Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 23: Jana Kramer

I personally want them to find out [about the infidelity] before they find out from a friend or before they start Googling. Hopefully we’re still married and we’re able to sit them down and say, ‘Look, Mommy and Daddy went through some really crazy stuff in the beginning of our marriage, but look where we’re at now and how happy we are and how we communicate.

They don’t need perfect parents. They need happy parents, so however we’re happy is how our relationship will go.

A lot of it can be unspoken from this time leading up to it, so by the time they do find out, by the time we have that discussion and they’ve [potentially] read things that they read, it’ll be so opposite end of the spectrum of what they know about their mom and dad that it’s almost hard for them to even comprehend what that is.

You’ve heard how the saying goes that ‘eyes are the window to the soul’? I’m not sure where I’ve heard that from, or even if it’s true. Maybe I’m making up a new saying… but what matters is that this aforementioned saying/metaphor/simile/allegory is what I remember. Anyway I’m sure you heard or remember it to. The whole ‘you never really know someone until you look into their eyes, or soul, or mind, or heart or their entire being’ sort of belief that we have been told time and time again- drummed into us until we don’t know if we believe it because it’s tradition and passed down from generation to generation, or if we believe it for ourselves. So the meaning behind the saying of ‘I don’t know you that well, or even at all, but I think I can know you fully if I can see your heart, your soul, your generosity, your kindness, your personality, your beliefs, your values and morals’… is that true, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Can you really know someone if they bare their all? Or will there always be secrets and skeletons that no one will know about except for the person harbouring the secret?

Have I caught your attention now with my ‘doom and gloom’ spiel? Because the last thing I want to do is to get you all discouraged and all pessimistic at the world, and the fact that you can never fully know someone at a deep personal soul level. The last thing I want you all to do is to second guess the closest people in your life, and to retreat like a hermit or an agoraphobe and become a shut-in for the rest of your days. No, that’s not what I want for any of you. What I am trying to say is that sometimes the people in your life may not be who you think they are- and you may not even know about it ever. No, I’m not talking from experience; but I have seen from Hollywood films and from the news that there are instances in the world where people have trusted others, maybe a bit too quickly and too intensely… and then have become hurt and burned through betrayal. Loss of trust can occur through trauma, and when that hits, it’s way, way, way harder to regain that trust again. When something is fractured and shattered and broken seemingly beyond repair, how does restoration and healing take place, and how do relationships become whole and even much more stronger and ever-lasting than before?

The saying ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’ is mostly true, but it isn’t always. Shows like the Mentalist, Bull, Lie To Me, Monk, Psych, Castle and others have shown us that the bad guys and the criminals and the psychopath are very, very good at faking emotion and pretending to ‘feel’ something when they really don’t. So how would you know if someone is genuine or not? Short of having a polygraph and a lie detector set up like what the police and authorities have; us regular folk are never going to know the inner most thoughts and desires from our friends, our spouse, our kids, our parents, and everyone else in our lives. Not that we would ever want to be that invasive, as there indeed has to be some element of trust in a relationship for it to survive with mutual respect and honesty, authenticity and vulnerability… But what happens when you think that you can’t trust the one person you thought you could always count on? What happens when the only person you thought you could rely or depend on who was always there, seemingly isn’t anymore? What happens when your eyes see something about the soul of another that could be, might me, most probably is true; but you yourself don’t trust your eyes, because you have been lied to and deceived before? Again, not speaking from experience, just from observation of the world over the past few years.

We’ve all had a pretty crazy 2020 collectively, as a nation and as a world, haven’t we? From the Australian bushfires and the floods to the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 and the heartbreaking yet necessary protest surrounding Black Lives Matter and the death of George Floyd and others; it seems like this year is just one thing after another after another. We’ve all been put through the ringer, and some of us are at breaking point. Exhausted, the smile and joy from our faces at the end of 2019 have been replaced by expressions of worry and concern. Tiredness is creeping in, as well as irritability and distrust at our politicians (some of that distrust is rightly so!); not to mention some of us acting in a reckless and irresponsible manner, thinking that ‘if the virus comes, so be it’, and having little regard for the lives around us who are much more vulnerable. Yet even after the midpoint of this horror show of a year- a silver lining breaks through. When there is no one around that we feel we can trust, a silver lining is found. When we can’t trust our eyes to see things clearly for what they are, and instead project the things we fear; there’s still a silver lining. I believe that the silver lining is Jesus.

