Moriah Peters keeps faith despite “American Idol” snub

What do you do when you are at a cross­roads in life? Flip a coin, talk with friends and fam­i­ly?

Mori­ah Peters turned to prayer when she was faced with accept­ing a schol­ar­ship to Cal State-Fuller­ton to study law or charg­ing for­ward with a music career filled with risk.

It was a real tough deci­sion. I worked so hard and stud­ied so hard because I want­ed to go to law school and be an enter­tain­ment lawyer,” said Peters, who held a 4.1 grade-point aver­age at Don Anto­nio Lugo High School in Chi­no, Cal­if.  “Music was always the unsure road. Music was the risk. It involved so much faith, and I need­ed God to show me which path to take.”

So down on her knees Peters went, but what did she pray?

I prayed that God would give me clar­i­ty. I prayed, ‘God you know log­i­cal­ly I’m 17 years old, I have three songs, no tour­ing expe­ri­ence, no under­stand­ing of the music busi­ness. God I trust that you would open the right doors. I real­ly don’t want to this. I want to stay in school, so if you don’t open this door that’s OK.’  He was very clear in what I should do.”

The mes­sage she received was to for­go col­lege and step into the Chris­tian music world, but how did she know so clear­ly, espe­cial­ly after the “Amer­i­can Idol” judges nixed her while telling the Cal­i­for­nia native to  go expe­ri­ence life –  kiss a boy  —  before even think­ing of embark­ing on a music career?

After putting out a three-song demo, Peters went back to Nashville to meet with record labels. “And every sin­gle label made me an offer,” she said. “That was insane and unheard of. God answered my prayers.”

It all cul­mi­nates on Tues­day, April 17, when Reunion Records releas­es her debut CD “I Choose Jesus,” which is find­ing radio air­time with the title track.  But it was not an easy road, as a child, Peters’ friends called her “Frog­gy” because of her voice.

Moriah Peters I Choose Jesus CD cover art

Mori­ah Peters’ debut album releas­es Tues­day, April 17.| Cour­tesy of Reunion Records

 

I was ter­ri­ble,” said Peters, 19. “I had this hor­ri­ble voice. Here I was this lit­tle girl with this dev­il­ish frog­gy voice. It was abnor­mal­ly low for a lit­tle girl. But it’s filled out. I have a unique voice, and I’m now com­fort­able with my man­ly frog­gy voice. It was fun­ny, grow­ing up in the church choir I always want­ed to sing the male parts. I was inse­cure until I heard Jaci Velasquez. She has such a deep sul­try voice, and I was so inspired. If she can sing like that, so can I.”

Along with tak­ing her cue from Velasquez, Peters is influ­enced by Chaka Khan, Ste­vie Won­der and Steely Dan. Unusu­al influ­ences for some­one so young, but Peters father, a bass play­er, always had “funky, jazz music play­ing.”

The “Amer­i­can Idol” expe­ri­ence

Dur­ing  her senior year in high school, Peters’ mom pushed her into audi­tion­ing for “Amer­i­can Idol,” and it was an expe­ri­ence that chal­lenged her to be bold in her faith. “It chal­lenged me, it test­ed me and it strength­ened me,” she explained.

I didn’t want to do it. I was afraid to audi­tion, plus I want­ed to  focus on aca­d­e­mics. … It’s a cou­ple of months of inter­views and such before you even go before the celebri­ty judges. So they knew that I was a Chris­tian and that I ran a Bible study in high school. I was open about my faith. …

The celebri­ty pan­el said they liked my song and loved my voice but didn’t like my lifestyle.  They said, ‘Go out and kiss some­one that will make you feel sexy,’  and that I had to get more life expe­ri­ences.  And I’m not going to change who I am.

As I was leav­ing I was think­ing, God closed the­se doors, he’s opened them up to this point. I won’t ques­tion it.  I  knew that in my head, but in my heart I was frus­trat­ed. I had just spent five months prepar­ing for audi­tions, and I could have been study­ing.”

As Peters was walk­ing out of the audi­tions a man approached her and said he and his son were inspired by her stand in faith and ulti­mate­ly intro­duced Peters to Wendi Foy, who sang with the trio Sier­ra. Foy took Peters under her wing by help­ing her with that three-song demo and intro­duc­ing her to record labels.

Along with open­ing the door to the path to her first CD, God has opened the door to oth­er ven­tures, includ­ing a role in a Veg­gie Tales movie – “Princess and the Pop Star — as the voice of Van­na Banana.

That was a blast,” Peters said. “I grew up watch­ing Veg­gie Tales, and when I heard about it I want­ed to do it so bad­ly that I slept with the songs on repeat on my earplugs so that I would learn the songs. …  I was so esta­t­ic when I got it. It was incred­i­ble. I went to the Big Idea (Enter­tain­ment) stu­dios and I got to meet the peo­ple behind the char­ac­ters. And found out how they make you a veg­gie. It was so cute.”

Being a Veg­gie is not the only “incred­i­ble” door that has opened for Peters. She is cur­rent­ly prepar­ing for a tour with Mer­cyMe after being the open­ing act on one of the legs of the band’s Rock and Wor­ship Road­show. But that slot was no cake­walk. That slot fea­tures an open are­na with peo­ple milling around look­ing for seats and chat­ting it up.

I learned a ton,” Peters said of the Rock and Wor­ship Road­show. “No. 1  is when I’m up on stage it’s impor­tant to first real­ize that you can’t com­mu­ni­cate with every­one in the audi­ence, espe­cial­ly in the open­ing slot.  So I prayed, ‘God even if it’s just one per­son, let me plant that seed. Let every­thing about me bring atten­tion to you.’ If you start think­ing it’s about me and my music you will get in real trou­ble. You get down on your­self if you mess up… It’s not about me it’s about the peo­ple who came and con­nect­ing the dots to God.”

Pret­ty amaz­ing stuff for a 19-year-old who didn’t even want to ven­ture into the world of pro­fes­sion­al music.

–30–

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