Beutiful Collage Promo

Amy made this promo image for us herself!

I was privileged to “meet” Amy Barbera, an inspirational singer/songwriter, on Twitter just a few weeks ago. In our time of speaking back and forth, I must say that this woman continues to impress and amaze me! I was originally interested in speaking with Amy because she had a past with Anorexia, and her personal story fit right into Beutiful’s body image awareness mission. I knew her recovery would inspire those who were struggling and give them hope. I delved deeper into her music and was so pleasantly surprised. Amy has a gorgeous voice and the lyrical contents within her songs are so pure. It’s a refreshing change from what is often being played on popular radio stations – lyrics with actual meaning and intention behind them (remember those days?!)! Amy is a very spiritual person and her music is deeply rooted in her faith, but it is music that anyone can relate to and be inspired by even if they’re not religious. The nice thing about Amy is that all of her messages come from the heart and are backed up by solid evidence by the compassionate way she lives her life. She uses her music not only for entertainment, but for charitable causes and to spread love  and encouragement to all people regardless of their background or beliefs. Amy is an artist that I’m proud to support and interview. I’m very excited to take this opportunity to introduce to you Amy Barbera and her music!  Tell us about yourself! Amy BarberaI don’t even know where to begin! Well, I am a small town, sweet girl at heart. I was born and raised in a small town in Maryland called Hagerstown. My ethnic background is of Sicilian descent and since I grew up in such a small town, my Sicilian last name “Barbera” was really rare. I have so many wonderful memories growing up there that I will hold in my heart forever. I have amazing parents named Hal & Judy and one wonderful sister named Julie. My sweet grandma Anna Lee along with my parents helped raise me as I was growing up but she has since passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease. In high school I was a cheerleader, I loved art and I also sang in the school choir. In college I was in musical theater; so that is really where my musical journey began. During my teenage years I struggled with the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa, but through a lot of counseling and wonderful support from my family & friends, I was completely healed and it was through that healing experience that I found God and decided to move away from home. At the age of 21, I moved to sunny South Florida to pursue my dreams of music and singing. That is where my whole life changed and my music career and ministry started to blossom full force. In my beginning years in Florida, I became one of the main singing praise & worship leaders at a church called Living Word Fellowship Church in Ft Lauderdale. The rest is history! Not only am I happy inside because I am doing my passion in life (music) but I am also with the love of my life, TC, and we will be getting married sometime next year. Were you always so musically gifted? When did your interest in singing begin?  Amy_Barbera-WALKING_ON_THE_STARS_PROMO_PHOTOThe gift of music and art runs in my family. My grandfather was a professional organist and piano player; he was also an amazing fine artist and calligrapher. He died before I was born, but growing up I would look through all of his sketchbooks and that really inspired the artist in me. My father was an amazing jazz musician. He played the saxophone professionally and played with many jazz bands in the New Jersey area where he grew up. He actually got accepted into the Jazz music program at the prestigious music school Julliard but he decided it would be more practical to go to Penn State. He was a jazz music major in college but because he wanted to have a family, he decided to end his music career and become a computer programmer instead. I have music in my bones and in my family history so I think that is where my musical gifts come from. I have known since I was a small child that I had the passion to sing. When I was in elementary school, the school decided to put on a big talent show and I entered the contest. I performed the song “My Favorite Things” from the movie “The Sound of Music”. I ended up winning the entire contest and that really boosted my self-esteem. I was a shy little girl at the time and did not have much confidence so winning the contest really meant a lot to me. When I moved to Florida in my early twenties, that is when God really revealed to me that my calling was to sing. The church music leader gave me solos every week and I started seriously training with vocal teachers, so that is when I really started to grow as a singer and an artist! Around the age of twenty three is when my songwriting journey began and the Lord started putting original songs in my heart to write and record. In 1998, I recorded my very first original song titled “Flowers In My Garden” with a music producer named Tim Jack. Since then I have written and recorded over twenty original songs, and in June of 2008 I released my original thirteen song debut album “Beautiful Flower of Life.” Who are your musical influences? I really love unique music artists that are different and who are not afraid to be honest and expressive with their art. My favorite all-time artist and musical influence is Prince. I have loved him and his music since I was a little girl and I hope to meet him one day. I also have been influenced by many other artists such as Celine Dion, Tori Amos, Josh Groban, Bjork, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Brightman, Michael Buble, Andrea Bocelli, Rich Mullins, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson. I just love artists that are not afraid to be themselves and who are creating their art from a real and honest place, regardless of the musical trends of the time. Do you write every one of your songs? What inspires you?  