All The Buzz

Incubator is all about relationships. Here are a few words from current and past roster artists on being a part of the Incubator family...

 

"I love Incubator. It's about sharing your brokenness in a safe environment where love and acceptance is present. If you want the glitz of the industry, Incubator isn't for you. If you want to grow as an individual, build relationships that will last forever, be loved, nurtured, respected and see lives touched by your honesty and commitment to the truth in your ministry, then Incubator is the place you want to be."

Paul Wainamo
Roster Artist 1991-1997

 

 

shine“I can’t begin to describe how thankful I am to have a relationship with Incubator. The journey has been not only a stretch but also a challenge to face some things that initially seemed like impossibilities to me. I’ve learned that preparing for music ministry is about facing my weakness and brokenness and finding out about the ‘real me’ in order to be a vessel that God can use for His glory. Building trust in a relationship takes time. I’m so glad I stepped out in faith and became a part of the Incubator family. I’ve struggled with the fear of rejection all my life, and I still do sometimes. But I can say that Incubator is a place I can truly trust and be open without fear. I’ve had a chance to meet with other Christian music industry artists. I’ve seen first hand how demanding the industry ‘machine’ is and after really discovering my true calling and focus through Incubator, I have no desire for that!"

Shine Morrison
Roster Artist 2004 to current

 

 

"I can't imagine my life without Incubator. My prayer to God had been to finish well in my personal walk with Him. I would venture to say that if I had not signed with Incubator, my walk with Christ would probably be in the same rut. The Holy Spirit has revealed so much to me in order for me to be a better communicator, friend, disciple and servant. The Holy Spirit has softened me up around the edges. When I was going through the audition process with Incubator I saw first hand the patience they had. I was pregnant with twins and unable to dive into the process. They told me to 'get situated' after having the babies and get back to them. How many record companies do that? I will admit that at first I wanted to be off and running with CD in hand and doing concerts. But I wasn't ready and Incubator knew that. My whole thought process has taken a shift and brought me back to my original prayer 'I want to finish well in these last days Lord and be pleasing in your sight.' Incubator makes you do a LOT of soul searching. I had done a great deal of personal digging years prior to signing with them, but had, in fact, not dealt with some issues that were holding me back spiritually and emotionally. Being in the 'Incubator' is never easy. It requires perseverance, transparency, vulnerability and accountability. In a nutshell – it takes a lot of work. But the benefits far outweigh the effort."

Julie Elvestad
Roster Artist 1999-2001

 

 

berry

"Many people dream of having a recording career, but only a few are serious about birthing a ministry. Initially, I saw Incubator as a company that was going against the norm in the music industry by being artist-oriented versus product-oriented. Based on my knowledge in the music field, this was unheard of. I wanted to become a part of such a move of God. My prayers were answered and I was released to sign with Incubator. I was amazed after joining the family. Incubator was much more than they described. They could easily describe their approach as a mentoring program. Their unique approach is done with care and support that is designed to take you to the next level."

Frank Berry
Roster Artist 2003-2006

 

 

"I knew I was called to the music ministry, and I even had some business knowledge and a recording. But I didn't know how to put the pieces together, and the whole process seemed overwhelming. There was so much I didn't know. I was anxious about entrusting my ministry ideas to someone other than myself, but I also realized that it might be necessary for a while until I felt more educated and better able to cope. I knew what I didn't want -- something that would lift me up instead of Jesus. The people at Incubator helped me focus on development, taught me some excellent business and music principles, and put me onto a path of spiritual self-discovery that forever altered me and therefore my ministry. The reality is that the Incubator structure may not be for everyone. But it was right for me, and I will always be grateful for how God used the people there in my life and in my ministry development."

