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She Gave Up Touring With Katy Perry to Serve God

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 9, 2023 3:03 am

She Gave Up Touring With Katy Perry to Serve God

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 9, 2023 3:03 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, after much searching and suffering, a new opportunity arose that beggared belief - but led to something truly greater.

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To learn more about Nissan's electric vehicle lineup, visit And we're back with our American stories. Up next, Tasha Layton. After her success throughout her time on American Idol, Tasha toured with Katy Perry as one of her backup singers, and she did so for many years. But even after all those incredible life experiences, she still felt empty. So she gave it all up to find God.

Take it away, Tasha. I grew up in a little town in South Carolina called Pauline. We had a volunteer fire station and a flashing light in our town.

It was just really small. And I grew up in the middle of nowhere in a trailer on a bunch of acreage. But I didn't know that we weren't normal like other folks until I started school. And the teasing started, you know, getting called trailer trash or being bullied for the shoes I'm wearing or the kind of car my parents picked me up from school and just that we weren't, you know, well to do.

And I go throughout school and notice that I started getting sort of this like chip on my shoulder, like a need to succeed, a need to present myself a certain way so that I wouldn't be rejected. My parents were good people, salt of the earth, give you the shirt off their back people. And they took us to church every Sunday morning and every Sunday night and every Wednesday night.

And basically every time the doors were open, we were there. I loved, you know, my family and our life. But what I had known of religion was kind of this hard pew on Sunday mornings and frilly socks that itched that I had to wear to church and being told to be quiet. It was kind of like the shoulds and shouldn'ts of religion. When I was eight or nine years old, we switched churches.

We're, you know, the good old Southern church going family. And I remember walking in and something was different about that place. When we switched to this new church, I just sensed something bigger than me for the first time in my life. And it changed me. I really became passionate about knowing the Bible and what scripture said.

And I began to serve in other countries on mission strips and different types of things. And throughout that time, I was really feeling like I had somewhere I finally belonged. So for all of the bullying and all of the things that I experienced when I was younger, I was like, man, this is like, this is amazing. They love me for who I am.

They're not judging me for not living in a normal neighborhood or all of that. And so it was amazing. And I got to maybe like 16 years old and all of that kind of came crashing down. There was a pastor who his wife, you know, ran the worship team and she did some other things in the church I was at. And I didn't know she had like a really painful history of abuse and all these things. And she had some struggles and I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And she was really not kind to me. It hurt me. I was very wounded by her.

It was so painful. And the situation became so toxic that the church split and my family left the church. And I left the church too. And around the time I left the church, I was actually already in college and I started searching. I changed my major from music to religion and I went to Buddhist meditation camp and synagogue and mosque.

I studied mysticism in Europe for a couple of summers. I tried atheism even. I just, I needed truth. And I wanted to know that what I believed was because I believed it, not because I had just been socially pressured or been told what to believe. And I wanted to know that what I'd experienced in church was real. And so I went on this search of all these different religions and I questioned everything. And I got to be honest, I felt a lot of judgment from Christians who saw me searching. And then I also recognized a lot of judgment from people who were either searching or who were anti-Christian judging the people who had strong faith. And I just thought to myself, self, this is ridiculous. Like everyone is judging each other so hard and we're not having any sort of empathy or compassion for each other's journeys and what we're all going through, that we all have the same questions in life and we're all in need of something to save us. And I came to the end of my searching period and I was really isolated and depressed and I felt so alone.

I don't think I'd ever felt so lonely in my life. And I tried to take my life. It was in my college dorm room and I didn't succeed. I knew a lot about guns because I grew up in the country and I knew that the gun was loaded, but the gun did not go off.

And I was so shocked. And when I was going to pull the trigger again, someone walked into the room and I just fell apart. I just thought, I'm not okay and I need some help.

I'm, I'm, I'm not going to make it through this without some help. I ended up going to a former youth pastor's house for, I don't know how long I was there, but, um, and just sort of being, I just let them level me and feed me when I would eat, talk to me when I would talk. And I just decided, you know what, in all these other paths I've been taking, you have to strive so hard strive so hard to reach God or reach enlightenment or be a good person. And even in the religious side of Christianity, you have to like strive to earn God's favor or to being looked upon as righteous or whatever.

But in the gospel and what you read in scripture, Jesus is the only God who lowers himself to come to us. And so something about that shifted something in my mind. And I thought, I'm going to go back to church, whether I feel it or not, I'm going to put one foot right in front of the other. And at some point, something's got to stick because I've tried everything else, including trying to take my own life.