Amy_Barbera-_Rainbow_ButterflyYes I write/co-write every song. I was beyond happy when my debut album “Beautiful Flower of Life” was finally released in 2008. I worked really hard on the development of that album. The writing and recording of each song was a long process and took several years to complete. In that time period, not only was I training with many different voice teachers, but I was also learning proper recording technique with many different music producers and growing in my songwriting ability. So I think that is why God had the process take so long. He knew that I needed the proper tools and training to make my debut album the very best. Most of the songs that I have written or are writing now have been out of my own personal pain and life experiences, or I have been inspired by the lives of others who have touched my heart so deeply that I just had to write a song to express my feelings. I am also deeply inspired by God’s beautiful nature, color, love, joy and hope and you will definitely hear that when you listen to each one of my songs. Most of the time the lyrics come to me instantly. I am usually inspired by a situation, a person, a life experience at the time that God touches my heart to write a song. It comes so easily to me and out of nowhere most of the time. God often gives me the melody line and vision of the direction I should take a song as he is giving me the lyrics. I also work with an amazing team of producers who have helped me tremendously. Each one of my producers has really helped me grow as an artist and they have taught me new ideas and ways of writing and arranging vocals, etc. I am blessed to have so many wonderful people around me. When you were younger, you had your vocal cord nodules removed. Was that a scary decision to make? I was a cheerleader all throughout high school and I sang in the choir so I think that is where the nodules developed. I got to a period that I was extremely hoarse when I spoke so I decided to go see an ENT specialist and that is when he discovered that I had 3 nodules on my vocal cords. He told me that I would have to get surgery to have them removed or that I would never sing again. At that time I was about 20 years old and not really pursuing my music career, but I decided to go ahead with the surgery anyway. Thank God that I did because I would not be where I am today! At that time I had no idea that I would be a professional singer/songwriter someday, so I thank God every day that he led me to my ENT and that I did get the proper treatment. After that experience I really took my voice and singing seriously and so I trained very hard. All of my teachers helped me grow so much as a vocalist and as an overall artist, and each one of them holds a special place in my heart. One of my voice teachers even told me that it is a miracle that I can sing as beautiful as I do after having vocal cord surgery. She said that she knew of many people after having this surgery that were not able to sing as well. I know God really did a real miracle in my life with my voice so I do not take it for granted at all. Tell us about your album “Beautiful Flower of Life” and your latest album “Paint Me A Rainbow”   Amy_Barbera-Beautiful_Flower_of_Life_Album_Cover_PhotoMy original 13 song inspirational album “Beautiful Flower of Life” is a collection of heartfelt beautiful ballad songs such as “We Will Fly”, “I Had A Dream” & “Cries For Peace”. It also includes some upbeat songs such as “Electric Church” & “Your Love Is So Real.” This album is available for purchase on CD Baby, iTunes & Amazon.com in both digital download format and a physical album as well. I am so happy because just recently the former host of “Entertainment Tonight” Leeza Gibbons wrote me a special message about my album and this is what she said: “Your music arrived! Thank you Amy. The CD is amazing, just beautiful, I love it.” It felt so good to get such an encouraging message about my album from Leeza because for decades she has interviewed all the big name artists in the music and entertainment industry. Currently I am working on my new album titled “Paint Me A Rainbow”, which I am hoping to release in either late 2013 or early 2014. “Paint Me A Rainbow” is going to be a collection of really colorful and fun upbeat inspirational dance songs such as “Walking On The Stars”, “Paint Me A Rainbow” & “Pour On Me Rain” to beautiful angelic songs such as “Flying High”  and “Your Heartbeat Brings Me Home.” With this album I am going in a bit of a different direction than my first album. Many of the songs are more upbeat and have a really happy feel to them. I am also experimenting and working with a wide range of producers and other artists that have very different styles than mine, which brings a new