Before the Ministry
“I remember when I was a child, I used to sit in my room writing poems and singing. I would sometimes imagine myself singing professionally, but it never seemed like it could happen,” Shondolyn once said.
While growing up in Yazoo City, Mississippi, Shondolyn was a very active member of the Lintonia Chapel Seventh-day Adventist Church. She spent much of her time actively working with the youth and filling in wherever it was necessary. Whenever Lintonia asked her to participate, Shondolyn always did her best to come through. One day, her obedience paid off in a way that she would have never imagined.
Back in October 2005, after singing for Lintonia’s Annual Men’s and Women’s Day program, Shondolyn was approached by her brother and producer Freddie Young, about possibly making a recording. For years, this had been a dream of hers, but by this time, it seemed like the possibility of ever recording had come and gone. That little girl that used to sit and write poems and sing privately in her room was now a grown woman with real life responsibilities. In the summer of 2005, Shondolyn had graduated from Mississippi University for Women and received her Master of Education degree in Reading/Literacy. She was also a full-time teacher, spouse, and mother; so, finding time to add in this sort of project seemed highly unlikely. That weekend, she went home and discussed things over with her husband, Michael. They both agreed that the timing was odd, but this may be something worth seriously considering. After a considerable amount of prayer, she decided to go ahead and pursue her life-long dream.
From the very beginning, Freddie suggested that Shondolyn should write her own material, but she felt as if that would be asking a bit too much. She had never done a professional recording, never written a song, and she didn’t have a musician. It seemed as if the logical thing to do would be to simply perform a few cover songs and call it a day. Feeling somewhat uncertain, Shondolyn spent the next few weeks gathering up her old performance tracks. While seeking rights to a song, Shondolyn spoke to a man by the name of Phil Hawkins. Hawkins is an associate of the well-known gospel singer and songwriter, Larnelle Harris. During their conversation, Phil mentioned that she would need her own musician because she couldn’t use Larnelle’s particular version of the song. When she informed Phil that she didn’t have one, he referred her to Simeon Amburgey.
Simeon is a regular musician for Larnelle Harris. During the first of many spiritually encouraging conversations, Simeon inspired her to write her own songs. Throughout the process, he introduced her to basic musical terminology and equipment that would help her better communicate the elements of her songs to any musician. By Fall 2007, Shondolyn had written five of the eight songs that appear on her debut CD. Simeon arranged and produced all of her original songs as well as “Much Too High a Price”, which was made popular by Larnelle Harris, “In the Garden”, and “I Bowed on My Knees”.
During that same timeframe, Shondolyn and her husband took many trips every few months to visit her brother, Freddie, and record. Freddie spent those two years teaching Shondolyn all about recording in a studio. Initially, it was all overwhelming, but she gradually caught on. By the end of the project, Shondolyn was very comfortable with the entire process and also experienced singing her own background vocals. After months of hard work, all of the things that she learned from her brother were starting to show every time she gave a message in song. In April of 2008, all of the hard work finally paid off. During that month, Shondolyn released her debut CD, “If I Would Trust God” and her music ministry officially began.