DALLAS, TX – I had the honor of interviewing Tulsa, Oklahoma native Faith Anderson. She created and runs Tenth Child Inc. (artist management and consulting service; as well as the creative force between events such as The Living Room). She is also the general manager and machine behind RSVP Records. She shared SO MUCH WISDOM with me about handling yourself in business, staying organized, and being ‘well equipped.’ Take notes on this one…
Who is Faith Anderson?
My parents were married for fifty years and gave birth to ten children. Seven of them passed away before I was born, and I was the tenth child and the only girl. There were challenges with my birth and when I was born, I was not alive. The story goes that my father made a commitment to God and several minutes after that prayer, I gave signs of life. I feel like I am a representation of a promise fulfilled.
In high school I realized that I had influence without words. I knew I had purpose I just had to figure it out. I knew my purpose wasn’t attached to singing only but to care, trust, and restore. My voice is an introduction to a deeper calling. In the environment I’m in, I’m a leader by trait but a servant at heart.
When you said the statement ‘singing isn’t my calling but it’s an introduction to something deeper’: How did you get to that revelation that ‘singing isn’t my thing but an introduction to the thing?
People respond to singing in a myriad of ways. Early on, I was singing and someone in the audience started to cry uncontrollably. My first time having that encounter, I felt like I never wanted to sing again because I never want to hurt anybody like that. It came off to me like sorrow. I had to mature to know that what they were releasing was not in response to me, but at the time it was hard for me to get through the song without fearing the outcome.
My parents had to force me to sing because the last time touched me so deeply and I became sensitive and critical of my gift. As I started to grow into it, I would sing more and learned that the reaction of people was different at any given time. I would have to go within myself and ask God, “teach me this. Show me how to balance this because music is so personal to me.” When I sing it’s as if I’m giving you my most intimate gift.
I came to grow and understand that the sound I released, coupled with my passion/heart towards the lyrics, can shift an atmosphere. I know that God gave me the ability to captivate to a point where I can say “there is hope, there is light, and there is an answer.” People would come up to me afterwards and would say that they wanted to commit suicide or quit school, and that there was something that was said/sung that changed the course of where they were going. Those instances let me know that my voice was an introduction.
I wouldn’t have had an exchange with anyone had I not sung. My personal demeanor is to go into a room and observe. To those that do not know me well I’m reserved and attentive in a large crowd. I’ve had to learn that singing put me in a position to convey a certain message. It all came with maturity. Singing may not be my moneymaker and how I sustain life, but it’s my introduction to get there.
Tell me about The Living Room.
I started this movement called The Living Room in March of this year. It was only supposed to be an annual event and it was during Stellar Award Weekend. I figured all of my friends were playing for other artists so they were already going to be there. When I did the first one I called Shaun Martin, Robert “Sput” Searight, and Cory Henry. The first one featured Doobie Powell, Rock Boy Fresh, Michael Bethany, Nikki Ross and Amber Bullock. Kirk is such a good friend of ours, he came as well.
There was a large group of people that came to show that weren’t even a part of the Stellar Awards Weekend. They were students and musicians from the colleges in the area. It was a diverse crowd.
This was not a showcase for artists to present their singles; this showcase is only to promote artists that contribute to platinum selling artists. Even if you don’t have an album but you’re on stage with people like Janet Jackson, Usher, Timbaland, and Justin Timberlake; this is the platform for you. A lot of musicians need to know how to have longevity in the game the root cause to success. The common denominator for all The Living Room artists is that we are all church kids who have evolved in music. Mainstream has expanded it reach into the church and embraced an evolved expression of music. The Living Room artists also have a heart to remain loyal to their roots and still maintain key roles as church musicians. Shaun is a perfect example of this. He continues to travel the world as musical director for Kirk Franklin, member of Snarky Puppy, and as a solo artist in addition to being the Minister of music for Friendship West for nearly ten years. You must have discipline about your life to be able to manage that. A lot of artists and musicians don’t know how to do that.
I think the best way to teach people is to show people. If you get a panel together and talk to them hours at a time, all they really want to know is “How did you get that Michael Jackson gig?” What has been a blessing to me is how to rally talent together so they can give back to musicians and singers. After the premiere of The Living Room in Las, Vegas, Sput became the music director for the next two after that. When he introduced me into RSVP Records, he wanted people to know that The Living Room is connected to RSVP and for it to be a safe environment for musicians. We’ve come together and we’re preparing to SXSW in Austin and we hope that it’s going to put indie artists on the map again. Our heart is to expose the underground in the light where mainstream is.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned from Israel Houghton, Kirk Franklin and Robert ‘Sput’ Searight?
Israel: I’ve learned about diversity and how your message should seek to go beyond your circumstance, feelings and personal goals. Music has this power to be higher than us. I think Israel does a great job of writing a song and creating an atmosphere that reaches higher. No matter what, there’s something her than us we can still find something common to worship about.
