16th September 2018 marks two years to the day since I launched as a Christian singer/songwriter.
It’s been another 12 whirlwind months of adventures I never could have imagined or planned for myself! The excitement continues with more bizarre and exhilarating opportunities every day, but to mark this momentous day I thought I’d share my TOP 20 exciting moments from this past year.
Kicking off, at number 20…
Listening to my Christmas Song on the Radio... in Lithuania
If there’s one thing more exciting than national airplay, it’s international airplay! Both UCB stations can be heard live online, so when I spent a week in Lithuania in December, I was able to tune into the UCB1 launch of my Christmas song Who Is This King? – much to the interest of everyone in the hostel where I was live streaming!
Working with the EPIC Resound Media crowd
Resound Media have been champions. They pulled out every stop to make sure Journey On was ready to meet the radio deadlines whilst being fantastic quality. Before that, one-to-one mentoring with Dean Hill and Andy Baker proved to be the challenge I needed to be more daring and push bigger doors than I’d dreamed possible. I’ve met SO many incredible musicians and worshippers through them too, and countless exciting things are in the works as a result!
Singing at the UCB Wedding of the Year!
Mike Hibbert and Steph Rollinson and their beautiful family have been so supportive of me since we met on Twitter just over a year ago. It was just amazing to be able to take part in their summer wedding and celebrate with them the romance that began thanks to UCB’s social media presence. Nawhhh. <3
Being Guest of the Week on UCB2
There are some people who you phone for a 5 minute chat, and half an hour later you’ve still not put the phone down and now you’re wiping away tears of laughter. Simon Tuck is one of those people. So being his guest of the week – receiving the artist spotlight and having Journey On played on his show every evening – was a joy. A hilarious, ridiculous, random, joy.
Chatting with Loretta Andrews on Premier
For a country bumpkin like me to be invited to a London interview was a pretty outstanding moment in itself, but for Loretta Andrews to be such a warm, encouraging legend was the cherry on the cake. It felt like we could have chatted all day, and I’m absolutely certain God used my testimony and the story of Journey On to reach loads of people through Premiere.
Often over the last 12 months, I’ve been massively blessed by people I’ve never met before, who’ve told me that in one small way or another I’ve helped them get closer to God. It’s such an awesome and humbling privilege to hear, like listening to 5-year-old Nell singing along to Least. This has always been one of my main goals in stepping out musically, so feels like an enormous answer to prayer every time.
When You Decided What I'd Eat at Birmingham Airport
Okay, this one is just for fun. It’s not even remotely musical but this was honestly one of the highlights of my year, it was so hilarious. The poor Wetherspoons staff looked so confused as they received orders for scones, then chips, then pigs in blankets, then garlic bread, plus both cider AND tea; you should have seen their faces. Thanks, chums, for that priceless experience!
THE WHOLE FANTA THING
What a mammoth task this was! On Saturday, after singing to a packed out theatre for A Vicar’s Life Live, we gave away 250 cans of Fanta to spread the news that mental health illnesses can be overcome in Jesus’ name. (If you had to read that twice, let me explain!)
Back in June, a whopping 103 people wrote to Fanta with me to ask them to donate the cans, and while Fanta sadly couldn’t help, the lush team at Perfect Choice offered to sponsor the cans so that the plan could go ahead! 🙌 It really was a big project, but I’ve had dozens of conversations since to explain what happened to me and why I’m so passionate about spreading the news that God is REAL, and powerful.
Spending ALL DAY with my Favourite Radio Family <3
From UCB weddings to UCB studio adventures! Despite my frequent sniffles and dragging a box of tissues around from studio to studio, the team were exceedingly welcoming and even included me in their group prayer time. In that professional environment, it really hit home what an honour it is to be able to share my story and music so widely, and I came away so encouraged (and also with a new girl-crush on Ruth O’Reilly-Smith, who is the best person ever 😍).
Singing at CreationFest in Rob Westall's Band
Rob Westall, a talented, humble and hilarious Welshman on a similar musical mission to me, asked me to join his band to perform on the Big Top stage at CreationFest, an annual Christian festival in Cornwall. Among a group of incredible musicians, I had my first experience of singing backing vocals and harmonies for Rob’s 9 original worship songs at the prestigious festival in August – what an achievement. 🙂
The Debut EP
Wherever You Go landed in beautiful, glossy finish on my doorstep on the 15th December 2017! After a looooong time where my courage and faith were challenged, God gradually nudged me to accept His big ideas, then to test out my gifts – right up to showing my songs to professionals, training and recording. It was an intense and exciting journey, and when it culminated in my first PROPER CD it was a historic moment!
