On September 11, singer and songwriter Julie Elias releases her new album "Unbroken." On this new record, Elias incorporates her musical influences, including Sara Bareilles, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Kerrie Roberts and Francesca Battistelli, to create music that is fun, energetic and speaks to who God created her to be.
Although Elias studied music theater in college, the California native never envisioned a career as a singer, choosing, instead, to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting. She quickly secured roles in popular TV series, such as "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI: NY," as well as in films with the likes of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. The success she found in Hollywood, however, left her unfulfilled.
Within months, Elias was writing and recording her first album, "A Wild Rose," and singing at Night of Joy at Disney World. In the past few years, she has released a Christmas album, fronted her own Christmas tours, sang at major Christian festivals and conferences, and worshiped with many churches throughout North America. In August 2014, Elias released a worship album titled "Love Rain Down" featuring upbeat, energetic worship songs that Elias has performed at student events throughout the nation. Elias founded Aurora Ministries, a 501(c)3 that produces the Aurora Conferences, last year.
In addition to speaking and performing at Aurora Conferences in the coming months, Elias has a steady schedule of concert and festival dates, including the United Kingdom's Creation Festival in Wadebridge, Cornwall.
Hallels: Thanks Julie for your time. Your last album "Love Rain Down" was a worship record, but your new album "Unbroken" is different in the sense that it addresses a wider array of issues that teenagers (and all of us) face. What inspired to go in this direction?
I think a lot of time worship songs are very general - which is great - but sometimes getting more specific can provide a stronger connection point, especially in people that maybe aren't as comfortable in their faith yet. "Unbroken" is really my story over the last few years. For a long time, I never thought I could be someone on a platform because I wasn't perfect and I was always under the illusion that everyone up there was "better than everyone else," both in reality and also just in their attitude. Well, for the most part, that is SO not the case. There are so many people using the brokenness in their lives to show how God can make all things work together for good, and put the damaged pieces of our lives back together for something beautiful. "Unbroken" is my declaration of moving forward from my past, carried by the grace of God.
Hallels: In what ways does this album speak to teenagers, especially girls?
Being a teen girl is tough, even tougher now than it was when I was in school. There are a lot of issues I remember facing at that age that at the time seemed debilitating and getting through them was tough. A lot of times people say, "Oh, it will get better" or "just give it time." Though this is true, a lot of people - including myself at that age - want to know, "Okay, that's great and all but what can I do NOW? And how can I not feel this way again?" Rejection, feelings of worth, comparison, beauty, heartbreak, consequences, moving on...these are all massive issues facing teenagers today but guess what? They STILL exist for adults. That is why it is so important to get these girls connected to God NOW - not just to get them through these times today but prep them for the future. If I can save them a little bit of frustration and heartache through my music, then I know I am pursuing my calling.
Hallels: I believe you are also the founder and speaker of the Aurora Conferences. Tell u more about this conference?
I am! I launched the Aurora Conference last year in North Texas. It is for teen girls, grades 6-12 and I had a great team of speakers including Morgan Harper Nichols, comedian Kristin Weber and more. The difference about this conference thought is it is really fueled by music. In fact all the songs on "Unbroken" were written to be the soundtrack to the conference and tie in specific themes and topics that we discuss at the conference. Each girl gets the Unbroken CD and a workbook included in their registration as resources to keep after the conference. Planning it has been quite an undertaking but I feel really confident that is where the future of my music ministry lies. I have one in Reno, NV this October and more in the works in Texas, Oklahoma and California.
Hallels: I believe you wrote most of the songs on "Unbroken." What was the greatest challenge you faced being a song writer?
To be honest, the greatest challenge for me is flexibility. When you write a song from scratch, it is easy to feel kind of protective of it. I heard someone use the phrase "birthed a song" when talking about songwriting and it does kind of become your baby! The problem with that is, for me, sometimes it is hard to take criticism. I preview a lot of what I write for friends and colleagues and while I want honest feedback, the caveat is you have to be ready for it and not take it too personally! Finding that balance as an artist between sharing your own experience and people-pleasing is important....if people don't like your music, obviously you're going to struggle with having fans. Yet you want to be true to who YOU are and your own expression as well.
Hallels: Are you excited that your new single "Home" debut at #1 on the CRC Chart? What was the inspiration behind "Home"?
It was SO encouraging to see "Home" do so well on the CRC chart! It's my first proper go at getting an original song on radio which again, like I mentioned before, putting yourself out there via song can be scary! Being an independent artist, I really appreciate the support from these stations in giving me a chance.
I have moved around a lot as an adult - I have a bit of wanderlust so I like seeing new places and living new experiences, but you do give up putting down roots by doing this. I am SO grateful to have a wonderful family in my hometown and whenever I go home to visit, I feel so loved and supported. When I moved to Texas, where I live now, I didn't really know anyone and it was not a transplant area at all - lots of "born and raised" folks. I felt (and honestly, sometimes still do feel) incredibly alone. I have learned what it means to rely on God and feel comforted by His presence, which ideally should be that same feeling when we physically go "home," wherever that may be. We all need a place to escape from the stress and craziness of life, but need to find that rest and solace in God, no matter the circumstances.
Hallels: On a number of songs you deal with very real issues such as revenge and being hurt, why do you think this is an important to address? How do your songs help readers who feel like they have been hurt?
Every single person in their life will be hurt by someone else. Probably more than once. It is a common, shared human experience, as are emotional responses from that hurt. Feelings are such a roller coaster - any time you make a decision based on a heightened feeling, it probably isn't the wisest choice because while that feeling may go away, the consequence of what you did will not. Unfortunately the natural response to being hurt, is to hurt. Ever heard that phrase, "Hurt people hurt people?" It's the motivation behind bullying, being judgmental and of course getting revenge. One of the songs on the album called "I Won't Cry" is directly about revenge but instead of acting out on it, deciding to leave it up to God; He knows what happens and there are many scriptures, especially in Matthew, about leaving all judgment up to God. One song is about the power of the tongue, taken from James 3:1-12 about how destructive words can be especially when said in anger. There's another scripture I LOVE in Exodus that says "Let the Lord fight for you; all you need to do is be silent." The Bible has a lot to say on revenge because it is a very prevalent feeling. More hurt will only cause more hurt. Let God fight for you. And move on.
Hallels: I am really intrigued by your cover of Joy Williams' "The Love of the Lord Endures." What inspired to cover this song?
I am so glad you asked this! Although I never dreamed I would be in music ministry, I enjoyed singing in church when I was younger. I remember Joy came to our church way back when and she was just awesome, so talented even then. I subsequently sang this song in church as a solo and it always stuck with me. It was on my go-to Christian music playlist for years and when I was putting songs together for this album, I wanted a song to culminate all the themes....and realized that God being there for you no matter what, no matter what brokenness, is the point of this album. His love endures forever. I thought it was kind of cool that this song itself has stayed with me a long time - what better song to express both a strong message and also my own story?
Hallels: For our readers who would like to find out more you and your new album, where can they go?
"Unbroken" will be on my website (www.julieeliasmusic.com), iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and other digital outlets on September 8 but you can preorder it on iTunes later this month! Of course, you can always keep an eye on where the Aurora Conference is heading and get one there as well!! :)