Juliet speaks to us about how faith can mean risk, how God has blessed her in her music career, a great way to check our motivations, and the powerful journey that has taken her this far.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: Born in Singapore, and known to be an extremely quiet older child by peers and family. The family and school were always worried that I was so reclusive. I hid in cupboards to record my own singing– just to calm myself down. Played a lot of piano by ear, and [I] wrote a lot, mostly journaling and poetry. I think I’m a bit of a risk-taker/innovator, too. I did silly things. At one stage, I think I started the ‘Neighbourhood News,’ writing fictional news, stories and hopping on my bmx with my sister to hand them out in mailboxes.
I later discovered I excelled in one-person sports and crafts, and [I] did okay in competitive gymnastics, dance, drawing/painting and piano performances. The real breakthrough was when I realized I was actually very calm and happy singing on stage. I competed in several singing competitions and always brought home a trophy. I was as usual quiet about things, and my family knew nothing of it.
I think I was a very unhappy child not knowing what was missing then, and was just figuring things out like anyone. Then the big break came when an ex-boyfriend suggested I auditioned for a record-deal type of intensive music programme. Only 10 finalists would be picked out of hundreds. Looking back, if not by Grace, what could it be that I was the one of the only 3 signed?
Apart from a couple of karaoke sessions with a teacher, I had no formal voice training of any sort. Since then, music became intrinsic in my life, with lots of ups and downs. Until I was saved in 2007, I didn’t understand how much grace and mercy there was on my life, and how much I needed Him. Music isn’t my life, it is the expression of His grace on a quiet child who had so much to say but didn’t know how else to say it.
In a miraculous sort of way, I grew and continue to grow to understand His joy is not that of worldly happiness, but that which keeps me calm and buoyant through it all.
“Music isn’t my life, it is the expression of His grace on a quiet child who had so much to say but didn’t know how else to say it.”
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” Psalm 103:1 King James Version (KJV)
Kristene Dimarco sings it well ‘Praise the Lord, O my soul, and let ALL that’s within me, praise His name.’
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Coming out as a Christian in 2007, after fiercely rejecting God for the most part of my life was and is still a huge challenge for me. My circle of friends and peers, and even family, about me were mostly non-believers. Some have withdrawn and others are not sure how to respond. But having been touched so personally and physically by God, I am continually inspired by a community of Christian sisters (Josephine for example from your previous feature) to continue this somewhat otherwise lonely path. My prayer this year is to bridge the gaps between the facets of my life.
My identity as a child, a lover, a musician, An budding artist, A songwriter, A worshiper with who I am. I’m sure there are more. But I’m praying for God to stitch up even pieces that I’m not aware of. This is a challenge as that also means coming out as a Christian who’s not just wearing a label in secret, but who truly understands and loves His people with His love in my musical workplace or in my daily life. A disciple by example. Even if they don’t yet know Him. The line is so fine, I can never do any of this without the Holy Spirit guiding me. I suppose you could say spiritually, I need to be in tune with God’s voice [more] than ever. To speak, to move, to be still.
Profession: I’m a jazz vocalist, songwriter, musician. I play jazz ukulele and piano. Although I’m co-founder of a music school in Singapore, I currently only teach vocals on a side. At the moment, I’m also in transition to find out what I can do with my visual arts interest whilst supporting the career changes in my husband’s life.
How do you incorporate your connection with God into your daily, secular work? As a singer, a bandleader, the marketing and sales person in our music business Peachy Sounds, I find myself truly serving in the marketplace. There is not one moment of my life that I’m not aware of how much I fall short of who He is, and need Him in all my daily decisions.
I understand that with transparency comes a huge responsibility. The world looks upon a follower of Christ with such critical eyes, these days, I am well-aware of how much more I need Him every day. I pray all the time, and make sure that I’m being held accountable of my decisions at work, my work relationships and this trickles all the way down to the selection of tunes, the way I carry myself.
At the same time, as a professional, I believe that it’s very important to honour your client. It’s important to trust Him even in turning out a gig that is unsuitable. I need Him in ALL my decisions.
“I understand that with transparency comes a huge responsibility.”
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? ‘If I never sang again’ (A doctor mis-diagnosed me with a birth defect and advised me to terminate my singing career. This for the longest time was my crutch because I let myself believe it. Another doctor uncovered that this was a mistake years later. But because I did believe in it when I was in my early 20s, I battled Him and the question of my purpose in life, and only recently did I fully comprehend it was His love that only truly mattered. Hence like Jacob, Genesis 32:30 became the constant reminder of how much I need Him.’
