by Ryan Meehan
American singer Marlana VanHoose was born with Cytomeglo Virus (CMV), and by the time she was a few weeks old it was discovered that she was blind. Her optic nerve never formed, and she was not expected to live past one year. But God knew better, as he had special plans for Marlana. After she turned a year old her body healed from the virus and that is when it all began. Marlana was humming “Jesus loves me” before she talked and by the time she was two years old she taught herself to play the piano. Marlana is a member of the Artist Music Guild where she was the 2012 recipient for New Artist of the Year and Young Artist of the Year, and she also was a 2013 nominee for Artist of the Year. Marlana sung the National Anthem at a University of Kentucky Women’s Basketball game in 2012. This was placed on YouTube and the video went viral. Since then, CBS evening news aired her story, she has sung at a NASCAR Sprint Series Cup Race, NCAA women’s basketball tournament and a NBA basketball game for the Brooklyn Nets. ESPN recently aired a story about Marlana and UK women’s basketball. Marlana appeared on the Atlanta Live Gospel Show and Babbie’s House, a gospel show in Atlanta, GA. Marlana has been commissioned a Kentucky Colonel. Marlana has invited Jesus into her heart and has been baptized. She loves God very much and says she has no need to see here on earth. She knows that when she gets to Heaven, Jesus will be the first face she’ll see and inspiration such as that is the very reason I am honored to have her as my guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How would you best describe the earliest memory you have of hearing music; and what was it about hearing that sound that was so amazing to you?
MV: I remember how soothing gospel music was to my ears. It was so amazing because the songs talked about our savior, even though I did not fully understand the significance of the story of Jesus. I just knew there was something special about the gospel music.
RM: Who are some of the individuals that have assisted you in the songwriting process? Why do you think that those people have been able to do such a thorough job of conveying your musical vision and putting it to tape?
MV: I have wrote some songs but have not released any of them at this time. I have had a couple of songs that have been released that other people have wrote. One song Butch Imel wrote for me that is about me called “When I Reach that City”. He wrote this song for me because he heard my testimony at his church. The other song David L. Cook wrote, probably before I was born, called “Lemonade.” David knew this song was a perfect song for me because it talks about life giving you lemons and you make lemonade from it. Even though life gave me some challenges, I haven’t and won’t give up on my abilities to explore life and follow my dreams.
RM: At which of your performances were you the most nervous beforehand?
MV: I have never got nervous before, during, or after any performance.
RM: What is the meaning of the song “Lemonade”; and why did you choose that particular song to play while people were reading your story on the website?
MV: As I said before, the writer – David L. Cook – picked that song for me because it was very fitting for my life. I was born with disabilities but I never focus on those disabilities, I only focus on my abilities. That is sort of what the song is about – not giving up and accepting what God has given me. I chose that song to play on my website because I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. I want them to know that I love my life the way I am.
RM: How many instruments other than piano do you play on a regular basis? If there was another instrument that you’d like to be able to play really well but haven’t really had the chance to experiment with yet, which one would it be and why?
MV: I can play the drums. I also can play a little guitar, but I don’t try to play a lot of guitar because my fingers will get callouses on them and then I won’t be able to read Braille. I do have a talk box that I love to use in some songs like Peter Frampton did in “Do You Feel like we Do” I think I could play any instrument with some practice. The instrument that I really, really want to experiment with is the Vocoder. I would love to play it because of all the neat sounds it has such as a robotic choral sound. I would love to take it to my home church and play it there.
RM: What has been the most important thing that you’ve learned about yourself during your faith journey thus far; and what are some of the things that you hope to learn about yourself in the continuation of your relationship with God over the next few years?
MV: I have learned that it is very hard to make a career in the music industry. Especially without going to college, which I do not want to do. School was very hard for me and I do not like it. I am hoping and praying something more will come up for me to further my career. I think something will come up because I already get to travel to a lot of places. My mom and I have been praying that she will be able to take an early retirement from her teaching job so that she can travel with me full time. I believe that God has a plan for me to minister all over the world to help others to get with Him or get closer to Him through my songs and testimony.
RM: What are some other activities that you like to participate in when you’re not dedicating yourself to your music career?
MV: I like to spend time with my family. I also enjoy participating in Special Olympics. I always enjoy meeting people no matter where I go. I enjoy surfing on the Internet with my I-Pod.
RM: What’s up next for you in the remainder of 2015 and beyond? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
MV: I plan on continuing to sing at different churches and events all around the U. S. and hopefully will get to go out of the country this 2015 year. I plan on continuing to audition for anything that pertains to or may help with my career.
Official Website: http://www.littlemarlana.com/
Marlana on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlemarlana
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