For believers, I can hear you all saying ‘amen’, ‘can I get a hallelujah?’, ‘preach it brother!’ or some other variant of agreement. But for non-believers and skeptics, you all may groan, and believe that I’m trying to shoe-horn another mini-sermon into one of my Momentous Mondays blogs. In fairness though, I have done a few times, especially in my blogs about Hunter HayesHailee SteinfeldPhilippa Hanna and Little Mix, when I spoke in depth across all four blogs about COVID-19 and how God is helping me, and all of us through this mess- and here I may be subtly doing it again. I’m sure words of encouragement are useful and sometimes needed… but for those of you who don’t believe in Jesus, who don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ to save us all from ourselves and our deadly sinful nature; would any word of comfort about God or any sentiment like ‘stay strong during COVID-19 because God’s got this’ help you? Even if this word of comfort is true, if you’re not willing to hear it or be open to the possibility, it’s not going to ring true for you. Even if what I’m talking about is an absolute truth that never changes regardless of who believes it- the fact that Jesus is still and always with us even in the worst of our pain and the worst of our trials and the worst of our suffering; if it doesn’t line up with your own ‘relative truth’ (which I personally believe doesn’t exist, but for the purposes of this question, let’s just say it does… the term ‘relative opinion about the truth’ would be much more accurate), then how could the truth change lives? If we’re all so dogmatic and set in our ways and if we aren’t open to the possibility of any changes, then we’re just perpetuating the lifestyle that absolute truth is bad- that something that stays constant through the ages is bad and outdated. That’s not the lifestyle I want to show you all… so going back to my assertion that the silver lining of this COVID crisis is Jesus, the silver lining to all of our trust issues and all of our flaws is Jesus, the silver lining to a broken marriage is Jesus… if that’s not sitting well in your heart, well read along. Because the incredible story of country singer and up and coming influencer Jana Kramer is a story that you need to read about. All of you who aren’t fans of country music and of Jana’s music… well you will be after you read my blog! No doubt about it!

As I look up at the sky and look at the vastness of creation, there’s literally more and more that I’m in awe and in wonder of. The fact that this earth is the only planet in the solar system that is seemingly habitable is one of those glorious wonders that I still am in awe and gratitude over- every time I look around at creation, I become even more convinced that there is a God! Yet just because God is the author and perfecter of our faith, and just because He is able to rid us of our pain and suffering; doesn’t mean that life won’t be hard and that everything will be easy all the time. The Bible does say that in John 16:33 that we will suffer and we will go through trials. But we need not to fear as Jesus has overcome the world. Now this promise and assurance we have from our Father in heaven can comfort and provide healing, but with COVID-19 hanging around like a pest and a leach, and Trump still in power, and protests still occurring, and inequality still occurring, how can we really believe that Jesus has overcome the world, and how can we conceivably believe that the upside of any situation we’re in is Jesus? If Jesus is real, He’d do something about this pandemic, right?

I don’t know if that’s all of these ‘out-there’ thoughts are from our raw emotions or not, but it’s definitely true that COVID-19 has shaken the core of who we are as a human race, and has peeled back the layers of all the good points and the not so good points of humanity. It has exposed us for who we are as people. As flawed individuals who are doing the best they can in this world. People just getting on by. Kindness is shown in the most unexpected places by strangers, yet also those who you thought would stand by you in thick and thin are now nowhere to be seen. It’s in times like these when we as a people are desperate and crying out for a Saviour that we all really need to know in our hearts that Jesus is right here beside us, walking with us in our journeys. No matter how we may feel now (and I guarantee that it’ll be pretty intense and emotional given the many events that have happened this past year back to back to back!); we can feel somewhat comfort and relief (although probably not to a high degree) that our Protector and Saviour has never forsaken us and is with us all the time. So as we come up to the middle of the year, why don’t we dwell upon and think about when times were simpler? To when there wasn’t much uncertainty and we were all a bit more confident about how the world was progressing as a whole? How can we do that, you ask? I believe this can occur through us listening to music and being transported back in time that way.

If you’re having trust issues, or are unable to open up to anyone because of the fact that ‘hey, they could be nice and trustworthy, but they could also stab me in the back multiple times over!’. Jana’s songs are for you. On the surface the country artist has released popular-country relationship style songs that musically aren’t that flash, or do not signify growth as an artist throughout her entire artist career. However it is the lyrics that hit the hardest, and it is the lyrics that reveal a journey from skeptic in goodness, kindness and positivity to a believer in the love humanity has for each other. If you’re angry at the world or at God for ‘allowing’ the pandemic to happen, and denying our earthly happiness; join the club, we’ve all felt rage and confusion and anger at God at one point or another in our lives. We probably aren’t even human if we say that we’ve got life as easy as the wide road on the way to heaven. But in the midst of the pain and the hurt and the sorrow, we can heal and we can gain a new perspective. God transforms us subtly and sometimes incognito- He uses anything He wants to grab our attention. Yes even Jana’s music. And as we remember that humans are complex and multilayered, and that we each have our own selfish desires and innate wants (and most of the bad things that happen on earth are when these wants clash, and boy can I tell you that they clash quite often!); then maybe we can see things from another man’s shoes. Maybe we can all be a bit less judgmental. And maybe we can trust more and firmly believe the sentiment that ‘the eyes are the window of the soul’… because that phrase should be true- an absolute one, which I’m sure we all can agree on!

