Being a Female Worship Leader is Hard

worship-leader-idolThis post is specifically for my female worship leader friends, or anyone who works with other female worship leaders. A little background…

I am the only female worship leader on staff at my church. On my church campus, I work with one other male worship leader, and all the other campuses have male worship leaders. Over the years, I have come to understand the difficulty of trying to lead the same set as my male worship leader counterpart. It has been a challenge! For one, I naturally don’t have the same type of “energy” as he does. Most of our congregation, when I first got hired, was not used to seeing a female take the reigns. It was a different type of leadership that they were not used to. Also, the guys didn’t know how to sing in a female key. Eek… what is harmony?! Females are so used to singing harmony to male worship leaders, but males have not grown up with that ear training. So, it was very difficult for them… and still is. Over time, I have learned to place my songs in keys that work best for male and female both, but that still doesn’t solve every problem. (If you are wondering, C-C works as the best range for everyone).

In addition, when we introduce songs, my male worship counterpart and I are supposed to find a song that works for both of us. Yeah right! This is so hard. We found a couple songs that worked, but it usually resulted in both of us struggling with the song. Compromise led to… not the best for our congregation. We recently worked out a rotation where we can introduce 2 different songs simultaneously to different services. I won’t go into the details, but this has been an amazing process because we have been able to introduce songs that fit our own style and heart, yet still minister to our congregation. Co-leading has also helped this.

Another struggle that I have run into lately has been the availability of female-led worship songs for the corporate church. There is not much out there, especially upbeat songs! In the top 30 worship songs right now, there are only 2 female led songs and they are more like ballads. Typical, right? So how do I survive as a female worship leader!? Below are some resources that I hope will help:

  • ORIGINAL MUSIC
    • My heart is to write songs, specifically for females to use in the corporate worship setting. These songs are meant to be singable, catchy, and in a female key.
    • To look through my catalogue, go to my website. Charts are also provided on my site for FREE!
  • YOUTUBE CHANNEL
    • I have recently been posting more live videos from my worship sets on the weekend. Most of the songs that I am posting are male-led songs that I have transposed and arranged specifically for me. Feel free to rip off the arrangements and use them for your own worship sets!
    • Check out the videos on my YOUTUBE channel.
  • LIST OF MALE SONGS TRANSPOSED
    • Here is a list of some of the top worship songs that are male-led, and the keys that I would do them in (Just a few to get you started!):
      • 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord), Matt Redman- Key of D
      • One Thing Remains, Bethel- Key of E (without the octave jump)
      • Christ Is Enough, Hillsong Live- Key of D
      • The Rock Won’t Move, Vertical Church Band- Key of D
      • This Is Amazing Grace, Phil Wickham- Key of C
      • God Is Able, Hillsong Live- Key of E
      • Stronger, Hillsong Live- Key of A
      • Our God, Chris Tomlin- Key of E
      • Everlasting God, Brenton Brown- Key of A
      • Not To Us, Chris Tomlin- Key of E
      • Glory To God Forever, Fee- Key of F#
      • We Are The Free, Matt Redman- Key of D

Hope this helps! Please message me if you have any questions. My heart is for other female worship leaders and I want to continue to be of resource to you. More posts and resources to come.

 

Advertisements

Kids Singing My Songs? I Never Imagined.

Last week I was invited to come visit the kids choir at CCV (my home church). Rebekah Neilson, our kids worship leader, said that they had a surprise for me. Oooo… I love surprises! So this past Tuesday, after I led worship for the women’s bible study group, I went to pay them a visit. As I walked down the hall to Room 201, I heard the voices of many little worship leaders in the making. They were being led to sing vocal warms ups. As I walked into the door, I saw a few of them turn their heads to look at me. They smiled in anticipation.

I wondered what the surprise was going to be. I had an inkling to what in might be… Rebekah had introduced my song, “Heart After You” a few months back for the weekend kids services, and they have been singing it in rotation ever since. I had seen little snippets of video here and there of the kids singing out the lyrics with their sweet hand motions, but had never seen it in person. Shortly after I arrived at their rehearsal, Rebekah had them turn around towards me (all of their cute little faces) and wave hi to Mrs. Ashley. They cued the music and sure enough it was the intro to my song. They all faced Rebekah as she led them in singing the song, hand motions and all. I pulled my phone out to capture the moment and tears started to well up in my eyes.

