Many songwriters find it hard delivering personal messages in their music. It can be for any number of reasons. Sometimes it’s formula. Sometimes it’s fear. Getting personal in music isn’t an easy endeavor. Just ask singer-songwriter Blanca, who has dared to get personal on her sophomore album, Shattered.
In 2016, Blanca lost her mother to breast cancer. Based on her tragic loss, the Orlando-based Puerto Rican-American singer has crafted 14 new songs to share with the world. Bravely, Blanca shares her story with us in this very heartfelt interview.
Honesty is the overall message on Shattered. What was one of the motivating factors to use this as the theme for the album?
I was talking to a good friend of mine, who enjoyed my first record, Blanca. He told me, “Blanca, you know, I really love your music. But, I still don’t feel like I know who you are.” These words stuck with me, going from my first record into my second.
Some people want to stay private after a tragic loss. Why did you share your story with the world?
When going through a loss or a traumatic experience, I thought how can I not talk about it. I have the tendency to sweep issues under the rug, go numb and not deal with them—not talk, just smile and say everything is fine. I wanted Shattered to have a feeling of something deeper. I wanted people to get to know me on a deeper level. This was the foundation for a lot of the songs on my new album.
How has losing your mother affected how you write music?
I now approach my music from a very honest and authentic place. I don’t want to write a song, because I think it’s what people want to hear. I want to write music that, when I go through a dark season, I can remember when the song was written. While writing the songs for Shattered, I connected to who I am. I want people to go on this journey with me, through my music.
My mom has given me the confidence to not live in fear. And, to just go for it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if my music connects with thousands or just one person. The music is true to who I am, so I can be proud of what I have created.
What’s the meaning behind your single, “Real Love,” and how does it relate to your mom?
“Real Love” was released shortly after my mom passed away. I remember speaking to my mom in hospice. At first, she was trying to hold back her tears. I know, because we’re very similar in that sense. She didn’t want me to see her in pain. She was scared because she didn’t know what was going to happen next. People were telling her to believe, have faith and pray harder. They said God can heal her.
My mom said, “Don’t you feel like I’m trying? Don’t you think that I’ve done everything I can? I’m crying out to Him and nothing’s changed. I’m still sick, and I don’t feel him here.”
This broke my heart because I knew it was the furthest thing from the truth. I started crying for my mom. I could feel God’s love for her, at that moment. I told her, “He loves you so much. And, it’s not based on what you’ve done.”
She replies, “I made all these mistakes. I could have done this better. If I just changed this… Why did I wait for this moment?”
I told my mom there’s nothing she could’ve done to make Him love her more. He loves her because that’s who He is. My mom was such a beautiful soul.
When I hear “Real Love,” I think of how many of us get into the “what can we accomplish” mind frame. What can I do with my own two hands? What can I build and create? In reality, those things are important; but, it’s so much more than that. It’s about going back to that real, authentic, honest encounter with Jesus.
What’s the story behind the single, "Shattered?" It seems to be the anthem of your mother’s passing.
You’re absolutely right. “Shattered” is the heartbeat of the album. It was written just after my mom passed away. The writing process began with me writing down notes on my phone. Just phrases and words that I connected with that felt true to what I was going through.
The word, “shattered,” has a negative connotation. But, I wanted to share how, in my most broken place, that I didn’t know how I’d recover. In this dark place, I found this inner strength and inner peace that I didn’t even know I had. I found a way to continue moving forward and to see beauty in tragic times.
By the way, the vocals you hear in the song are the originals recorded that first day in the studio. I usually record scratch vocals, just so I don’t forget the song. So, I can later go back and record the piece. But, I couldn’t re-record what I created that day with “Shattered.” It was so fresh. It just flowed out.
What lyrics of a song are difficult to perform live?
“Real Love” and “Shattered” are the songs I connect with most. I know when I sing “Real Love,” I tell myself to take a breath. I close my eyes, breath in and then envision my mom in that conversation, and our time together. I feel it’s a very vulnerable spot.
I haven’t sung, “Shattered” live that much. But, the lyric I love is, “But, here I am still standing/So, believe me when I say…” It’s sung with such conviction. I’m here, and I’m still standing. I haven’t given up. These are moments that are very impactful for me, as an artist.
Talk about the healing you received while working on Shattered?
I don’t want this to be about me singing songs. I want this music to be authentic and honest; I want the songs to meet people where they’re at, and that we’re going to heal together. Now, when I listen to Shattered, I think, “this is what people are listening to.” I can remember where I was at that point. I also realize how much God has done, since that point. Going through the songs myself and hearing people’s connection with the music is where I find most of my healing.
What message would you like to give our readers?
No matter what you may be facing, what brokenness you may be going through, know that it’s not going to define you. It’s just a part of your story. Later, you’ll be able to look back and see God’s hand in your life. Just stay strong and move forward. I hope these songs can play a part in that. And, that the music on Shattered can speak into you and in your heart.
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