Casey J. shares about her new music, how God has been molding her, and some of her favorite things in life with BREATHEcast!
Which song on your album is your favorite and why? Tell us the story behind that song!
Oh, Come On!!! You know this is like asking a parent about their favorite child... ;) I think each song speaks to such a beautiful part of the consistent nature of God. This is a hard one. Hmmm...
I don't know that I can select a favorite, but I really enjoy the title track. "The Gathering" is actually a musical expression of a prayer that I used to pray anytime I mounted a platform. As a worship leader we often deal with what the "people" are expecting. I know from experience that this is a dark, dark endless hole.
I used to pray "God please help me not to manage the expectations of others but to simply put the focus on you." So "The Gathering" is simply an invitation for all who have come together to submit their intentions and agendas to the Holy Spirit. It's also an invitation of welcome for the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself in all of our gatherings.
What is your favorite song to perform and why?
This may be a bit of a premature answer considering the record is so new and we are just now introducing new songs in our worship set. However, "1,000 Hallelujahs" is quickly becoming such a joy to lead. I think it really provides clear revelation to the gift of CORPORATE worship. In a culture that seems to place so much emphasis on independence and autonomy, setting a goal that can only be accomplished with others in worship seems to highlight what we know is the will of God - community.
What do you like to do outside of music that contributes to your musicality; in essence, a hobby that you turn to in order to rejuvenate their creativity.
The practice that I think has most recently served me the most is choosing to spend a portion of every single day in meditative silence. It's amazing and a little saddening to me that we attribute that practice to only monasteries and new age religion.
When I first started practicing silence it was SO uncomfortable. I became immensely aware of how much of my day was dependent upon and consumed with my expressing MY needs. Even the sacred moments were all about me. Selfishness wasn't my intended destination but is was most definitely where I found myself taking residence.
Silence at its core has challenged me to actively affirm my belief that God is ALWAYS speaking.
Who has influenced your music the most?
I think my greatest musical influence has really come out of my home church when I was a child. No big names, no super stars, no artists. I just remember being surrounded by people who had committed their entire lives to service. There was no pursuit of something "greater." There was no real "competition." No "prize" that people were clamoring to achieve.
That small church, with its wooden pews, and rickety steps. The burgundy carpet with a few stains and tears from wear. The sweet presence of God that seemed to meet us in the building at every gathering. It was enough.
My prayer is that I always feel that in the service that I do through worship music. That the DOING is enough.
What drives you to keep going when it's really tough?
To be honest about 99% of the "tough" moments I have experienced all have the same ideological root. It is usually decision making or actions that are heavily colored with the pervasive thought that THIS IS NOT ME. I am chronically introverted. I literally sweat with large crowds. I actually prefer to be the number 2 guy- not THE guy.
If I'm not careful, all of those thoughts seem to turn into this negative cloud that I can't seem to see past. But in stillness, I get to recognize that this is exactly how God designed me. I am made to walk DAILY, even second by second, in the supernatural power of God.
It sounds simple, but digesting that truth seems to quickly turn what felt like an insurmountable burden into an invaluable gift.
What were your greatest failures and what did they teach you?
I think that in this particular chapter of my life, my biggest failure was believing that the "business" part of what I do is sacrilegious. It's such a weird space when you are a person who has served faithfully in the local church the majority of their life with no "pay" or "contract" or "title."
I don't know if any other artist has experienced it, but there is this weird thing that happens when God starts opening doors of provision that are attached to the "gift" that you've been offering for free. It REALLY freaked me out and messed with my head. I started to wonder if I had gone too far.
Then I started thinking that engaging others- lawyers, business manager, etc. somehow stripped away the holiness and purity of the worship I was called to engage in. I'm so glad that I don't walk under that type of delusional condemnation anymore.
I have learned that all the "business stuff" is simply stewardship. How I steward the totality of my gift, not just the part people see, is an act of worship. It says that I have prioritized what God has assigned me and am prayerfully engaging others to help carry that vision.
Where were you in your life when you first decided to become a Christian artist?
This is going to sound so naive, but I never thought about being a "Christian artist." In fact, I still don't. When I think about what I want to be known as or for, it really isn't music at all. My "career" isn't in music, my career is being obedient. What that has meant for me in the recent past is that I am a Christian storyteller, song carrier, and worship leader. But truthfully, I don't know if that is what God has for me forever. So I don't know if I ever decided that I wanted to pursue artistry for a living; but I HAVE decided that I want to pursue Him forever...
What would you be doing right now, if it wasn't for your music career?
That's such a difficult idea to conceive. Five years ago, I didn't dream or couldn't imagine for myself the life that I have now. In retrospect, I can definitely see how literally ALL the roads of my life have led me to this place. By place, I don't necessarily mean the platform. I try not to place a lot of unnecessary value on platform and popularity. They are such fickle goals.
However, I think what I really see is the result of childlike obedience. I can't say what I would be doing- maybe still teaching, maybe an entirely different field altogether. But my prayer is that I would still find myself smack dab in the middle of preparation and obedience. That intersection helps transform every life path, however it may be, into something divine.
What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
SERVE! Serving is not a vehicle that gets you to where you want to go. It is not a means to an end. Serving IS the prize. It is the award. When serving with a pure heart, the greatest joy is knowing that you are pleasing the Father. It helps guard your heart against the slippery and often irreversible slope of people pleasing. Serving silences the boos and the cheers of spectators and locks your focus and success metric onto the only thing that really matters - IS GOD PLEASED?
What are some nicknames that your music fans or friends call you?
Ha! My name is pretty short to begin with, so it's hard to make a nickname out of a name that already sounds like a nickname. So Casey is pretty much it. I mean I do get the occasional "hey you" and "aye girl"... but Casey seems to be both my name and my nickname.
BREATHEcast Special Segments
Dear Me: A Letter to My Future Self 1 Year From Now
Hmmmm.. My biggest practical strength is that I can pretty much make an amazing vegan meal out of anything in anyone's refrigerator.
I know how quickly all of your life can seem creative. I mean it's super cool. Everyday you get to make something new. But don't miss the fact that deeper than creative, this is all divine. He is in every moment and every product. This is the true gift of being a Christian creative.
What do you think is your biggest strength?
Other than that, I think I have cultivated the posture of not holding on to anything too tightly. I'm not afraid to start over...Ever. I'm proud of that.
What do you think is your biggest shortcoming?
I. Live. In. My. Head. I am chronically pensive. Sometimes that causes me to miss out on the gift of process and the beauty of now.
What are some Christian songs from other artists that are on your playlist now?
(Runs to grab phone) Okay okay. Here's what we have... Geoffrey Golden "Glory to the Lamb" and the beautiful exegesis he does right before that track. David and Nicole Binion "Be Still and Know". Gates Praise "Hope of Nations"... It's hard to narrow down. So those are the top 3 of the last week.
What is your current favorite traditional hymn?
Man I'm really working on balance and learning not to let the highs or lows of life take me too far. So "It is Well" has been a pretty strong anthem in my life recently.
What special talent do you have that we are not aware of?
Ha! All of my talents are pretty much "what you see is what you get." BUT I can pick up just about anything with my toes. Now you know. ☺
What is your favorite color?
I'm so non committal! But today we're saying turquoise.
What is your current favorite food you crave?
Ramen! All day. Every day. Not the college ramen. I'm talking the fancy stuff... Yes, it's overpriced. Yes, I still pay it. No, I'm not ashamed.
What is your current favorite Bible verse?
I actually just read this verse this morning for my private study and meditation time. Romans 5:5 "and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Man! What a beautiful promise!