I first heard of Jana when she acted in the CW teen drama One Tree Hill, in which she played unlikeable diva and troublemaker Alex Dupre. The character wasn’t supposed to be a ‘good’ person and was supposed to stir up mischief and cause drama and issues between all of the main characters. Yet her character became more complex and human once viewers, including myself, began to emphasise with her plight and to unexpectedly root for her. In time, she became one of the most exciting things about the ‘soft reboot’ that was seasons 7, 8 and 9 of the popular and critically acclaimed scripted program. Yet as the show delved more and more into the lives of the characters post-high school, as well as the music career of one of the characters, Jana’s prowess as a singer and a songwriter outside of the show exponentially soared, as some episodes aired in season 8 with Jana singing a few of her original songs as Alex. Alex was sadly written off the show in the beginning of season 9 when Jana decided to be a singer and a songwriter full time, and thus put a pause to the brief yet inspiring acting career that Jana may one day return to. As it stands now though, Jana’s busy schedule of releasing music as well as her relentless weekly ‘Whine and Dine’ podcast series with her husband Mike Caussin, and being a mother to two young kids, has resulted in probably not much time to go back into acting. But we have learnt and will continue to learn through Jana’s music and her life in general, is that influence beyond the stage and the spotlight is key, and Jana’s influence is great and wide in more ways that we can ever imagine. More on that later, but let’s get into the songs, shall we?

When I was growing up, country music and myself didn’t mix. It was like oil and water, as songs about cars and trucks and girls and beers and relationships were often seen as inferior to the more superior songs about Jesus, worshipping Him in His presence, and other songs about the Christian life and how to live it. I thought that only God could speak through songs directed to Him and songs about Him. However, as time progressed, my eyes were opened to the reality that not every single type of music genre outside of CCM was ‘evil’ as I previously believed. I know I’ve pointed you to this article many, many times… but it’s true- that God can and will use anything to draw people closer to Himself, as we learn more about who we are as people and who God is. Country music is one of those avenues that God uses to grab our attention, and once I realised that; well then my musical tastes just expanded infinitely in my opinion. Not to the point where I’ll openly listen to any and every explicit track out there simply because ‘God could use it’; but to the point where I’ve kind of asked God ‘what do you want to say to me today?’ and then sort of followed where He leads. It’s been an enjoyable ride thus far writing about all different kinds of artists in my Momentous Mondays blog posts and reading about the artists that have resonated with Jon throughout the duration of this series; and with Jana her music is no different. It’s equally as inspiring as we are glimpsed into the many relevant and timely issues of what she dives deep into, and as far as figuring out how to trust again… well Jana has got plenty of songs about that, don’t you worry!

With Jana’s debut album Jana Kramer debuting at number nineteen on the Billboard 200 and number five on the Top Country Albums chart, as well as the lead single “Why Ya Wanna” certified as Platinum; at the very least Jana’s debut deserves one listen. Aforementioned lead single is emotionally pretty raw, as Jana delves into asking an ex to be meaner to her so that she can get over him faster- and it’s a reminder that sometimes when we break up with someone, unrealistic expectations of the other person keep us from moving on and from being truly happy with ourselves in that moment. And as I firmly believe that the song extends to our platonic relationships as well, we are presented with a false sense of us deserving something so that we can feel better about ourselves. The knowledge that we can hate someone so quickly because ‘they did this and that and this and that to me’ is fine in a perfect world. Breaking up from someone platonically or romantically means not having the same interests anymore and not having anything in common… in theory, thus you and the other person shouldn’t interact one iota. Yet the song expounds on the idea that life isn’t that simple, and just because you end a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t feel sad or mourn what was lost a bit. The grieving process of anything takes time, and what Jana has shown in this multi-layered track is that we all are complex and we all are human- who in essence really knows what we will do or what we’re capable of doing now and into the future? And as the song states that as she asks ‘…why ya wanna make me keep wanting you?…’, sometimes the best way to move on is to not force the hatred for someone but to let time and the natural course of life lead to wherever. Because I am certain that whatever that doesn’t feel forced is where God wants you to be. If you don’t feel hatred towards someone, when why force that feeling?

The rest of Jana Kramer is a ball of fun energy that is fresh and revitalising even now. “I Hope It Rains” is potentially inspired by a high school relationship that turned sour, as Jana passionately reminds us all the pain and the hurt that we all can feel when wrong is done to us. Similar to Gabby Barrett’s smash hit single “I Hope”, the track contains plenty of fiddles and a poppy beat and is packaged together in a nice bow musically in the form of a pop leaning 3 minute country anthem. Yet Jana’s insistence of hoping for rain for her ex isn’t as well-meaning as we might think, as a deeper look in the lyrics speaks about revenge and vengeance for wrongdoing. Unfortunately, the track isn’t about forgiveness and wishing the other person well like we once thought- but that doesn’t mean that the song isn’t worthy of being listened to at all. As underneath it all, Jana sings a warning to us, subtly asking us whether we want to be that person who wishes hate on someone? If we don’t what are we going to do about it? Thus “I Hope It Rains” reveals that we as humans have the capacity to be good natured, and not so good natured. This multilayered track is needed in society, in my own opinion- purely because it forces us to look in the mirror and see if the person looking back at us is who we want to be.