“I battled Him and the question of my purpose in life, and only recently did I fully comprehend it was His love that only truly mattered.”
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? At my lowest in a broken relationship, a good friend prayed over me. I felt a calm come over me. And she invited me to church the weekend. At altar call, I think I was overtaken by something; I couldn’t stop crying or shaking, and then I felt my arm go up. The rest is history.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Podcasts. Worshipping Him on the mat, and in church. Learning to hear His voice more closely, and responding in obedience to pray for others about me. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. Some say faith is spelt R-I-S-K. Sometimes, we have to do the thing that is not within our comfort zone, step out and pray for someone on the street, a non/half-believer musician who’d just been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, or a Muslim when he laid in bed after a bad stroke. That in turn, ‘tops up’ the faith in me and encourages me to grow with Him spiritually.
“Some say faith is spelt R-I-S-K.”
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I’ve not been reading as much as I’ve listened to podcasts. From week to week, I learn something new. It tends to be a theme in my life for the week. And on Sunday, the pastor was somehow be reconfirming it. I suppose it’s the same God, same Holy Spirit. The current one is Bethel’s message by Pastor Bill Johnson on ‘The Mandate for Miracles,’ specifically healing miracles. It’s a great reminder how as disciples of Christ we mustn’t let lowered worldly expectations of health compromise what He has done on the cross. In the testimony, he shared, a man born with three kidneys, had two of them diseased in the early part of his life, and the 3rd cursed with kidney stones. He was prayed upon, returned to the doctor with not just one healthy kidney but that God grew him a pair of healthy kidneys!
Top three essentials: Bubble tea, eggs, and space to create.
How did God speak to you recently? He reminded me of ‘Love in Action’. Jesus always showed compassion. His kindness in action with the leper that nobody would touch or come close to; The tax collector nobody wanted to hang out with; The woman with the issue of blood; The Samaritan woman by the well; And my favorite, His kindness to Peter even after he failed Him boasting of His love. He appeared to him as a loving friend, teacher and God, in all
His holiness, even when he was undeserving. Out of love. Jesus blows my mind.
Hobby: Making creative videos for my band, even though I’m [a] complete novice at it. We are at the moment making one for my band ‘Polkadot + Moonbeam’, and I’m figuring out how to make a storyboard and getting us out at the beautiful vineyards in WA.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
a) Pray with your friends. Pray with your partner/husband especially when it seems impossible.
b) Speak out His promises when you don’t feel like it.
c) Check my motivations. Did I make a decision in love or fear? Moving in love helps me check that I’m walking with Him.
“Moving in love helps me check that I’m walking with Him.”
Favorite person in scripture? Jesus.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That He is a Good Mighty God.
How do you leave your mark on your community? I don’t know if I really do. But if I do, it would be taking every individual as best as I can to heart. Listening to what they say, how they feel, and how I can help them as a peer.
Favorite holiday? An unplanned occasion. With secret burrows to discover, and stories to make. Oh and lots of bubble tea.
A goal you have? Be better every day at my craft or my walk as a disciple that I could be in better position to share with others what I’ve learnt.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Chinese New Year. We are hardly together in recent years. So over the 15 days, my husband and I spend as much time as we can with the nieces and nephews and families. It’s one of the most precious things to us both.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Hmm. On behalf of all women possibly, can ageing be even more graceful?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: God is a good God. He wants to heal, physically, emotionally and relationally. But He brings things together all things for good, and sometimes that means patience. There are also spiritual realms that can affect these things. When it doesn’t manifest immediately, it doesn’t remove what you already know of Him, that He is good and loving. And yes, He loves all, even those who don’t yet know Him as a loving Father.
What does your morning routine consist of? Yoga practice in praise, on most days. Making breakfast for my husband and I. And I plonk myself in a cafe like now to complete administrative duties.
What is on your nightstand? Haven’t one! But books surround me. I also have my husband’s beanie that I put on to block the morning sun out especially in summer.
Define Christianity in a sentence: A relationship with the One who created you through which you could share the unconditional love He has given you with all.
For more Juliet:
Music: http://www.julietpang.net /
InspireIssue: facebook.com/inspireissue / instagram.com/inspireissue (personal secular blog to encourage everyday creatives)
Until next time, keep witnessing!