Releasing a project with both English and Spanish versions—after previously birthing three in Spanish—was a dream of mine from long ago. To see it all come to life in this season is, at times, surreal. I am filled with gratitude to God for the strength and favor to be able to sing to Him at the fullest of who I am, a bilingual worshiper.
The whole development of these projects was so thrilling to me. I was brought up in an English-Spanish bilingual home, so I learned to be fluent in both languages from the time I started speaking. Needless to say, singing in both languages feels like second nature for me. Everything from adapting songs from one language to another, to tracking in the studio was an amazing process. Of course it was double the work than your normal album production involves, but it served to broaden my mental, musical, and spiritual horizons. Just to be in the studio recording a song in English, and then some time later doing it in Spanish made me appreciate even more my calling to the nations. Knowing that I can be particular to regions of the globe with a simple language shift was quite epiphanic.
How do you use trials you’ve faced and persevered through to reach out to those you lead in worship?
I’ve had my share of trials in life. In a nutshell, I had to face losing my father to alcoholism, being sexually molested as a child, rejections, rebellion, suicidal tendencies, hidden sin and so much more of this world’s gunk. I am a living testimony of the grace of God with which He reached down into my brokenness and rescued me. Of course, it’s not easy healing such deep wounds, many of which were inflicted at a very early age, yet it was my desire to be closer to God to know Him and please Him that gave me the drive to actually go through the rough terrain of restoration.
Usually, when I lead worship in different countries, I like to share my testimony and end with a simple truth from Jesus: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We must always take heart and remind ourselves that He has won over it all for us. What better way to remind us of this than through worship?
What are the differences in leading worship for Spanish speaking congregations and English speaking? What are the similarities?
I’ve found that the common denominator in true worshipers across the board is love, thankfulness, and hunger for God. These elements are always present whenever I lead worship, regardless of what region I’m in. Now, the expressions of worship among the people may vary. Spanish speaking congregations—I was brought up in one—tend to have an outward passion when they express worship, whereas English-speaking congregations in my experience tend to be very inward and reflective in their expression of worship. Of course, I’m aware that this isn’t written in stone, because I have shared with exceptions where you see a “still whisper” manifesting in a Spanish-speaking congregation, and turn around and find an explosive fire-filled expression happen when God touches an English speaking church.
What are some of the logistics behind translating a song, what most important aspects need to be taken into consideration?
I’m so glad you asked. Translating is but a part of the process. The real term when it comes to songs is adapting it to another language. There are so many details that need to be taken into consideration, that I’ve delivered entire workshops on this subject. I’ve been adapting songs for years and I’ve learned that it flows more efficiently when we have an open mind and make an effort to learn what the author of the original is really trying to convey. Simply going word for word isn’t going to do. It is vital that the final adaptation—after a very recommended many drafts—is as close as possible to the core message of the original song. Also, it is very important that the final adaptation feels like a “stand-alone” version, as if it were written in the adapted language. Adapting a song to another language is, in essence, a form of re-writing it in another language in order to convey the heart of it successfully to a different group of people. I think being a songwriter is a plus, because I can see better ways to transmit the song from a broader point of view. It’s quite a fun process, and I highly-recommend adapting songs in a group setting, instead of individually.
What can worship leaders do more of to better incorporate all differences in backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles when they lead?
Very many congregations are multi-cultural in this day and age. In fact, Heaven’s worship is multi-cultural worship. Every redeemed soul from all eras, nations, languages, and races will be worshiping the Creator the way they knew how on Earth. It’ll be quite a thing to witness when time comes. It is important that worship not be boxed in a genre or particular style of music, but that all forms of worship be welcome. Of course, there is an order to logistics in congregational worship meetings. However, welcoming the people to feel free to worship God as they feel free to do so is so helpful when having many cultures and backgrounds represented in the church. I love visiting countries and seeing how their worship styles change from place to place, while still maintaining Jesus as the center of it.
We’ve heard that your album is expected to be a particular encouragement to women, what do you hope women hear and take heart in through Deeper?
I enjoy encouraging, especially women, because I can relate to most of them. I long for each woman to understand that she can be safe in God; that there is nothing to fear when under God’s wing. I know that us ladies like to let our minds run wild, which leads us to worry a lot. I know first hand that our resting place is in God. Deepening our relationship with the Father is a safe harbor, whether it be a woman who’s trying to become whole again because her heart has been severely wounded, or a mom trying to cope with bringing up her children and not go completely insane in the process. We are His little girls, and he’s beckoning us to follow Him into new depth of His presence where we can find peace, joy, and renewal of hope.
What message do you hope to convey in Deeper? What is the meaning behind your album title?
Very tied into the life of this project, is the supernatural presence of God that has been vividly felt through it all, since it’s conception. Being that the title is Deeper, I felt the Lord’s nudge to seek Him in a different and unexplored way as I ever did before, to go deeper in my relationship with Him. I heard someone say one day “to experience things you’ve never experienced, you must do things you’ve never done.” This is exactly what’s implied when inviting someone into unchartered depths. Of course, depths always carry uncertainty within, and that proved to be the beautiful part of my personal plunge into new and unknown sides of the Father. I learned to pray differently, worship more transparently, and love more intensely. As well, I began to chase after God with a fierce passion and abandon, different to what I had ever done before. That’s when I started seeing Him in a new light, or should I say depth. Through this, God taught me to hear His voice more clearly as he would whisper “the deeper the roots, the better the branches can extend.”
As redeemed believers, we must submerge deeper in His presence in order to understand our purpose better and avoid spiritual stagnancy. Also, as it says in Psalm 77:19, “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters–a pathway no one knew was there!” It’s in this process of going against the odds to pursue God that we develop faith, acquire His fullness, and experience His “faith-fulness” every step of the way. These three are key components of every season of deepening in God. That is the journey that the 10 songs on Deeper seek to initiate, enabling us to worship on our way to knowing God, as His deep calls to our deep for more.
What is in store for you in the near future?
I have tours coming up in both North and Latin America starting in the summer. We will be visiting much of US, as well as countries in Central and South America in search of more souls to come to know God through our ministry. I’m excited in anticipation of a great harvest of souls this year. I also have a burning desire to put my story into a book soon.
You were at our conference last year in California, and you will be at all three of NWLC this year as a featured worship leader and instructor. What do you hope to teach and come away with as a leader? What was your experience in our conference last year?
Whew! I’m so excited about this. I had such a phenomenal time last year a NWLC California. I went there to teach and lead; yet I learned so much! To be able to share time, testimonies, and the Word of God with so many special leaders from across the nation is very humbling. I can’t wait for May to come for our first NWLC stop in Lancaster, PA. I’ll get to teach and lead worship again with the great folks from NWLC, and I am so ready for God to blow my mind and wreck me in worship with all the attendees again.