I recently decided to refocus some of my energy to reading more. I grew up reading books like a fiend hungry for information, but have slacked off immensely over the last few years. Fortunately I started on this new path with a book that blessed me exponentially. In fact, I found myself so engrossed that I would pause from time to time as if savoring every bit of knowledge coming my way. The book I am addressing is movie executive/ inspirational speaker, DeVon Franklin’s “Produced by Faith.”
I happened to run across an episode of “Super Soul Sunday” on the OWN network a couple of months ago with Oprah Winfrey interviewing DeVon Franklin. I remembered hearing or reading his name from someplace so I decided to watch it. Needless to say, I was speechless (a rarity LOL) in the best possible way. The wisdom shared that day was THE TRUTH. The result was my ordering Mr. Franklin’s book to see what else would be revealed to me. I can say that my expectations were not only met, but exceeded. I found myself spiritually full and even more excited about my future. Therefore, I wanted to share a little bit of the wisdom that stuck with me from this book that relates to my life and musical journey.
One of the first points that “hit home” is God has His plan for me despite what I think is best or desire. Mr. Franklin compares our lives to the movie-making process with God being the director. I loved the analogy because it made the concepts even more tactile for me. As the director, God clearly knows what is necessary for us to be our best self. Though I’ve known this for most of my life, it’s always been a tough pill for me to swallow because I like being in control. This is one reason I drive myself crazy questioning a litany of things such as not hearing back from a promoter or individuals not following through as promised. I was reminded that everything happens for a reason and what I perceive to be something negative or a failure is truly a blessing in disguise. My responsibility is to remain fortified in my faith and continue fulfilling my purpose because working myself into a crazed fit will solve NOTHING. Not to mention, God always has something better in the pipeline even though I may not know what that may be.
Attached to the concept of accepting God’s plan is a deeper level of patience. Everyone’s “development” phase is different so he/she reaches “production” at various points. This has been another internal battle for me because I cannot count the number of times I’ve known I was ready for something, but I was not given the opportunity such as landing an ideal overseas gig. What I gained from the book was a clearer picture of God keeping us in development mode until we are prepared to excel in those key moments in our life such as being promoted to president of a company or performing at the Monterey Jazz Festival. What if I get on stage at the MJF prematurely not prepared or equipped with the necessary tools to perform at the height of my abilities? I may look/sound like a fool and leave a lasting impression to the audience that will ultimately damage my career. I have to slow down and understand that what is meant for me will come my way at the right time. It is my job to continue perfecting my craft so when God blesses me with the chance to step on the main arena stage at MJF my star will shine because I have done the necessary work to give a stellar performance.
Another key lesson re-emphasized to me from “Produced by Faith” is the toxicity of self-comparison. I spent the better part of my life comparing myself to others and wondering why I did not have certain material goods or was not blessed with certain opportunities. I’d ask God why didn’t my voice sound like a particular singer’s or why someone else’s music career exploded when mine appeared to be stagnant or even why someone else appeared to be more financially stable than me. Man….I used to wear myself out which would consistently restrict me to a negative space. DeVon’s book illuminated the fact that God only wants me to live MY authentic, unique life and be the best ME I can be. Shoot, if I sang just like someone else how would I carve out my own distinct sound?! Duh?!?! LOL
After completing the book I felt such overwhelming gratitude for having acquired such life-altering wisdom. My faith is an integral part of my life and success as an independent jazz artist. Currently I am at a crucial point in my career as I prepare to record my first jazz album and strive to build a loyal fan base. It’s not easy and there are days I question my decision to go this route, but “Produced by Faith” brought me back home. I now feel more secure with my chosen path and invigorated about doing all I possibly can to fulfill God’s purpose for me in sharing my gift with the world.