Hello Jodi, it’s a pleasure to discuss your album and single title release “Fearless”. Before we get into the album, though, I’d like to know a little more about you. I’ve read that you’ve accomplished many things in your life. You’ve acted in T.V. and film, and you’ve done producing and film-making as well. You also became a licensed airplane pilot and a model. You are also a cancer survivor.
So, how would you answer the question, who is Jodi Essex?
First, hello to you! Thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview, appreciate it tremendously…and wow, looks like you’ve done your research! I really appreciate that as well.
Good lead-off question. I have indeed gone after many pursuits in my lifetime. We only have so much time on this planet and I’ve always thought it wise to make the best use of it. Of all the things I’ve done, experienced, or amassed, nothing compares to my mission at hand… being a fearless warrior for Christ and speaking truth through my music.
Your music is Christian Rock and your songs have strong messages? Do you write all of your own songs?
Yes, definitely a Christian rocker! Though I started out singing adult contemporary and worship songs as a child, ending up singing music of a rock genre was a pure evolution of how my personality would develop; how I was shaped by life experiences. The messages in my songs are also indicative of that. I believe that we all come out of the womb wired a certain way. I think I came into this world wired as a generally strong person. How we develop from that point into our adult lives is an amalgamation of how we are raised, people that may influence us (negatively or positively), adversity or hardship we experience, and the decisions we make along the way—the good, the bad, the ugly.
One thing I try to remember is that our beginnings don’t always define our endings. I dealt with a lot of dysfunction growing up that could’ve steered me straight into a spiral of drugs, misdirection, and maybe even death if I had let it. But during those times, my faith in Jesus held me together. My emotional and mental strength, working in tandem with hope and prayer, helped me make good decisions. No matter how bad things were at their beginnings, I clung to hope that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel and here I stand today (praise God!) writing and singing Christian rock music.
I do write all my own songs. From time to time, I may perform a cover song of another artist but most of the time it is all original material—both autobiographical and biographical. I also love the synergistic energy of collaborating with other people as well!
Why did you choose Christian Rock over other music genres?
I like to think we, as humans, have layers. As I mentioned above, I started out singing adult contemporary and worship music, but rock music became an identity for me. I have an older sister who used to listen to Stryper and Petra back in the day. I instantly loved the dichotomy of both the energetic rock sound, in contrast to a ballad like “Don’t Let Your Heart Be Hardened” (Petra). I was drawn to the feel of that sound. There was a holy irreverence to it!
Rock music, being a bold style, usually carries a strong message along with it. It sometimes reflects an outspoken, willful, and fearless warrior behind the mic. It’s energetic and spirited; a liberating and let-it-all-out style with no holding back in one’s delivery. The style is definitely reflective of my personality.
The layers I mentioned make us multi-dimensional. Music is part of my soul and how I connect most in my times with God. “Layers” refers to the love of singing other styles as well…nothing like a heartfelt hymn, a maranatha-era worship song, an oldie from The Imperials or a classic by Amy Grant. And Lord knows I love Sandi Patty! Perhaps there will be an iteration of one of her songs in the near future….hmmm…BUT I am a rocker at heart!
How did you become a Christian and what does being a Christian mean to you?
I was born into a Christian household. I’m half Filipino and half Irish. Though my dad, who is Filipino, was raised Catholic, I grew up attending a non-denominational Christian church as my mom did throughout her life. I don’t think, as children, we actually grasp the true concept and meaning of Christianity and what a true walk with Jesus looks and feels like until we’re a bit older. So, though baptized as a child, I didn’t start that deeper process to my faith journey until I was about 12 and baptized again as a teenager around age 13.
My walk since then looks like the peaks and valleys of an EKG screen! (laughs)
There have been awesome moments, filled with the highest highs, the lowest lows, the greatest happiness, the deepest sadness and incredible disappointments. There were a good many battles between being “in” the world versus “of” the world. I also spent some time really mad at God for various reasons, including trauma that occurred within my family.
To sum it all up, I was human, born of free will, and made some good decisions and bad decisions. But my faith was always embedded deep inside me somewhere.