Lisa Westerfield
Roster Artist 1994-2000

 

 

Sheryl"When I got the invitation to audition with Incubator, I had visions of one of those Hollywood style cattle calls, reminiscent of an audition I did for Regis Philbin's AM Los Angeles show. Hundreds of people lined up, each one getting a maximum of 30 seconds to perform their act. Of course, if the producers didn't like someone they'd cut him off at 5 or 10 seconds. The thought was unnerving. Incubator's audition process was absolutely nothing like that. There was no cattle call. It was refreshingly a lengthy process of getting to know each other. It was like a long distance courtship where we mutually figured out whether we could work together, whether we shared the same values, and what my level of commitment to ministry was. In the end I knew that however it worked out, it would be God's will. I was not a nameless number in a cattle call, and Incubator's staff were not heartless decision makers with the power to make or break my ministry. We were just servants of God trying to figure out if working together was the best course of action. In regards to artist development; it's very easy to tell who really cares about you. They're the ones who'll discreetly point out that you've got a poppy seed stuck between your teeth right before you have to go meet someone important. Incubator demonstrated time and time again that they really cared. Incubator's staff helped me see what was really good and working in my current ministry, and they showed me all my "poppy seeds." When you're coming to terms with your strengths and weaknesses, and learning about ministering from a place of brokenness, it makes all the difference in the world to know someone's behind you who is genuinely concerned about your best interests. I'm frequently asked whether working with Incubator benefited me. Before working with Incubator, I would get comments from the audience such as 'that song really ministered to me' or 'how did you do that thing on the guitar?' Pastors appreciated my ministry and would typically invite me back. I thought I was doing pretty well. However, after working with Incubator, I would get enthusiastic comments such as 'God did something in my life tonight' or 'I've been going through just what you described... would you please pray with me?' More than one pastor commented that they wanted me back because God showed up when I came to minister. Did working with Incubator benefit my ministry? I would have to say a resounding... YES! Sure, there were a few times when I got ticked off at the management advice I received, and I felt like chucking the whole thing. But then I'd think "where else am I going to find a label or management company that offers me the kind of accountability, caring and constructive criticism that Incubator offers me?" After I'd cool off, I'd realize they'd once again hit really close to home and that their advice was sound. Sometimes the truth about yourself is hard to hear, and if you listen and change you're better for it. Also, in my years of experience in music I had grown to accept competition as a way of life. The atmosphere among the Incubator artist roster was entirely different. Among the roster I found friends with common goals and interests, and we were all willing to help each other out. Instead of competition for 'gigs' there was willingness to share contacts. Instead of one-upmanship, each brought inspiration to do more for the kingdom of God. I saw many instances where an artist who was struggling was surrounded by other artists who would love and minister to her. This is not just a roster...this is the family of God functioning the way it was intended. Incubator is not a path to stardom, and I doubt that any of Incubator's artists are destined for major labels. It's not that the artists lack the talent or ability, it's just a completely different mindset. Incubator seems to attract artists who care much more about serving God than garnering awards and accolades, or building the bottom line of a record label. Incubator helps artists build the kind of music ministries that will last a whole lifetime. It's a company I'm proud to have been associated with."

Sheryl Olguin
Roster Artist 1994-2000

 

 

"I had been in active music ministry for about eight years when I really began to feel that God was calling me to the next level. I wasn't sure what that was going to look like until I auditioned for Incubator. The audition process was long and it really gave me time to reflect and pray about this company and come to the conclusion that I could allow them to take my already established music ministry and enhance it. In the beginning, part of me was reluctant to go through the process that they asked of me. I'm a person that likes to be in control and have it all together and definitely not ask for help. It wasn't long before Tami and her crew began to challenge me in that area!  As I look back, I can now see how God used each and every task to start to peel away the thick cocoon that I have kept myself wrapped in tightly. I truly believe that Incubator was given to me to help me let my guard down and relax. Over this past year, God has used many circumstances to show me that Incubator is more than just a management company. They are people who really care about the artists on their roster. It still makes me laugh to think that one of my projects was to take a bubble bath to nurture my "inner artist". Tami knew it would be difficult for me to take time to do that but she also had the wisdom to know I needed the permission to take a break.”

