Soulhouette: This is M.E.

I know… I haven’t blogged in forever. But I promise it’s with good reason…

I’ve been otherwise occupied planning the next big move…

After a lifetime of writing, a few years of wandering in a musical desert, about 2 more years of focused studio time, lots of learning, plenty of tweaking, two single releases and a music video… I’m so excited to finally unveil my first full project with an album release concert on November 19, 2016!!! What a fitting way to celebrate my birthday weekend, wouldn’t you say? Pretty much… So, let me tell you a little bit about the album:

It includes many of the original songs I’ve highlighted in this blog. It tells my story. It paints listeners a picture of who Maya Elizabeth is…honestly…truly. The lyrics reflect my experiences and struggles with self-image, worries about my worth, pleas for forgiveness, and doubts concerning my purpose. Then they resolve to address my Creator’s perspective, His masterful design capabilities, and His gracious love for those who don’t even know how to receive it.

These conflicting and contrasting thoughts describe the album’s title, ‘Soulhouette: This is M.E.’ I assume you might like to know what the term “Soulhouette” means and how it emerged. First, note that it’s a play on the word silhouette. Here’s an earlier reflection of mine that sums up the significance:

image-1In allowing me to face the struggles I address in my lyrics, God reveals to me the person He created me to be and the purpose He designed and destined for me to fulfill. I am discovering and striving to embrace the image He gave me, to see myself as He does. I’ve learned my outward appearance and people’s perceptions of who I am are merely shadows or silhouettes–dark outlines of my shape or a simple suggestion of who I might be. But, as I engage and entertain the Light, my true image become more visible. More light means more truth. Light exposes my complete figure, as truth releases me from the dark thoughts that once ruled my life.

As I’ve shared before, writing these songs has helped me process situations so I can recall what I know to be true and combat not-so-lovely thoughts. This phenomenon is precisely what birthed this project, and exactly the impact I’m hoping it will have on listeners. If you’re in the area, or planning to be that evening, I invite you to join us for a night of live music, healing, truth and love! And, whether or not you experience ‘Soulhouette’ live, I believe listening to this album will help you continually renew your mind, offer you hope for your future, and encourage you to live on purpose.

Get excited, grab your friends, and get your tickets! I’ll see you all on November 19!

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My First Music Video

This is so wild! Last night I had a blast during the ‘Come Ye’ music video pre-release party! It was absolutely incredible to witness the outpouring of love and support from so many people who are excited to walk this journey with me. There’s nothing more encouraging than hearing and seeing how your commitment to using your gifts wisely and pursuing your passions impacts others. Seriously, you’re not alone. And when you let your God-given gifts shine, you invite others to support and experience abundant life with you.

When I say I’m thrilled to share this video, I’m totally understating my elation. I’m excited that this song has brought so many listeners to realize hope and peace in the midst of their own battles, but I’m hoping a visual depiction will take the impact to a whole new level. The story is definitely meant to elicit emotion, but above all, we wanted to paint a picture that displays how God’s healing presence and His grace can show up in even so much as a song, a smile, an angelic being, another person’s gentle word or embrace…He can restore any situation/trouble/burden, no matter how grim or unfortunate or desperate.

The creator is love. His Word is truth. His power heals. Don’t give up and don’t ever feel that you have to bear your sorrows, your worries, you mess, or your circumstances on your own. Share this video and this message with someone today. You never know who might need some motivation.

 

 

Thanks for reading, listening, viewing, and sharing! Checkout www.mayaelizabethmusic.com and subscribe for updates on the Maya Elizabeth Music Movement. There’s more to come very soon!

And As For My Next Steps…

A few weeks ago, I graduated Summa Cum Laude and School of Business Class of 2016 Valedictorian from Howard University. I used to get really antsy when people would ask me my plans and next steps. I speculated they were anticipating I’d boast about a well-paying, full-time entry position in someone’s corporate office. “First,” I’d shrug with a half smile, “I’m going on vacation.” Which I certainly did…and it was absolute bliss!

