Interview with Paula Vega Vondenstein, Lyricist & Producer for Bible Belt Blues
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
I studied piano when I was attending a private boarding school as a child and spent hours every day practicing simply because I loved doing it. I started working at age 16 and my very first purchase was music, a lot of it! I invited my sister, Mary Quincy, and two of our neighborhood friends, Danny and Michael to join me at our local record store. I told them we were going to have a great summer and asked them to pick out their favorite albums. I approached the cashier with 40 vinyl albums and handed her $200 cash. She was convinced I had stolen the money and asked to call my mother. My Mother told her that I had earned the money and could spend it any way I wanted. And YES, we had an AMAZING SUMMER!
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
My husband, Harold, and I started creating music together as a couple in September of 2018. In the next 8 months we produced two Christian albums, “I’m Not Ashamed to Be a Christian” and “My God, My God” in our own home recording studio and did this while we were still working for other people! We knew we had to do something extraordinary to be taken seriously since we were new to the music industry. Exactly one year later, on Sept. 21, 2019, we won the coveted Josie Music Award for Gospel/Christian Duo after more than 23,000 nominations were submitted across all genres from around the globe! We knew then, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God’s hand was upon our music ministry because this was simply not normal! Thank You Jesus!
What has been the high point of your music path?
Most people in the music industry view success by the number of albums they have sold or the number of people who have streamed their music. For me it has always been about making an impact with our music, but how do you gauge that? On October 2nd, 2021, my husband, Harold, and I received the shock of our lives when our Bible Belt Blues music received the prestigious 2021 W.A.M. Impact Award! To have confirmation that our music has touched the lives of others, it doesn’t get any better than that! Our heartfelt thanks to Bryon William Harris, President of BWH Music Group and the judges of the W.A.M. Music Awards!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
As the lyricist I first write the lyrics and then my husband, Harold, crafts the music around the lyrics. We strive to make each piece of music a work of art. We achieved that with our much-acclaimed 2nd album, “My God, My God,” which received a 2021 Josie Music Award Album of the Year nomination! All songs on this album, but one, have received radio airplay which is a monumental achievement all by itself!
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
Let’s face it, unless you live in a major music hub, the cost of flying back and forth to get your music recorded and produced can be very taxing on a musician’s budget. Producing one’s own music is doable if you are willing to invest the time and money to build your own home recording studio and learn how to mix, master, and produce your own music. Over a period of several years my husband and I have built out our home recording studio. We can seize the moment and create music every time inspiration strikes and that is pretty exciting! Another doable option for musicians is to pool their resources to purchase the needed equipment and create a co-op with their musician friends. They can then meet in someone’s garage and bring their equipment with them each time they are ready to record.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
I would love for my husband, Harold, who is a gifted guitarist, to share the stage with five-time #1 Billboard charting artist, Kitt Wakeley, who has gained tremendous momentum this past year with his award-winning album, “Symphony of Sinners & Saints.” Kitt is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer and is known for his masterful art of blending genres to create an “electrifying amalgamation of orchestra, rock, EDM, and piano.” My husband’s guitar playing skills have blossomed this past year and will be featured on our upcoming Grit’s Guitar album, “Runs Like a River.” I think he would fit in just fine!
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Harold and I are primarily studio musicians, but we are certainly open to performing publicly when the opportunity arises. Harold is a multi-instrumentalist and performs all the music. Rehearsals and/or a live performance requires him to be a “one man band” on stage and to loop all the instruments playing together to match the song as it was originally recorded.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it?
I would have to say “Unstoppable” which we released in May of 2021. The inspiration for the lyrics came from a vision board I had created in January of 2019 with the words “unstoppable” and “get moving.” I stumbled upon the vision board in July of 2020 and said to myself, “Now there is a lyric in here” and wrote several stanzas and set it aside again until April of 2021 when inspiration struck and I finished the lyrics. Harold envisioned a bass track so he bought a bass guitar and took lessons online how to play it. Harold created numerous guitar solo tracks and we narrowed them down to our two favorite that became the center piece of our song. All that work finally paid off when our high energy gospel blues song “Unstoppable” placed as a finalist in three separate music competitions this past year: the W.A.M. Music Awards, the World Songwriting Awards, and the InterContinental Music Awards!
What's coming up in the future?
We are pleased to announce that our 3rd Bible Belt Blues album (EP) “Preacher and the Bluesman” is scheduled to be released on January 5, 2022. We are also close to finishing our 1st Grit’s Guitar album, “Runs Like a River” which is a collection of amazing guitar instrumentals that are reminiscent of the great guitar solos of the 70’s. We are also super excited about signing 10 of our Bible Belt Blues songs and 4 of our Grit’s Guitar instrumentals with Bongo Boy Records to be part of several compilation albums, of which 5 albums have already been released.
Tell us where fans can access your music.
You can check out our music on our website: www.BibleBeltBlues.org
Here is the link to our Spotify Artist Page
About Bible Belt Blues
Husband and wife music ministry team, Harold and Paula Vega Vondenstein of Bible Belt Blues have created quite a stir since they started creating music together as a couple in September of 2018. Known for their bold, biblically sound lyrics and a musical style that is uniquely their own, the Vondensteins have garnered numerous awards including the prestigious 2021 W.A.M. Impact Ward, the 2020 W.A.M. Award for Best Gospel/Christian lyrics, and the coveted 2019 Josie Music Award for Gospel/Christian Duo as well as numerous Finalist Awards. With two albums under their belt, “I’m Not Ashamed to Be a Christian” and “My God, My God,” and a soon to be released 3rd album (EP) “Preacher and the Bluesman,” Bible Belt Blues is destined to make their mark as Evangelist Songwriters. The Vondensteins have a lot to be excited about with their recent 2021 Josie Music Award nomination for Album of the Year for their much-acclaimed 2nd album “My God, My God,” twenty-eight of their songs having already received radio airplay, and the signing of ten of their Bible Belt Blues songs on five Bongo Boy Records compilation albums and four of their Grit’s Guitar instrumentals on four Bongo Boy Records compilation albums. The Vondensteins are currently working on completing their 1st Grit’s Guitar instrumental album, “Runs Like a River.”
Find more Bible Belt Blues at www.BibleBeltBlues.org