When Melissa Lawson won Nashville Star on NBC in late 2008, she thought her twenty-year trek to overnight success had finally arrived. Melissa realized a major milestone in her music career, a personal dream with her husband of 13 years, five healthy boys, and a victory in her battle against obesity by losing 100 pounds.
Her single “What If it all Goes Right" allows those who missed her dramatic win to hear for themselves the voice that millions of audience voters found so appealing and perfectly captures the go-for-it spirit that infuses Melissa's life and career. The song shot straight to the number one slot on the iTunes Country Charts, climbing ahead of hits by Carrie Underwood, Toby Keith, and Sugarland. She then sang at the Bejing, China Summer Olympics and immediately hit the road headlining the popular Nashville Star Tour, and immediately began working on her debut album for Warner Brothers. However, Melissa's dreams soon fell flat into a "real" reality and she discovered success was just as hard to keep as it had been to achieve.
Her record label decided not to complete the album and her career stalled. Challenges at home were piling up, and Melissa began to feel stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated. "I was crushed...I felt like everything we had worked for was over,” Melissa explained. “My marriage was falling apart, our financial picture was a mess, my music career was at a halt, and my kids were out of control." With a derailed music career, and her family on the verge of collapse, Melissa turned to prayer. Something she had depended on implicitly during the 3 month sequestering from her family and the outside world during Nashville Star.
In August 2009, Melissa learned that a new television show, Breakthrough with Tony Robbins (airing on July 27, 2010 on NBC), was in development. The show was seeking ordinary people hoping to achieve something extraordinary in their personal and professional lives, and each of the show’s participants would have the opportunity to be coached by internationally acclaimed author/speaker Tony Robbins. Despite the application deadline having passed a few weeks earlier, Melissa applied anyway. Within 24-hours, she and her family received an invitation to join the show. “I KNEW God was at work. There was no doubt in my mind, he had sent Tony to help us.” She says.
In the weeks that followed, the family endured tasks and emotional challenges, including a trek back into the 1800’s with the entire family, that would "break" almost anyone, but Melissa knew they desperately needed the guidance to once again find their balance. “It was in the brokenness that I found Christ closer to me than ever before. Leading me one step at a time, like a flashlight in front of my feet. Only showing me the next step, not the whole path.” With a reputation of a “freight-train” mentality, Melissa quickly confirmed, her life was not her own to determine.
Melissa and her husband, Rick, gave immediate attention to their life, health, and finances. With Christ at the center of their family, it did not take long for the most important matters—their marriage and family (including their five boys ages 3 to 11)—to benefit from the experience, and they were able to pick up the pieces and get back on course. She says with confidence, “I have always believed that we all have gifts that are given to us to use for His glory. When we stop fearing and start walking in faith, it is then that he blesses us.
Melissa explained the journey wasn’t what she expected. "God helped me to see my contribution to the situation, and see the work that needed to start within myself.” Plus, she found she had to put her dreams on the back burner while sorting through the imbalances at home. “I had to take a break from the music to get my life back in order." And she has.
Now with a new outlook on life, a healthy and a music career that is climbing steadily upwards, Melissa knows she’s on the right path to success, both personally and professionally. "I feel so blessed to have had so much grace in my life. This has been an amazing journey. Life is not always easy, but it’s the hard times that help you truly appreciate everything you’ve been given.” When asked what she thinks the future holds, she replies, “I can’t wait to see what’s next. My job is to show up wholeheartedly. God will take care of the rest. As long as I have my faith, family, friends and fans by my side, there is nothing that can stop us. This is just the beginning!”
It's a life she has earned with a rare combination of talent and drive, and with the ability to touch audiences with a down-to-earth quality she wants to infuse into her music. “I want to tackle real-life issues that women around the country have to deal with,” she says, “that anyone who struggles and has a dream has to deal with.
Given the strength of her own dream, believability won’t be a problem. And, given where that dream has already brought her, neither will success.