creative feel to the album. All of the songs will still be very  inspirational but from one song to the next, they will be very unique and different. What is your favorite song that you’ve recorded? Amy_Barbera-Rainbow_AngelI have to say that my favorite song is “Make Me A Butterfly” from my album ‘Beautiful Flower of Life.” “Make Me A Butterfly” seems to be everyone else’s favorite song, too. “Make Me A Butterfly” is not only my favorite song to perform live, but lyrically it is very touching and universally understood by all who listen to it. I wrote the song to bring hope in the midst of a painful situation, to uplift anyone who is hurting or for those who just need some inspiration. Since the release of “Beautiful Flower of Life”, thousands of people from all over the world have written me to say how much “Make Me A Butterfly” and so many of my other songs have made a difference in their lives. When I create a song, it comes from a very deep and honest place in my heart and I want others to be able to relate to the song in a deep way as well. I want my heart to connect with their hearts through the honesty and beauty of each song. I am also very excited because right now I am in the middle of doing my very first professional music video and of course I chose to do the video of “Make Me A Butterfly.” I am just in the beginning stages of the video production at this time. It is going to be a really beautiful and touching music video in the end so I will be sure to keep you all posted! You have a past with an eating disorder. How has that experience and your recovery fit into your music? I struggled with the eating disorder Anorexia Nervosa in my teenage years into my early twenties. You can read all about my journey with anorexia and how I was healed & transformed  into the butterfly that God created me to be here. It was from my healing from anorexia and the encouragement from my family that really pushed me to pursue my music career full force. I went through a year of one-on-one deep counseling with a wonderful therapist named Susan and it was from that healing experience that my heart became open to really go for my dreams. After my healing transformation, I decided to move away from home to Florida. That is when I gave my heart to Jesus and started singing in the church. It was a combination of my own experience and pain, my love for God and my passion to bring hope to others that really inspired me to write songs. I wrote two of my songs “Make Me A Butterfly” and “Flowers In My Garden” because of the experience I had with my eating disorder. Even though it was a terrible thing that I had to go through, it was actually a blessing because now I can help others who are going through the exact same thing. I can relate to their pain and struggles because I have been there myself. You were recently nominated as one of the Top 5 artists in the Best Singer/Songwriter and Best Pop Artist categories at the 2013 Artists in Music Awards in LA. How was that experience? Amy_Artists_In_Music_Awards_PromoThe “Artists In Music Awards” was a really amazing experience for me. I was so happy to be nominated and make the Top 5 artists in both categories. I flew out to LA in December of 2012 for the “Artists In Music Awards” nominations event and to my surprise, I actually was called to the stage twice for making the top 5 in the categories Best Singer/Songwriter and Best Pop Artist. They had narrowed each category down from about 20 artists to the top 5 in all the categories. To make it that far was really awesome. It is because of all of my wonderful fans from all over the world who voted for me that I made it that far. I am so thankful to God for each and every one of my special fans. In February of 2013, I flew back to LA for the “Artists In Music Awards” finals and although I did not win the final award, I met so many wonderful people. I got a lot of PR and I made some wonderful connections in the music industry as well. The great thing about it is that I found out that in both of my categories, the fan votes/music industry judge votes were very close between me and the other artists. I found out that I was competing against artists from all over the world! Knowing that made me feel so happy inside because to make it that far was really amazing. It was one of the best experiences of my life. What impact would you like your music to have on the world? I feel that I am already making a difference in some small way with my music now. I am passionate about creating music that touches the lives of others and brings them hope. I love inspiring and uplifting people to love, hope and dream big. I am heartbroken when people that are different are treated badly and unfairly so it is my mission as an artist to spread the love and grace of God to the world. I want to make people feel that they are important and special through my music. I am so blessed by God to be able to write songs that have meaning and that are really touching the lives of others. That brings real fulfillment to my heart. Tell us about your dedication to charitable efforts and your God’s Special Angel Not For Profit My song “God’s Special Angel” (also on my album) is a touching song that I wrote for special needs and sick children. Over the years I have traveled into many children’s hospitals and schools to perform “God’s Special Angel” to bring hope to these children. Some of the