Recently in my interviews on radio stations across the country, the prevailing question asked by the hosts was, “What do you want people to get from reading your book Driven by Faith.”
My response, “First and foremost, I want God to be glorified. I hope all who read my book will be inspired, encouraged and motivated. I want people to see themselves in my struggles; to see if I can do it – an ordinary housewife and mother of five who made it Carnegie Hall – then they can realize their dreams too.”
When I started out on my journey to fulfill my purpose, there were times when the journey seemed impossible. The road was filled with obstacles. Writing classical music in Memphis—a town known for blues and rock and roll—and without any formal training was an uphill journey. Discouragement was my number one enemy. I had to train myself to strive to maintain a positive attitude. I learned that positive thinking gives birth to success and swallows up defeat. Embrace hope and let it be the driving force of your life.
For years, I made one futile attempt after the other trying to get my oratorio performed. Every endeavor was met with unpreparedness or inability of the choir to perform the music. My vain endeavors only led to shattered hopes and, seemingly, a mere waste of time, energy and money. Although despondent, I kept persisting for greater than 20 years. Finally, my prayers were answered. My oratorio was performed by an able choir and was a part of a documentary that aired on television across the country.
Looking back, I realized that if I had been successful at any of my smaller attempts, I would have had an audience of only hundreds. However, with the televised documentary my music was enjoyed by hundreds of thousands.
Time spent waiting on God is never time wasted.
One of the greatest lessons to be learned when pursuing your dream is learning to turn a deaf ear to naysayers.
The first oratorio that I composed, “The Crucifixion”, was critiqued by a prominent choral director at one of the leading Midwestern Universities. He advised me to cast away the oratorio, but I was undaunted by his negative attitude. I stood firmly committed to the work that I knew God had given me. Later, I was informed that the Library of Congress had requested my oratorio “The Crucifixion” for its “Special Collections”. This astounding news was followed by an announcement that “The Crucifixion” would be presented in a world premiere at Carnegie Hall.
What a catastrophic mistake I would have made if I had listened to that choral director. Instead, I remained steadfast and did not allow negativism to destroy my dream.
As a composer of classical music, I struggled for 21 years down the road of disappoints and defeats, trying to get my music out. The obstacles seemed insurmountable. Finally, I reached the end of my wits and I asked the question, “Am I ever going to get my music out?” Surprisingly, I heard the words whispered softly to me, “If you persevere.”
This was the turning point for me. I came to realize that there were several things that I needed to do if I were to be successful with my music: 1) think positive thoughts; 2) enlarge my vision; 3) fight to overcome every obstacle; and 4) have faith and believe that God would provide everything that I needed to achieve success.
With this enlightenment, we began to embrace mountainous successes. We produced a documentary in Portland, Oregon which aired on PBS in cities across the country. Later, I was invited to have my oratorio, “The Crucifixion,” performed at Carnegie Hall which led to another premiere at Carnegie Hall and this premiere led to an international premiere in Prague, Czech Republic.
You must fight to overcome every obstacle – never give up!