Kim Watson
Roster Artist 2003-2008

 

 

" I have learned SO much in regards to music writing and recording (things I'm sure that I could have never figured out on my own). It's been so exciting to see God give me a tune and lyrics, and then watch as Incubator evaluates, improves, and fine-tunes it. I've never felt apprehensive about sending them new songs. We've built up a trust and I know that we are working together to create the work that God wants. The journey has been much easier knowing that God has placed Incubator next to me on this road."

Mandy Bashore
Roster Artist 1998-2003

 

 

"Over the years, I've had opportunities to meet and deal with many people involved in both ministry and in the Christian music industry itself. I've consistently found that each of their agendas didn't always seem to fall in line with what I feel Scripture teaches. The Christian music industry many times is so focused on selling their products, that the artist gets lost in the shuffle if they do not measure up to what is expected in sales totals. Thankfully there is an alternative in Incubator. My experience with Incubator has helped bring in to focus the real purpose of the ministry God called has me to and has allowed me to experience for the last 25 years. Through out the audition process and boot camp, God has used Incubator to show me that it is our motives that God is most interested in. More than our actions themselves and that building strong relationships is the foundation of any long-term ministry. With Incubator, there are no pre-conceived agendas forced upon you as an artist. God has solidified and strengthened not only my purpose in ministry, but my own walk of faith as well. Another benefit of being involved with Incubator has been gaining access to world-class vocal training. Even as a vocal major in college, I was frustrated by the lack of focus regarding singing technique and what I felt was too great a focus on repertoire. Over the past eight months of vocal training, I have been able to increase my stamina and power in my entire vocal range and it is beginning to be evident to those who have been familiar with my singing over the past few years. This ensures that my "instrument" will also stand the test of time along with the ministry itself. What I appreciate most about Incubator, however, is their absolute total commitment to building relationships. I believe that relationships are the only treasure we can take from this life into the next and therefore I am so thankful that God has brought such an incredible ministry partner to assist me in that call."

Greg Rice
Roster Artist 2002 to current

 

 

"One of the biggest things Incubator did for me was teach me a philosophy of booking that took the emphasis off 'booking the gig' and put the emphasis on building relationships with others. Now I don't see a "NO" as a personal rejection, but more a sign from God that I'm not needed there right now. He's got somewhere else for me to be that day."

Karre Wakefield
Roster Artist 1993—1995

 

 

taraSeveral years ago I felt like God was calling me into music ministry but I was so frustrated with many of the standard Christian record labels. They seemed to focus on sales instead of ministry and had little concern for things that I held dear, like being available to my own family. I remember telling my husband that I wish I could find a record label that would be happy letting me go sing just 3 or 4 times a month. I wasn't interested in leaving my children and husband week after week. During the audition process with Incubator, I remember praying ‘Okay, Lord. You are going to have to send a full blown burning bush for me to know that this is Your will.’ During one of my last audition chats with Tami, I asked her how often I would be expected to perform for a part time ministry. She said, ‘Someone who is trying to keep pretty busy in part time ministry will book between 3 to 5 concerts a month.’ I was amazed! I asked, ‘Can I really do that?’ You could hear the smile in her voice when she said, ‘Well, of course! We know your family is a ministry as well. We work with you in what God is calling you to do. That cinched the deal for me! I have loved every moment that I have worked with Incubator. Not that each moment has been easy, but even when I feel like banging my head against the wall, I have worked with them long enough to know that they are really good at what they do, and they truly are stretching me into an amazing artist. From vocal coaching to songwriting to small business management to teaching communication, Incubator has been a phenomenal source of information and encouragement. I truly feel like I can tell them anything, and they will love and support me wholeheartedly. Even better, Incubator has taught me so much about my relationship with Christ. My walk with Jesus has never been more vibrant. That, in itself, has been worth every moment of work I've put in. I adore Incubator and I have seen firsthand that they are seekers after God's heart. If the Lord is willing, and they can put up with me, I plan to be with them for a long, long time!