Now, though I still feel that tug, at times, to be embarrassed like my unconventional path is somehow less-than (as much as I know otherwise), I take the opportunity to share how God has been growing my faith and allowing me opportunities to pursue my music. I employ my marketing degree for a shameless plug about my first single, Come Ye, and how people can show the love by buying it on iTunes and sharing the link to my website…hint hint.

Fighting through the doubts and the fears that come with not knowing for sure what tomorrow looks like has never been my forte. However, as I embrace life as a college graduate with just a dream and a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), and LOTS of support (that cannot be understated), this verse I wrote a couple months ago is my particular prayer for my new season:

 

Place me in a garden where

you’ve designed for my work

to help the flowers grow.

I want to be where my purpose lies

where the passion you’ve bestowed

drives my flow.

Bring the people in my life you desire.

Let them aid me on my path

to glorify You alone.

Lord, place me in your garden

so I can grow!

 

 

Timbo’s at the Door

Sometimes doors fly open. Don’t let them hit you in the face and knock you down. Anticipate them and take advantage of chances to practice your approach and your delivery. I’m learning.

Last weekend, I navigated some inviting opportunities. I was supposed to perform Come Ye at a function on my campus, but other obligations conflicted with the rehearsal schedule. I wasn’t meant to walk through that door, and thankfully I didn’t bother picking the lock, because I would have been too preoccupied to notice another that swung right open.

Quick background before I explain door #2… When I was in high school, my dad introduced me to Leon Timbo‘s music. For those who are unfamiliar, I liken him to a male India.Arie, so to speak. His tone is enchanting. His sound is soothing. His acoustic guitar playing is masterful. Inspired, I bought and played his songs over…and over…and over.

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Okay, fast forward to last Friday… In addition to finally hearing Timbo live, one of my favorites was gracious enough to share his stage and let me open the show. Right… how Sway?

Well, a dear friend and sweet soul (Thanks boo!) introduced me to her connects, advocated on my behalf, and trusted me to show up prepared. And, to make a long story short, I just held onto resources, words of wisdom from lovely people, tons of support, and collected experiences & skills, and trusted God to walk me through the door He’d assigned. He’d been piecing together my path to that point all along.

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For instance, I’ve sung and played Come Ye so much that I should be sick of it. I’ve journaled, contemplated, drafted/redrafted web content, and hash tagged enough on social media that I’ve become comfortable introducing myself and communicating my main message succinctly. I carry my track and/or guitar with me wherever I go. When people ask how they can find me, I know exactly where to direct them. In fact, I was able to share with an eagerly receptive audience that night how they could search “Maya Elizabeth” and buy my first single on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and other online music distributors (I know I’m not slick…Shameless plug).

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Of course, I’ve got plenty of additional prep work and practice ahead of me. I’m learning as I go, but I’ve got to be ready to get going if I really intend to learn anything. This incredible opportunity has played a roll in my continued development, introduced me to more creatives with amazing talent, and (by faith) will lead to doors on doors on open doors.

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Timbo, Christen B, & Me

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Here’s How You Know You’re Doing Exactly What You’re Supposed To

Last week I officially launched what I’m referring to as my music movement. I published my website (http://www.mayaelizabethmusic.com) and made my first single, Come Ye, available for listening. Several individuals have asked how I feel about this exciting new journey, and with everything else going on in my life, my most honest answer is simply that I’m overwhelmed. I’m starting to process what it means to finally begin releasing my music and exposing my magnum opus, so to speak (at least to this point in my life), and wanted to share two realities I believe confirm I’ve made the right decision in pursuing this path. Encountering the following factors strongly suggests you’re moving in exactly the direction you ought.