“Whiskey”, the album’s second single, is another heartbreaking tear-jerker, and a song of warning from Jana, as our sense of comfort and not wanting to be challenged is in effect challenged and confronted. In the song, Jana speaks about the security of a relationship and not wanting to step away even when she knows that the guy is bad news and that his alcoholism is causing him to act more and more like the person she doesn’t want in her life. And as Jana reminds us of toxicity and removing harmful relationships from our lives, again we need to look in the mirror and try to discover the root cause of our innate trusting nature, and our sense of staying with someone despite the warning signs because of comfortability. Happiness mustn’t feel like it’s numb or muted, and so Jana encourages us to take the appropriate steps and action required to be truly happy, even if it means running from something familiar and known. Jana also impresses with the feisty no-nonsense typical country track “King Of Apology” about not letting people take advantage of you, and not being gullible or personally responsible for anyone else’s actions, faults and vices; while the bright and sunny “Goodbye California” has Jana celebrating her roots and her hometown, declaring that there’s no place like home, yet the track is somewhat a metaphor as well, as Jana sings about saying goodbye to all of the negative things in your life and hello to everything positive that builds your up.

As far as ballads go, the heartfelt and poignant “Good As You Were Bad”, where Jana channels her inner Dolly Parton, belts out a song for the ages, as she eloquently describes a dichotomous feeling of sadness of a relationship ending and longing for the ex as well, all the while asking ‘…why’d you have to be as good as you were bad?…’; while the earnest, honest and vulnerable piano led “Over You By Now” asks more trust questions of the ex, asking them why they do the things they do that are infuriating and frustrating. It’s a track that has no answers, but is a beautifully sung and written song nonetheless, as Jana voices what some of us are thinking, which at times is therapeutic and healing for us to listen to a song like this. heartbreak is real, and while some of us want to fix the problem like a maths or science problem, sometimes sitting with someone and not diminishing their pain and just crying with them like friend, is sometimes what they need, and what we all need sometimes.

Does it seem that Jana Kramer’s debut album is full of emotion and sadness because of something autobiographical like a breakup? Possibly, or maybe Jana sings songs based on the experiences of her friends and close family. Regardless, while some of these songs are super emotional even though many can’t relate to break ups as we’re always single or we’ve never fought with anyone before; a couple of tracks stand out to me, even 8 years after the album has been released. “What I Love About You Love” has the signature country twang that we have all come to know from these type of country songs. But the fact that there’s a double meaning here (‘you’ could mean literally anything, even God or Jesus!) makes me smile. Jana’s definitely having fun (as evidence by the music video!), and as she’s singing her heart out and telling us all what she loves about her spouse or her kids or her parents or her friends or even Jesus (and some would say that’s lazy writing, but I reckon It’s genius and reminds us all that there is someone in our lives who we do everything for even if we know it now or not!), we are presented with a bubbly and poppy song that shows us the importance of family and everyone around us whom we may take for granted in the moment. While the album closer “I Won’t Give Up”, which actually debuted in One Tree Hill as an acoustic performance, is still quite possibly my favourite Jana Kramer song ever, as it speaks about mateship and not giving up when your friend is down, or could also quite possibly be God Himself singing down to us that He’s always there. A song that to me is timeless and still will be impactful in 10, 20 year’s time; Jana should be proud for this debut album overall as the themes glossed over here are extensive and not something you would hear from many pop stars or even many country stars right now…sorry to say.

And if we thought that Jana Kramer was personal, Jana’s sophomore album Thirty-One is even more so. Thirty-One released October 2015, debuting at number ten on the Billboard 200 and number three on the Top Country Albums chart; so obviously there’s something there for us to delve into and be inspired by, right? Lead single “I Got The Boy” (certified platinum) is a lamentation of sorts, a sort of looking back at fond memories, as Jana sings out in this acoustic ballad that she’s happy with where she is in life, and that she’s proud that she’s ‘got the boy’ and ‘not the man’, reminding us all that our wants and desires when viewed from many years ago seem like ‘end of the world’ type of longings, but really when viewed now, they’re just silly. Because at the end of the day (and Jana herself may agree with me or not!), it’s God who orchestrates our plans, and only He who knows what’s best for us. If we want x, y, z and everything else in between now, who’s to say that’ll ultimately be good for us in the end? “I Got The Boy” is a celebration of all that has come in the past, and a reminder that no one knows the future (except God) thus we shouldn’t really strive from our own efforts to gain the world. If we do but we lose our soul, what good is ‘getting the man’- a metaphor for everything we think we want but don’t? Wouldn’t it be better to maintain our relationships in our life, settle for the ‘boy’ as mentioned in the song, and best satisfied and content?