To me, being a Christian starts with commitment. An acknowledgment to accept Jesus into your heart as Lord & Savior, followed by the action of doing just that—living in a way that reflects the commitment you have solemnly made to Him. Living heart-in-hand to God and allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable to Him, and the change only He can inspire in our lives.
Is this transformation an easy road? No. Remember I mentioned my life looking like an EKG read-out? Following Jesus is hard at times. It takes discipline, consistent stewardship, and being irreverent to the world for the sake of the path that God has carved out for us. We also have to be bold enough to stand up to the naysayers for what we believe in. We need to suit up in our armor, go out, and truly spread the word no matter the cost. Would you go the lengths and do what Jesus did for us? Think about that. What we are called to do is an incredibly small price to pay for what He had to endure here on Earth. Forget all that you think you’d lose by following Jesus and living a life “of” the world, along with all its trappings and treasures.
It’s nothing compared to all you would gain for being His warrior!
I read an interview Dan Locke did with you for Unrated Magazine on December 27, 2019. In the introduction, Dan wrote, “After years of casually ignoring God’s prompting to write faith-based music, Christian-rock artist Jodi Essex is ready to answer it boldly, and he goes on to talk about the title song from your first album, “Irreverent”, which was released in January 2020. What made you decide to answer God’s call and start writing faith-based music, and how do you feel about that decision now?
There were many times as I traversed my life phases, mad at God and all, I was prompted to write and record faith-based music. Years ago I founded and participated in a couple of secular rock bands. I was receiving those promptings even then, but I chose to ignore them and kept doing what I thought was right for my life. Now, I’m not judging those who listen to secular music—I listen to secular music, but my heart is not rooted in it. I believe a lot of people are blessed with the gift of music and it’s up to them how they decide to use it. There’s nothing like a ballad from the “voice,” Whitney Houston, or a ray of sunshine melody from The Beach Boys. You can’t deny their gifts or influence, but it comes down to one’s own personal convictions and heeding those convictions.
I was receiving very heavy-hearted prompts to turn the bus around and go a different direction. I am stubborn, so naturally I kept doing what I was doing at the time, until I hit an emotional rock-bottom. Life is good at that—beating us down to the point we literally feel that we own the biggest piece of real estate in the pit of despair! Sometimes we decide to call upon God only when we’ve truly reached the very bottom. So ironic that so many people call on God only in a crisis (me included). I’ve since learned to call on God even when things are going well in pure gratitude.
Anyway, after feeling like Moses in the wilderness for 40 years, I finally decided to heed the call. I will always recall the very moment I deem the “turning point.” I gave up everything in my mind and heart that I had built up as an identity for myself. I made the decision to shed all the things the world made me think I needed over the years. I made the decision. I made the commitment. God broke me wide open once again and let all the light shine in. I felt like a huge burden had been lifted, though it would look to “the world” like I was giving in and giving up.
It was a major reset for me and without realizing it at the time, I had loads of songs ready to write themselves and float through the sound waves into the ears of today’s culture.
I can’t imagine life happening any other way. It happened as it should and, in God’s time. I should say that one of the most frustrating things about being a believer is that things don’t necessarily happen when we want them to. God’s plan and timing for our lives is better than we could ever plan. He is the master architect!
It’s been said that “you’re not afraid to speak your mind and/or offend people to spread Your message”. Who do you see as your target audience and what message do you want them to get from your music?
For me, doing Christian music has the word “mission” attached to it. It comes with a specific purpose and I am committed to that. I hope to inspire and influence people for God through the messages woven in my songs. Therefore, I think my target audience is anyone who will listen, believer or not. If you’re a believer, I hope to inspire you to keep fighting the fight. I hope to equip like-minded listeners with the courage, boldness, and tenacity to speak truth into others’ lives. If you’re thinking about needing a change in your life…if you feel lost…if you feel you need something in your life to help you find your way out of your own pit of despair—I hope my music speaks to those people, as well as those who are curious about God. If you’re curious about Jesus or you’ve wandered away from Jesus, let’s rock it all out together and move toward action and fearlessness to move ahead! The awesome thing about being inspired to make a change is that you can start now. Immediately. God doesn’t get caught up with your past, nor should you. He wants your present and your future. NOW. Forever. Remember where I stated that your beginning will not define your ending. Make it so. Let’s do this!
