Word and Ministry: An Interview with Blair LinneBy Trillia Newbell | April 23rd, 2013 | Category: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Speaking transforms into art when spoken in a cadence and paired with a rhyme. This isn’t rap. There’s typically little to no music in the background. It’s called the Spoken Word and it is captivating audiences across the world.
Blair Linne, Los Angeles breed now living in Washington, D.C., has been a Christian Spoken Word artist since 2000. She is the wife to Christian rapper Shai, mother to Sage, student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and attends church with her family at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.
Get to know more about Blair and her art in this Q & A.
Q: How long have you been a Christian Spoken Word artist?
Linne: I have been writing poetry since I was 9 years old. When I was 18, I started getting more involved in church and begin writing poetry specifically as a means to encourage Christians. But the Lord saved me at 22. It was then that everything changed and I wanted to proclaim not only the problem in my stories/poems, but the ultimate answer, which is found in the gospel message.
Q: What inspired you to begin your speaking ministry?
Linne: When I was born again, I remember praying to God. I remember telling God that I didn’t want to do poetry, because I had misused it previously for my own gain and to perpetuate my hypocrisy. I confused saying powerful things about God with having genuine love for that powerful God. I had made up my mind that I would lay everything at the cross, which included any gift I had. Shortly after that, I was journaling and I wrote a poem, which was the testimony of my conversion in one sitting. A few weeks later, I received a call from a church I previously attended, asking if I would come share at a poetry event they were hosting. I knew the church was not explicitly centered on the gospel. I prayed and decided to go share my testimony through poetry. I received such an encouraging response! I remember a sister coming up to me afterward, asking “what must I do the be saved?” I was blown away with how God used the poem to encourage this woman and a few others to repent and trust Christ. After that night, I thought if I could use this platform as a way to share the gospel, I would love to do that.
Q: Do you write you own material?
Linne: Yes I do write it all myself.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your marriage to Shai Linne?
Linne: We have been married for almost three years. We met by being invited to minister at the same events. We kept running into each other again and again. God providentially set us up, and I am glad He did. I was initially intrigued by my husband’s Christ-centeredness, and I still am. I am thankful to have him as my best friend and husband. We have a son named Sage who is almost 15 months old.
Q: Who has most influenced your art and your lyrics?
Linne: This is a hard one, because I find inspiration from many places. I remember when I was first starting off. I was going to a venue with my mother called The World Stage, which was founded by the late Billy Higgins. It was in Leimert Park Village, the heart of the African American cultural community in L.A. My mother wrote and performed poetry there, and she would take me with her each Wednesday. My mother inspired me, since she was probably the first poet I read and memorized. The poets who would come to read at this place also surrounded me with inspiration. At 9 years old, I was brushing shoulders with Sonia Sanchez, Saul Williams, the Watts poets, and others. Now, I would say that I find inspiration wherever I can get it. Since moving from L.A., I find myself pulling from a variety of locations: sermons, YouTube videos, poetry books, and open mic nights here in DC.
Q: What is your favorite verse(s) in the Bible?
Linne: One scripture that stands out is the bread of life discourse in John 6. When I was coming up, I attended a church that was riddled with prosperity teaching and self-centeredness. God used this verse to open my eyes to the importance of Jesus being the focus. Typically, in a wealth-motivated church, the sermon would end there and go on about how God can multiply things in your life. The Lord drew my attention away from simply marveling over Jesus multiplying food (which is a great thing, don’t get me wrong). Although I wasn’t saved at that point, I now see it as the beginning of God sparking a change of doctrine and direction in my life. God helped me see that Jesus was pointing to the fact that He is the Bread of Life. Therefore, Jesus meets our greatest need, which is not physical food but eternal life and satisfaction in Him.
Q: How do you prepare when you get ready to write?
Linne: I start writing typically in one two ways. 1) I have a set topic that I’m asked to write on which requires me to gather research to begin. 2) I have an idea or line that comes to mind and I just start writing from my personal experience. I usually begin a poem by writing a few drafts until I am content with the direction of it. I will then share those drafts with those who are close and get feedback in order to make necessary changes. I will then continue to read them repeatedly in order to memorize them.
Q: Do you tour with Shai?
Linne: Shai will be starting a tour the beginning of April called the Black Out Circuit. With that said, since having our son, I have not been traveling with Shai on tour. We do minister together sometimes though, which we both enjoy tremendously.
Q: How might you encourage a young singer/songwriter who is interested in this art form?
Linne: I have two categories of advice. The first is related to the heart and the second is related to the art.
Related to the heart:
Pursue the Lord above the art form.
Have people around you that can speak into your life and share things that may be hard to swallow, if need be.
Fight against the temptation to compare yourself to other artists, which can either puff you up in pride and/ cause you to fear men.
Be willing to lay it down if it competes with the Lord or other God-given responsibilities.
Related to the art:
Study your craft
Gather a community of artists around you to help you shape and form your gift. ~Use your gift locally, in your church or poetry venue
Read in order to improve your writing.
Find a balance between attractive wordplay and clarity of the gospel message.
Q: I keep hearing about a conference called Legacy. What is your involvement with Legacy?
Linne: I have been involved with The Legacy Conference over the last four years or so. I have had the privilege of sharing poetry at each one I attended. Last year, I taught my first workshop in the womanhood track. This year, I look forward to sharing poetry again. If you haven’t registered, you can do so at http://legacymovement.org/.
Q: Can people purchase your material? If so, how and where?
Linne: To stay up to date on info, you can follow me on twitter (@blairlinne). I am currently working on a project to be released. Apart from that people can view the poetry on YouTube for free.