Today we’d like to introduce you to Mandy Black.
Mandy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Ever since I can remember I’ve been passionate about three things: music, writing, and helping people. As a young girl, I used to lock myself in my room with my journal and my guitar for hours on end, dreaming up lyrics and crafting melodies. As a young teen, I would read news clips about the injustices I was seeing around the world and write songs to process my emotions. It was there that my love for songwriting and using my gifts to reach people began. I began performing at local coffee shops and church events, I recorded my first EP at the age of fourteen. And then went on to win first place in a statewide songwriting competition with an invitation to Nationals, two years in a row. I went on to study music and got my Music degree from North Central University and recorded my second album with a Grammy-nominated producer, who truly believed in my music and became one of my biggest mentors in the industry. It was an incredible experience.
I grew up mostly in small-town Minnesota but also spent a lot of time across seas as a young girl because my parents were missionaries. And so I had the opportunity to see just how big the world is, and also to see the world’s injustices from a young age. And so I knew, since I was young, that I wouldn’t be content staying where I was. I wanted to get out and see the world. I wanted to fight for what I believe in and chase my dreams. And so as soon as I graduated, I moved to California, first to Northern California and then to Los Angeles at the age of 25. I knew nobody in LA when I arrived and the only connection I had was a part-time job as a music instructor at a Music Academy in Ranch Palos Verdes. I focused all of my energy on writing music, playing gigs in Hollywood, teaching, and volunteering for non-profits that inspired me. After years of writing relentlessly and playing endless gigs in Hollywood, I hit a breaking point. After having recorded an album that fell flat due to the lack of budget in the middle of the recording process. I was forced to ask myself, is this really what I want for my life? I knew that my deepest passion, even more than music itself, was helping people at a deeper level, whether that be through writing, music, or even speaking. And so I decided to pivot…and that pivot was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.
In 2013, I started a blog under the name Forte E Bella, where I began to write on the topics of spirituality, relationships, and human injustice, and to my surprise that blog took off. Several of my articles ended up going viral and gaining hundreds of thousands of new visitors to my website every day. Through the blog, I acquired freelance gigs and features in magazines. But even more importantly, I re-discovered my passion for writing, apart from songwriting. I realized that my passion isn’t merely to be a performer and impress people, my passion is to be a storyteller and impact people through whatever means possible. And that’s exactly what I was able to do with my blog. I began to see that people’s lives and thoughts were being changed through the words that I had to share. I began to realize that I had a voice and a message that was having an impact on the world.
And so that blog was really the catalyst for everything I am doing today. Nearly a year ago now, I started a podcast called, “The Story Of Her” The focus of the podcast is to highlight the stories of everyday women who live their lives in extraordinary ways. I’m all about addressing the taboo topics that nobody wants to talk about. I share the stories of women who have been through true and real adversity and have come out the other end stronger. I share the stories of women who have built businesses from the ground up and women who have faced immense obstacles to uncover their dreams and their purpose. The tagline of the podcast is “Live A Story Worth Telling”. And I truly believe that that is the tagline for my life. I’ve come to realize that at the end of the day, I don’t want to live a comfortable life, I want to live a meaningful one. I want to lay my life down for my neighbor, and fight for the injustices that I see in the world. I want to love other people well, and ultimately use my gifts with music, writing, and speaking to leave my mark on this world. We only get one life and tomorrow isn’t promised to us. SO I wake up everyday with the mentality that I want to make the most of today and live a life filled with purpose. At the end of our lives there will be a dash in between the day we were born and the day we die. I think we all need to ask ourselves, “what do I want that dash to represent?”
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Things have absolutely not always been easy. I’d say the biggest obstacle was my experience recording my latest album back in 2013. I was a starving artist living in LA. And in an effort to save on the budget, I made the poor decision to try and produce the album on my own. I had my band working with me and they were incredible. I also had the help of my recording engineer. But since I didn’t have a producer, the project lacked strong creative direction. We also hit the end of our budget halfway through and so I just didn’t have the finances to really make the songs what I wanted. The final mistake was having someone master the album who wasn’t truly invested in the project and so the mastering was a bit of a disaster. When I finally got the finished tracks back, I was so disappointed. The mastering was all off and the overall project just didn’t feel like a true representation of what I knew I could do.
That was the biggest and most expensive learning experience of my life, but the reality is that it was also the impetus for me to really re-evaluate what I wanted for my life. And that was when my journey with my writing really took off. I am a person of faith and I truly believe that sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives that are frustrating, painful, or even tragic. Yet, He often uses those experiences or those pain points to catapult us into our ultimate calling and purpose. One of my favorite quotes is this, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.” – G.K. Chesterton
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Story Of Her Podcast – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
The Story Of Her has been a fun and very needed extension of my writing and my blog. As we all know, media is shifting away from written content and more to audio and video and so I knew I wanted to incorporate that somehow into my business. The response to the podcast has been incredible. And I think that what people are resonating with is just how raw, open, and honest the episodes are. I get real with my guests and in my solo shows about sexuality, spirituality, trauma, tragedy, self-worth, and even health and wellness. I think ultimately, at the core of humanity is a love for storyline. We love to hear people’s stories and be inspired by how they overcame what they did and ultimately got to where they are. A solid storyline is compelling. And so with the podcast, I wanted to highlight the stories of everyday women who are truly living their lives in extraordinary ways.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My vision and dream for the coming years is to continue scaling my business into more writing and speaking opportunities. I’m going to be writing my first book in 2020. And ultimately, I want to use my gifts to speak hope, worth, and joy into the lives of women specifically. The meaning of my name is “worthy of love”. And I’ve always been huge on name meanings. I walked through a lot of years in my teens and early twenties where I questioned my own worth. But now, that is something that I am fully confident in. I know my worth. I know my value. I know my purpose, and ultimately my identity. But there are so many women out there who don’t and for whom, that is a daily battle. And so my calling is to those women.
Over the years, I’ve done work specifically with women who have been through the sex trade and so I want to continue fighting for those women and fighting the injustice of sex-trafficking. And of course, I want to continue using my music and my songwriting to impact the world. I have plans to record a full-length studio album in the next handful of years.
- Website: www.msmandyblack.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: msmandyblack
- Facebook: mrsmandyblack
Emily Blake, Allie Overholt