Sunday, January 29, 2017

every word has consequences. every silence, too...


I'm pretty sure I've been told to "shut up and sing" by at least one person every time I've strongly voiced my opinion publicly on situations I deem unjust. Sometimes from people who have been fans of my music for years. Sometimes from people I hardly know at all. I’d be lying if I told you that the fear of rejection or judgement that comes with speaking out about sensitive subjects hasn’t stopped me from doing so in the past. It seems like there are some people out there who only want to support you or listen to you if you're saying something they agree with, or if you're not saying anything at all. 

I feel like I have to comment on this. 

Guys, I love what I do for a living and I am so very grateful for this life and every opportunity God has given me. I’m so incredibly thankful for all of you. I love making music, writing songs and performing live. I love being an artist. But it turns out, I do actually own the ability to think freely and form opinions, outside of music, and I am passionate about voicing those opinions and beliefs when I feel like I have something important to say and when I feel like it could make a difference for the better. I have to believe that most people understand that in addition to being a musician and performer, I am also a human with thoughts and feelings and a strong moral compass. I have to believe that most people want to try to understand perspectives different from their own so they can better understand the world, what’s happening in the world and how we can best come together to solve problems in the most constructive and safest way possible for ALL people. 

Though there are many people who would rather come to a show or listen to my album and not ever have to hear my feelings about important world and life events, I must speak up and speak my mind and I'm not ever going to apologize for it. It’s so sad to me that this is even an issue. It’s so sad to me that these are some of the comments I’ve received from people when I’ve chosen to voice my opinions on a particular matter:

“Maybe you two (referring to a senator I had voiced my approval of) should get a room.”

“You’d be better off sticking to music.”

“Less talking, more singing.” 

"If you don't like it, you can leave."

“You’re prettier when you don’t talk.” (yeah, someone actually said this.)

“It’s a shame I can’t support you anymore now because I do like your music.” (in response to a post I had made about supporting marriage equality.)

You know what the real shame is? The real shame is that some folks aren’t willing to have a constructive conversation about their difference of opinion with others anymore. The real shame is that some folks refuse to hear you out before you even open your mouth to speak because they don’t want to hear what you have to say because you might actually make some sense, make them have to think or question their judgement, or be able to prove them wrong and that’s too scary. The real shame is that it’s easier for some people to be ignorant than to be informed. The real shame is that when we lose our ability to have constructive and logical discussions using factual information and compassion to communicate with one another, we lose our ability to constructively compromise and successfully solve problems that affect all of us.

I was raised to believe that there's enough sun in the world for everyone, that no one should be forced to live in the shadows while others are allowed to bask in privilege and opportunity, that I'm not better than anyone else and no one is better than me, that if you work hard you can accomplish great things, that if you believe something should change you have to take action and BE that change, that kindness and compassion matters and no matter what a person's economic status, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental disabilities, race, gender…etc, we are ALL children of God and we ALL deserve love, respect and a chance to do great things in this world. 

I cannot let fear stop me from voicing and doing what I believe is right in situations of injustice, because if you are quiet when it counts, you are a part of the problem. 

I love my country, but I hate the division that is happening in my country because of the powers that be. I hate the fear-mongering, the sexism, the homophobia, the racism, the corruption, the hypocrisy, the lies...these things are NOT what we are about. This is not how God asks us to treat one another.

I refuse to accept it.
I WILL speak my mind about it. 

I am so encouraged by those peacefully and productively standing up against policies that aim to negate the very values and ideals that make America the great and beautiful country that it is. 

If you truly believe that God loves all of us and not just SOME of us. If you truly believe that we are, ALL of us, equal in the eyes of God. If you truly believe that ALL of us deserve an equal opportunity to be great and to do great things in this world with great love. If you are one of the people who preaches that God loves all of us and that #AllLivesMatter would be a damn good time to step up and practice what you preach. 

