(Photo courtesy of Facebook)
May I Introduce, Bethany Cruz
An Interview on The New Indie Artist
By Sarah Komisky
Bethany Cruz is a hidden treasure. Excavated from the millions of YouTube video uploads, I found something special on a typical day of listening to music. It was a soulful songstress in oversized hoop earrings, belting out a mashup of “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Give Me Jesus” (With a little hint of “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston at the end). I’m already sold. But what intrigues me more is that this is a Christian artist. Hmmm. Haven’t seen this before, and I’m a fan! After listening to another mashup (Try/Pretty Hurts/Just the Way You Are), I’m even more convinced. I have to do an interview. Thankfully, Bethany agreed. In the same boat as indie artists (she in music, me in written works), we both hit if off instantly with similar visions to offer something hopeful, yet something different to the world. And this is where it leads us to today, as I excitedly share with you one of my favorite music discoveries this year and more importantly, the amazing artist behind the mic. Here is a little glimpse into the story of this indie singer, her musical influences, and what’s up ahead for 2020. Can’t wait! May I introduce to you, Bethany Cruz.
Sarah: Share your story. How did you come to faith in God?
Bethany: I came to a relationship with God at the young age of 3. My mom was tucking me into bed and reading the scriptures. She read one verse that said “Behold I stand at the door and knock, should anyone hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.” I remember asking her what that meant, and explaining to her that I would really like to eat all my dinners with Jesus. She prayed with me right there and I have had a relationship with Jesus ever since that day!
Sarah: Did you always love music? What brought you to that place of becoming a musician?
Bethany: I’ve always loved music. My parents tell me that I was singing before I was even forming words. I decided early on that I would sing and make music with my life, so there was never a question or doubt about that. My family has always been incredibly supportive.
Sarah: I know that you’ve sung background vocals for a few people and collaborated with a lot of really great fellow artists. Tell us a little bit about these partnerships and what that journey has looked like.
Bethany: One of the things I love to do alongside my own music, is work in recording and production. One of my favorite collaborations has been with Tedd T, a brilliant producer who has been partnering with me on my projects and has brought me into many of his as well. He has mentored me in production, which has opened a lot of doors to work on projects with many other artists. I’ve gotten to work & sing with For King and Country, Unspoken, Carrollton, David Crowder, Group One Crew, and Newsong. I really enjoy being a part of the entire process a song goes through, from the writing, to the production, and eventually the live show. One of my favorites more recently, was singing on Danny Gokey’s song “Haven’t Seen It Yet.” It was an honor to record background vocals and adlibs on that song which led to several live performances and a live acoustic video performance with Danny. He is incredible, and the message of that song was one that I really needed personally.
This year I also had the honor of touring with Michael W. Smith, which was an amazing blessing as well! I love coming along side other artists that are making an impact.
Sarah: You just finished up the 35 Years of Friends tour with Michael W. Smith. What has been some of your takeaway lessons from mentorship with the legendary CCM artist?
Bethany: I’ve learned so much from working with Michael! There is one thing in particular though that stands out to me the most. Everywhere Michael goes, he builds a culture of honor. With every interaction he has, Michael remembers each person’s name and specific details about them. I watched Michael treat every single person with grace and with love. Whether a fellow artist, a fan, or a team member, I saw him treat everyone with the highest of value. Watching Michael challenged me to love deeper and with more intentionality. He taught me to notice and make each person in the room feel important and to go above and beyond to make sure every person is cared for. He is an incredible man of God on stage and off stage and it was SUCH an honor to be part of his tour!
Sarah: Any future tours for you up ahead?
Bethany: Over the next few months I will be in the studio working on my next EP that will come out in 2020. Once that is finished, I will absolutely be hitting the road again. I can’t wait to share these new songs with you guys!
Sarah: As an indie artist, what do you want to bring to the mix?
Bethany: One of the most beautiful things about being an indie artist is we get to make music without creative limitations. There’s an artistic purity and a raw honesty about that, which I love. Truthfully, I get to write the music that I really need to hear myself. With that being said, it is always my heart that vulnerability and conviction come through my music.
Sarah: Looking at your YouTube, I absolutely LOVED your covers. What inspired you to cover “If I Ain’t Got You/Give Me Jesus” as well as “Try/Pretty Hurts/Just the Way You Are?” What did those specific songs mean to you?
