Hi, Michelle. Welcome to Fusemix.com. We're so glad you could join us to talk about your sophomore project, "Inspite Of Me". What an intriguing album title! Can you explain the meaning behind "Inspite Of Me" ; How did you find the phrase, “Inspite Of Me” and What message do you want people to come away with when they listen to "Inspite Of Me"?
Michelle Bonilla:“In Spite of Me” is about exploring what a relationship with a perfect God and imperfect humanity actually looks like. When my hubby and I sat down to work on this project he started asking me about themes that I was interested in and to be honest with you, I’ve always been boggled by idea of a perfect God sending His only son to die for my sins, only to give me a second chance at a relationship with Him—Umm why?? I guess I’ll never know but I’ll be eternally grateful and if that’s not Love then I don’t know what is. It just feels really good to know that in spite of me, God still wanted a relationship with me—how awesome is that?! The entire album explores what this “relationship” with Jesus really looks like on a daily basis. For the believer I hope it is an encouragement to engage in a more meaningful relationship with Christ, rather than just making it a Sunday morning thing. For the unbeliever, I hope this album lets them into our world a bit; Christians are not perfect, we struggle and we have plenty of issues; but through God’s grace we are able to make it through the toughest times.
FM:How long did you work on the new project?
MB:We worked for about two years on this album! I know it’s a long time, but to be honest with you, I’ve only been doing music ministry part-time. In the meantime I’ve been working 40hrs/wk, and finishing my degree at night, which thank God, I just graduated this past February. So I spent my weekends, writing, creating the melodies, and recording the album, even weeknights were game after a long day of work and school. I had no life for two years—and I still don’t lol! But I was just propelled forward by the Holy Spirit and knowing that God really brought me to this point for a reason. I felt compelled to share my story with others and what better to that than through the powerful tool of music?
FM:"In Spite of Me" is Completely Different from "Phenomenal" Your style of music has changed from contemporary to Urban Gospel // comment
MB:I guess you’re right! I think what’s different about this album is that my husband—Lee Jerkins (CEO of RockSoul Productions) and I really just wanted to do good music. I think we tried a bit too hard to walk a tight-rope of eclectic styles on “Phenomenal” and this time around I just started to come into my own so-to-speak. I’m Latina (Puerto Rican & Dominican) born and raised in Brooklyn, NY so there have been many styles that have influenced me musically. I guess I’m not even sure I’m done fine tuning my “style”. But we’ll see how the Lord leads on the next album.
FM :"Our Generation" Flame and Lecrea wow!!!! and " I love You"... you making hits after hits
MB:Oh wow thank you sooooo much! Praise God!! I’m so glad that the songs are serving as a blessing to people. It really has been my heart to see our generation live up to our God-given potential. I’m really tired of seeing us waste our time and talents on nonsense! I feel like we have so much to offer but we lack guidance and at times the motivation to move forward—with all sincerity of heart I do not mean ALL of us, but I think we’ve all fallen victim to getting our wisdom from secular media and entertainment and we have allowed the TV or radio or magazines dictate our behaviors. In all reality I’m not surprised because we have to get it from somewhere, right? If the family dynamic has changed to the point where our parents have to work all day to pay the bills, we don’t have both parents at home, grandma is 35 and doing her thing—whose teaching us? Anyway I can go on and on about how I feel, but the truth is I don’t believe WE are waste of time, I just think we need JESUS to help awaken us to the truth about who we are and what we can be in Christ. Lecrae and Flame are wonderful examples of Godly men who Love the Lord and who care about our generation and I’m sooo happy they could be a part of the song.
“I Love You” is really a praise song that I wanted our generation to rock out and praise the Lord with. It’s got a “non-traditional” feel but when you think about what Praise & Worship is—it’s to give God the glory! This song does just that by bragging on the wonders of who He is.
FM :From the Video Concept to the Track “Your Show" such an amazing song, tell us more about it?
MB:“Your Show” is part of the theme of “In Spite of Me”. It’s a challenge or a reality check for believers. For instance when we say “I trust God” are we really doing that or is it more like a cliché type of statement? Speaking for myself, even I have moments where I don’t want to give up everything to God and I worry when I shouldn’t or take on the burden of a situation that I wasn’t meant to carry. The bible tells us to trust in the Lord with ALL our heart and to lean not on our own understanding. It’s easier said than done, but if we claim to be followers of Christ we’ve got to trust God Him and allow him to lead—to be the director of our lives and run the show.
The Track—produced by my hubby Lee Jerkins (RockSoul Productions) was actually a recycled track. Someone he originally made it for didn’t want it and I LOOOVVED it!! So he re-wired it just for me! You know what they say “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” lol!
The video concept was given by the wonderful Director Adam Tillman-Young and when he started talking about it I really loved it! I think the video concept shows me not being satisfied trying to fit the “mold” because I wasn’t made to fit the world’s purposes, I was made to fulfill God’s purposes. By the end of the video I’m very satisfied because I am finally able to get it through to my on-screen manager that the only one I need to satisfy is God!
FM:What Scripture has played an instrumental role in defining your music?
MB:I live by Jeremiah 29:11. I feel so safe knowing that God’s plans for me are so much better and bigger than my own. To know that there is a future and an eternal hope is so comforting to me. When Life takes me by storm—as it often has, knowing that the Lord is really at work in my life and guiding me through the obstacle courses of life, energizes me to keep pressing forward towards the mark. I can’t wait to throw my crown at the feet of Jesus and hear him say “Well done my good and faithful servant”—it’s what I live for. So what you hear in my music is often that attitude of thanksgiving because I just know I wouldn’t be here without Him.
