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'Look What You've Done': Tasha Layton Shares Testimony from American Idol to Top Christian Singer

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NASHVILLE, TN – Christian singer and songwriter Tasha Layton is known for her smash hit Look What You've Done. Released in 2021, the song quickly climbed the Billboard charts, earning her recognition as one of the Top 5 Female Christian Artists of the Year. 

The song also received a nomination for Song of the Year at this year's Dove Awards. 

CBN News's Studio 5 recently interviewed Layton at her home in Nashville, to talk about her life and music career. She shared how she felt to be nominated for the music honor.

"It feels great. I think my personality is one. I love to see growth and progression, and I think it's just a natural progression of how things are going and the music connecting to people," Layton said. 

"So, I'm so excited. It's awesome. It's an honor and it's a little overwhelming, you know because I've prayed to get to do this since I was a little girl," she explained. "So, the fact that I'm doing this now, it's really, really sweet. And I think the timing of it is beautiful because I thought, you know, so many things in my life that I thought were detours or certainly not. And all this coalescing at this point in my life is so special."

"You know, the amount of people who write in and tell me that this song is their anthem, that it's gotten them through hard times," the singer continued. "That it has given them courage and boldness and face to face the future, and how many celebrate recovery groups, you know, sing this song to the top of their lungs and teen challenge groups. It's just I think it really is a testament to how this song has touched so many people. And, you know, that's not just me or our team."

"My Testimony In A Song"

Layton wrote the song with a team and explained the process.

"This song is my testimony in a song," she said.  "And so, when I walked into the writing session that day, I said, 'I want to write a song about what God has done in my life.' Sometimes when we write the most personal songs, they end up being the most universal. And so, I think that was the case for this song. It was very, very personal to me, and it ended up being something that a lot of people really caught on to. I'm amazed at what God is doing with it. Absolutely. Absolutely."

Although Layton only has one solo album out right now, she explained how she has been in the music business for some time.

"Oh, you know, it's like birthing a baby...It takes so long, you know, between the time you write the songs and then when the world hears it," she said. "It's kind of a long time. It feels like a long time."

"And so, when I started writing and putting out music, then I actually started having babies and so everything got put on hold. And obviously, then we walked through a pandemic together, and so it was just sort of a crazy whirlwind of timing," she noted. "And so yeah, we have one full-length album and a couple of songs. A few songs off that album have done well, very well.  So yeah, we're really, really blessed." 

Layton said when looking back over her life, she felt some parts were detours, including being on American Idol and singing background for Katy Perry. 

"Yeah, most definitely American Idol. I wasn't sure why I was doing that show, but I think looking back, I can see how God used that show to sort of give me an idea of how I could be ministering outside of the church. And so I think a lot of times when I would think of, you know, that show and you know what all happened on the show, why in the world am I here?" she explained. 

"What am I doing? I said I would never do a show like that. And then here we were. And when I left the show, I thought, you know, I think I'm supposed to be doing music outside of the church," Layton continued. I told my pastor and he said, 'You know, we've known that for years, Tasha. We've just been trying, waiting for you to figure it out.' And so, when I ended up getting the job with Katy, it was it felt like a detour."

"I kind of think, you know, my time with her at different seasons felt like, what are you doing? And then other seasons it felt like, 'Gosh, I'm right in the middle of what you've called me to do right now, God," she said.

"His Timing Is So Perfect"

The singer explained how when she started writing her own music, she put aside any distractions, focusing only on ministry. 

"So, I think we all kind of walk through that, don't we work when we feel a grace to do something. There are times when we feel really comfortable in it and gung-ho, and then there are times where we're questioning, what am I doing with my life?" So, I think I experienced all of those emotions with Katy, and looking back, I thought they were detours and they really weren't. Because when I stepped into doing Christian music and writing my own music, I had no distractions, production, touring, the whole thing had no distractions," she continued. I could only focus on the ministry and not worry about anything else being a hindrance or being a burden or a learning curve. Yeah, it was beautiful. And that's what I say about God's timing. His timing is so perfect, and we're so blessed that you could say, Check that off my box," Layton told Studio 5. 
"I literally had checked off most things from my bucket list except having a family, and I checked off every single cool venue in the world that I ever dreamed of playing except Red Rocks. That's the only one. OK, the only one I know," she said. "Whoever is listening. But we have Red Rocks, so that's the only venue in the world that I haven't played that I've wanted to play. And so by the time I started doing this and, you know, started the ministry and was like, 'Gosh, I can just do whatever you call me to do. God, I don't have to worry about anything. I love it.'"

She was also hired to work with singer Rihanna as a background vocalist but decided not to take the job. 

"Oh, yeah. So, I got hired to be the background vocalist that Rihanna and Kesha share on tour. And we were supposed to do a Japanese tour in the morning. I was supposed to start that job. I felt the Holy Spirit say, don't do it. And I had gone against that voice enough in life to know not to do it. And so, I called them, and I said, you know, 'I'm so sorry," Layton recalled. "I feel like this is not right. And so, they were so gracious."

