CANDICE RUSSELL

"I don't want to shove God down anyone's throat..."

Candice has been singing and writing music since the age of 14. After showcasing her talent on American Idol Season 11, she decided to attend AMTC’s SHINE. Since SHINE, Candice released her first album, has been featured on many television and radio shows and released a music video with “Make A Wish.” She stands strong in her faith, encouraging Christian performers to “never give up.”

Tell us a little bit about your journey this year.

A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease: a disease of the thyroid. Ever since then, it has been a long journey. They put me on medication, but I was allergic to the medicine. so I had radioactive iodine treatment to kill my thyroid. I ended up getting Graves’ Eye disease, caused by Graves’ disease, which is a bunch of tissue that builds up behind your eyes. It pushed my eyes forward, was extremely painful, hurt to look side-to-side, and gave me headaches 24/7. Doctors tried doing a lot of things to fix it, like radiation treatment and steroids, but nothing helped.

This year, I ended up getting orbital decompression surgery. It’s an intense surgery, where (..sorry to the faint of heart!) my eyes were actually taken out of their sockets, excess tissue and bone were removed, and then my eyes were put back. It was incredibly painful, and I had double-vision from it for months. It was a major test in my life, not even knowing if I would ever be able to see clearly again.

I have had five different surgeries related to that just this year. Physically, mentally and spiritually, it has been a huge test, but God has really helped me to get through it, and I am finally coming out of it now.

Did Graves’ disease help to inspire, So Much More?

So Much More is about all of life’s obstacles that I face. It definitely has to do with my disease, and overcoming that, but also has to do with just trying to make it in the music industry. As a lot of AMTC graduates will know, some doors shut in your face, but you have to keep going. You have to keep pushing and keep going because you are made for so much more.

And Make A Wish Foundation contacted you about making a music video?

Yeah! It is such a cool story, and I feel so honored to have been a part of it. The little girl in the video, her name is Blue, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and a few other things. She can’t really speak, but a way that she lights up is when she is listening to music. She and her family watch YouTube videos all of the time and decided that Blue’s Make A Wish would be to star in a music video, so she could watch herself. They started looking for local people online, and came across one of mine. Her mom said that when Blue watched my videos, she would light up. They got a hold of me and asked if I would want to do a So Much More video, and I said of course!

This was my first music video. It was a four-month process to get all the shots for the music video and I just fell in love with Blue and her family! They are just so positive in the midst of this trial, and such an inspiration to me.

How long have you been involved in music?

I have been doing music my whole life. I started singing in church, and have been doing it ever since. I learned guitar at 14 and wrote my first song that night. It was after AMTC and SHINE that I released my first album in 2014, So Much More.

What did you learn through AMTC?

I attended SHINE in the Winter of 2012. I learned so much! With the classes, I learned what the industry is really like and what they expect. AMTC really helped me with acting. I am more of a singer, but the acting helped me with poise when I speak and so many other things. AMTC definitely helped to equip me for what I am doing now.

What has happened in your life since the SHINE Conference?

I released the album and actually had my first media tour this March: I went to different places in the South where I did morning television and radio shows. My song “Good Luck with That” reached number 1 on Top Songs on Indiecharts.com this year and I was one of the winners in the International Song Writing Competition with my song, “Loved by You.” My music has also been featured and played on different radio stations. Of course, I did my first music video. Since I released the album, I have been getting some recognition for it. It has been so awesome and fun to live out my dream.

How have you seen God make a difference in the entertainment industry?

When I heard about AMTC, it was so encouraging to me and my family. For my entire life, my dream has been to be a light in the industry: to be a secular singer in a secular industry, but a Christian. Hearing about and walking through AMTC was so encouraging. Just knowing and seeing that I am not the only person who wants to be a light: there is a whole army of performers who want to glorify God.

All the time, I feel like we are starting to see Christian performers in AMTC and out of AMTC who are rising up in acting, music, dancing, modeling.

What has He taught you, specifically?

I have learned patience in trying to make it in the industry. He has taught me that His timing is always the right timing. Even this music video is a perfect example of working so hard, trying to have a big break. The truth is, I had nothing to do with this Make A Wish music video. I could not have done it if I tried. It was so perfect, that He brought it about in such a cool way. I have really just learned to trust Him and know that His timing is always right.

Do you have any upcoming plans?

Actually I just put out a press release today! I am wanting to get information out about my upcoming plans, so definitely check that out. I am always working on writing new songs, and hopefully will be playing some shows soon.

I am really living out my dream right now. I want to get my music out there for as many people as possible and encourage them through it. It is secular music, but positive and clean.

You have mentioned several times that you are in the secular music industry. Why this and not Christian music?

Ever since I was young, it has been my vision. There is a whole world that needs Jesus, and needs to see the light of God. In a way, it is a mission field: we send missionaries over to Africa and dark places, so why can’t we do that in the music and acting industry? I don’t want to ever shove God down anyone’s throat. I want to live and display a Christian life in the secular industry.

Is there anything you would like to share with performers who may be walking through a similar journey?

Never give up. There are times when I am so discouraged and feel like nothing is going to happen to me, when all of a sudden, here comes an awesome opportunity! Always work hard and do not give up. God will reward your endurance in that.

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