Think of, like, a soul friend who you never realised you missed until you met them. Then give them 55 years of songwriting experience, a heart for the gospel and a marvelous sense of humour. You’ve got Dave Wheeler.
Check out my exclusive interview with Dave, ‘Journey On: The Man Who Began the Adventure‘, for an insight into how much of a dude he really is.
Serving Coffee and the Lord... 🙏
In July this year, my AMAZING boss at Costa Ross-on-Wye finally persuaded me to bring my CDs into work and display them on the counter. I thought it was a super kind offer, but that it wouldn’t result in much interest. UM, I WAS WRONG. People recognised the girl on the poster as the girl making their Cortado, and struck up conversation about it – I didn’t need even to bring it up! Several times, the conversations have been super deep and faith-filled and fascinating. Please pray for these folk who have taken CDs home and will listen to them out of curiosity!
Heading Back to School!
Gigs are great. A chance to sing positive messages and name-drop Jesus over a crowd of people is a great opportunity. But few public performances feel as intimate and important as singing to children, telling them they are beautifully and wonderfully made, and that their life has a purpose. This year Dad and I formed an acoustic duo to lead assemblies in schools, and it’s been AMAZING. More are lining up already, and it just feels like such an exciting new way to show God’s love.
The Debut Tour
Embarking on the Bigger Than Dreams tour was WAY out of my comfort zone. That felt like something only ‘real’ musicians do! 😂 With encouragement (pressure) and support (uncomfortable challenging) from a lot of perfectly placed people, I got my act together and organised the first evening back in February this year – which sold out! Since then, a dozen other dates followed (with more booked for next year) and each time I’ve been encouraged by what the Holy Spirit has been doing on the night.
Telling My Story On Screen
CBN Europe, part of the Christian Broadcasting Network – which provides media and resources to spread the gospel globally – took my breath away when they chose to feature my healing story in a documentary project featuring women across the UK (currently a work in progress). A few months down the line, one of my favourite charities, The Wall of Answered Prayer (which is building a wall… of answered prayers) asked if I’d share my testimony on film for them too. It was more than a privilege to support the ministries of these two amazing forces for good!
Letting the Nation Know that Jesus Heals Today
This year, I’ve seen my healing story shared wider than I ever dreamed. It was a huge encouragement to be a part of awesome national ministries The Word For You (reaches 65,000 homes) and Premier Christianity Magazine (reaches 30,000 homes) to let people know that there is power in the name of Jesus, to break every chain.
Smashing Crowdfunding Targets - TWICE!
This time last year I’d never tried crowdfunding before. I thought without thousands of (wealthy) friends and followers it just wouldn’t be possible. Well, you proved me wrong TWICE!
Back in November, you raised the £600 needed to send my debut EP to print, and by the end of May you’d provided twice that to cover the production costs of Journey On’s epic music video – now released and touching many online. It’s absolutely mind-blowing, and knowing that each of these projects was a product of the love (and sometimes sacrifice) of scores of generous supporters is both moving and inspiring. It makes me feel like anything is possible when we pool our resources and work together as a family with a united vision. 👊
Releasing My First Music Video
MAN this project has taught me a lot. I drove like 300 miles (half in a friend’s convertible), chased sunsets in rising seawater, got sunburned (in the convertible), swapped a stranger’s car keys for a pint and borrowed her PRISTINE MG while she waited patiently in a pub, saw my friend break out of his comfort zone and perform as an actor and filmographer better than I could have even imagined, made new friends from all over the country, and learned that God always ALWAYS has a plan.
Today there’s been over 13,000 views of the video across social media, and I’ve been speaking to people or receiving messages of encouragement from people who have been blessed by the song in so many different ways – some really profound. It’s powerful when we encourage others to keep going. Be inspired to speak life to the people you see this week – you don’t know the impact it might have on them.
WHAT A YEAR!
I couldn’t have got to this stage without the love and support of so many people. Thank you.
If you’d like to walk the journey with me, I’d love to have you along for the fortnightly email catch-up. Sign up here and I’ll send you a fun update every two weeks (ish… sometimes it’s three) – it’s a blast! See you there. 🙂