First, when your choices and actions align with your purpose, their outcomes positively, and, I’d dare say, divinely impact others’ lives. You can’t possibly know all that everyone within your immediate or extended reach might endure. When what you produce, share, represent, express, or reveal meets multiple people–all from varying backgrounds, circumstances, experiences, etc.–exactly where they are, at exactly the right time, with the exact message, revelation, or encouragement they need, there is no explanation apart from the Supernatural. In these instances, you can rest assured that you’re operating not just in your strengths, but, moreover, in your gift-guided, God-granted, duty-driven destiny. You’re totally tapped into your best offering to honor your Creator, and your most productive and fulfilling contribution to empower the rest of creation.

But, also, you know you’re succeeding in your life’s mission when you face unparalleled opposition. If doing what you’re supposed to was easy, everyone would choose wisely, but the road less traveled is exactly that… Whether you choose to believe it or not, destructive forces work continually and all the more diligently against your progress when you determine to let faith lead you. The day after I’d launched and supporters flooded my timeline and inbox with exciting affirmations, my elation began to subside and give itself over to discouragement. For every lovely thought, it seemed there were ten more negative, doubting, anxious lies screaming, “Defeat! You’ve done nothing of real worth. Busy yourself. Your work was in vain. You deserve no rest.” And the worst lie of all…”Fraud! You barely embrace the hope your lyrics boast.” That was the final straw… That’s when I knew my enemy was in full-fledged attack mode. That’s when I realized rehearsing the truth was even more relevant and necessary than before.

So I’ve resolved: Yes, it’s true. I don’t have it all together. No, I’m not worthy of my gift and its potential impact. However, I know, even beyond my doubts, that my Creator commands my courage (Joshua 1:9). He demands that I suit up for battle to withstand the spiritual forces that rattle my mind (Ephesians 6). And, finally, He has already empowered, equipped, and authorized me to rightfully claim victory (Psalm 118:14)! These are just facts, and they’ve never brought more comfort than they have this past week.

Perhaps you identify with the two realities I’ve just explained. Keep on pressing. You’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to.

Come Ye

I’ve never been diagnosed as clinically depressed, but I can identify with the physical toll sadness and doubt take when they manifest. I naturally internalize my thoughts, busy myself unnecessarily, and place a lot of pressure on myself. As a result, I have struggled with acknowledging and addressing my emotions in a healthy manner instead of waiting until stress forces them to surface. Sometime during my sophomore year of college, I had just taken a long shower to try clearing my thoughts, shut off all the lights so that my dorm room was as dark as I felt, and was crying myself to sleep.

Growing up, my dad often encouraged me to overcome anxious and burdensome thoughts by pondering freeing truths. In my attempts to refocus my thinking that night, I very clearly heard my Creator whisper the lyrics that became Come Ye. That night lying in bed, this new tune was as plain and precise as a familiar melody, and the lyrics that accompanied it flowed with incredible ease. The moment was unquestionably divine. Weeks later, I stumbled upon this passage:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

I was never meant to bear the burdens I place on myself. In order to live an abundant life, exercise my gifts to their fullest potential, and impact the world, I have to first resolve that I will be anxious about nothing (Philippians 4:6).

For me, this song provides healing, speaks truth, and boasts of the Creator’s unfailing love. And now, it is my absolute pleasure to announce that I’ve launched the #MayaElizabeth music movement, and Come Ye, my first single, is available for listening at http://www.mayaelizabethmusic.com.

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As always, my hope is that others will experience the same positivity and encouragement when they listen to and connect with my music. So, for a reminder of where to turn in the midst of weakness, overbearing doubt, emotional depletion, and/or all of the above, take a listen to  Come Ye as you meditate on these lyrics:

Chorus

Yes, I will be

Your protection from the enemy

he’s not ahead of me

 

and I will snatch you up

and hold you

when you’re falling and you’re

falling fast

 

Don’t loose your faith

But know that I can handle your doubts

You might not see it

But I’m already moving

Right here, right now