The celebration of love and relationships continue here, and if Jana Kramer is a break up album, then Thirty-One is the lyrical opposite of that. “Love”, a big booming anthemic pop song, speaks about love as a tangible entity, as Jana highlights her big hearted sappy nature, and her maybe naivety about how simple love is. Yet perhaps it isn’t naivety, and we’re all making love really complicated, when really we should be like Jana when it comes to believing in love, that ‘…I still believe that you’ll come knocking on my door when I least expect you to, you give me something I can hold, you pull me through, cause that’s what you do, that’s what you do, love yeah, that’s what you do, love…’. “Circles”, another happy-go-lucky positive track, is essentially the quintessential song about marriage and commitment to the person God has intended you to be with, as Jana recounts that her husband is ‘…more than gold on my finger, it’s six feet down and forever…’ and that ‘…every star up in the sky, every hello and goodbye, every moment by your side is the meaning of my life…’. A track to no doubt would even get that non-believers of love and happiness and positivity to cry and be emotional, I firmly believe that “Circles” should be the wedding song of every couple. It has to be. Period. No question.

“Just Like In The Movies” is another emotional song, as Jana relays about how her love for her husband can be like in the movies if they stay by each other and work out their problems and issues; while one of the most personal songs on the album, and maybe Jana’s career, is “Dance In the Rain”, as Jana declares that she’s going to learn how to live in the pain and the disappointment of her hopes and dreams- learning to dance in the rain and the accept the things we can’t change, but also moving forward to a brighter and better future. The no-nonsense “Boomerang” is where Jana cuts the ties on an abusive relationship, and is an encouragement for us to do that too to the negative people in our lives; while somewhat superficial songs like the somewhat satirical and tongue-in-cheek “Said No One Ever”, the alcohol focused “Pop That Bottle” and the absurdly possessive “Don’t Touch My Radio” may seem not needed at all amongst all of the relevant and personal tracks thus far, however it is these songs that remind us all that Jana is a human being and is very multilayered like all of us. Do we have to be serious and reflective and maybe mopey all the time in the songs we sing? Nope we don’t. Does liking these three songs which are almost nonsensical mean that shallow pop songs are the way forward? Nope, it’s just that these songs are sometimes necessary in order for us to understand that sometimes we don’t need and we can’t handle heavy and personal tunes. Levity and lightness is required in life for us to be fully appreciative and alive, so even if you can’t understand why these songs are necessary particularly in a career like Jana’s who has many, many, many songs of heartbreak and relationships; then I am positive that in time these songs will grow on you and you’ll be able to see the purpose that they bring. While Thirty-One ends with “Last Song”, a ballad where Jana quite possibly shines the most vocally, as she belts out a declaration that she’s done singing about her abusive ex; and whether that songs is autobiographical is anyone’s guess. But the beauty of this track is that it’s saying that a chapter is closed and now a new one can begin. Sometimes we can’t move on from the hurt and the pain because of a lack of closure of whatever is weighing us down, and sometimes meeting the person that wronged us and talking it out, or in the case of Jana writing a song about it and singing it out-loud is very cathartic and healing. So kudos to Jana for overall an album that actually topped Jana Kramer in terms of vulnerability and positivity! Who’d have thought after the near-flawless debut?

With Jana having left her label shortly after her sophomore album, and now releasing music independently, the presence of 5 singles in the past 3-4 years would and probably should make most if not all of us nervous. Is Jana’s time as a musician up? Is the elusive third album coming or is it not? These questions are what I have asked many times today as I have been writing this blog instalment and I don’t have an adequate answer for you that will satisfy you with something concrete. Because the truth is that Jana’s lack of music post 2015 has been due to marriage troubles with her husband Mike Caussin (former football player for the Washington Redskins). The marriage troubles were so bad that Jana and Mike separated for a while. I think it was a year- but from the period of mid-2016 til end of 2017, their marriage was very shaky- from every article that i have read. And that’s the confronting truth of the matter that I’m sure everyone can relate to. It’s that we all fall down sometimes. Some of the time (but hopefully most of the time, if not all!) we are ashamed of things that we’ve done in the past that let those we love down, yet the hard truth is that when we’re all in the thick of the turmoil and the unravelling of our lives and the immediate futures of those around us, we receive opinions from the left and from the right. Not that they aren’t warranted- but sometimes they’re scathing. And that’s exactly how Mike felt when fans of Jana speculated on how their marriage should look like. Or if they should be married at all! In the end it turned out that Mike was a sex addict (yep that is a real medical diagnosis!) and he cheated on Jana multiple times throughout their five year marriage (of which the marriage is now still going and going strong, with 2 children), yet the forgiveness and utter devotion Jana showed to Mike (even when they separated a few times, and even when the world thought that Mike wasn’t genuine in his apologies) is remarkable. Admirable even. Dare I say it, Jana showed Mike Christ-like love. Unconditional love when it wasn’t deserving, and a love that should never have been given, considering all he did to put his family in jeopardy. But we all can learn a lot from Jana and Mike about the love Christ has for us. See Jana could have left. Many, many times. Carried out the action that her persona in many of her songs sung about. But she never did. Apart from the time both Jana and Mike spent away from each other, Jana was incredibly supportive of Mike and his journey. So if there one thing you come away with from this blog, it is this.