I went for about a year, didn't feel a thing. I was like, Oh my gosh, I'm so tired of this. Um, I'm bored. I'm numb. I'm not feeling still. And yet something told me, just keep going. And so about a year into that, the pastor said, if you want to touch from God, why don't you come up?

We want to pray for you. And I went up there and I left three hours later. I was just a sobbing mess on the ground.

And they probably had to replace that square of carpet because of all my snot. But I felt again for the first time. And it was like that presence that I felt the first time I walked into that church at eight or nine years old, that same presence, like surrounded me.

And I thought, this is, this is a turning point in my life. And you've been listening to Tasha Leighton share her story. And for so many people who grew up in the church and then grew away from the church, and then went into a questioning phase. And for all of you who didn't grow up in the church and were never a part of a church and have questioning phases of your own struggles of your own battles, but loneliness of your own and doubt and self doubt. Boy, we hear self doubt and loneliness and even entropy at its lowest. When someone tries to take their own life, which she did once, which she did once the gun failed about to do it a second time, she was blessed to have someone walk in and stop that.

And then in came a youth pastor to give her some space and love and time. And we all need that from time to time, all of us, when we come back more of Tasha Leighton's story here on Our American Stories. At Ford, we pride ourselves on building strong, capable vehicles. But we're only as strong as the people who drive them. People like you, who don't just see an F-150 or a Ford Super Duty, but see what they can build with it. Who look at a 450 horsepower Mustang and envision where it can take them.

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I would love to help people on a level that is from a place of education and health and emotional health and growth. And so I decided I'd go to seminary and I'd grown up kind of doing music, just singing in choir and singing at church. And and I started out as a music major in college. But when all this stuff went down with my church splitting and just being hurt by religious people, I kind of put that down. And in my third year of seminary, this lady came up to me and she was like, hey, I have this event that I need somebody to do music for.

Do you do music? And I just flat out lied to her. I was like, no, I don't. And then she called me back the next day and she said, I'm going to call you next week. Just think about it. And so I did.

I ended up saying yes. And I didn't have calluses on my fingers. I had not sang in years. I knew musically it was just going to suck. And it kind of did musically. It was a train wreck. But the spirit in the room was incredible.

People were just on their knees, praying and crying, were just so moved, including me. And I thought, I think I'm supposed to pick music back up. I ended up kind of by a fluke going to audition for American Idol. I had some friends who were auditioning and they were like, hey, just come hang out with us.

You should do it, blah, blah, blah. So I thought, okay, I'll just go hang out. But it turns out you can't stay in the line unless you actually sign up to be auditioning for the show. And so I was like, okay, you guys are crazy. There's 14,000 people coming to the Rose Bowl. They're only choosing 300. None of us are making it.

This is ridiculous. But turns out I did make it. And then I kept making it through Hollywood week all the way up until the round right before you get voted on. And when I left the show, I thought, man, that actually felt really natural. Something about that felt really comfortable. Like maybe I'm supposed to do something outside of the church in reference to music. And so I just try to kind of putting my intentions towards that and saying, you know what, if a door opens, I'll walk through it.

And a door did open. I get a call from Katy Perry's manager and he's like, hey, can you be at SIR studios in Hollywood in 20 minutes? And I was like, well, actually I can. I didn't have anything going on.

And so I downloaded the song on my phone on the way and I learned it on the way. I was the last girl of the day. I met Katy for a few moments, auditioned, and then I went home. I got a call the next afternoon and they said, can you be at the studio again?

We're leaving for Madison Square Garden on Friday. And I was like, what in the world? I have never done anything like this. And the first time I ever do music outside of a little church is going to be Madison Square Garden with Katy Perry. It was just the wildest thing ever. And so I ended up singing for her for four years. I did the Teenage Dream Tour, California Dreams Tour. I did all that era and it was amazing.

It was an amazing ride. But I came to the end of that four years and I was still feeling really, really stuck. And I wasn't sure how to get out of that. And so I took a sabbatical and I just put everything in storage.

I moved back home with my family to South Carolina and I just like took a break. And I realized I don't think I can do this on my own. So there's the second time in my life where I kind of had a mini meltdown and I thought, I can't do this on my own.