places I visited are Misercordia Children’s Home in Chicago, IL, Shriner’s Children’s Burn Hospital in Galveston, TX, Shriner’s Childrens Hospital in Tampa, FL, Light House School of the Blind, Ann Stork Center & God’s Little Acres just to name a few. What new projects are you working on and looking forward to? Amy_Barbera-Paint_Me_A_Rainbow-Promo_PhotoRight now I am very busy working on my second album that will be titled “Paint Me A Rainbow.” I have already completed 7 songs for the album so far, which include my own original version of “Amazing Grace.” I have about 6/7 more songs to write and record for the album to be complete. I am extremely excited about releasing this album. It is going to be a really fun, inspirational album that people of all ages will embrace. As far as other projects that I am working on, there are many. I am doing some wonderful collaborations with rap artist “Dramatic Thought”, r&b singer PJ Watts and I am working on a song titled “Fairy Tales” with L.A. Producer Steven Gould. I have several TV (The Yes Show) and radio interviews lined up in Los Angeles for August. A possible door just recently opened for me to travel to New Jersey sometime soon to be on a TV show there as well. I also just recently met with Miami-based handbag designer Candy Woolley and we are in the middle of discussing me doing an editorial with her about my music while advertising and modeling her beautiful handbags. I am really excited about that. I am also in the very beginning stages of working on a professional music video for my song “Make Me A Butterfly” with a photographer/video producer named Zander Brant as well as working on a thrift/vintage/consignment store reality show. New doors and opportunities are opening up for me daily so who knows what is next! God is just amazing. He keeps opening these awesome doors for my career including interviewing with you! What advice would you give to aspiring singers/songwriters? The advice I would give other aspiring artists is to train, train, train! It is so important  to be trained and to be ready. Preparing ahead of time gets you ready when the big doors open. Honestly, I get really nervous before a performance but because I have trained with so many great voice teachers and worked with many wonderful producers over the years, I am able to stand strong and perform well even through my nervousness. Many people tell me that I seem so comfortable and relaxed on the stage when I perform, but if they only know what I went through on the inside before a show they would be really surprised! It is only because of my training that I am able to hold up! I would also tell other aspiring artists to be honest with their craft. Don’t try to be what you think the trends are at the time – be who God created you to be and be honest from your heart. Don’t be afraid of small beginnings because every experience that you have to perform big or small will help you grow as an artist and you may even touch a few people along the way. I have performed hundreds of times at little venues and doing this has made such a difference in my life as an artist. It was in those small venues that I was able to touch lives and make a difference. When I prepare for a show, I do a lot of vocal training, yoga, rest a lot, juice, work out and I do breathing exercises. One of the best things an aspiring artist can do for themselves is to take care of not only their voice but their health. Exercise, eat healthy and get plenty of rest. The last thing I would say to aspiring artists is to never give up on your dreams no matter what. Even in the hard times I have not given up on my dreams and now God is opening doors for me and my career. The same will happen for you if you just believe and never give up. All things are possible. Tell us what you love about yourself. originalAmy_Pretty_For_Photo_Shoot_FixedI love that I am honest with my heart and that I stay true to what God is telling me to do even in the midst of disappointment and others’ discouragement. I am a leader and I have always followed my heart to the end and what a difference that has made in my life! I thank God every day that he has guided me along the way. I love that I have compassion for others and that I can connect with them heart to heart because I have been through similar pain. I understand when others are hurting because of some of the life experiences I have been through. Not only have I experienced Anorexia but I also went through terrible cystic acne on my face that made me feel ugly and I have been through some terrible break ups and rejection. I understand what it’s like to have a broken heart. I have a heart for those who have been rejected in society and even by the church. It makes me feel good inside to give them hope and to let them know they are special and loved by God unconditionally no matter what others say. I love that I stand for God and his love and that I am able to write songs that touch others and that really have meaning. I know that I am making a difference in the world and that is really AMAZING! I love that I never give up on my dreams because I know that God created me to do great things. Check out the DJ Mikeld dance remix to Amy’s “Make Me A Butterfly” below! And remember to check out Amy’s website! You can purchase her CD “Beautiful Flower of Life” on CD Baby and on iTunes! You can also connect with Amy on facebook or twitter!