Deborah Hightower: Music Can Soften the Heart

With the Art as Worship radio show on hiatus, we’ll continue to feature artists using their written words to describe the connection between their art and their spirituality. Access all of our radio interviews on Empower Radio.

Deborah Hightower_3512Artist Deborah Hightower is an author, singer and songwriter.

Deborah celebrated four Top 10 hits on inspirational radio and three award nominations from her album, Her Name is Deborah. The LOVE. album was released in October 2012, followed by Beautiful Christmas in November. She has performed in a variety of venues including radio and television, mega-churches, conferences, corporate events, Carnegie Hall, and the White House.

In addition, Deborah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, minor in Communication; Master’s Degree in Organization and Management; and is completing a PhD in Leadership. She holds several professional designations in the financial arena. Find out more at www.DeborahHightower.com.

Can you tell me more about how you create your art?

Inspirational writing — whether music or narrative comes from an idea…an unction…a thought that appears my mind, heart, and soul. It could be inspired from a Bible teaching or scripture, a circumstance experienced, or situation witnessed. The funny thing about inspiration is one never knows when it will strike. I have written lyrics while driving down the road as well as during meditation time.

At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?

On the one hand, I have always considered myself an artist in terms of music as it has been a natural fit since a young child. On the other hand, writing came with life and professional experience — narratively and lyrically speaking.

How would you describe your spirituality?

For me, spirituality is the constantly transforming internal experience based on my belief and faith in God that guides life’s decisions. Awareness of and tuning in to the spiritual provides a hopeful and optimistic outlook for the present and future. Even through a trial or painful happening, joy can be found in God. The result of the trial or pain can be beautiful and transformed into meaningful lyrics or narratives.

How does your spirituality find expression in your art?

My narrative and lyrical writings promote hope, peace, love and understanding. Whether writing for business purposes or expressing my thoughts in song, the foundation for the message is spiritual. It has been said that my latest songs (from the album, LOVE. and from my previous album Her Name is Deborah) can be directed to human or divine. My business writings (i.e., from the best-selling book The Secret to Winning Big) have fundamental principles that can be found in the Bible even though God or scriptures is never mentioned. I strive to write narratives and lyrics to creating moments of ponder — leaving the interpretation to the reader or listener so they can apply it to their particular beliefs and thoughts.

Can you share a story of how creating your art expanded your awareness of God?

My first experience with music can from church so the connection with God in that sense has been there as far back as I can remember. Now, the things that I seek in life — fulfillment, peace, joy, happiness, love — are exponentially expanded through worship, meditation and prayer. Music sets the stage for these things. Often times, music helps clear the mind — giving clarity to the issues at hand. I believe music can soften the heart, communicate an emotion, and create motivation to move forward. DHightower Love album

How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?

I believe we were created to be creative. I believe each one of us has a divine purpose for being created. For me, the creative process is seldom intentional, per se. While there are is a process to get the idea or inspiration from the heart and head to paper, the idea-generating portion is usually unplanned. Going about daily activities can generate an idea. My ‘notebooks of inspiration’ contain business writing, ideas, scriptures that fit the need or situation, lyrical lines and other thoughts that will, at some point, likely be committed to publishing. Laughingly I say that I ponder on these things all the time, even in my sleep. In all seriousness, I have awoken to find completed lyrical lines on my mind. Coincidence? Hardly. I attribute it to dreams through which the Spirit finds rest and manifestation.

How do you connect differently to your creative source when you work solo versus when you are collaborating with others?

I believe to work well with others requires a like-mind and like-spirit. There must be a common message goal before the idea-generation process starts. Particularly, I believe music to be a powerful mode of communication and for the message to be clear requires all the wheels to be headed in the same direction.

How do ideas come to you?

Inspiration can come from a number of sources. For example, perhaps a devotion, scripture or meditation moment; perhaps a story of someone’s circumstance; perhaps an injustice in the world — all these things and more can generate a thought. The thought can be fleeing or it can create a moment to connect an idea that could eventually turn into a work of art.

I find it interesting that inspiration can have a lot to do with timing. Let me explain. What moves me today may not have moved me yesterday or created a reaction that could turn into a lyric or narrative. We are exposed to so many ‘noises’ over the course of the day…sometimes we tune it all out…then sometimes amidst the noise, we hear one thing that sticks. The ability to allow inspiration to flow is an important component for artistry — regardless of the mode.

How do you decide which ideas to pursue?

My notebooks are full of one-, two-liners, or three-liners. Some develop in short order and some stay put for a year or two before developing into a complete work. Often, I laugh and say that I know two lines of thousands of song…perhaps that’s a sign of how I think…in snippets. Sometimes, snippets unfold into complete works and sometimes not. Timing has a lot to do with an idea — perhaps an issue at hand or a special need for a word of encouragement.

If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?

I think the basis for the creative process begins with a heart search.  What message do you want to communicate? What story would you like to share? Once the foundation has been laid, then the building process can begin. Dig deep — past the surface. For example, if the lyrics or narrative is from a place of hurt or disappointment, let the listener or reader feel your pain.  If the work is from a happy place, let the smile shine through. This is where the timing plays a big role. If you are having an upbeat and hopeful day, it may be hard to dig out the pain that you want to write about. By the same token, if you are having a cloudy day, it may be hard to write about sunshine. I think the Spirit plays a big role in the process. Let the Spirit be your guide.

How has your art affected your spiritual evolution or spiritual evolution affected your art?

For me, spiritual evolution has affected my art. Connection with the Spirit and the maturing process of that relationship has played a role in my lyrics and message.

Find out more and connect with Deborah:

Listen to an encore presentation of an artist’s interviews each Wednesday at 9am Eastern on Empower Radio. Share your art and your comments on the Art as Worship Facebook page. Namaste!

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