Carmen Justice was the front-woman for the Christian music girl band, One Girl Nation. After a good run of about five years, the group disbanded, and Carmen went solo. This year has seen her release some singles such as Flaming Arrows and Red & Yellow Black & White (feat. GabeReal). Carmen took the time to share a bit about her life with us on TBAP. Take a look below!
Miranda ~ Hello Carmen! Delighted to have you visit TBAP today. Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Carmen: So excited to do this interview and glad to answer any questions you may have! Thanks for supporting my music! I am a native Nashvillian who grew up dancing and singing. I studied music at Belmont University and I love traveling, dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joes, and Pinterest. A fun fact about me is that I can walk on my hands.
Miranda ~ How did you become a Christian? Is there a story?
Carmen: I have been a follower of Jesus since I was a little girl. I was lucky that I grew up with parents who both had a relationship with Jesus, and at 8 years old, I decided I wanted that too. I really feel like God grabbed my heart at a young age, but I definitely think that my faith became my own in college when I went through a season of doubt and soul searching for myself. I remember asking myself if I really believed the whole “God” thing and if I just believed in that because it was what I was taught all growing up. The book “The Case For Christ” by Lee Strobel really helped bring me back to a faith of my own, and I always recommend that book to anyone who is seeking to learn more about the Bible.
Miranda ~ When did music become a part of your life and, what led you to decide to become a professional in the Christian industry as opposed to the mainstream?
Carmen: I actually can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t singing! I grew up singing in church and that led to me writing songs I am super passionate about now. I’m blessed to be a part of the music industry here in Nashville—it isn’t an easy, glamorous road like some would imagine, but there is so much reward doing what I feel God has called me to do!
Miranda ~ You released a video for Flaming Arrows not so long ago, and also spoke of a period in your life when you experienced fear, which led you to write Flaming Arrows. How would describe that period/experience and, what do you hope a listener will walk away with after they’ve listened to Flaming Arrows? What would you say is the core of the song?
Carmen: This song was inspired by the verses in Ephesians 6 where Paul talks about the armor of God. I thought the part in verse 16 where it says “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” was SUPER applicable to where I was in life. Last year, as some of my fans know, the band I was in 1GN came to an end and I was in a place where I had absolutely no clue what was ahead for me. I found myself asking God “what’s next?” and “why would you have me here?” Sometimes, I still find myself asking those same scary questions. There was a ton of fear and anxiety that overwhelmed me, and I realized that until I learn to have complete faith in Jesus, I was not going to overcome this fear I had in my life. In writing this song, I wanted to acknowledge that fear is a real thing that everyone deals with so that we all don’t have to feel alone in that. I hope that any listener of “Flaming Arrows” feels empowered to overcome whatever fear they have in their life, to seek council, and to ultimately find their shield of faith in Jesus.
Miranda ~ What are the principles that generally guide your songwriting and choice of lyrics?
Carmen: My whole goal is to write from a genuine place. Whatever I’m feeling on a particular day, I just write about it. I want to write about real things I’m dealing with in my own life, as well as issues going on in the world. My latest single, Red & Yellow Black & White (feat. GabeReal), is a song I wrote because I was getting so tired of seeing so much hate whenever I checked social media, even from people that I knew loved Jesus that expressed emotions of such hate towards people groups. That day, I really wanted to write a song about love and unity. Other days, I’ve gone in the studio and am super excited and want to write happy songs about love or my marriage! Ha!
Miranda ~ How would you describe your early days in the Christian music industry and, what would you say is the one principle that has kept you afloat all this time?
Carmen: I would say as a whole, the industry is hard, whether it is Christian, mainstream, country, or whatever! It takes a ton of work and people aren’t perfect. It’s funny—I remember this random lady when I was first getting a start telling me, “Remember who you are, and Whose you are”…that truly has stayed with me until this day. If I keep that at the center of what I do, I can keep going.
Miranda ~ When do you know you’ve finished writing a song?
Carmen: I am kind of a perfectionist, so I feel like I would keep changing and adding things forever if it weren’t for my team helping me finish songs. Once the song is mastered, I can then call it finished.
Miranda ~ What would you like to see change in the music industry?
Carmen: I would love (in a dream world) for the industry to become less competitive and less about money. I feel like so many times we find ourselves comparing and trying to out-do each other instead of just owning our strengths and weaknesses and supporting each other, and going back to focusing on enjoying music that makes us feel something.