FM :Is there any personal experiences you drew from when working on the new album?
MB:I totally drew from my personal experiences and also did the same on “Phenomenal”. This time around, I came from a different perspective. When I wrote Phenomenal I didn’t even know how to write a song let alone share my experiences in a way that would make sense to the listener. So when I learned the basics of songwriting and started sharing my heart I found it to be a therapeutic experience and also very draining. I went through a roller-coaster ride of emotions and I was just a crying mess lol! I couldn’t believe I had kept my story hidden from myself for so long. On “In Spite of Me” I went through a similar process but I was more mature and had a deeper sense of who I was in Christ and an even better understanding of why God had allowed me to go through issues like an eating disorder, and deal with an alcoholic/drug addicted father.
FM :What's you favorite song on the cd and why?
MB:They are all my favorite songs because they all draw from different experiences in my life but if I had to choose: I really Love “I Love You” b/c I love to praise the Lord and its such a fun song! I also Love “That’s What Love Is” because it talks about what real love is—That real Love is Jesus dying on a cross for us and paying the ultimate sacrifice…it’s not about finding it in something materialistic or even in another person.
FM:Any special guests artist or bands featured on the cd; how was it was working with them?
MB:Yes! I worked with Chevelle Franklin on “Go Harder” It’s a fun anthem-like song as well and its an encouragement to believers to keep fighting harder when life seems to only be throwing bricks at you. Yet fighting with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit has got your back! I worked with R-Swift on “This is My Story” and he is always a blessing to work with! He’s super talented and I thank God for his ministry. I also worked with Lecrae & Flame on “Our Generation” and Tru Destiny on “Eres El Rey” (You are the King) they are such amazing people of God and I’m humbled that they would join me on this project.
FM:You’ve had to have some strong influences in your life for you to be able to make sound this good. Who has been an inspiration to you?
MB:There have been so many influences in my life musically—My father (a guitarist who taught me so much) and introduced me to a variety of music such: Cece Winans, The Beatles, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Celia Cruz, U2, The Fania All Stars etc. Later on I fell in love with the vocals of Kim Burrell and the Clark Sisters! I guess if you mix all that up there you have Michelle Bonilla lol!
FM:Congratulations, on the Graduation at Temple University, we are really proud of you. We can't imagine how it was trying to balance School, work and music, how did you do it and what advice can you offer other student / artists.
MB:I did it with JESUS, JESUS, and mo JESUS! Lol!! I also did it with the support of my wonderful hubby and family. I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. I was sooo busy and perpetually tired! I think I still am lol!. I haven’t gone on a vacation yet but this summer of 2010 I am definitely going to go away with my hubby and family for a little while. After graduating in February 2010 I had to kick it into high gear for “In Spite of Me” so I haven’t skipped a beat yet but I give props to the Lord for helping me get through such a challenging year. I can tell other artists/students who really want to finish school to just do it! It takes a lot of focus and discipline but you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you!
FM:If someone is reading this interview right now and is facing a difficult situation in their life, what single message would what them to read?
MB:If you are reading this and feeling discouraged or facing hard times, please, please, please don’t lose hope. If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you surely you must know that like Psalm 23 says “Goodness and Mercy shall follow you all the days of your life” Weeping only endures for a night, but Joy comes in the morning. You will get through this and you will not be ashamed. The Lord uses the circumstances in our lives to strengthen us and remind us of how Great He really is. He wants us to keep our eyes fixed on Him so that He can get the glory out of it all, and HE WILL! So Praise him even in the midst of the pain, you have been made the victor today!
For those of you who don’t the beautiful saving grace of Jesus Christ…I would pray that you come to know the only One who can truly change your life. Maybe you don’t understand what a relationship with Christ can be like because all of the relationships in your life have been dysfunctional in some, way, shape, or form, but Jesus is perfect and His Love is perfect. And He’s not asking you to come to him perfect He’s asking you to simply come as you are, broken, hurting, ashamed, and a mess. He wants to put you back together and begin to heal the wounds nobody else sees but him. He aches to be with you because He created you and longs to be in fellowship with you. I hope today you will ask the Lord into your heart –to do that you just simply talk to him and tell Him you need Him. Tell Him to be your God and your friend all the days of your life.
FM: Do you twitter?
MB:Yes, I love twitter! Well… actually I gradually learned to love Twitter. It was a little bit weird at first for me to just tell people what I was thinking…I was like “Why does anyone care what I think?” But now I just love keeping in touch with folks and hearing what they have to say. @michellebonilla
FM:How can people get in touch with you?
MB: I’m available on :
and MySpace: www.myspace.com/michellebonillamusic —if anyone still uses it anymore??
I’m also available on www.rocksoulonline.com or www.michellebonilla.com please stay in touch with me I’d love to chat or pray with you if you need to.
FM: Any thing you want to share with our audience?
MB:Yes! I love you guys sooo much and I’m sooo grateful for those who have supported me this far! I hope you guys will always be in my life! The new album is available now for purchase!! So please check it out on iTunes, Amazon.com or anywhere online and leave your comments!
Much Love to mi Familia world-wide! Michelle Bonilla
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