Love God, Love People, Serve God, Serve People” is both a business and family motto for Grammy- and Dove Award-nominated artist Ayiesha Woods.
Family is a priority for Woods, who is also a wife and mother of four. Holding her infant son, who had just had a set of immunizations earlier in the day, she recently spoke with TAB Media about how her life motto permeates everything she does, both with her family and her music.
“It’s important to us that our children have that same mentality, that same mindset. If they want to be successful in life and achieve greatness, they have to learn that it comes through service. It’s important to my husband and myself. It’s a way of life for us so, therefore, it’s a way of life for our kids as well.”
That said, Woods still has to work at balancing family and ministry.
“Every day is an opportunity to work on that balance,” she said. “I thank God because my husband is as much involved with the ministry and music as he can be. We are raising our kids to be involved in every aspect.
“Some days are easier than others. Some days present greater challenges. But God in His grace seems to bring us through every time. I’m still trying to find that balance. We’re a work in progress.”
Influenced by her “papas” (grandfathers) on each side, music has always been a big part of Woods’ life. Whenever she spent time with her grandparents, her papas broke out instruments, including a guitar, piano and accordion, which entertained the grandkids.
“I was always challenged to learn more and explore with my musicianship. I think that’s why I have a basic knowledge of a number of percussive instruments,” Woods said.
Showing more depth
She started writing songs at an early age, but they were all about experiences other people were having. In her late teens she had a change in direction and started writing about her own life. Her songs began showing more depth.
In 2002, Woods was studying music business. One day when she got home from school, her mother nonchalantly told her that a guy named TobyMac had called. Her mother didn’t know who he was, but Woods did.
‘A God setup’
“What?! I was shocked,” Woods said.
That led to a couple of days of waiting by the phone. TobyMac finally called back and said he was playing in Dallas, where Woods had the opportunity to meet him in person. He had heard her independent project while on vacation in Jamaica and was interested in signing her to a contract.
“It was definitely a God-thing, a God setup, for him to get his hands on my project. … We’ve been connected ever since,” Woods said. “He’s a really, really great guy, and I thank God for connecting us.”
Her seventh album, “Full Circle,” released in October, features TobyMac on the song “G.O.A.L.S.”
When TobyMac got involved, Woods’ music career started to flourish.
In 2007, she was on a break for a couple of days while touring with TobyMac, staying at their manager’s house, when she was awakened out of a deep sleep by her manager yelling.
Woods said she thought something was wrong. “I jumped up out of bed because I thought maybe there was a medical emergency.”
He then told her she had been nominated for a Grammy. Not yet fully awake, she thought she might be dreaming, Woods said.
After processing what he’d said, Woods thought, “This is crazy. You don’t go into [the music industry] thinking, ‘Hmmm, let me see if I can be nominated for a Grammy or a Dove.’ … When it did happen, it was a humbling experience for me.
“I got two tickets. My mom and I went. Sitting there seeing all of these musical geniuses, all these huge stars, it was like, ‘How am I here?’ It was a great experience.’”
Looking back on her beginnings as an artist, Woods said, “I would probably tell myself to have a little tougher skin because it’s not a walk in the park. It’s not for the faint at heart.”
But one of the main lessons Woods has learned throughout her life and music is “to live in the moment and know that come hell or high water, God’s got us,” she said.
“We often question His plan; we often doubt Him. In retrospect, we’re like, ‘Oh, man! He was working something out all along!’”
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