Bethany: Thank you so much for saying that! “If I ain’t got you / Give me Jesus” was a medley I made to encourage myself. Our life journeys take twists and turns and often look a lot different than how we imagined they would. But I know that as long as I am following the Lord and I have Jesus, everything will work out because He is working it out! Success has a name, and that name is Jesus. I can trust that name. I need to remind myself of that when other voices bombard me and target my insecurities. This medley was my response to all of the noise I was hearing at that time.
The “Try/Pretty Hurts/ Just the way you are” medley was like a knife for me. It cut to my core. For real. Recording that song and video was like soul surgery and it was a process. Okay, real talk…
Since I was very young, I have struggled with an incredibly low self-esteem. I was always abusing my body either by binging or starving. I said things to myself every day in the mirror that I would never say to my worst enemy. I was cruel to myself.
I held back in music because I believed I was too ugly and too fat to ever be seen on camera. I was hiding. At the time of making this particular medley, I had just started diving in and dealing with these issues very intentionally. For the first time in my life I realized that I needed to reshape my views on beauty.
One night in August, the Lord woke me up and said “Now. The time to record this video is now.” I struggled with this because I wanted to lose a lot of weight and be a healthier person before recording the video. God showed me that I needed to allow others to see my process and that there is something very powerful about the transparency of speaking to something while you’re right there in the middle of it. When it came time to brainstorm for a video concept, the Lord showed me a picture of this song as a conversation. I divided the song into two characters like a script between the old me (the girl on the left) and the new me (the girl on the right). As I recorded each character’s parts, I felt them fully. The girl in the left felt heavy, ugly, hopeless, and ruined. The girl on the right felt free, full of passion, joy, and filled with compassion for the pain in the other girl. I realized then that I strongly identified with both girls, and I know a lot of women who encounter these same struggles. I didn’t know how this video would look or if the video concept of a conversation would even translate through the camera, but I have to say, I will never forget the moment we watched it back. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It was the first time I looked at the camera and didn’t think those same terrible thoughts about myself. In that moment I realized that through the recording process, I was being set free. So yeah, this song…this one was for me.
Sarah: I know you’ve got an amazing soulful, R&B voice. So, I want to know, who are some of your musical influences and why?
Bethany: Okay, this is funny… When I was young, I wasn’t really allowed to listen to music with a beat, so I would have to say the most soulful inspiration I found then was “Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Chipettes.” Those Chipmunks could saaaang!
When I got older, I was vocally inspired by Lauren Hill, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, and Beyonce. I would have all them on repeat and just try to hit every note and vocal run they did.
Sarah: What are you listening to right now?
Bethany: Lately I have been OBSESSED with the Lion King “the gift” album and Maverick City Music, who I actually get the privilege of writing with next week, and I’m sooooo excited!!
Sarah: Your newest single, “On My Way” was released in March. Share about the story behind the song.
Bethany: “On My Way” is an anthem of perseverance. It’s about believing even when the doors are constantly slammed in your face and all you hear is “No.” It’s about dusting off shame after you’ve fallen and walking on even when you have to walk alone. We’ve all encountered these things and when we hurt and feel like we have more questions than answers, we need a reminder to keep on going and keep on believing. That’s what “On my Way” is for me. It’s my declaration that I will never quit.
Sarah: You’ve recently released some Instagram teasers on your social media. Share a little bit about the new music.
Bethany: Yeeeesssss!!!!! I am SO excited about the new music! I am releasing a song soon that is the most raw and vulnerable that I’ve ever written. I have been going through a huge trial right now physically and am in desperate need of some miracles in my health. The song is called “Dear Miracle Worker” and it’s basically just me having it out with God in a prayer. It hurt to write it, it hurts to sing it, and it hurts to be where I am right now health wise, but the song is about not giving up until the mountains move. And they WILL move. 🙂 I literally cannot wait for you guys to hear this!
Sarah: What’s up ahead for those who want to keep tracking with you?
Bethany: There will be lots of new music to be released in 2020, new exciting videos, touring next Spring and Summer, more collaborations with other artists, and I believe firmly you are going to be hearing about some powerful miracles along the way as well!
To find out more about Bethany and to pick up her music, visit www.bethanycruz.com