I need some help. And so I ended up going to some counseling place in Colorado and it was like a last ditch effort to ever feel free for the truth in my head that I wasn't living out to become really real in my heart. Like, why did I battle insecurity so much? Why was I so worried about what people thought? Why was I so sad sometimes? Why was I lonely? Why did I have these cycles of depression? Like I wasn't getting to the bottom of it.

I wasn't getting to the root of it. And so my counselor took me through this process of writing down every single thing that had ever hurt me. And I got to tell you, at the end of two days of that, I felt so desperate and hopeless. I was like, I literally don't want to think about any of this anymore.

And how in the world can God turn this around? Like I've experienced some real hurt in my life. And so on the third day, after spending two days doing that, my counselor took me through this process and he said, I want you to invite God's presence into your memories. In first grade, I went to school one day and I drank a lot of water that morning. I got to school and I go to the bathroom. My teacher was like, no, you can't go to the bathroom because she thought I was trying to get out of reading in front of the class because that morning everyone was supposed to be reading a sentence in front of the class. She thought I was just scared. And so I asked her for like three, four more times to go to the bathroom and she still said no. And so when it came my turn, I got up and I wet my pants in front of the whole class. Well, instead of calling my mom or, you know, compassionately asking me if I was okay or anything like that, she sent me to the back of the room to the bathroom in the back and left me there for the rest of the day. Now, my mom almost burned down the school.

But that aside, I just thought, you know, stuff like that happens. Like kids embarrass themselves. You go through hurtful situations. And I was sitting on a counselor's couch in Colorado at 30 years old, realizing that that moment held weight over me because I took messages from that moment. I believed lies from that moment. Sitting in the bathroom in the back of the class, I was ashamed. I was sad. I felt dirty. I was hurt. And the message I took from that was, I'm not like everybody else.

I'm not as good as everybody else. I have to prove my worth. And so I realized those are the lies that I need to uproot in my life to move past them. And he said, he said, where is Jesus in the room? And I started to cry because I just imagined Jesus sitting Indian style right next to me on that dirty public school bathroom floor. And he looks at me with the same compassion that I would look at my kids and says, there's nothing wrong with you.

I love you. You're just the way I made you. You don't have to prove anything to anybody. The power of that moment, I felt the truth move from my head to my heart.

Everything had changed. It was like I knew that God loved me. I knew that I didn't have to compare myself. I knew that I was fearfully and wonderfully made, the Bible says. And so it was at that point that I felt just this courage and this confidence to move to Nashville because I thought I've always wanted to write Christian books or books that help people connect with God or know the truth that sets them free. I might even want to write songs, but I didn't necessarily want to sing the songs myself because I didn't have any aspirations to be an artist. I just worked a nine to five and just sort of left my hands open to whatever God wanted to do.

I ended up writing some songs and I did end up with a record deal, long story short. And 34, 35 years old, I end up doing exactly what I prayed to get to do as a teenager, that I literally travel around and speak to people and sing. And I see people's lives changed on a daily basis.

I see them healed. And I think back to my journey and all the pain I walked through and how none of that was wasted. Every single bit of it informs what I do now.

There's a freedom in my voice today. There's so much about what I do now that I do differently because I walked through hardship and pain at various seasons of my life. And so I'm just really, really, really grateful. Getting to play the Ryman here in Nashville, having my Grand Ole Opry debut, doing my own music and doing it with my kids.

I think one of my greatest accomplishments so far has been successfully touring with my family. I would describe my life right now in terms of gratefulness. I think I am so, so grateful.

More than anything, I'm walking out in reference to music or writing books. I'm most grateful for just the change in my own life and the change in my heart. It gives me faith for anyone that if anyone is walking through anything and just destitute and hopeless and discouraged that if God can do it for me, he can do it for you. And a terrific job on the production, editing and storytelling by our own Madison Derricotte. And a special thanks to Tasha Layton. And you can go to to listen to Tasha's music or to get her book.

That's And that moment that she was humiliated in elementary school pointed that stick with her. And she only learned about that at the age of 30, that the lie she took from that message in moment, she believed them. And in the end, Jesus took care of her. So many people are influenced by their spiritual and religious life. And we don't shy away from that here on Our American Stories.

Tasha Layton's story, her work story, her music story, her faith story here on Our American Stories. Crypto is like finance, but different. It's for everyone, everywhere, all the time. Kraken, see what crypto can be. Non investment advice. Crypto trading involves risk of loss.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-09 04:44:41 / 2023-11-09 04:54:38 / 10

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