Tell us a little about your family.
I was born in Manila, Philippines, and was adopted into my family (along with my younger brother) when I was four. My mom and dad were married after high school and I have two older sisters. I often joke and that my mother is a classy lady and she strived to raise her daughters to be as such...she succeeded with the first two, ha! I am, however, the self-proclaimed favorite ;)
My family, including my husband, is your typical, crazy, opinionated, loving group. They have been my strength. There is not enough space to express how much they mean to me.
What is your salvation story?
I was raised in a UPC church in Memphis, TN. When I was eight years old, Bro. Greg Godwin was preaching a revival at our church. My brother was determined to get the Holy Ghost one specific night. Not wanting to be outdone (and labeled as the "unsaved one" in the family), I did not want to be left behind! We received the Holy Ghost and were baptized at the same time.
I've battled with depression for most of my life from as far back as I can remember during my adoption transition. When I was seventeen years old, my senior year of high school, I was admitted to rehab for a suicide attempt. I am an overcomer and living life in a state of gratitude. My sweet Savior, loving family, supportive husband, irreplaceable friends, countless prayers, and daily baby steps have been the key to my health.
What is your music background?
I grew up listening to contemporary Christian music. When I was nine years old, my mom convinced me to sing a solo in the children's revival at our church. I did so, reluctantly! It wasn't because I was nervous. I had never had a desire to sing. In fact, I wasn't even sure if I could-until I felt the high of the adrenaline rush with every note...until I saw the response from the audience and the positive feedback. I mean, let's be honest: as a kid, you're not concerned about anointing! You just want to get through the song without embarrassing yourself! And the ego boosts were a definite plus! (Oh mylanta, y'all are gonna think I'm egotistical. Stop right there!
Afterwards, I was in every school choir, singing solos and touring with them. I did summer competitions when I was in middle school to rid myself of stage fright. I started writing my own songs when I was twelve. Since then, I have collected a box full of embarrassing scraps of paper! During my freshman year of high school, I recorded my first CD in Nashville through Daywind.
After high school, I received a full scholarship to the local college for music, but I left after a semester because I felt a stronger calling to Bible College. I am a four-year Indiana Bible College alumni. During my time there, I was involved in the choir, chorale, and praise team, with my own original songs being featured on their projects. Through IBC, I was connected to Mark Condon, who invited me to do an internship at his church after my junior year. I am featured on his latest Christmas project The Glorious Noel along with Shara McKee and Ryan Johns. The four of us recently finished our second Christmas tour this past December.
Growing up, I didn't necessarily have a specific "influence" in music (aside from Jaci Velasquez, which was short-lived LOL). But I will say that the constant encouragement and mentoring from Mark and Shara has blown me away. Aside from my family, they have been some of my greatest cheerleaders and coaches.
Describe the nature of your ministry.
I have equally strong passions for both music and youth. My husband and I share the same passion for youth. Our pastor is Bro. Jerry Stoner and while we do not evangelize or have a "title" per say, we assist in any and every way we can with the music team, youth, & IGNITE (young marrieds). I travel and sing whenever and wherever He opens the doors.
What is the vision or message of your latest CD?
I want my album to be something that everyone can relate to. I wrote about mercy, Heaven, perception, unconditional love, priorities, feeling unworthy, insecurity and empowering this generation to be bold-things that I dealt with, things that I know on a very personal basis!
I want to let someone know that our scars do not define us. They serve to tell a story of survival...of perseverance.
You wrote eight of the songs on your CD-where do you get the inspiration for your songs?
I draw a lot of my inspiration for writing from events, emotions, or experiences in my own life. As a matter of fact, the title track "First" started out as an apology letter to God. I couldn't sleep one night, so I sat in the living room with a pen and paper. I communicate best through writing, because I tend to clam up when I'm upset or anxious. And I had a LOT of apologizing to do with Him! From the first line, everything else flowed and I wrote the entire song that night. Granted, I was a sobbing mess by the end!
Let's be clear though, for the most part, sometimes it will take me weeks, months, or even years to finish a song! And every writer will tell you the same thing. But when it rains, it pours as it did for me that night!
I didn't want this album to be sunshine and roses. Not that I ridicule those who have made those kind of projects; it just wasn't my season of writing. I wanted to talk about the inner, private emotions. The "Why?!" moments. The seasons of doubt. The seasons of pain. Of daily having to look yourself in the mirror and pulling yourself together. Because being Holy-Ghost-filled doesn't mean we are shielded from reality. Transparent: it's all I know how to be. It's my writing inspiration.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your ministry?
The most rewarding aspect of this project has been the testimonials! I love hearing that my song(s) have been on "repeat," that it got someone through the day, that it reminded someone of what was really important, that it gave them the boost to be brave enough to witness, or even simply that I "took the words right out of my mouth!" There's something about being able to connect with someone through music...it is an indescribable feeling to know that someone was blessed because you simply poured your heart out and risked being ridiculed for being so transparent.
How would you encourage someone desiring to pursue music as a ministry?
I don't know that I have enough wisdom or knowledge to encourage someone to pursue music ministry! I'm learning as I go. Fortunately, I am connected to some legends and great mentors. I would encourage everyone to connect with a music minister whose choices reflect HIM and not THEM. That's the best two cents I have!
Where can we listen, purchase, and connect with you?
Myhoperadio.com, pentecostalpublishing.com, farrahnewtonmusic.com, and iTunes. I have a music page on Facebook and am also active on Twitter (@farrah_newton).
What is your dream music moment?
My dream music moment would be to sing for the President like Mickey Mangun did. Now, all I have to do is find a President to be bff's with. No big deal, right?
Any loves other than music?
My loves outside of music and ministry would be cooking. I'm a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself. If this music doesn't pan out, I'm joining Food Network as "The Singing Chef." Is that carnal?
What song do you belt out in the car?
I don't have anyone in mind that I "belt out" to in the car. But when the gospel singers hit a note or do a trill, I attempt it. Sometimes, I find validation for my life. And sometimes, I buy myself french fries for a failed attempt.
Who do you want to send a 'shout out' to?
If I started doing "shout outs," I will forever be in a world of trouble, as there are too many people to name. So let's keep it fair: this shout out is to my Doberman puppy, Diesel. Thank you, Dies, for your sloppy wet kisses after a long day.