That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While we are still sinners, Christ died for us. While we hated Him, while we crucified Him, while we turned our backs, while we mocked, bruised, berated, scorned, while we denied His name, while we blasphemed and renounced our faith… He never stopped loving us and He never stopped chasing and relentlessly pursuing us. Sure, Jana and Mike are in the midst of a marriage that right now mirrors Christ’s love for us. And just simply because both Jana and Mike are human… they’re bound to fall and fail in the future. Who knows, their marriage might not be so solid in the coming years. Maybe it’ll be stronger. But whatever the case, Jana alone is influential in my opinion (or at least becoming influential!), simply because she has shown the love of Christ to her husband every day when he needed it, and reminds us, even if she doesn’t know it, that God’s love is stronger than hate. That forgiveness is stronger than bitterness. That reconciliation and redemption is more than possible even in the pit of despair. A deep analysis from myself reveals that Jana’s songs are either bubbly and light, or dark and heavy. But that’s part and parcel of the human experience, and as we are reminded in her songs about the fragilities and the ups and downs of life, we are also reminded of the love that God has for us which is infinitesimally greater that the most vulnerable love songs that Jana has recorded- and there are plenty! The captivating and powerful songs are just a bonus, but Jana’s influence is not about her music. It’s about her love for her husband that defies logic and defies the evidence; but isn’t based on feelings which can change. It’s instead based on a promise and a devotion and declaration of til death do they part. And that’s a promise that is said numerous times in Hollywood but rarely kept until death. Here’s hoping and praying that Jana Kramer and Mike Caussin buck the trend and buck it with intensity and gusto!

Now that I’ve got Jana’s personal life out of the way, let me just say that I needed to talk about that simply because it’s vital in the sense that this dark period in her life that she’s now only starting to heal from and come out of, is subtly referenced in these next batch of songs. Sure, Jana’s only done 5 songs in the past 5 years, but if this is the calibre, then album #3 is going to be her most honest and vulnerable yet. “I’ve Done Love”, a candid and honest assessment of everything Jana has done crazily in the name of love, reminds us all that sometimes we go above and beyond how we should act, and sometimes act a bit crazy, simply because we love the other person (either in a romantic way or a platonic way); while the heartbreaking piano led ballad “Dammit” eloquently describes a Sliding Doors-esque life that Jana wishes she could’ve lived- not saying that she’s not content with the life she’s living now, but maybe in that moment of the song she’s wondering about the ‘what if’s’, which is human and natural in any situation. “Good Enough” – a mid tempo ballad that’s not even the least bit country except for Jana’s distinctive voice – shatters the preconceptions of us trying to be good enough for people to accept us and even to love us, as Jana reminds us all that the only person we need to be good enough for us ourselves; while current single “Untouchable” is where Jana bares her soul and asks her husband ‘…are you somebody who can stand the breaking? Strong arms to hold me when my heart starts aching; I’m looking for a love that’s untouchable, hey, like a little solid ground when the whole world’s shaking, I want a promise of forever staying, I’m looking for a love that’s untouchable…’. One of the most inspiring and vulnerable songs of this year, this song isn’t your typical country song, however if Jana’s next album isn’t a country album per se, but instead encompasses a wide variety of genres… well that wouldn’t be a bad thing, would it? Yet of the 5 ‘new’ tracks since Thirty-One; the most vulnerable and emotional and personal (and probably the most revealing of her career thus far) is “Beautiful Lies”. I could never write about the song as more eloquently as Jana herself has said, so here is the song, as well as the heart behind the track according to Jana. Let’s grab the tissues at the ready, cause we’re going to need them!

 

I just remember sitting in the studio and being like, ‘I want to try to explain the best way that I can how I felt in this moment when I found out about everything. This song is exactly what happened with the break, and for my husband and I. In that moment where I found out about everything, I felt like the whole world was just spinning — like everything was just flipped upside down and it was this awful nightmare.

In that moment, I didn’t want to believe that it was true and so instead I wished I would’ve been told some beautiful lies to cover up what was going on. With the songs I’m going to release later this year, I want to tell the story from the break to healing. I can look back now and [to] know how far we’ve come is amazing. To be able to release these songs this year and to show the growth is the cherry on top. It just fills my heart knowing how hard we’ve worked and how far we’ve come

If Jana Kramer and Thirty-One don’t resonate with you at all… well I don’t know what to tell you. You’re missing out, and chances are you won’t like the upcoming third album. Chances are you won’t appreciate Jana’s honesty in her highly successful podcast ‘Whine And Dine with Jana Kramer and Mike Caussin’. For this reason we can’t be friends. Normally this would be the point if I were actually speaking to you where I would do this long pause and then crack up laughing. But cause I’m online and you’re probably online too, let me just spell it out for you. It’s a joke. I’m not serious at all. If you hate Jana’s music (hate really is a strong word!) then my advice would be to check out her music again removing all of the preconceptions from your mind. Give the artist another chance knowing what you know now from reading my blog, and then if you’re still indifferent then by all means you can move onto another artist or another genre. But every artist deserves at least one listen, right? Maybe I should practice what I’m preaching and do the same to Billie Eilish and BTS, am I right? Ummmmmm……… maybe, but maybe not!

