Ashley Lagunas is an inspirational singer-songwriter on our Indie Artist Watch for September 2020. Ashley, originally from San Diego, California, now resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband Beto and her daughters, Romance and Poema.
She grew up as a missionary child, often on-the-go. However, her childhood was so much more than frequent moves. This experience gave her some life-changing moments and shaped her world view. These experiences have pushed her closer to God, growing her faith, and bestowing on her, strong foundations for songs.
So far, Ashley has released one EP and two singles. Her EP, Raise the Stakes,was released in 2018. It features six songs and one behind-the-scenes story. She released “Following the Star,” her first single, in late 2019.
Ashley's latest work is “Soar,” which just came out this past August. She hopes that people really connect with the song: "My prayer is that when people hear this new song, they would experience the God who loves them and the new life found in Him." I had a chance to connect with Ashley to talk about her new music, creative influences, and coping with quarantine.
You’ve released two new singles since your last album, Raise the Stakes. Tell us about last year’s Christmas single, “Following the Star.”
The original Christmas story was about seeking the awaited newborn king. I wanted to renew that idea in a fresh way. It was something I had been writing for a few years, and it finally came all together last year and really love how it turned out.
I also see you recently released a video project that you filmed on the Island of Malta? Can you tell us about that?
There was a season I went through that was really rough and felt like a shipwreck. I found a lot of hope in the story of Paul in Acts 27, when he gets on a ship, as a prisoner, and sets sail for Rome. The journey was so much harder than expected, and eventually, they lost the ship and ended up stranded on the Island of Malta.
In the end, Paul gets to Rome, but what a journey. I realized that even though my journey was hard and long, just like Paul, God had a purpose. He would get me to my Rome as well. Once I was on the other side of that season, I prayed about making a story and music video that would focus on this truth: that God is with us in our journey.
Long story and many prayers later, we ended up taking a production team and film crew to Malta to film this story. What a journey it was. And, since we released the “Holding You and the Story of Malta” video on YouTube a few months ago, it’s been very soul-filling to know that it has resonated with many.
Your new single, “Soar,” is a beautiful reminder of new hope that God can bring. Why release this song now?
I was inspired by the symbol of the dove in the Bible and how it represents the Holy Spirit. Now, during this season, I feel there is a rising petition in our hearts, that God would move. Like in the story of Noah when Noah released the dove and the dove brought back new life, I believe God is bringing new life still to each one of us.
I love how Noah kept his eyes to the sky and he continued to release life over his storm. I pray this song will remind people that God is bringing new life. He's reminding us of who we are, speaking peace to the chaos, and bringing hope for the future.
Who are some of your current musical or creative influences? What's inspiring you to continue writing and recording?
I continue to be inspired by Jon Foreman and Switchfoot. You can feel the hope in their songs. They continue to use music to spread a seasoned message that is really needed now. I’m also inspired by the United Pursuit Band. They have an authenticity about them, which is undeniable.
My inspiration to make music is rooted in God's calling on my life. It's a call to share Jesus through music, story, creativity, and any way else. I feel most alive when I'm responding to that call. I’m learning to be faithful with what He's given me and trust Him with the rest. Ultimately, I desire to inspire others to experience a life with Jesus, because there is truly nothing like it.
As COVID-19 restrictions continue, what challenges are you facing as an artist?
What a wild year. My biggest challenge is learning how to adjust to this changing tide. This season has caused me to stretch beyond and think outside the box. I'm finding myself engaging in more conversation virtually with listeners on social platforms and learning to engage deeper with others.
I do miss playing live and do hope we will see that change for us artists and fans in the near future. But, in the meantime, I’m challenging myself to focus on what I can do, showing up with a heart to serve others on social media and spending more time writing songs.
Next month, I’m taking seven new songs to the studio. I'm really excited about this new music. I can't wait to record and share them with others. Lord willing, I will be releasing the first one early next year. I hope to inspire courage in these next songs. They carry a message that God rebuilds all of our ruins. I hope these songs will drop in timely places in people's hearts.
How can we be praying for you?
Pray that I will continue to be strengthened by His might to fulfill my calling. Please pray that God would continue to give me the vision and, most of all, that God would get the glory in my music and all that I create. Lastly, please pray for my heart that it would continue to keep Him first in all things.
Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
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