10 Questions with ... JJ Heller
October 6, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 2004 Songs That I Know
- 2005 Collection of Thoughts
- 2006 Only Love Remains
- 2007 Wake Up The World
- 2008 Painted Red
- 2010 When I'm With You
- 2011 Deeper
- 2013 Loved
- 2014 I Dream Of You
1. Brief History / Synopsis
I was born in Long Beach, CA and grew up in northern CA. I studied music and bible/theology at San Jose Christian College and graduated in 2003. My husband, Dave, went to school at San Jose State University right down the street from my school. As soon as we graduated, we began playing music full-time and moved to Phoenix, AZ where we could live more affordably. Our career steadily grew for the next 11 years, and we currently live in Nashville, TN.
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you?
Every day is a little bit different. I try to separate my responsibilities as a mom from my responsibilities as a musician and songwriter. Normally the only thing that is consistent, is that our family walks my oldest daughter, Lucy, to school in the morning, and we pick her up in the afternoon.
I try to spend time throughout the day cultivating my creativity, whether that is songwriting, sewing, decorating, or perhaps just surfing Pinterest. I also have to make sure the house is clean, there's food in the fridge, that we have the right school supplies, etc.
In the evenings, our girls go down for bed, Dave and I clean up the house, and then he typically reads or listens to podcasts and I'll watch HGTV or work on a household project if I have the energy for it.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now?
I've recently fallen in love with All Sons & Daughters. I particularly like their song "All the Poor and Powerless." Not only is their musicianship top-notch, but their lyrics put me in the right headspace.
4. How much do you travel, what are the challenges? How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home?
Each year we do a bus tour in the fall and spring. Now that our oldest is in school, it's getting a little bit more tricky to balance time away versus time at home. In the past, the girls would just come on the bus with us, but if we pull our daughter out of public school for too long, we might get in trouble with the state truancy board. It's a delicate balancing act.
In an effort to spend more time with our girls, we relocated to Tennessee this year. By being in a more central location in the eastern US, we don't have to spend as much time traveling to gigs, so that means more time at home. We're blessed with an amazing nanny who takes great care of our girls while we're away, but if I'm honest, leaving my girls is the hardest part about being a traveling musician.
5. What's the biggest "God moment" that you've ever experienced, personal or professional?
There have been many times in my life that God has intervened in an obvious way. One of the most unexpected (and fun!) was when a girl decided to use my song, "Your Hands," for her audition on the show "So You Think You Can Dance." That feature was exciting in itself, but then a man named John Hull saw the show and decided to start playing our song on his radio station in Houston. That was the beginning of a major growth spurt in my career in terms of publicity.
6. What's the last book you read?
I'm a huge fan of Shauna Neiquist. I'm in the middle of reading her latest book, "Bread & Wine," and I love it! I appreciate how candid she is about life and faith. This book in particular centers around cooking and food and how there are so many special moments in life that take place as we share a meal with someone. She also includes recipes (which I love!). I'm also usually reading at least one parenting book at any given time. I just finished "Siblings Without Rivalry," and "Loving Our Kids On Purpose."
7. Tell me how & when you became a believer. What caused you to want to serve God in full time ministry?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a Christian home. Both of my parents were either in Christian education or in some form of ministry throughout my childhood. I came to know the Lord at a very young age, but as I matured my relationship with him grew was well.
Even though you can classify what we do as full-time ministry, I don't think Dave or I distinguish our vocation that way. We have the philosophy that no matter what career a person is in, it can be used for God's glory. That said, while we were playing music in college we received quite a bit of positive feedback from our audiences. Sharing my heart through music and lyrics has been able to encourage our listeners, but it also makes us feel more alive. I think that is what Christians are called to do: live life to the fullest, and encourage others to do so as well.
8. What's a song you love from your latest project, "I Dream Of You".
The first song that comes to mind is a track called "Keep You Safe." We originally wrote it many years ago with the anticipation that our daughters would need comforting in the middle of the night when they had a bad dream. We've heard stories from many listeners who have a special connection with the song, but one that sticks out the most was from a soldier who served overseas. He told us that this was a song that brought him comfort as he tried to calm his mind and sleep. It was a powerful reminder that God has plans for the songs that we would have never dreamed.
9. What organization/service group are you affiliated with?
We have been working with World Vision for over eight years now. I love that they are not just throwing money at the symptoms of poverty, but they are working to tackle its causes around the world. Dave and I sponsor four children, and we frequently give to their disaster relief projects as well. I even ran a half marathon a year and a half ago and raised over $10,000 to support clean water wells in South Sudan. I'm not even a runner! That's how much I believe in their work.
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question.
C.S. Lewis! I love the way he was able to communicate complex theological truths through relatable characters and circumstances. He was a master at writing stories that would engage children and adults simultaneously. I don't know of many people who can do that. I also admire the way he would always respond to fan mail, making each person feel valued.