The music is moving at an intensely fast pace. The fired up band is pushing the tempo, the background singers are swaying in sync while simultaneously gesturing to the audience for feedback. They respond with ovation, literally jumping up and down with approval. The main attraction, Music World Gospel recording artist Myesha Chaney, leads this high-energy response. All while singing out to both the audience and her accompaniment, she turns from power-strut to full-on dance across the stage…in high heel shoes! “I like going all in, going all out, and I try to work out to make sure I can do that,” says the California native, laughing. Seasoned on stage, Chaney assures giving energetic performances in heels required no additional training. “I give it all that I have, and just…go for it,” she says.
Fans of gospel music are definitely going for Chaney’s debut album Take Him To The World. She has admittedly applied massive degrees of effort in delivering message through music, and still finds enough energy to also be a popular columnist, radio host, and minister. The wife of Pastor Wayne Chaney, her reach stretches far beyond the doors of Antioch Church where they pastor. Myesha’s voice has ever-extending arms, and on stage her feet have flames. She talks about this and much more in this SoulTrain.com exclusive interview.
Soul Train: Myesha, you’re so intense when you perform. Before you go on stage do you first pray for your safety?
Myesha Chaney: [Laughs] In church they used to say, “If it’s the Holy Ghost you won’t get hurt.” But I make sure I’m careful. If I fall and break my neck…it’s all in the Lord, so I’m good.
Soul Train: You have a number of performers who accompany you during your performances. Do you require them to bring the same level of energy, or do you just come together in the moment?
Myesha Chaney: No, they need to be able to move. That’s a big part of it. We’re trying to go a certain direction. We’re trying to help other people feel liberated and free. The way you do that is by example!
Soul Train: It seems to me over the last several years people would much rather get on stage and stand still. There seems to be less movement with live performances.
Myesha Chaney: I’m just one those people that feels like whatever I have to convey the message, I want to use it. I can stand and be pretty, but that’s not my way. It’s not my style. I need to move! For so long I stood in service in churches and performing, and just…stood there! After God freed me and liberated me, it was like, “You’ve got arms, you’ve got legs; you better move them! Everything you’ve got, give it to Him!” Since then I just can’t go backwards.
Soul Train: What’s been the most powerful message you’ve been able to deliver, so far, without saying a word?
Myesha Chaney: Freedom. Liberty. You can be yourself, you can express yourself. I’m like an average normal person. I didn’t grow up like most people with their family singing and raising them in church. I didn’t grow up like that. I’m an LA kind of girl who came to a place in life where I wanted to trust God; not only with prevision and safety and protection and all those things we pray for, but with music and creative ability. From that stems the type of message I convey just by me standing there. It’s okay to jump around. A pastor’s wife? Really??! Yes, she can move like this and feel comfortable in her own skin.
Soul Train: What did you sound like before your life changed?
Myesha Chaney: I was born with the same voice, but I did not have the confidence to learn how to use the voice. So I was flat, I sang bad notes. I got nervous when I’d step out to sing. I was totally in myself! I thought I wasn’t good enough and other people were better than me, so why even do it. I talked myself out of successful performances, so I sounded like what I believed about myself.
Soul Train: How did you sound when you engaged in conversation?
Myesha Chaney: I was a little shy but still kind of a class clown. I always had something funny to say and was energetic, and still kind of the same person. But I didn’t have the confidence.
Soul Train: Was telling jokes and being funny a way to mask your insecurity?
Myesha Chaney: It could’ve been, actually. I was always just determined to have the quickest answer, the fastest response to people, to situations and circumstances. I really didn’t have the confidence I needed early on.
Soul Train: Speaking quickly was a form of avoidance. I think many can relate to that. But what did you notice about yourself once you began to slow down?
Myesha Chaney: First and foremost I realized we’re all human beings, and I felt like it was my responsibility to connect with people at a human level. Everything I’d gone through to get to this place was for a purpose. I decided my life was going to be used by God, and I always needed to be willing and in the position to help peoples’ lives and speak to them with encouragement. When they see my performances I want them to know I’m always on! As a pastor’s wife there’s no such thing as taking a day off. I have to be flexible enough to help, to outreach, to encourage – wherever we are, whenever we are! So I took enough time to make sure I was usable enough to help someone else.
Soul Train: Myesha, what determines a song to be “gospel”?
Myesha Chaney: For me a song is “gospel” when it reflects the nature and the characteristics of Jesus Christ. Nowadays it’s changed and transitioned from what we may have heard as a child growing up. Christian lifestyle music is what I call it; that’s anything that feeds, nurtures and supports a believer.
Soul Train: Gospel music, even what’s considered traditional or “old time gospel”, has gotten faster. Do you think it’s time it slowed down so people can fully process the message?
Myesha Chaney: Yes. I think in all we do gospel music has to reflect what people need. I think with the world and society and where everything is, I think believers need something that’s really impactful. Whether it’s fast or slow it has to reach the heart, it has to connect at a deeper level than just liking the sound or melody. In a general sense it should help produce something in that person’s life that’s going to honor God.
Soul Train: When listeners are playing your album or watching you on stage, and they’re being moved by the high-paced energy you produce, how long do you wait before you slow it down to hammer home your message?
Myesha Chaney: At least one song! [laughs] I just had a baby, so I try my best to have that energy from start to finish. After at least one or two songs it’s time to make sure this is connecting. We’re going to have fun, we’re going to be free and express ourselves, but then it’s time to transition into what God wants us to do in that moment.
Soul Train: When you’re touring are you the type of artist who just passes through the city, only meeting your fans at the venue? Or do you take time to learn about where it is you are and how they live there?
Myesha Chaney: I love to observe life! As part of Take Him To The World we want to create outreach in the communities. When we go to perform and we sing, a part of that is visiting shelters, contributing some sort of aid, giving some sort of volunteer effort so everything is connected! That’s just my heart; I like to be around people. All this adds to my confidence, to how I teach, to my philosophy about life, and it’s about God based on real life human examples! I love to get to see the real parts of their lives!
Soul Train: Too many people want to get through life at a fast pace, not taking time to pay attention to everything happening around them. How would get people to slow down to be more attentive instead of just passing through their lives?
Myesha Chaney: In my own experience–having been around death, loving people so much, losing people, having things and losing things–it creates this profound desire to take each step and enjoy it. I would encourage a person, one so looking forward to the future, to appreciate the “now”. Think about what the 70 year old you would say to the you today. Get as much as you can from life and appreciate the moments that you do have, and not be overly confident you’re going to get to the 90s and the 100s. Some of us become so goal-focused, that becomes the only thing in our lives; we have family, we have loved ones, we have opportunities, we have people hurting, we have people dying, we have so much in our daily lives that we look over trying to reach our own personal goals that we forget the whole purpose of living.
–Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker, a senior contributor for SoulTrain.com, is an acclaimed entertainment and news journalist published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Former Editor In Chief of both XPOZ Magazine and The Underwire Interactive Magazine, his work has graced the pages and covers of Hear/Say Now Magazine, Notion Magazine, Kalamazoo Gazette Newspaper, MLive.com, and AllHipHop.com. He loves to create, loves that you read. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker. Also visit TheGrooveSpt.com and ByMrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.