Heller graciously shared with ChristianMusic.com about her life, her influences,
her spiritual walk with the Lord, her musical process, and her songs.
relationship with the Lord Jesus began early and evolved as she came of age, deepening
in her adult life.
shares, "I grew up in San Jose, California in a Christian
home, and gave my life (the best way I knew how) to Christ at the age of 5. I
feel like I’ve had a really firm foundation as far as Biblical knowledge, but
I don’t think I truly claimed Christianity for myself until college. I started
to question things, and search out the answers for myself, and because of that,
developed a stronger sense of what I believe. Since then I’ve been trying to figure
out how to truly live out a relationship with God instead of just trying to follow
a list of rules."
personal testimony you would like to share to encourage others, what the Lord
has done for you?
JJ Heller - "I’m simply amazed that God would choose someone like
me to be in a relationship with Him. He knows my weaknesses better than I do,
and yet He still loves me. He has kindly and gently shown me that the way to His
heart is not in doing good things, but in chasing after Him with all that I have."
Mentors? Who in your life as been
a source of guidance, reinforced your character, taught you your important values?
JJ Heller - "My parents have been a great example of what a godly marriage looks like,
and what it means to be obedient to Christ. They have also proven over and over
how much they support me and believe in the music that Dave (her husband) and
I are sharing with others."
Influences: Artists (secular and Christian) which influenced you growing up or
now which have influenced your singing style, performance skills and / or composing.....
JJ Heller - "I’ve
always loved music, but my family didn’t listen to a whole lot of it when I was
growing up. I remember hearing Jennifer Knapp for the first time, and being
blown away that Christian music could sound like that. It was just so different
than what I was used to hearing. Recently my husband, Dave, and I have been really
intentional about expanding our horizons as far as music goes. My absolute favorite
songwriter is Patty Griffin. I also enjoy Damien Rice, David
Gray, and a whole bunch of amazingly talented independent artists that we’ve
met since moving to Nashville."
was your early musical experience? First performances?
Heller - "I started taking piano lessons when I was 5,
and later got involved in children’s choir both at church and at school. I was
given a few solos during this time, which I loved but which also made me extremely
the Lord prepare you for your life of service through music?
Heller - "He definitely started me out with a good dose
of humility. I was in a vocal ensemble in High School, and I was rarely given
solos. It wasn’t until I went on a missions trip to Africa early in college that
He began to birth the dream in me to be a singer/songwriter."
were you led by the Lord to use the artist’s musical gifts to write and sing songs?
JJ Heller - "It
was a very gradual process. I started to write songs during my sophomore year
of college, and eventually started to play with a band (that included my future
husband, Dave) at some open-mic nights at coffee shops. From there we landed our
first real gig which made me a nervous wreck during the days leading up to it.
The more gigs we played, the more I fell in love with it. I realized that when
I'm sharing my heart and my thoughts through songs, I'm doing exactly what God
created me to do. I feel so at home doing what I love."
Heller continued, "So, as Dave and I moved closer to graduation
and our wedding day, we felt like God wanted us to keep playing music. We didn't
know what in the world we were doing, but we decided to go for it. We've been
full-time musicians since we've been married, and I wouldn't trade our experience
life-molding experiences that you would like to share with us, which were pleasant
or were difficult, but molded your thinking, music, Christian walk, outlook on
JJ Heller shares, "A
huge experience would have to be simply making the decision to play music full-time.
After interning at the Arizona Republic newspaper in Phoenix, my husband, Dave
was offered a job as a staff photographer. It was the job he'd been working toward
since he was in elementary school and I didn't want him to give up his dream for
mine. I told him that the decision was his, and after praying long and hard about
it, he knew that God was calling us to music. He said that he felt more fulfilled
playing music than taking photos. It definitely wasn't the most logical decision,
but we've never regretted it."