I choose to step up. I choose love. I choose to use my voice for good. I choose to stand with the oppressed and the weary. I choose to do and say what I believe is morally right. I choose to take action when I see injustice happening around me. I choose to engage in thoughtful and productive discussions with those who may not agree with me and those who aim to be a part of the solution and a voice for those who need it most. I choose to not just say I am a Christian, but to act like it too because I choose to take the phrase "What Would Jesus Do" seriously, because it only takes one person to stand up for what is right to engage and inspire more people to do the same. It’s not about being a Republican or a Democrat, or Liberal or Conservative, or Agnostic…it’s about standing up for what you know is right. We can disagree with one another and still do what’s right. 

I'm choosing to ignore the folks who tell me to "shut up and sing" because what's happening in our country and in the world right now is more important than whether or not I lose a few fans because they don't agree with me or I'm a little too fiery for them. Because right now, more than ever, it's so important to be a part of the powerful movement of those passionate folks who've chosen to work fiercely to keep our country moving forward in equality and love and to not take part in actions or with those who are actively working to destroy the human rights that so many have fought and died to protect and instill in our country, and in this world. 

I have so much love for you guys and I'd like for all of you to stick around. I hope you won't go anywhere. I like that the type of relationship I’ve had with all of you has been an open one from the start and I’d like to hear you out. I'd like us to be able to have reasonable, constructive, adult conversations. I welcome your constructive thoughts and opinions because I will always welcome the opportunity to hear you out and fight for the greater good of ALL people. 

But I will not welcome hateful, violent comments or childish name-calling or actions, ever. 


"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter." 

- Martin Luther King Jr. 

We are, right now, in the thick of a very crucial and significant time in the history of our country. 

What side of history will you choose to be a part of?

nothin’ but love y’all, 

 xo - Kari 

#Resist ✊🏼

Monday, January 2, 2017

the best is yet to come...

Does anyone else feel like 2017 came outta nowhere? 

Yesterday I spent almost 9 hours on the road by myself and had a good long while to reflect on the past year. When I actually start putting all the pieces together, it's easy to understand why 2016 feels a little bit like a blur. 

2016 was crazy busy and chock-full of the wonderful, the weird and the why.

I know a lot of people were more than ready to boot 2016 out the door and lock it behind them as quickly as possible and if I'm being completely honest, there are parts of me that were ready for that too. When I think about the sadness of world events that happened this year...mass shootings, a division between police and people, continued wars around the world, terror attacks, the Flint water crisis, witnessing fear and hate as we discussed whether or not we'd be a country that would welcome refugees, saw laws passed that discriminated against people and we became more politically divided than ever before. 

This isn't a blog-post about how much 2016 sucked, by the way. Because although 2016 was full of, "wait...what?" moments, it was pretty great in a lot of ways too. When I stop to really think about it, I owe a lot to 2016 and I have A LOT to be thankful for. 

I'm a writer. I write everything down. It's how I process life. So, I decided to make a list of 26 (because 26 is my lucky number) wonderful things I am thankful for and things I experienced in 2016. If you're feeling a little disheartened about the last year and you're having trouble seeing the good in life, I'd suggest you try this and start with seeing the good in your own life. It's a fantastic way to remind yourself how lucky and blessed you truly are and it allowed me to look at 2016 in a more hopeful light. 

This list is in no particular order.

My 26 Best Of 2016:

1. I'm healthy.

2. I have a solid handful of phenomenal friends who love and support me more than I deserve and who don't take it personally when I'm on the road for months and don't get to see them.

3. I have the best and most encouraging family in the universe who love me unconditionally and support my goals and dreams year after year.

4. I became an Aunt and realized it's basically the greatest thing ever.

5. I fell in love with a wonderful person and I finally understand what all the fuss is about. ;)

6. I learned A LOT about myself in 2016 and I let go of negative baggage I'd been needing to say goodbye to for awhile. It's a constant work in progress, but 2016 really saw the start of learning self-acceptance, dealing with demons and learning how to be OK with not being OK sometimes.

7. I recorded and released my first full-length album, "Little Games" and I truly could not be prouder of this record.

8. Speaking of "Little Games," I got to reach a goal and record my album in Nashville, TN at Sound Emporium Studios with an insanely talented producer (CharlieHorse Productions) and team. What? I still have a hard time coming to terms with that one.

9. I'm going on year seven of being a full-time musician. I'm able to tour, write songs and make music for a living. That blows me away and I am thankful every single day.