 

I never thought in a million years that the songs I wrote for my album would reach kids. But after seeing them sing one of my songs the other night, I have never felt so much joy! I have seen youth and adults of all ages sing this song in particular, but the kids were the ones that melted my heart.

My writing inspiration for my album was to put scripture to song, and my goal was that the songs would be catchy enough to stick in the hearts of its listeners. The night of my album release, I showed a video that expanded on this idea. I mentioned the songs that I used to sing in Sunday School as a kid. These songs put scripture into my heart even at a young age. And they were catchy enough to stick with me even until now! That is amazing! And that is why the moment I saw the kids singing “Heart After You”, it became more special to me than anything I have ever experienced.

Psalm 51:10 (“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”) is the scripture inspiration for “Heart After You”. The lyrics to the song read, “Create in me a heart that’s clean, A heart that’s after You.” My prayer is that as these kids continue to sing out these lyrics, the Word of God would become a part of their vocabulary… their being… their life. And in years to come, they would never forget.

To God be the glory.

John Mayer and Worship

John-Mayer-1So last week, I went to the John Mayer concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Oh man, I love that guy. He is super talented and the show he puts on is phenomenal. Phillip Phillips opened up for him, and he was great, but John blew him out of the water. (John… like I know him on a first name basis or something… lol). The show was sold out, and everyone was excited to see John Mayer and his band play because he hadn’t been on tour for a while… due to his vocal surgery. But amazingly enough, his voice sounded better than I had ever heard it before (Yes, I have seen him 2 other times in concert). It had a sweet and smooth quality to it, and he seemed like he could sing for days without getting tired. I was very impressed. He even had vocal breakdowns in a couple of his songs, where he was able to showcase his voice alone. Good concert and great show.

But what does this have to do with worship?

As I looked around the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday night, I saw people (and actually sat next to one) who were completely and whole-heartedly in awe of John Mayer. They were lifting their hands, singing at the top of their lungs, and shouting for a man who they WORSHIPPED and LOVED in every sense of the word. They were followers of John Mayer and because they loved him and his music so much, it was easy for them to get excited at the concert. It was a no-brainer. John Mayer appeared and they responded to who he was and what he was doing.

So why don’t we do this on Sundays? Why don’t we get that excited during worship or the message? Why do we come to church and stand there with blank stares on our faces, arms crossed, and minds wandering? We serve a God who created the entire universe and everything in it. He is the one who put the stars in place and the moon in rotation. He is the God who made roaring water-falls and majestic mountains. He created the intricate nature of our minds and the beating of our heart. He sent His only Son to live on this earth, die on the cross, and resurrect to life 3 days later, all so we could access Him blameless and clean. He is holy, mighty, sovereign, great, majestic, perfect, gracious, loving… I could go on and on and on. Isn’t our God worth the best of us and the best of our worship? Shouldn’t we come to church on Sunday ready to lift our hands in surrender, sing at the top of our lungs, and shout for joy to a God who deserves it all?

John Mayer can be great… and he is.
But shouldn’t our God be GREATER?

My Husband

As I was looking through my old blog posts, I realized I had not written anything about my husband. And trust me, he is worth writing about. He is the positive in my negative and the inspiration behind so many parts of my life.

weddingWe have been married for 4 years now. Wow. Time flies! It feels like just yesterday that I was walking down the aisle towards his beaming face. I could not have found a better fit for me. Or rather, God could not have orchestrated a better team. He really does compliment me in so many ways. For one, he is the most positive person I know. This has proved time and time again to bring me up out of my negative rants or lifted me out of a depression. He always knows how to make me smile when I am having a bad day, and knows how to support me in just the right way. Especially being a ministry husband. So many times the politics of church can bog me down, but he stays strong and leads me through it.

My husband is a professional musician. Most people think that when we come home, it is a constant house of music. This can be true at times when we have to prepare or rehearse, but for the most part, music is removed from our home. We both do music all day so when we come home, we want a break from all the madness. Every once in a while, you will catch us songwriting together or talking about our favorite songs at the moment, but mostly we escape it all to just be with each other. My husband is super clean and neat. (Besides his desk… lol). God knew that I needed someone who was going to pick up after himself and take care of himself. I have a slight tendency to be OCD, which means I can’t relax until the house is organized and clean. Since my husband takes on some of this work as well, I don’t get stressed out very often. Perfect match.