"And I was supposed to start rehearsal at 2:00 pm that day and I called them at 11:00 am and I thought, 'Oh my gosh. I'm going to be blackballed in the industry and they're never going to ask me to do anything else because the word's going to get out that I canceled so soon to the rehearsal time.'  And so, at 2:00 pm the same time I was supposed to be starting rehearsal, I get a call from Katy Perry's manager, can you be here in 20 minutes? And I was like, who gets a call like two calls like this in a week, you know? And it was clearly God opening the door because I never pushed. I never put myself out there. And so I knew that the Lord was really opening the door," she continued.

"So, I downloaded the song on my phone on the way there. And I was the last girl of the day. And I left for Madison Square Garden two days later with Katy and was on the road with her for four years. I remember that song was California Gurls. Yeah, I'll never forget," Layton told Studio 5.

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A Special Story About Her Grandmother and a Guitar

She has also performed at the Grand Ole Opry and shared why the experience was so special for her.

"You know, I grew up watching the Grand Ole Opry with my grandmother. She was such a huge fan. And as I walked the halls, I looked at a lot of the photos that are framed on the walls. And I remember some of those moments and watching a lot of those artists. So, everyone asked me, 'Well, how do you feel about stepping into the circle?' And I really didn't have an opinion. I was like, I'm not sure of this today. This feels like any other show. But then the moment that I stepped into the circle during the event it hit me, the weight of it hit me. And looking out, I thought, wow, gosh, the history of this place and how meaningful it is, it was wonderful. And there's a story about a guitar or something special that has what happened," Layton shared. 

"My grandmother is the one who taught me to play guitar and her guitar. My mom had it redone, and she gifted me with it a couple of years ago. And I show up at the Opry, and my husband has snuck the guitar in without me knowing. And our guitar player played that guitar for the show, and it was so special because she was the spiritual influence of my life. And I so wish that she could have been there for that moment. And it was just a sentimental thing that he did a good job that was not necessarily like Flowers Girl, but he was winning. That gets him some grace," she explained. 

Darker Moments

Layton's life wasn't always positive. She shared with Studio 5 some of her darker moments, like the time she was contemplating suicide.

"I had been really wounded in the church and, I couldn't reconcile how Christians could be so mean with what I read in scripture. And I didn't have the tools to process what was going on in my life. So, I went searching. And at the end of that road of searching, I found myself to be more depressed, more isolated than I ever had felt before. And I tried to take my life. And it was at that lowest of low, though, that I realized Jesus was the only one out of all those things I searched out that had any power to transform or any power to give me true peace. And so, I forced myself to go back to church. I thought you know what? At some point, it's got to stick. I've tried everything else," she said.

"About a year in, I still didn't like going. It's like, you know, you walk by faith, not by sight. I literally force myself and I thought, I'm going to be like those that I was inspired by in Judaism. You know, their external obedience really inspired me, and I thought, I'm just going to keep going. And at some point, something is going to shift. And one Sunday, the pastor said, 'If you want to touch from God, come up at the end of service and we want to pray for you.' I left 3 hours later. And I always make this joke that they would have had to replace the square of carpet on the altar where it was because of all my snot. It was an altar moment for me, and it changed the trajectory of my life," Layton recalled.

"And I just knew, I had a lot of healing left to go. But I knew that the Lord had done something in my heart that day that was really, special. And it hasn't been the same since," she told Studio 5.

Layton explained how that experience changed her as a performer and a worship leader. 

"I think I have a huge amount of compassion on those who are searching. I think I have a lot of compassion on those who are struggling with depression and anxiety. I have a big sensitivity to that, and I can feel it in the room when it's there. Just a spiritual sense. I always tell people as a good worship leader; you must have one eye to the congregation but one ear to the Lord. And I think, you know, everything we experience in life informs our leadership. And I believe that those experiences in my life have certainly given me a lot more compassion and sensitivity, and I feel very grateful," she said. 

"I think there are many nights that I sing, look what you've done, and I might not get through it because I get emotional remembering what God has done in my life and so on. Even last night, where was I say when you're on tour you don't have it. When you literally look at the schedule, when the bus rolls up, you're like, What state of mind? I honestly don't remember Michigan maybe, or Wisconsin, one of those. I was there last night, and I got offstage, and I went to the bathroom, and I cried for like 20 minutes, just out of gratefulness. Just gratefulness for the fact that I'm here, the fact that I have a beautiful family, and I'm getting to do what I prayed to get to do when I was a young girl. And seeing people's lives changed every night," Layton continued. 

"God works through music. And so, the amount of people who come up to me in the merch line or the signing line after the show and are just in tears, and I just hold them while they cry because the songs have meant so much to them that you can't. You can't trade that for anything. I mean, that gets me up in the morning. However, it moves," she said. 

