The 116 Life Episode 41: Being Obedient with CeJae
1 Samuel 15:22 says that obedience is better than sacrifice. On this episode of Reach Records, The 116 Life, SVP of A&R Ace Harris and our new co-host Meah Evans sit down with Christian R&B artist CeJae for an in-depth conversation on faith, music and the importance of being obedient.
Discovering a Passion for Music
CeJae’s love for music was evident from a young age. She credits her father, a member of the Lane Chappell Quintet, for recognizing her talent. Her father’s love for artists like Luther Vandross and his collection of albums and records greatly influenced her musical journey. However, CeJae’s path to becoming a singer and songwriter was not straightforward.
Initially, CeJae had a passion for poetry and even minored in creative writing in college. It was during this time that she realized her poetry could be turned into songs. Despite being shy, she decided to try singing her own songs and recorded her first verse without telling anyone. The result was a pleasant surprise for her mom and those around her, marking the beginning of her journey as an artist.
Deepening Faith Through Tragedy
CeJae’s faith has always been a significant part of her life. She grew up singing in the church choir, but it wasn’t until she lost her father to COVID-19 in 2020 that she deepened her relationship with God. This tragic event sparked a curiosity in her to understand her faith on a deeper level. She started journaling, watching sermons, and reading the Bible, which helped her cope with her grief.
During her freshman year of college, CeJae faced the challenge of maintaining her faith while dealing with the loss of her father. She initially tried to distract herself by going to parties, but soon realized that this lifestyle didn’t align with her values. She found solace in a church called College, where she joined a small group. This supportive community allowed her to share her experiences and ask questions, providing her with the comfort she needed during this difficult time.
Incorporating Scripture into Music
As CeJae’s relationship with God grew, she naturally started incorporating scripture and biblical terms into her songs. She believes that including scripture in her songs helps people understand and remember the message more easily. This approach to music was commended by my co-host and me, as we believe that our consumption shapes our worldview.
CeJae’s decision to create clean, Christian music was not without challenges. She felt out of place in the secular world and had a moment with a promoter who tried to push her towards a label that didn’t align with her values. This experience made her realize that the secular world wasn’t for her, but she also didn’t feel like traditional gospel music suited her because she didn’t have a powerful voice. She then discovered Christian R&B and fell in love with it, feeling that it was where she was meant to be.
Going Viral and Staying True
CeJae’s song “Fill Me Up” went viral on TikTok, which brought her significant attention. The song came to her spontaneously while she was at a gas station, and she immediately recorded the idea on her phone. The explicit Christian theme in the chorus was inspired by the gospel chapters she had recently watched.
The pressure to write a follow-up song after the success of her viral video was immense. However, CeJae wanted to align her music with what God wanted for her. She talked about the process of rewriting her next song, “Promises,” and the importance of listening to God’s guidance. She emphasized the importance of obedience to God’s plan and staying authentic, even when faced with the opportunity to advance her career through a major label.
The Power of Authenticity and Being Obedient
As the host of the 116 Live show, I was deeply inspired by CeJae’s journey. Her story is a testament to the power of authenticity and obedience. She has shown that it’s possible to stay true to oneself and one’s beliefs, even in the face of adversity. Her journey serves as a reminder to all of us to surrender our plans to God and trust in His guidance.
CeJae’s journey as a Christian R&B artist is far from over, and we’re excited to see where her talent and faith will take her next. We’re grateful for the opportunity to share her story and hope it inspires others to pursue their passions and stay true to their beliefs.
The season of life and constant change (00:04:23) CeJae talks about how she is currently in a busy season of life with constant changes, including having to temporarily move due to a tree falling on her house.
Discovering a passion for singing (00:07:02) CeJae shares that she discovered her passion for singing at a young age, around seven years old, when she listened to Alicia Keys’ song “No One” and realized she could naturally sing along.
Starting a career in Christian R&B (00:06:28) CeJae discusses her journey into the music industry, mentioning that she started professionally recording and releasing music at the age of 21, with his first song being a breakup song. He also talks about transitioning to Christian R&B this year.
The dad’s music influence (00:08:20) CeJae talks about her dad’s music taste, which included Luther Vandross and jazz influences.
The dad’s singing career (00:08:44) CeJae shares that her dad sang professionally in a group called Lane Chappell Quintet.
Discovering songwriting (00:09:51) CeJae discusses how she developed his talent for songwriting through her love for poetry and studying creative writing in college.
The struggle of maintaining faith in college (00:17:29) CeJae discusses the challenges of staying firm in faith while being away from home and dealing with the loss of a loved one in college.
Finding support in a small group (00:18:32) CeJae talks about joining a small group in college and how it helped them navigate their faith and find support from others who had similar experiences.
Using scripture in music (00:24:37) CeJae shares their love for scripture and how they incorporate it into their songs as a way to minister to themselves and others.
The journey to Christian R&B (00:26:55) CeJae discusses her transition from singing clean music to incorporating scripture and biblical terms in her songs, and her decision to pursue Christian R&B.
The temptation to compromise (00:28:17) The hosts commend CeJae for not compromising her beliefs and staying true to her clean music, despite pressure from a promoter and the allure of a major label.
The unexpected success of “Fill Me Up” (00:30:04) CeJae shares her surprise and gratitude for the rapid viral success of her song “Fill Me Up” on TikTok, and how it caught her off guard.
The importance of trying new things (00:35:47) CeJae talks about the value of taking initiative and trying new things, emphasizing that greatness often follows when you just try stuff.
The challenge of following up a viral video (00:37:34) Meah asks CeJae if she felt pressure to keep the momentum going after her video went viral, and CeJae shares her struggle to write a song that followed up the success of her first video.
The importance of perfecting your craft (00:40:07) CeJae discusses the significance of perfecting your craft as an artist, highlighting the importance of building your brand and not just relying on viral moments. CeJae shares her love for marketing and the importance of branding in music.
Related Radio Show: 116 Life