Taking My Voice Back, the Burtonwood Records debut from Louisiana-based singer/songwriter Brooke Robertson, is set to release March 27. Produced by Jeremy Holderfield (Seventh Day Slumber, Nathan Sheridan), the 11-song set-all co-penned by Robertson-showcases buoyant, country-tinged pop anthems alongside poignant ballads, each song a testament to the hope, healing and joy Roberston is embracing along her journey.
Q: Brooke, thank you for doing this interview with us. Let's start with you: tell us a little about yourself.
Thank you for this opportunity! I'm a small-town country girl, born and raised in Southeast Louisiana. Growing up, if something was outside, I did it. From riding four-wheelers and dirt bikes to horses, I loved it all. I was a competitive barrel racer for several years and just recently had to give my horse a new home. Although I began singing in the youth band at church when I was pre-teen, I grew up around music-my dad played the piano, guitar and drums by ear-so I'd say that's where my love for music comes from. I am proud of my roots and I wanted to show a little of that in my music.
Q: You have been a victim of childhood sexual abuse. For years, you have chosen not to talk about it. What prompted you to share about this painful experience now?
When I was about 10 years old, I was sexually abused. The experience left me in a dark place. I had feelings of shame and guilt; I felt dirty and alone. It was a vicious cycle I was stuck in, so the easiest and safest thing for me to do was bury it inside and never talk about it. While I never allowed the abuse to define me, it was definitely a memory that stung. Even though I thought I'd let it go and I was ok, I didn't know God was planning something that would heal even deeper.
After touring in 2018, we were beginning to write for my new record. I believe we had a couple of songs written already but I wasn't sure about the direction I wanted the album to take. I remember one day I had a talk with God-just praying for guidance, asking Him what my purpose was as an artist. What do people need to hear? I wanted songs that were going to reach people on a deeper level. Almost immediately my abuse story began circling in my head.
I avoided it for weeks, but it didn't go away. I remember hearing in my heart that someone needed this, but I was so terrified. It meant I had to tell this secret to people, including my family and friends...and eventually the world. I didn't want to. It seemed scary and very exhausting, but little did I know the next year God would give me the strength and courage I needed in order to begin sharing my journey. I can say now that I'm glad I did.
Q: How do you forgive in a circumstance like that? And what does forgiveness look like here?
I am thankful I was raised in a Christian home and went to church every Wednesday and Sunday. I also attended youth camps, and that's where I gave my life to Jesus. I learned about His love and experienced it in a way I never had before, but I didn't fully understand what it was like to completely forgive someone. As an adult, I felt I needed to contact the person who abused me and let them know that I forgave them, and so does God. That was the complete healing I didn't realize I needed.
Q: You have chronicled some of this experience in your new song "Taking My Voice Back." Tell us more about this song.
After I reached out and forgave my abuser, I had the clarity I needed to write about what I had been holding in for 15 years. It was terrifying and relieving all in the same breath. My hope is that someone else can find this healing. No matter how you have been abused or hurt, there is power in forgiveness. It frees you.
Q: Your new album is very personal because you also share about your mother's health crisis in the penetrating "Purpose for the Pain." Tell us more about how this song came about.
This story is about my mom and what she went through while she was pregnant with me. She became very ill at the beginning of her pregnancy and struggled both emotionally and physically the whole time. The doctors were not able to properly treat her because they couldn't perform the necessary tests during her pregnancy. However, she was surrounded by family and friends who helped her out and prayed life over both of us. No one had answers and no one knew what was going on, but they believed that we were both going to make it through this.
A month before her due date, the doctors delivered me because there was a chance that things could've progressively worsened and threatened both our lives. After I was born my mom found out she had shingles of the brain and it had paralyzed some of her cranial nerves. She fought through it and now has some face paralysis and hearing loss. But here I am, able to sing her story-our story. Even though she endured so many complications, there was a purpose at the end of it. I see her as one of the strongest people know.
I want people to know that even though you may be walking through something right now that hurts, you're going to come out of your situation even stronger and God is will use your pain for His glory.
Q: On the new album you also have a duet with Building 429's frontman Jason Roy. How did the two of you get to work together?
When my producer, Jeremy Holderfield, was working on this song, he thought it would be great to feature a guest artist. He mentioned Jason, and I honestly didn't think it was possible. I know how busy artists are and didn't believe it could happen. Jeremy reached out anyway, because you never know until you take the shot. Almost immediately, Jason replied and said he loved the song and wanted to be a part of it! I was shocked and so thankful.
A couple weeks later, we headed into the studio with Jason. He took time out of his busy schedule to record vocals and then he sat down with me, offering advice and talking about what it's like being a new artist. I'm so thankful for our friendship and so excited for the world to hear this one!
Q: One of my favorites off the new record is "See You Here." I believe there's a story behind the song, can you share it with us?
Yes, it's one of my favorites too! I have a very tight-knit family. We live on a large piece of property called Robertson Hill, and my grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins are all around. My great-grandmother, who lived right across the field from us, passed away a few years ago. It shook our family. Even though she was with us for over 95 years, there's a part of you that never wants to let go. I am so thankful for the memories I have of her. You realize just how precious life is when you lose someone you love.
I wanted to write a song that showed what she meant to me and our family, but I also wanted to write the song for others who have experienced a similar loss. Maybe you miss someone you've lost or maybe there's a relationship that needs to be mended. If you have grandparent you don't see enough, take time and go visit-they just want the company. I miss my great-grandmother's stories and her smile, and I am so thankful for those memories that I will forever cherish.
Q: After all these trials and tribulations you have had encountered, what words of encouragement do you have for our readers who may be suffering right now?
Life may be tough right now and you might be asking all the "whys" to God. Maybe you feel like life isn't fair. Maybe you're waiting for a season to be over. Whatever it is, keep going. One thing I can say is that I don't believe God has caused any of the pain I've experienced, but I do believe God can take any situation and turn it into something beautiful and hopeful. The enemy wants us to shut down, but God is saying, "wait for what I have for you." Whatever is holding you back, God wants you to lay it down and walk into what He has for you. Unforgiveness, hurt, or whatever you're feeling that is bringing you down, God can turn anything around if you let Him.