It's Going to be OK

She shared with Studio 5 her reactions to some of her music including her song It's Going to be OK.

"I wrote that about my suicide attempt. And so, when we finished, I'll tell you a funny story about it, because I think I share so many dark moments and I have so many people share their dark moments when we talk about that song," Layton explained. "When we finished the demo, I was so pregnant that, you know, I recorded the demo vocal there, Scratch Vocal about 30 seconds after we wrote the song. And then when I went back to record my final vocal, I was so, so pregnant that I couldn't sing. So, the vocal that you hear on the radio is about 30 seconds after we wrote it. But I honestly think that there's something special about that because the emotions were so raw in the room when we wrote it, and I believe that it really captures that."

"I love that song and the amount of people who use that song at funerals or, you know, this song is helping me deal with the death of my son. I lost my five-year-old daughter to cancer last year, I lost my wife of 50 years, you know, last month. And even last night, I had a lady say she lost her son and her husband within six months. And that song has just been a mantra for her and so, so thankful that God is using it," she continued. 

"I honestly didn't anticipate the outpouring of letters and messages on that song. I didn't think that it was as much of a gut punch as the other two singles. And so, I really didn't know how it was going to go. What I have found is it has really reminded people to pray and reach out to those that they love who are struggling and running from God. I didn't even think I don't know why. I didn't even think about that, so that has been really, special. I love the number of little girls who come up to me and, you know, because it sounds kind of like a movie soundtrack. And so, they dress up and they sing it and they send me videos and it's really great," Layton said. 

Letting Go of the Worry and Fear

She also shared her thoughts on her song Catch my Breath

"That one was written out of a really busy time of when you feel like you can't catch your breath because there's so much going on. And I think as a mom, you know, that's my day. Every day I feel that. I think it's about, you know, letting go of the worry and the fear and letting the wonder of who God is and the wonder of what he brings to our lives, she said.

"So that's what that song is about. I feel like and I could be wrong. Like God allowed you and your solo music career to kind of be launched when the world was shut down. Looking back at that, do you have you wondered why or thought like, wow, how do you do the timing," Layton continued. 

She called the timing of her solo career perfect for God to move. It was launched in the middle of the global pandemic. 

"Well, it's kind of crazy because I came out with a record and then I couldn't tour it. Right. So, then I, you know, in some sense, it seems like it wouldn't work. But I do believe that God raises you up for the exact time your voice is supposed to be heard. And that's true for every single person that he has raised you up for a certain moment to be heard by the world, whether that is in a counselor, a school counselor's office in a middle school, or someone on a stage in front of 10,000 people. Like he means for all of us to capture those moments. And we are raised for such time as this, so to speak. And so, I do believe that the Lord launched that and anointed that at a specific time," Layton said. 

"You know, I'm a late, late bloomer if you will. I didn't even start music until I was in my 30s and, you know, didn't start having kids. So, I was 35 and I wasn't tired. But I do think that you know, it was all God's timing because I have something to say now. I've lived some life; I've had some hardships. My priorities are my family, my husband, and my kids. And I think that has brought a wonderful foundation to what I do in a way that I'm really, grateful for because my identity is not wrapped up in what I do or my voice or music or anything like that. I'm so firm in who I believe God made me to be. And that's the goal for everything I do is to help other people figure that out. Like, why don't you dig up the lies in your own life and figure out who God made you to be, whose you are and how special you are, and that you don't have to compete with anybody. You can just be you. Comparison crushes creativity. And I think for a lot of creatives and especially females who have a low sense of self-worth, it's very, very difficult to step out on faith sometimes," she shared. 

"My goal is to just bring that freedom and courage to everyone who will listen to know who you are in Christ and to step out knowing that his timing is perfect," Layton explained.

The singer's future is filled with plans for her family and her career. 

"Well, I'm on tour right now. And so literally we're doing the Doves. And then the next day we have some radio events. And then I'm hopping on the tour bus that night, so. We're bringing an RV so that we can bring our kids on tour. And so, we have been learning all the things about RV life and you know what houses go to what? You don't want to mess those up. I mean, what switches do what? You know, I think the first weekend we took it out, it was just, you know, the girls. Keith, my husband wasn't with us, and we just had a young 20-something-year-old driver or whatever. And so, the generator wasn't working. And so, one of us was on the roof, and one of us was underneath. And it turned out to be like one little switch, you know? But obviously, we're on a learning curve, so we're figuring it out, but it's fun and we've had memories and there is no greater privilege to be able to do it with your family together. And I don't have any mom guilt because I don't leave them at home, you know?" Layton continued. 

You can watch the 53rd Annual GMA Dove Awards airing at 8:00 pm, Friday, Oct. 21 on TBN and the TBN app. There will be several performances from artists including Annie Wilson, Maverick City Music, and TobyMac.

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About The Author


James Wilkins is a multimedia produder for CBN's Studio 5 and The Prayer Link.