I discovered that the gospel industry did not fully represent the message conveyed in its style of music. From a naive place of reasoning, I thought that gospel artists and musicians would be welcoming, supportive, and all about the ministry. I know I was nuts for thinking that, but how could one sing about righteousness and be so unrighteous when it came to the reception of new artists? I've dealt with more judging, belittling, and backstabbing in the gospel realm more than I have as an R&B singer.
I can recall auditioning for a popular gospel singer who was gearing up for a tour. On the way there, I began listening to the "What's Going On", album, and all I could think about was, "What's REALLY about to go on if I get this gig?". Yes, it was an opportunity to visit places that I'd never seen and make some change while doing so. Yes, it would've been another notch on my 'vocal performance belt'. But, was it worth the gossip? Was it worth putting up with catty women and men, who I could never be myself around? Was it worth being judged for every move I make? Was it worth being around a bunch of people who had trouble about their own identity? After repeatedly asking myself those things, I decided to sabotage my audition by picking the most depressing song and singing it with no effort. I didn't want to let down the person that gave my the chance to audition, so I thought that was the easiest way out. When I walked out of the audition, I knew that I had done my very best to fail, and I was so relieved that the pressure of me changing me to accomodate others was null and void.
A few months later, I found myself at a rehearsal for another gospel performance. There was one particular woman who had given me a bit of trouble before, and she tried to do the same that night. Of course, I wanted to take her outside and punch her in the face, but I had no bail money...lol Instead, I was complimented by one of the greatest gospel composers of our time, and it was done so in front of her. That was the sweeter than any left hook that I would've landed. Although I received the victory in the end, I knew that this particular event would be my last performance as a gospel singer aside from my musical contribution to worship service on Sunday.
Some of you are reading this and shaking your head with the thought that I've allowed others to push me away from what I really wanted to do. That is not the case. I chose to stick with R&B because I expect to receive the backbiting and disrespect in this field. If I chose to come out of the closet as a lesbian woman (ain't happening b/c I LOVE ME SOME BLACK MEN!), I could, and I wouldn't have to live a double life to sell records. If I chose to work with a new sound, I wouldn't be accused of "taking the tradition out of the gospel". There are no restrictions, which can open the door for all kinds of garbage, but I am ready for it. In the gospel scene, I expected to be loved and accepted without prejudice or apprehension. That wasn't the case. I've shed more tears when dealing with church folk than I have with the secular world. I love Jesus, but I don't love the people who run the industry that supposedly praises HIM. Does my opinion make me heathen? I still believe that one day, I will accomplish the goal of completing a gospel album, but I need to gain a tougher skin first.