Q&A: “The Voice” artist Kymberli Joye talks faith, anxiety and music
Artist Kymberli Joye captured America’s attention when she openly declared her desire to be a Gospel singer on NBC’s “The Voice.” Before her moving performance of Hillsong UNITED’s “Oceans,” Joye spoke with coach Kelly Clarkson about her struggle with depression and anxiety, and how faith in God brought her through. Last week Joye was eliminated from the competition, making her a season 15 semi-finalist. In the following interview, Joye shares about her journey on “The Voice” and proclaiming her faith on reality television.
RS: Before “The Voice,” did you know you wanted to be a Gospel artist?
KJ: Gospel music is part of my life. My parents are pastors, I grew up in the church and I’m a worship leader. Coming on the show, I knew I wanted to tell the world that I was a Gospel singer and Christian artist. That’s what I wanted to be from day one.
RS: What was it like working with Kelly Clarkson?
KJ: It was amazing. I’ve been a fan of her since “American Idol,” and to work with someone who I’ve looked up to for so long was incredible. She’s the kindest, sweetest person I know. She’s just like she is on TV––she’s funny but can be serious, she gives amazing advice and she really cares about everyone on her team. Kelly’s been a great support system.
RS: How did it feel to talk about your faith with big-time celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Carson Daly and Jennifer Hudson?
KJ: Surprisingly enough, it felt natural. It can be daunting to be vulnerable. On top of that, you’re talking to celebrities and you know it’s being taped for TV. But I wanted to first and foremost make sure that I told my story and represented my faith in the right way. I wanted to show people that I’m flawed, I have issues and I’ve doubted. We’re real people who go through real issues, but we still have a real God who can help us with those issues.
RS: Tell us about the moment where Jennifer Hudson said that you helped “renew [her] faith a little bit more”? What did this mean to you?
KJ: It meant so much to me, not because she was Jennifer Hudson, but because she was a person. It meant so much that my story, my performance and the song “Oceans” helped touch her heart and her walk in faith. I was very grateful to be used in that moment. I always say that we are a vessel for music and healing to come through. I felt like I had done my job that night.
RS: It seems like you’ve been able to encourage people who are at different steps in their faith. Is this something you aspire to do through your music?
KJ: Absolutely. I found that a lot of people who responded to me during the show are people who’ve had issues with faith, haven’t gone to church in a long time or maybe they’ve never been at all. They say to me, “There’s something about the way you presented or the things you said that made me want to look into that.”
I realize that I want to lead people in worship in the church, but I also want to lead people outside of the church so they can know who God is and what it means to have a real relationship with Him.
RS: Before you sang “Oceans,” you talked about your journey with anxiety and depression, and how faith helped you overcome those struggles. What made you decide to share this part of your story?
KJ: When I first got on the show, I basically heard the Spirit of the Lord tell me, “You’re on the show to be a light, so you need to be transparent.” A lot of people who struggle with these things feel like they’re alone, and when that happens, you can’t see a way out. Hearing someone else say that they’ve dealt with it can help you flip the switch to go seek help.
I wanted to make sure I could be a light in a dark place because I remember where I was. I still deal with anxiety issues to this day, but it’s nowhere near where it was before. The depression is gone. But life can become overwhelming, and it gets really dark when you think you’re alone. That’s when the enemy comes into your ear and says, “You’re never going to get out of this. It’s never going to get better.” But the Word of God says that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. I wanted to make sure I used my platform to share a piece of my testimony and encourage somebody else.
RS: Tell us about the other Christian song you sang, “Break Every Chain.” This song began with the bold lyrics, “There is power in the name of Jesus.”
KJ: It is a strong statement, and I was kind of surprised that “The Voice” let me make it. The show has always allowed people to sing Gospel songs and hymns, but this song is so powerful, especially the statement “there is power in the name of Jesus.” It says that three times before it says “break every chain.” I was happy that the show gave me room to be myself and express my faith without apprehension.
RS: What was your relationship like with the other contestants? Were you able to have faith conversations with them off-camera?
Absolutely. That’s what I’ve enjoyed most about the show––the camaraderie among the contestants since the beginning. In the blind auditions, “The Voice” allowed us to have a church service in a room in our hotel. We worshipped, and it was beautiful. We weren’t all at the same place in our faith, but we all sang and lifted up the name of Jesus. We also always prayed before the shows.
I got the nickname “preacher,” because I’m always encouraging someone with a word when they are feeling negative or have something going on. That’s just who I am!
RS: What is your encouragement to believers living in a secular environment who want to bring the Gospel into their world?
KJ: I’ve worked in the secular arena for a long time, and I’ve learned that being a light doesn’t necessarily mean quoting Scripture all the time or singing only Gospel songs. It means showing people love, being a listening ear or praying when they ask you to.
When people say, “I don’t know what it is, but I feel like I can talk to you,” or, “I find peace when I’m with you,” that’s the Holy Spirit. That’s the light of Jesus shining through you. So be open and show love. Love is the key.
RS: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your journey, or what God is doing?
KJ: I believe God is doing something new in this season where unlikely people are rising up to proclaim His Name. I want to say to people––be open and be ready. There is a harvest coming, and there is a new generation of people who will be seeking after God with everything they have. Don’t be discouraged by statistics or the breaking of tradition, because it’s not tradition that saves. It’s Jesus that saves. When He came, he broke down barriers and traditions.
I also want to say, “Don’t give up.” Whatever that means to whoever reads it, don’t give up. If it’s a dream, a promise God gave you or something you’ve been working at for a long time, don’t give up.
“The Voice” season 15 finale will air Tuesday, December 18 at 8 p.m. EST. Follow Kymberli Joye on social media @kymberlijoye.