10. I booked and went on two cross-country tours in 2016 and got to share my music with people all over this country. On those tours I got to visit new places almost every day and see some of the most stunning places on the map. Pretty dope.

11. I was able to work with an incredible video production company (Chop & Hue) and released a music video for the first single off "Little Games" ...a song that is extremely special to me called, "Sweetheart."

12. Speaking of "Sweetheart," I got to travel to my hometown of Clare, MI to make the music video at the high school I graduated from, with the best group of talented and sweet students and I felt the support of my hometown community more than I ever have before. The way Clare, MI came together to help make this music video a successful project will hold a very special place in my heart forever. I'm so proud to have grown up in that community and so thankful for my hometown.

13. Oh yeah, I entered "Sweetheart" into the ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, MI and won the country/folk music category. Such a cool thing!

14. I am blessed to make music with the best and most talented bandmates I could ask for. They are some of the best people I know.

15. I played 141 shows this year in 19 different states, got to play some venues I've wanted to play forever and got to hear my songs on several different radio stations, some of which have my music in regular rotation on their station (so rad).

16. I have the best fan family I could ask for. Hands down. It floors me that there exists people in this world who support my music and career relentlessly, encourage me daily to keep writing songs, playing shows and making new music and who have stood right beside me year after year as I grow as an artist. My fan family gives me more support than I think I'll ever come to grips with and are better to me than I will ever deserve in this life. (nothin' but love, you guys. thank you.).

17. Justin and I got to tour the upstairs at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville and play some guitars that are worth more than literally everything I own. It was terrifyingly AWESOME.

18. I personally experienced and witnessed a lot of giving this year to organizations like Mel Trotter, Mackenzie's Animal Shelter, Donate Life, Special Olympics and the Flint water crisis.

19. I MET ONE OF MY HEROES, GARTH BROOKS AND I GOT TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH HIM AND TRISHA YEARWOOD (and I didn't even cry until I got back to my car afterward).

20. My faith in God grew stronger and I am learning every day how to trust in his plan for my life.

21. The Cubs won the world series (on my birthday) while we were on tour and we cheered and celebrated with strangers in Washington.

22. Although there was sorrow in 2016, it was comforting and strengthening to witness people reach out to help and support one another in times of crisis and sadness.

23. Pokemon GO happened and it's actually a fun game that gets people out and about interacting with one another and exercising. (p.s - I caught SO MANY Pokemon while touring. It was radical.)

24. I got a standing ovation after my show opening for Scotty McCreery, playing songs from "Little Games" for the first time live, for an almost sold-out crowd at The Kalamazoo State Theater...and I cried when I got off stage because of it.

25. I went golfing for the first time, drank sake for the first time, got hit by a giant wave from the Pacific ocean for the first time, saw Jason Isbell live for the first time, played a show on a bridge for the first time, held a parrot for the first time, ate Torcy's Tacos for the first time, got a latte named after me at my hometown coffee shop for the first time and got my music on Pandora Radio for the first time.

26. I wake up every day with a roof over my head, wherever that may be. :) I am free to choose my religion, where I want to live and what I want to do for a living. I get to wake up every day knowing that there are people in this world who care about my well-being and want to see me succeed. Most importantly, I have a God who shows up in my life again and again and keeps allowing me to live a life I am passionate about. That's amazing to me.

The best part about this list is that there are probably more wonderful things that I forgot to add. 

I don't know what 2017 has in store, but I know that I am looking forward to the adventures ahead and I will continue to live with a grateful heart, focus on the good, do my best to be a light for those who need it and try to do as much good as I can. 

I trust that God's plan is a good one and I believe that my best days are still ahead. 

We are stronger and more power than we know. If you want to see change happen in 2017, be that change. Go out and make it happen. Attend your city council meetings, start an organization that supports and fights for something you care about, put yourself out there and try something new. Each day is only going to be as good as you make it and if you work for it and believe that this year will be your best year, it will be. It's all about perspective. It's all about how YOU choose to see the world and how YOU choose to react to it.

Choose to see the good in the world. 
If you can't see the good, be the good. 

The best is yet to come. This is my mantra going into every new year and every year it holds true. 

nothin' but love y'all.

xo - Kari