I’ve said time and time again that an artist’s discography doesn’t make an artist great. A voice isn’t what makes them great. Their music isn’t what makes them great. Even their lyrics isn’t what makes them timeless. Sure all of these aspects are good, but the clincher for me is the artist’s life outside of the spotlight. And though I’ve already touched upon Jana’s love for her husband in their turbulent marriage, let me tell you all of more extra and above-and-beyond things that Jana has undertaken that proves she is influential. Well her Christ-like love is reason enough, but let me first start off by saying that even though I’ve only heard the first 4 episodes (out of 400-500 or maybe more!), Jana’s “Whine And Dine with Jana Kramer and Mike Caussin” will be remembered for years and years and years to come. The concept was simple- talk about their lives and encourage others and be a light for others. Over time obviously this podcast where Jana and Mike have actually lived their life and showed the listeners a piece of their private world, has blown up. Available through iHeart Radio (I’m guessing only a US station!), listening to a podcast like this takes commitment, and may be only for the massive superfan of Jana, of which I’m not there yet. However this brainchild of Jana is what she’s been doing the past few years- and is worth the check out at least once. Maybe each of the episodes are stand alone, and maybe you can jump in and receive some words of encouragement. But as I actively listen to Jana’s podcast more and more from now onwards (perhaps I’ll listen to the recent ones and then work backwards!) I encourage you to do the same. Who knows, Jana may speak an amazing word and you might receive a breakthrough in whatever you’re struggling with. God can and will use whatever to get your attention? So what are you waiting for?

Also, being nominated for and winning many country music awards, such as the American Country Awards (nominated for new artist in 2012) and the Academy Of Country Music Awards (ACM awards) –  winning top new female artist in 2013; Jana’s prowess as a singer, songwriter, entertainer, actor and podcaster (is that even a legit term?) is going to rise and rise and rise. Maybe even exponentially. Having also toured with Blake Shelton on his Ten Times Crazier tour in 2013 (and that’s all I’ve found out about Jana touring!), as well as being a partner with Nationwide Insurance for a series of TV ads, and competing on Dancing With The Stars (season 23 and finishing 4th!); sky is the limit for Jana. And I mean this literally. Her bubbly personality shines through in her pop/country songs, and her honesty shines through effortlessly in her ballads. And every song is personal, every song means something- even if the meaning is to let your hair down and relax every once in a while. And mark my words though- if Jana’s music isn’t popular right now, or influential right now, then by the time her third album releases she will be. If that’s me talking like a fan, that’s because I am one. That’s what happens. I quickly become fans of artists that I write about during the writing process.

And again in this series this is a country artist whom I was apprehensive at first, but knowing they were influential- or at least a future influencer; I wrote about them and became a fan. Maren MorrisHunter HayesLauren Alaina and now Jana. With the 23rd instalment nearly finished in my 50 posts of this segment of Momentous Mondays; you may think that I’m favouring the country genre over any other. And maybe subconsciously I am. But the fact does remain that Jana is no less a future influencer than someone like Lewis Capaldi (whom I will write about in the coming months) just because she is in the country genre. Maybe apart from CCM my favourite music genre is country. It doesn’t matter. I’m not listing artists like a quota and cherry picking based on genre, or even based on gender. These artists I’ve talked about may not be one everyone’s list, but they’re influential to me, and that is that. As for other country artists who may be in the running for an instalment of Momentous Mondays in the future- maybe I will write about artists like Maddie & Tae, Cassadee Pope, Kacey Musgraves, Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini, Gabby Barrett, Lindsay Ell, Dan + Shay.. or even the infamous Florida Georgia Line. Or maybe I’ll just write about a few of them. Just wait and see guys, you’ll never see what’s coming next! So as we all dive into some Jana Kramer and hear her sing about many, many issues, including how to get over broken trust or get through broken trust together; let me end with a quote from Jana on how she’s dealing with haters online (because there a lot of them!), as well as an excerpt from one of the blogs I wrote a few years ago about why I reckon celebrity couples are breaking up left, right and centre. Hint- this has to do with vulnerability and openness, which is extremely relevant to what I’m writing about here! Jana and Mike seem like the exception to the rule (which is sad!), so let’s keep on rooting for them and praying that God is the centre of their marriage, shall we?

