Occasionally God provides the unique opportunity to connect with a compelling artist that otherwise may never have pinged our radar.  Worship leader JC Mason is just such an artist.  Similar to Nathan White, JC has chosen to use her creativity as an instrument to serve her community.  She has pursued a number of altruistic endeavors including music therapy and adoption and is currently active in launching a new ministry, Steadfast Trail.

JC with an equine friendBy the way, JC is the sister of Dave Cleveland, who as a guitarist has recorded with Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, and many others from the Who’s Who of top Christian artists (including Keith and Kristyn Getty on their recent release “Live at the Gospel Coalition.”).  Joe ran into Dave at Christian Musician Summit and during their conversation, he spoke passionately about JC’s ministry.  At that point, we knew we needed to connect with her.  We hope (and expect) you will enjoy the conversation.

Frequency: How about an introduction to JC Mason?

JC: I was born in Northern Virginia and now live in Fredericksburg, Virginia where my husband Mike and I have been raising our family, 5 “kids” ages 22,20,17,16 and our newest addition almost 2 year old. We also have a grandson and another grandchild on the way!  I currently lead worship at Ni River Community Church and share my music ministry in many outlets such as conferences, schools and music therapy in local nursing homes.

Frequency: What are your creative outlets and what are you passionate about?

JC: I love to write! Whether it’s short inspirational real life stories or songs, it inspires me to know it can inspire others. I have been co-writing with fellow singer/songwriter Doug Farris and we have recorded a few of our songs.

Frequency: Your brother, Dave Cleveland, is an acclaimed guitarist and producer.  How do your paths intersect creatively?

JC: Well, when we were kids the house always seemed to have live music and I would watch him and my sister play guitar and then try to copy what they did. So I would say he really got my creativity going.  Today we have done family concerts together and Dave produced both of my albums By Faith and No Doubt. He’s been one of the people in my life to stretch me out of my comfort zone.

Frequency: What is your connection to Psalm 108?  What does it represent to you?

JC: When I formed my music ministry in 1999 I came across the scripture Psalm 108:“My heart is steadfast O God, I will sing and make music with all my soul…. I will sing of your love among the nations.” That was my very heart to God…to be steadfast in my walk with Him, to make music to glorify him, and to make known His love to all I encounter.

Frequency: You are involved in Music Therapy.  What is music therapy and why is it important?

JC: Music sparks many emotions and can awaken a hardened heart. I began my “music therapy”, unknowingly, as a teenager sitting on the front stoop of my house playing music for the neighborhood kids. I saw the happiness it brought and the unity among those who came to listen… that picture always stuck with me. As I got older I volunteered through Hospice and would walk up and down the halls in the Palliative (Pain) Care Center with my guitar playing and singing. Later I started visited nursing homes and would sing whatever room I felt God was calling me into. Still today I visit many of the same nursing homes. It’s a smile, a touch, and a song that gives great hope in a place of despair.

Frequency: Your music appears to be not just an artistic medium but also one way you support your philanthropic endeavors such as adoption.  Does one inspire or inform the other?

JC: Oh Yes! When I write a song I get my inspiration from life experiences and from God’s Word so they both intertwine. What I mean is I feel I can’t just sing about how great God’s love is and then not live it out as an example. Adoption is God’s calling in my life.

Frequency: We understand you’ve been working hard to launch a ministry called Steadfast Trail.  What is Steadfast Trail and how did the idea form?

JC: Steadfast Trail comes from my music ministry scripture Psalm 108… “My heart is steadfast..” This all really began when I was five and started spending summers at my grandparents campground. I loved spending time outdoors and began to feel a comforting presence even at such a young age. Of course later I realized it was God who was present and committed my life to Christ as a teen. It wasn’t long after that I began walking my own path and went down a road of self-destruction. It wasn’t until my adult years I recommitted my life to Christ. Three years ago my husband and I visited a farm that was for sale…as soon as I stepped my feet on the ground all the senses from my grandparents farm came rushing back! I wanted other kids to feel that! But I want them to learn how to walk steadfast in his love! Later that week Mike was reading the paper and he looked at me, pointing at a newspaper article, and said, “if we get the farm I wanna do this!” And there was a picture of a disabled child riding on the back of a horse with huge smile on her face! Steadfast Trail was born…I spent the next year writing up a 5 year plan and getting our non-profit status.

Frequency: So what is your vision for who Steadfast Trail will serve?

JC: Our mission statement is this: “To ignite hope and purpose into the lives of children and families through Equine Ministry and Life on the Farm.”  We will serve the community in which we live –specifically this will include children with mental, physical or emotional disabilities. But also, families that would like to take tours and learn about farm life, as well as churches to have a place for youth groups to come for camping, worship and serving events.

Frequency: Now, you mentioned a Five-Year plan.  So this isn’t just a whim. You’re serious about this.  How far into the plan are you?

JC: We are in the fundraising part of our plan, the farm we are praying we will be able to purchase has everything we need to get started BUT we just need the down payment to have it to become a reality. We do have a plan B and which is to purchase land, build a small home and use the funds raised so far to build the barn and paddocks for the horses and other animals.

Frequency: What needs to happen next for Steadfast Trail to become a reality?

JC: Prayer and funds! Then once up and running LOTS of volunteers : ) and prayer and funds! 😉

Frequency: Tell us how best to connect with you and to support Steadfast Trail.

JC: We have the $7.50 Campaign which was created due to the large volume of visits to our Facebook page. We had over 24,000 people visit in one week and I thought well how much would each person need to give to equal the down payment on the farm and it came out to be $7.50 a person.  The other way people can connect is having me come to their church or women’s event and share my music ministry and vision. I love to encourage others for them to seek God’s calling on their life!

Frequency: Last question.  You mentioned a couple of albums earlier – what’s new on the music front for you and where can we find your work?

JC: Heading into the studio in mid-January to work on a few singles that will be available on iTunes. Right now all of my music is available on iTunes since I am sold out of my CD’s. You can type in “jc mason” in the search and it will pull up my singles and albums.

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