Miranda ~ As a Christian who’s also a music artist, what do you believe a Christian artist can add to the world? What do you believe you give to the world?
Carmen: I believe that because I know Jesus, I have everything to give the world—we all do. I feel like whether it is 5 people or 5 million people who are impacted by my music, I want to do my part in making the world a more loving and Christ-filled place.
Miranda ~ How do you successfully juggle marriage and a solo career in music? Any wise words for others soon to be in your shoes?
Carmen: Life can get super busy, and sometimes overwhelmingly so. We make it a priority to have good communication and have learned how to say no to things. We go on dates and like to read and be silly together! Since making a vow to Matt, I’ve made our marriage a priority over my music and I would tell anyone, regardless of career choice, to do the same. I’ve seen friends of mine put their careers over their marriages and some have ended in divorce—that’s just not an option for me.
Miranda ~ What are you most grateful for generally and right now?
Carmen: The first thing that comes to mind right now is coffee! Ha. I might have a slight addiction, but I love a good cup of coffee and am very grateful whenever I find new amazing coffee shops. But more seriously, I am so grateful during this season for all I’ve been learning—patience, contentment, perseverance, losing my pride, how short life truly is, and I could keep going on and on. God is really teaching me a lot in this season of my life.
Miranda ~ What advice would you offer to a young person who believes that they are called by God, and so are going into the music industry for the first time?
Carmen: Brace yourself for trials—they come to steal your joy and they WILL happen. But never lose your vigor for life, and always believe the best in people. If you are a creative, pray that God would give you a path where you can use your creativity to the fullest and if you are more business-minded, pray that you could be a man/woman of integrity leading our music industry with boldness.
THIS or THAT (The Fun Questions!)
Coffee or Tea? Coffee of course!
Gym or Outdoor? Outdoors (unless it’s raining or cold…then gym!)
Sandals or Boots? Sandals
Running or Walking? Walking
Juice or Smoothie? Both!
Salad or Fruit? Fruit
Movies or Books? Books
Vanilla or Chocolate? Definitely chocolate
Dress or Pants? Pants
Summer or Spring? Summer for sure!
Rain or Snow? Really, neither! I guess, snow, if I could go sledding or skiing!
Blazer or Leather Jacket? Leather jacket
Carmen Justice has been a front-woman in Dove nominated girl band 1 Girl Nation for the past five years, and this year, she stepped out on her own as announced exclusively on CCM. Her single, Flaming Arrows, marks Carmen’s first release as a solo artist as she moves into the next chapter of her music evolution and has been available on all digital platforms since on January 20.
Writing the song from a place of uncertainty and doubt, the pop/alternative song’s driving rhythms give way to explosive melodies in an anthem about overcoming fear. The song was written days after 1 Girl Nation split giving her the creative freedom to explore new sounds and a stylistic tone that is genuine to her artistry while exploring the raw and vulnerable emotions Carmen felt during a time of peers expressing doubt about her career, extreme financial uncertainty and still dealing with past broken relationships.
“I was haunted by the bad experiences I had gone through as an artist, as a woman, and it was starting to control my mind,” explains Carmen. “I got so burned by people in my life and the entertainment industry that I didn’t know how much longer I could take it.” She continues, ” I was always living in fear…fear of not making enough money, fear of failure, fear of people knowing my mistakes I’ve made in my life…the list could go on … but I was comforted by Ephesians 6:16 that says ‘take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.’ With the faith I have in Jesus, I can overcome all of these voices of fear in my head.”
The pop star’s desire is for this song to empower those who are struggling with their own ghosts, whether it be bullying, addiction, anxiety, shame, doubt, and help them take control of their fears, face them and put them in the past.
Carmen Justice is a critically acclaimed pop star, recognized as one of three vocalists in the Dove Award nominated girl group, 1 Girl Nation (1GN). She has shared the stage with mega artists including TobyMac, Sidewalk Prophets, NF, and Andy Mineo. But after five years of being a part of a group, Carmen is stepped out on her own as a solo artist, revealing a more edgy pop/alternative sound paired with honest lyrics. The Nashville native released her first single, Flaming Arrows, in January 2017, with an EP to follow later in the year. Carmen’s hope is to empower listeners to overcome their fears and love those around you.