A lot of times in writing personal lyrics and personal performances, we can go inward and really start planning actions that say ‘I want people to know this about me.’ Israel is a constant reminder that ‘it’s not about us’ so we have to try harder and think broader. The message can still come across because God allowed it, repaired it and can restore you. Don’t stay in your ‘me-zone.’
Kirk has always been vulnerable with us and transparent with the world about his upbringing. No matter what, God can still use you. If you have a speech impediment, abandoned, not attractive, whatever your insecurities are, they may not affect you but it doesn’t affect God. He can still reveal treasure out of the most dark and hopeless places and occurrences in your life.
He also represents generosity and chivalry. He’s very generous. He’s a real man and his intentions are very pure. He’s very deliberate about what he does and says; and doesn’t sugar coat either. When he’s just in man/husband mode – he’s very intentional of not repeating the mistakes of his father and mother. He adores his wife and it’s not for show. It’s a commitment to his heart and mind to make sure she knows she is his life. It’s a commitment to him to be a phenomenal father and to never be absent. He’s so committed. I adore watching him love his wife. I’m learning how to be loved and what to expect in husband and father. He’s teaching people and he’s not even writing about it. He doesn’t write about loving his wife, fathering daughters and sons; that’s not in the music.
I feel like he’s the currency to achieve anything you want in music. I’ve learned that I need to valuable. I don’t need to ever be problem; I need to be a solution. I never need to be high maintenance but rather low maintenance and flexible. I never need to complain, I need to bring strategy to the table. To get options and get more than what you have. I’ve learned to be excellent in the things I’m a steward of and give 100% to that at all times.
That’s why we work well together. I still get inspired by the ideas that he has, and to have a client that inspires me like that keeps me from being habitual in the way that I work with him. I love working for and with Sput.
What you do requires a lot of organization and systems. What does Faith the Machine look like?
I think the secret to managing it all is that you have to be in love with organization. I’m addicted to it. My favorite store is the container store. If it’s not a place you love and adore and something you don’t spend time in; you will be all over the place. I have invested in a lot of money in order to stay organized.
Apple products keep me organized. I personally own an iPhone, Macbook Pro, iMac, and an Apple Tower. I probably do my primary functions on the Macbook Pro, but all of my devices are speaking with my server that I set up through the Tower. For someone like me, who has a mobile office, I can never be in a position where I’ve exceeded capacity. So I have to have the systems in place so I can always have access and at the same time it’s not eating up my capacity.
I think for me, I am not an impulsive buyer; I do research because I know what I stand to lose if I ever can’t access something. When you’re dealing with artists as a general manager for a record company, you have very private/non-public information. Whether it’s the company’s EIN number, passport, social security, banking information et cetera; you really cannot be shut down and everything needs to be secure. When you count up the cost, you really can’t go buy a low budget laptop. The value of information that you hold has to be supported by something of equal or greater value. That’s how I can value it all, I learned early on what’s not dependable and I invested and built on it.
I’m not very much into name brands but I am into a less is more type vibe. Since Apple was created for my industry I can have less. I an slide it in my back pocket and still be equipped with everything I need. We’re constantly on the go so we don’t necessarily need hard drives bigger than a telephone or equipment that weighs five pounds. We’re in airports and hotels all the time.
When I pull out my weapon of choice around my peers, it lets them know that I’m serious about my business because they know I have industry standard equipment. They feel safe with me because I am equipped well. I’m prepared for anything.
How would you encourage people to do what you’re doing?
Do what you enjoy to do and own your space. Be confident in what you do well and don’t try to know more than what you know, because that’s an easy way to be dismissed or to never be pursued again. Be a constant student.
I am in my last class, this month, of earning a masters degree in entertainment business. What I’ve learned in the course work is that there were things that I absolutely didn’t know; but I was affirmed that I had the instinct to know and it just solidified the path that I’m going down. Reading books and talking to instructors and having them say “you’re on the right path, are you sure you’ve not done this before?” If I did not position myself as a student, I wouldn’t have security in my purpose that I have today.
Failure is what comes with success so don’t be afraid of failure at all. Your passion is always going to win. Don’t give up or walk away because it’s going to annoy you when you’re not operating in it. Failures are a part of the process. It can be expensive, hurtful, or you may lose support. However, know that everything you lose will be gained. Even though I lost money putting certain deals together, God opened up sponsorships and it felt so much for someone to say “Hey Faith, I believe in you, here’s $5000” instead of going into my bank account and being the only one that believes in me.
When God says He’s going to be your provider, He will supply provision for you. He wants to be your primary source and sometimes you won’t know Him to be that until you’ve hit failure.
The worst case scenario will always be in front of you so that you can have reasonable expectations. That’s not to say operate in fear, but when you consider the worst it will make you temper yourself and be careful. You’ll go back and do research and investigate before you do things out loud or do presentations. You’ll have a temperature gauge, people will trust you, and they’ll embrace your mistakes as opposed to punishing you.
This is Ghost-Note, the first artist featured on RSVP Records. You can get their debut CD/DVD HERE.