My husband is the most humble musician I know. He is SUPER talented and can play any style, but when he is playing drums for our church worship band, he is never a show-off. He truly has a heart of worship and always points to God no matter what gig he might be at. This is rare to find in the musician world, but he exemplifies it better than anyone I know. Did I mention that he is hilarious too! He makes me laugh more than anyone.

lance and i

I am so grateful the God brought Lance into my life (that is his name by the way). 🙂 He could not be a more perfect fit for me. We didn’t always have a perfect relationship when we were dating, but God has somehow blossomed the Beckford team in marriage. We are better now than we ever have been, and my prayer is that every year I would fall more and more in love with this man. The secret, however, is not more time together or more kisses (although that stuff is wonderful). The secret is putting God first in our own lives and then living out a Godly marriage because of it. The secret is loving each other with a Godly love and sacrifice, all the while being as selfless as possible. Marriage is beautiful, and I am so blessed by my husband.

Soul-Inspired Songwriting

songwriting

I have come to find out that I have several styles of songwriting:

  1. Lyric/Scripture inspired
  2. Soul inspired
  3. Melody inspired

I tend to hover the most on 1 and 2 in my writing style. Every once in a while, I will find a sweet melody and put lyric to it. But most of all, I love when I am soul inspired. What I mean by that is that my soul is going through something so deep that it comes out in my writing. My personal journey is what inspires the song. These songs always tend to be the ones that minister to me the most. And not that the others don’t, but when I write from the soul it is birthed from deep within and then sticks deep within.

God has been working on me the past few months (as explained in my previous post) and it has been really hard… I mean really hard, to the point of breaking. I have come to realize that sometimes God needs to break you in order to rebuild you the way you are supposed to be. So as I was sitting at the piano the other night, a soul-inspired song was born. It came out of this really hard season of life and has proven to be my anthem for the past few days. I have come to realize that God inspires certain songs for the simple encouragement to my own soul. It is in those moments that I see how my songwriting and inspiration can in turn inspire me. I love that God does that.

So I share these lyrics, even though they might not be the final lyrics, praying that maybe the words will meet your soul where you are at today:

You are always with me, in the valley or the hills
With me in the highs and lows, my soul, all is well

All is well in the suffering
All is well in the blessing

All is well, All is well

You are always near Lord, in the darkness or the light
With me in the calm and storm, my soul, all is well

He loves me, yes, He loves me
I’ll never be afraid

Meaning Behind: Lord Of All

Age to age You stand tall
Nations rise, Kingdoms fall
Oceans rest at Your call
You alone, Lord of all

Have you ever thought about how sovereign our Lord is? Sovereign is defined by having supreme rank, power, or authority. Our God is above all, over all, and in all. Age to age and year to year, He stands tall. He has witnessed and orchestrated the rising and falling of nations and kingdoms. He has commanded the oceans and calmed the storm. He is the God who was, and is, and is to come.

I don’t know about you, but my mind cannot even comprehend that! How is God here, there, and everywhere all while holding supreme power over it all? How does He control the mighty ocean and calm the winds? How does He know exactly what I need, yet knows the same about everyone on this planet? I don’t think my mind will ever fully understand the complexity of His being, but that is why God is God and I am not. I choose to trust Him and all His ways, despite being in the dark at times. He is sovereign and I will follow Him.

Blessed are You, Your name is good, Blessed are You forever

Because He is mighty and unchanging and good, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. No matter what may be going on in the world or in my own life, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. Even though I may not understand completely, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. When nations rise and kingdoms fall, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. As oceans obey the call of God, I WILL CHOOSE TO BLESS HIS NAME. I challenge you to do the same. Let us bless the name of the Sovereign Lord of All.

800828343620.MAINPsalm 113:2-6 “Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and  forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?”     

To purchase the song, Lord Of All, click HERE.

For All The Lady Worship Leaders…

brookeSo I was researching female worship leaders the other day and I came across this hilarious article on women in worship. It was posted on Jon Acuff’s site (For those of you who don’t know, he is the guy who wrote, “Stuff Christians Like”), but this particular article was written by Daniella Summers. It is hilarious and really captures the features of a lady worship leader. Disclaimer: if you are not a lady worship leader, you might not get some of these jokes. Here is a portion of her article:

I’m no expert, but I am a girl and I happen to be a worship leader. From my experience and observation I’ve noticed there are a few fashion rules that most female worship leaders end up falling under, whether intentional or not:

1. Owns at least one pair of large hoop earrings.

2. Even during the warm months, wears some sort of boots over jeans.

3. A tunic or dress is almost always worn over leggings or skinny jeans (and rightfully so…or else she might get stoned. Maybe be mistaken for Fergie. You never know.)

