I first connected with Incubator Creative Group in the Fall of 2003, in the midst of my growing apprehension toward the music industry. But before I tell you what I mean by 'apprehension,' let me share how I became a singer/songwriter.
I was a very quiet child. A lot of people wouldn't believe me today, especially my husband! But really, I barely spoke. From the age 7 or 8, I loved to sing. Watching music entertainment programs on the TV was my favorite thing to do. I remember playing my favorite singers' records (no such thing as CD's back then!) over and over, singing along with them and dreaming that someday, I would stand on a stage and sing like them! Sometimes, my sister and I got together with a couple of friends and we sang and danced, imitating my favorite singers, 'Pink Lady,' a performing duo. My first public singing occurred in a community summer festival when I was 11 years old. When I was in Junior High, the most popular thing among kids our age was watching talent scout programs, similar to today's "American Idol." I dreamed of applying to one of those auditions many times, looking at an advertisement in a magazine thinking 'I could be the next winner!' I remember taking some profile pictures to send in with the application, but I never did. I didn't have enough courage to do it.
I still loved singing when I was in High School. I listened to music like every teenager did. Our school had an annual Cultural Festival in November. There were displays of all kinds of artworks, crafts, cooking and other fun stuff. The highlight of the event was a talent competition. There were auditions throughout the week and only the final competitors could sing on the stage at the end of the event. In my freshman year, I just looked around at the happenings since I didn't really know about the event. In my junior year, I auditioned and I sang on stage, knowing I wouldn't be in first place because they always gave first place prize to a senior student, even though judges were impressed with my singing. So in my senior year, I got the first place in singing competition!
Even though my dream was to be a singer, the reality of life kicked in. Like many young people, my dream was shoved into the back of a drawer where I would likely never see it again. My life went on as I graduated high school, became an apprentice beautician, met Rory, my husband and got married. Children came along and I got busy being a mom. We all know how that goes.
In 1995, we moved to Oak Harbor, WA, where I started to get involved in music ministry. I was a part of the worship team as a singer and a keyboard player for the first few years, but God called me to be a worship leader. As I learned about worship music, God gave me a desire to write my own. I couldn't write anything complicated but I knew God was well pleased. I thought "I'm not a rich and famous singer like I dreamed of, but I'm doing something I always wanted to do."
We moved to our current home in Oroville in 2002. I continued my involvement with music ministry in church, but soon my heart began to scream, "God, you know how I love being in the music ministry that you called me to, but I feel like my territories are shrinking. Do you see how small this town is? Do you see how many people in my church? I used lead about 150 to 200 people in worship and now maybe 40 if I'm lucky? Is this how my ministry will end?" Even though my heart was screaming every day, I chose to be faithful to the small things God's given me. I told myself that if God gave me 40 people to lead in worship that would be my mission field.
In the summer of 2003, I began to receive mail from some music industry representatives. They told me that they would enter my music in a song contest but that they need money as an entry fee. I felt so weird about receiving mail from them. How did they find me? Why do they know I write music? I decided to search on the Internet to find more information about those companies. As soon as entered the name of company, boom! Tons of bad business reports! I told myself, "See, that's why it's too good to be true, hearing from those music publishers!" My apprehension toward that kind of approach grew each time I received the same type of mail.
In the midst of the confusion about the Christian music industry, I received an email, from "Incubator Records." As you can imagine, I thought, "Oh no, another one! It started to coming to me even in the email." The email wasn't detailed, but asked me to reply if I was interested in chatting with them. I was apprehensive yet felt something was different. I replied, "Please tell me more details about your company." That's how I began the audition process with Incubator. They told me it would be a long process getting to know each other taking up to 20 weeks. I was very curious about the approach and at the same time, I liked the idea of getting to know the people instead being put on a cold stage for less than 30 seconds. Each thing they asked me to do in the audition process really helped me to learn the focus of Incubator. I always thought of music as a tool to reach out to people and changes people's lives by the ministry that was brought through that music. The more I learned about Incubator's approach, which focused on ministry not products, I felt that they were the best match for what I understood about the music ministry. I still clearly remember the day that God answered my prayer about whether it was His will for me to work with Incubator. I was driving home from the grocery store and suddenly His sweet voice spoke to me. "I'm giving you a bigger ministry because you've been faithful in the small things." I signed a long-term contract with Incubator in March, 2004.
Looking back at the boot camp process, each step helped me to discover more about myself, though I still struggled with the fear that my past created in me, and awakened the ministry still sleeping inside of me. God gave me a gift in music ministry but Incubator helped me clarify the core of my ministry and its purpose. Exodus 35:31 says, "He had filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts?" Throughout the boot camp and the Recording Artist Management phases, Incubator has helped me to refine my skills, abilities, knowledge in the craft of writing and being a minister to bring hope and love in Christ to my audience. It took 3 years for me to stand on a stage and perform my first concert after I signed with Incubator, but look what God has done! With a help of Incubator, God made my dream come true, the dream that I left somewhere deeper inside of a drawer. He hasn't forgotten a desire He planted in me. Although I had exciting journey with Incubator, it would be a lie to say the last 6 years was a fun journey, because I went through many discouragements and thought many times, "I can't do it anymore." But God picked me up each time and helped me to grow in my calling.
Today, I'm standing at the gate of a new management phase with Incubator for many more years to come. And I'm totally excited to see how God will expand my territory to minister to His people through my music ministry!