Tara Johnson
Roster Artist 2004 to current

 

 

"I should have gotten a clue as to what I would have to go through in Incubator's Boot Camp from the arduous audition process I went through. It took months and months and when the day finally came to sign the contract I don't know so much if I was elated or relieved! Getting on board with Incubator is not something to be taken lightly. If a person thinks that once they have signed on the dotted line and the rest will be a breeze, they better look for another company. Incubator is not about making stars. To me they have been more like the potter and I have been the clay. They have taken the material of my life, sifted through it and with God at the helm, they have helped me to define what my ministry is – and to whom.
It has not been an easy road. I'm a bit older than a lot of the artists and there have been many times when I have thought to myself that I must be crazy for putting myself through all of this. But, I have never grown so much as a Christian and felt so proud of the goals I have reached as I have during my time with Incubator. If you want to truly find where God wants you to serve Him, then Incubator is for you."

Sharon Hartley
Roster Artist 1999—2002

 

 

"Thanks so much for the opportunity to have worked with Incubator. I wish my circumstances were different, so I could continue my relationship with you. You guys have been exactly what I needed to get my music ministry off the ground. You have given me a wealth of information that will be valuable to me in the event I get to return to music ministry. Here's an example of why I know you guys are doing the right thing in training people for ministry. I attended a concert last night of a young woman who had incredible talent. Her voice was superb, better than what I hear on the radio. I thought for sure she must be hooked up with Incubator and working with Doc Martin and the whole bit. I knew she wasn't, after about 10 minutes. Her songs were beautiful, but she had nothing else to offer. I thought several times that if she were hooked up with Incubator, she could have an incredibly powerful program. She just needed the guidance Incubator can give to make the ministry work. My experience with Incubator was incredibly productive with the guidance of a statement of purpose, as well as the working out of a program, my personal testimony, songwriting and voice lessons with the Doc. I often felt like a lump of clay that was being molded into something really beautiful by some of the best potters and artists. To say, my life will never be the same is an understatement. Thank you for your total acceptance of me, but never allowing me to stay where I was. Thanks for the push (and shove!) you gently, yet firmly gave me and for helping me to become all I was created to be. I'm not finished yet, because Incubator has definitely helped me to see God's purpose in my life and you have assisted me in reaching it. I will miss you all, but keep hatching that good stuff."

Brenda Foster
Roster Artist 1998—2001

 

 

"I am truly ministering in churches, not just performing. I don't have all the "business" stuff to get in the way of connecting with people. I am talking with pastors who really like my mission statement even though I know how vulnerable it makes me... With Incubator, not only do I feel like I have a) earned a Master's Degree over the last few years, b) know the tears and frustrations of lack of time and energy, c) know the fear of failure and d) know the desire to quit because I just couldn't finish, but I also know the rewards, and yes, even the fun. When I leave a concert venue with people telling me how much they appreciated me and how much I spoke to them, I know every bit of blood, sweat, fear and tears have been worth it."

Ruth Hill
Roster Artist 1998-2004

 

 

"The buzz words for me during Incubator's boot camp portion of artist development were: trust God and s - t - r - e - t - c - h. Then, trust God and stretch some more! God used the people and processes of Incubator to encourage me to drop my emotional walls, trust Him, and focus on growing into what He wanted me to be in music ministry. Honestly, I had a few moments during some of the intense introspective work, where I considered several "easier" routes. But God kept pouring in the grace and He kept me going. I will never be the same person I was and I'm excited to grow forward with God and Incubator."

Karen Herzel
Roster Artist 2002-2005

 

 