4. Change’s hair styles at least every six months. Multiple shades of highlights/lowlights are a staple.

5. Depending in which region of the country, flip flops are worn and then taken off after the second song, for a more “intimate” setting.

6. Subscribes to Lucky magazine and People’s by monthly Style Watch.

7. Shops almost entirely at Anthropologie, Free People, J.Crew, H&M or Forever 21.

8. Wears more jewelry than all women, combined, sitting in the first two rows.

9. Wears black nail polish.

10. Sports a scarf at least every other week. ..all while still wearing 5 pounds of jewelry.

11. Has a nose ring.

12. Carries a bag of Ricola’s or Altoids in her purse at all times.

13. Drinks Tazo tea.

14. Wears at least two cocktail rings at a time.

15. Has side swept bangs and sometimes attempts the “beach waves” hair look. (This is a delicate balance between using the curling iron, flat iron and lots of Bumble & Bumble or Bed Head brand hair product. You’re welcome.)

16. Can’t say no to pairing Converse’s with skirt or dress, which, must fall at or below the knees.

17. Sometimes takes style inspiration from Sheryl Crow, Miley Cyrus (or is it Hanna Montana?), Fergie (circa 2005, before she started looking like Lady Gaga and Rhianna’s love child), or any girl from American Idol’s top 10. Again, it’s all about which area of the country you reside.

18. Does her devotionals and bible studies at Starbucks.

19. Chooses at least one song from Hillsong per set. Mainly, something done by Brooke Fraser.

20. Sometimes has to pull out the big guns and nonchalantly throw in the fact that the very first worship leader EVER was actually a girl – Miriam, sister of Aaron (go ahead, open your Bible or Google it), and the first person to see Jesus after He rose from the dead was also a woman – Mary Magdalene.

21. May find herself baking cookies or brownies on Saturday nights for the sound and tech guys, the lead guitarist and percussionist because they have more power than anyone acknowledges.

22. And, unlike male worship leaders, ladies are susceptible to shedding a few tears during a song when led by the Holy Spirit. Although, the dude wearing white jeans might possibly be doing the same. It’s ok, Jesus wept too.

23. Really hopes that once in a while someone will approach her after church and say “You have a heart of gold and a voice of a lion. I bust open every time.”

Unfortunately, I fit more of these stereotypes then less. Haha. But I guess that is what I get for being a lady worship leader. 🙂 If you want to read the entire article, click HERE. And if you want to read more on Jon Acuff and his book, “Stuff Christians Like”, click HERE.

Dependance On God


I just started Oswald Chambers’ book, My Utmost For His Highest. It is an amazing devotional that I have heard so much about over the years, but have never had the opportunity to read. So far, it has lived up to all the hype. It is an inspirational and life-changing read that has re-focused my mind towards Jesus. My reading yesterday was called: “Will You Go Out Without Knowing?”  It is inspired from Hebrews 11:8

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”

…Even though he did not know where he was going!! That is crazy. Abraham had so much faith and trust in God. He started walking even though he didn’t know where in the world he was going. Oswald Chambers writes, “You do not know what you are going to do; the only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing.” We have to trust that God knows what he is doing. And it is in those moments that he is able to stretch us and grow our faith in Him.

Last year, I had 2 major events happen in my life that helped me to grow in my trust and faith in God: I made my own worship album and I traveled to Africa. When I initially felt called to do both of these things, I was in the dark. I had no idea what was going to happen or how it was going to happen. All I knew was that God knew what He was doing. And I had to trust in Him and take each step at the time. Now looking back at last year’s journey, I can truly say that God had a amazing plan for me and knew exactly what he wanted to do through me. What if I had not said YES to God’s calling? Where would I be now? Maybe somewhere not as fulfilling as here. Maybe I wouldn’t have as much faith and trust in God as I do now.

Chambers writes, “Let the attitude of the life be a continual ‘going out’ in dependence upon God.” Are you depending on God? Dependance on God can put us in such a place of wonder… wondering what God is going to do next… wondering how God is going to provide finances for the situation… wondering when God will reveal the answer… wondering how you are going to get from here to there. It is in those moments of wonder that God reveals who He is.  Chambers asks, “Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you go out in surrender to Him until you are not surprised an atom at anything He does?” Let’s believe and trust in our God to do great things even if we have no idea where He is taking us. And let’s grow closer to Him through the beautiful journey.