Your upcoming single from your upcoming album, is the title release, “Fearless”. In the song there is a line that says “Speak the good, expect the wrath. I wanna say ‘I knew you’,” and the chorus says, “You’re gonna be fearless. I can see you now. You’re gonna be fearless. I can show you how.” Since the Covid Pandemic began in 2020, fear has become prevalent in the everyday life of many people. Was that the inspiration for this song and what are you hoping people will get from its message?
While I think the pandemic is great cause for the seemingly massive increase in fear-driven living, I think fear en mass was already bubbling below the surface. I feel like the unfolding of it all also served as a vehicle for fear-based actions and behaviors as well. It did magnify everything that already existed. I think we have been existing in a culture of fear for decades now, fueled by political action and inaction; the woes of internet-based activity, and major shifts in cultural platforms and societal systems.
My story behind “Fearless” is a call to action of individuals from all walks of life—some inspired but fearful of next steps; some down-trodden by life’s, oftentimes turbulent storms just trying to get by, and some on a ledge debating whether they matter. I’m here to tell everyone that they matter. That they are all worth it. Every single moment. By the grace of God, every human deserves a place in His heaven.
When I look at the word “Fearless,” I see a simple message in that very powerful word: “Fear less.” Literally. By fearing less, we’re capable of so much more. Being rooted in fearlessness can make life a bit easier to traverse. Being FEARLESS allows us to let go of things we hold so tight that add little to no value in who we are and will become. HOWEVER, fear is not without power, as it keeps us either focused on the past or worried for the future. That’s a huge stake of distraction in our heads that we sometimes find impossible to escape. I think if we truly understand the power that fear can have over us, the desire and drive to disentangle ourselves from FEAR becomes even more imperative and even palatable.
In the beginning of the song and throughout the song, there is a tribal chant that bellows out, “Warrior, lift up your face, be a warrior in His race, warrior!” We cannot lose when we suit up in the armor of God and go forth to do what we are meant to do. Warriors are not passive followers. WE are His soldiers. Has he not done enough for us that we might, in return, be the warriors in His race to make the world aware of our fearless leader?
At the heart and foundation of it all, we need resilience, a fearlessness to get through, to get by—not just to survive—THRIVE. This is what FEARLESS is about. Lean into God and be equipped!
There’s a song on the upcoming “Fearless” album that was already released as a single on September 10, 2021—“Offend”. It’s a great song with a great message. It seems to be a challenge for your listeners. Will you share what that challenge is?
(Laughs) Oh yes. A similar challenge happened with the song “Irreverent” from my first album as well. I’m more than happy to clear that up. It’s as simple as this: I am not saying to go out and offend people for the sake of the gospel. What I am saying is that while we are called to go out and speak truth, there will be people who will naturally be offended by what you have to say. Some people are innately offended by religion as a whole. No matter what you say to them, they will be offended no matter what.
I will reinforce that—regardless of how strong their rebuttal is to the truth of the gospel, we must stand firm and resilient in our beliefs and not let the opinions of others derail our hearts and mission. Stay the path. Know your truth and you will not be swayed or influenced by all the un-truth out there. People will try to wreak havoc on your spirit, but stand strong and, if it means you have created an “unsettling” in someone, then you have done your job. You have them thinking. But be confident in your mission and as a Christian soldier, always deliver and share your truth in bold love.
Do you have a Bible verse that you lean on when you face struggles and challenges? If so, would you please share it here?
Ah yes! My all-time favorite is Isaiah 40:31.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
All I have to do is say this to myself and imagine the incredibly beautiful visualization of it all!
Would you share links where readers who want to hear your music can purchase or access your upcoming “Fearless” album, as well as links to your other music?
Here is the link to pre-save the “Fearless” single:
If you’re feeling really brave, here is the pre-save for the “Fearless” EP:
This link will lead you to everything you’d like to know!
Thank you so much for your time. May God bless your upcoming song and album, “Fearless” and use it to reach and encourage listeners.
Thank you so much! Appreciate your kind words! It has been an absolute privilege being able to share my faith and music journey with your readers. Go forth and be FEARLESS!