carlosIncubator is not your typical record company. For one thing, throughout my entire relationship with incubator we never really talked about making a record. Now on the surface of it, that sounds odd, because everyone I knew thought (myself included) that a record was the ultimate goal. Learn the ropes, work on my vocals, my stage presence, learn some lyrical techniques and bam – hit record. But that's not how it turned out. You see although I originally signed up with Incubator because they were intentionally NOT about turning me into a product, I still had product on my mind and I didn't even realize it. From day one they stressed that they were hired to help me build my ministry.  Through the years they taught me that ministry isn't just what happens on stage. Actually, it’s more about what happens off stage, in real life, where you and God struggle through the everyday together. In our prayer time and devotional time. It’s about making sure that I don't neglect my responsibilities as a husband or father to chase a dream. But, most of all, its about learning to embrace my weakness and having the courage and trust in God to put those weaknesses on display for the benefit of others. A polished program with an unpolished life. Not the other way around. When I visit places now l don't have to wonder if God was working because I can see Him. I can see Him working through their eyes, their tears, and their outstretched arms. I'm amazed that He chooses to let me participate. Incubator helped me to do more than just build my ministry. They helped me learn how to more fully live the Christian life. I now find opportunities to minister in unlikely places. Sometimes that ministry happens with my guitar and sometimes it doesn't. Either way, God is being glorified and lives are being changed, and that's the real reason I got into this business in the first place.

Carlos Santiago
Roster Artist 2002-2008

 

 

judyFrom my earliest recollection, I just knew God wanted me to live my life for Him as a recording artist. It was one of those things I always found myself running with reckless abandon towards – watch out if you'd be in my way! So throughout my growing up, college and beyond, I followed this dream and passion to do as countless other 'label artists' have done before me. I always thought a major label was the way to go, so that I could reach a vast amount of people with Jesus' truth, and have the most impact for the Kingdom. So, that was where I was headed, trips to Nashville and all. And it sure looked like things were going that way, after a painful incident happened causing God to relocate me back to my musically depressed hometown. As I was saving money to make the long anticipated move to Music City, God showed up in a way only He can. He surprised me (in the way only He can too!) and seemingly 'out of the blue' made it very clear that I needed to focus on some other aspects of my life's calling and not make the move to Nashville. Boy, that was hard! My heart was broken, as I thought I'd have to give up these musical dreams all together, and I couldn't see why God would do something like that. I didn't just want to be a 'famous singer' ... I wanted to make a profound difference for Him and have a ministry ... didn't He know that? I remember crying out to God one day, agreeing that even if I'd never sing or play again, I'd follow him with what He's placed in front of me and not relocate to Tennessee, surrendering (once more) my deep longings of a recording artist career. That very next day, I received an email from Incubator Records which caught my attention. First of all, I was born premature, in an Incubator because my lungs were underdeveloped, so I found it quite ironic and quite God's sense of humor that I was being contacted by a record company called 'Incubator'.  I felt as though Jesus was saying, 'Judy, you've surrendered this musical passion to Me, so that you could follow that which I've placed in front of you in your hometown. Now, no more striving after this music thing ... I'm making it happen, just in a way you haven't pictured it.' So I looked into who Incubator was all about and couldn't believe how perfectly it seemed to fit with my dreams. I wanted my life to make a huge difference through this vocation, and the music I'd create and perform being much more than just a bunch of random songs in hopes the Lord would work. At my core, I wanted to be a missionary with my music ... have a strategic, powerful, and long lasting music ministry. I didn't just want to be the 'average Joe' when it comes to the industry, produce a recording or two, etc. I wanted my life to make a profound difference to those hurting in the church. I wanted to be something refreshingly different. And that's what God's been doing with me from the moment I met Incubator. Yes, the way God's packaged His plans for me look a little different. Yet, He has been surpassing my dreams each step of this journey. And I'm realizing more and more that the major label most likely wouldn't have given me the depth and vulnerability as an artist, communicator, and songwriter with accountability and such a safe and supportive family. I can see now that dream of reaching and powerfully impacting a vast number of people is indeed possible because of the depth and focus Incubator's given me. I find myself going to numerous venues with this ministry, especially to those small churches where a major label artist couldn't most likely go. And I watch God do His thing, making that powerful impact and life change I had only dreamed about years ago. He is fulfilling the plans He created for me that fueled my decisions and actions for so many years now. It looks different ... yet it looks so much better. Following this calling in my life with Incubator Records has been one of the best decisions I could have ever made. And as I continue with Incubator, I'm even more excited to see what God has in store in the months and years to come! So, will I ever move to Nashville? Maybe someday, but just because I love the place; not because I have to!

Judy Deans
Roster artist 2004 to current

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