me that additional pain…
I believe my father’s most profound regret was never taking the opportunity to become a famous Country-western singer when it was offered to him; he was trying to leave a legacy of music to his children. His only son was now gone, and gone was the chance that he would follow in his father’s footsteps; yet, I was a young teenager just discovering my love of music. I looked up to my dad as well as my brother; I wanted to be just like them. Due to this, I think he felt he somehow let me down. That if he had only taken that opportunity, that would have been his way of helping me get into the Christian Music Industry since his only son was now gone.
My whole world was shattered that day, as I crumbled into pieces. Yet God would use those pieces, as He is the Master Potter; He would slowly begin to mold me back together again. He would use that pain and sorrow and transform it into songwriting; that process of lyric writing, from a deep place of brokenness – would heal me inside. He would then use those songs and heal other people’s broken hearts.
Jesus was with me as I lay in a heap of ashes that day; that painful time of losing my brother is when I can see that Jesus was calling me to spread his message of salvation in the form of music. I began living a life awakened to Christ; He would start a work in me – even though I may not have realized it at the time.
Nine months after my brother’s death, I would write my 1st song which I entitled Jesus Loves You. I had never written words to any song before my brother’s death; I was content in singing other artist’s songs in church. It never crossed my mind to write my own songs. It was then that a feeling, a desire rose from somewhere deep inside, and it spilled out onto paper. Several years later, I would have that song put to music, and it would go on my debut album, Best Part of Me, over 30 years later. His death had a profound impact on my life and still does; it was the starting point of where I could see God starting to lead me on this ‘musical journey.’
Four years after my brother’s death, I got married and had my firstborn son. I wrote my 2nd song as a lullaby for him when he was three years old; I also had that song put to music, and it appears on my debut album as well. I would eventually have two more sons (as well as a step-son) and I’ve written songs for each of them when they were babies, as well as a few other songs here and there. Due to the fact I did not continue with piano lessons or learn to play any other instrument, those songs remained A cappella for more than fifteen years.
After the birth of my 3rd son, I wrote a song for my parents in memory of my brother called, Arms of Yahweh. The song is also on my debut album.
I did not have the money to hire musicians for every song that I had written; so, most of these songs that are on my debut album remained without music. I did nothing more with my music for almost two decades.
In 2005, after making an unfortunate choice, I would be broken; it would nearly kill any desire to sing due to deep emotional and spiritual wounds. This period of my life would last for many years. I had all but given up on myself and this dream of singing; yet, Jesus did not give up on me.
In 2014 Jesus re-lit that fire in my soul; He placed a new passion within me to sing for Him again. With the passing of almost 20 years, came new opportunities for my songs that had remained A cappella. The age of the internet was here, and with it, brand new ways in which I could create music for all of my songs; all without ever learning how to play ANY instrument!
These ways were not available to me when I was in my early twenties. It has indeed been God-ordained, and God appointed as I am here “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14). Using the gifts of lyric writing and my natural ear for music, I can now create music for all of my songs. God also brought critical people into my life that has helped me along on this musical journey, so that I can continue to produce even better music.
My recent album features impressive collaboration from two Christian heavy metal bands: DAN and Sovereign Cross. The new collection also features jazz artist, Jordan Rogers (who is also my son). All are featured on the new album, The Return of the King. God has greatly blessed my family, and the musical gifts have carried down to all three of my children, and also my step-son. I am so thankful to the Lord for my children and for allowing me another opportunity to sing for Him.
I also want to thank YOU, my fans. I am thankful for every single one of you! I receive no greater joy than to know one of my songs (or this blog perhaps) has touched your life in some meaningful way. Sharing my story, of how I got my start into the world of Contemporary Christian Music was not an easy one; yet …we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).
I want to share the song, Arms of Yahweh that I wrote for my parents in memory of my brother. My mother and father have since gone on to be with the Lord and is reunited with my brother.
My hope is that Jesus, my brother, and my parents are all smiling, saying, “THAT’S MY GIRL!“
Jesus is still here; He continues to make beauty for ashes that have further defined who I am as a child of God and who I am as a Christian artist.
Isaiah 61:3 “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
My hope in writing this blog post, as well as in and through my music, is that somehow you will be encouraged & inspired in your own life. I hope my music helps you discover the healing that I write and sing about; that you will encounter the ONE – Jesus Christ, the giver of all life! That you too, will see Him, meet Him, Love Him & cling to Him the way that I have; that you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Loves You! May you always remember and never forget that He is The Good Shepherd.
Click here if you’d like to hear more of the music that continues in this journey; my most recent album, The Return of the King, my 2nd album, The Good Shepherd, or my debut album, “Best Part of Me, are now available.