Does Jana Kramer make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song (other than “Beautiful Lies”, “Love”, “Why Ya Wanna”, “I Won’t Give Up”, and “Circles”) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

It’s hard because it definitely gets to me because I’m like, ‘Man, maybe I shouldn’t be so open or maybe I shouldn’t joke around so much because it seems to kind of bite me in the butt sometimes’; but, I have to remember that for every one negative comment there’s 50 positive. I need to start focusing more on the positive because I think it’s so easy to harp on the negative, especially in today’s world.

I know not everyone’s going to like me. But at the same time, I have a platform and I want to use it for the right reasons, and I want to be able to stick up for myself and not feel like I have to be so politically correct all the time. Again, I have to remind myself that I know not everyone’s going to like me so if I’m going to have my voice, I might as well use it in a powerful way

With plenty of celebrities having died over the past few years, almost none of them died of old age. Prince, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Paul Walker, Peter Roebuck, Anthony Bourdain, Heath Ledger, Roger Moore, Amy Winehouse, Robin Williams and Brittany Murphy are just a few celebrities, all who left us quite suddenly and out of the blue. With so much life still left to give for much of these inspirational people, the question posed to each one of us, to the innocent bystander who wonders why all of this is going on, is this- what can we do in order for the world to be a better place, for people to know that death isn’t their only way out of sadness and depression and feeling alone? The question can also be posed to us when examining how quickly Hollywood marriages crumble- Anna Faris and Chris Pratt recently split, as did Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber; and in both instances the world was left wondering why. Does ‘finding yourself’ really mean dying, or a marriage/relationship dying?

In my opinion (which may differ from yours, and that’s ok!), some of these deaths (the suicides and drug overdoses- the other ones we don’t really have any control over whatsoever) have occurred, and some of the marriages have fallen apart; due to one fundamental thing that almost all of us are in some way, shape or form, are guilty of. And that is we’re not that open. We are very closed off, don’t like talking to others, and don’t get me started on striking up a conversation with someone- that’s a big no-no. Vulnerability and honesty- well that’s not really part of our vocabulary. Rather it’s ‘solitude’, ‘mediation’, and ‘going through life alone’ that seem to be what everyone is doing now. Perhaps person A committed suicide because they thought they were alone, that no one could understand their problems, that no one else were going through what they were, and that death was the only option. Maybe persons B and C divorced because of miscommunication, that certain needs for both parties weren’t being met, that one person’s love language was being completely neglected, and that both spouses weren’t being honest with each other right from the get-go. I’m not saying that that’s what definitely occurs in every death or marriage breakup- it’s just my initial thoughts on this subject and something that I reckon could have happened behind the scenes in any of the unnatural deaths and marriage breakups over the past few years (and right now…I’m not just talking about celebrities!).

But I believe that for the sake of our own lives, and in order for us to have a healthy marriage, and a healthy relationship with everyone else close to us; we need to open up. No I don’t mean tell your life story to someone you just met, but rather share something personal with your friend (cause you know they won’t judge you!), knowing that their perspective, which maybe is different to yours, can cause a shift in your thinking, resulting in a more vibrant life than before, and hopefully can drag you out of the depression if you are feeling down. Perhaps each one of us can benefit from having a group of people around us whom we can be real and authentic with. Because after all, we’re allowed to express our feelings to those close to us, even if it is a feeling of sadness, depression, anger, worthlessness or shame. These are all valid emotions and things we grapple with- and to go through the journey alone, is something I wouldn’t even wish on my worst enemy. So airing out these emotions to close friends, out in the open, is most of the time therapeutic and cathartic, as it will make us feel better, and prove to the next guy that we’re human too just like everyone else. See, just like the movie Shrek, people are like onions. We have layers, and most of us want to keep those layers for ourselves and no one else, for fear of being burned or betrayed. Yet while there is a risk of friends turning their back when you share something deep, I’d say that the reward of living a more fulfilled and satisfied life, is greater than the risk. While many of us don’t really like opening up, as it means admitting that we’re not ok, I reckon letting our walls down and letting those close to us see our imperfections and our faults and our scars, is quite brave and courageous- life isn’t perfect all the time, so we shouldn’t really live and act like it is perfect.

Deaths and divorces are sad and a reminder that while there’s sin still in this earth, unpleasant and unwelcome things often still do occur; yet they both also serve a greater purpose. And that is to remind ourselves that our inability to open up may be costing our own humanity. That our sometimes insistence to go through life alone can cause us to be people that others do not want to be around. I’m not saying that this directly causes unnatural deaths and divorces- but I believe that if we are to change the culture of this world, and if we are to see a change amongst celebrities, where unnatural death isn’t commonplace, and every second celebrity couple does not break up (giving us hope that good things do happen!); then we need to look inwards and analyse the changes that we ourselves can make. Are we accountable to our friends and family, and do we have a healthy outlet of how we express our emotions? Are we being real and vulnerable with our friends and family, and are we being real with God? If we can do all of that right, then we’re on our way to changing the world. And as we start to be more unafraid in opening up more and more, I am certain others will see the change in us, and it’ll catch on quick as well. 

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