Creative LIFE, October 2018

Creative Life with Musician Will Wesley

creative life, Will Wesley, Musician

22The Yesterdays hosting a songwriters event a Jolie Pearl in downtown Baton Rouge
Will Wesley

Q: How did you first discover your musical talent?

A: I first discovered my musical talent at the age of eleven. My father was a guitarist, and when he would go to bed, I would sneak his guitar out and play. One night he heard me playing along with the radio and he was amazed at how quickly I could play by ear. He believed that God had blessed me with a gift. From that moment on, I began to pursue music more seriously.

Q: How have you grown as an artist?

A: I play a wide variety of music but that is nothing new. I find it very fulfilling to explore many different styles of music. Currently, I am working on two albums and each has a very different sound. One of my current albums, Reinvention, is a rock and roll based album. My second album in the works, titled Meridian, has a more country/Americana spin to it. It also features my fiancé, Jenna D’Shay as vocalist. We perform as a duo called “The Yesterdays.”

In addition, I consider myself extremely blessed to back Grammy award-winning blues artist Grady Champion. I am making my second tour to Europe with him. In terms of a personal highlight, the music video for my latest single, “The Break” from the Reinvention album actually won the Lakeview International Film Festival Award. In 2014 and 2016, I was a finalist in The International Blues Challenge, so there is never a dull moment in this industry. These highlights just make me want to continue writing songs, playing music and pursuing my gift.

Q: Artistic talent is a gift from God. Talk about your faith and if you ever felt directed by God.

A: My faith in God has carried me through the most challenging times of my life. I grew up very poor, but God was my constant. He made me feel rich because I knew I could always turn to him and look ahead rather than dwell on my immediate circumstance. He provides hope to me. Though the road is often rocky, our relationship is always growing. It may seem strange to some, but when I write songs, I consider God a cowriter. I feel this way because songwriting or playing music is a universal language. I have always felt the Lord’s presence in my music and I hope when people hear it, they feel a connection as well.

Q: Do you have a favorite song, and if so, why is it your favorite?
I do not particularly have a favorite song. Yet I will tell you that I love many songs that range in style from bluegrass, country, rock and roll, the blues and jazz. If I had to pick one of my own, it would be The Hardest of Hearts. There is a universal message to this song. You will know it when you take time to listen to it, which I hope you will do.

Q: Have you ever had an encounter or experience that you felt was divine intervention?


A: This may be hard to believe, but God has always spoken to me in my dreams. He lets me know where I am going and reminds me of where I have been. I believe that each person has their own individual language with God. Because we are individuals, we all have our own personal relationships with our maker. Dreams and songwriting seem to be my common language between the Lord and me.

Q: Do you have a favorite scripture or book of the Bible?

A: I have always liked the Book of Job because it describes in detail the trials and tribulations of a common man. When tempted by the devil, Job never turns his back on the Lord. By holding onto his faith, God gives him double for his trouble. The Book of Genesis is another favorite book in the Bile because though the Fall of Man occurs in this book, there is also a purity revealed in the beginning before temptation crept into the Garden of Eden. One of my favorite scriptures is the one that states “you cannot serve two masters.” Daily we are tested, and daily we have a choice to choose good over evil or obedience over our own desires. Satan loves to tempt us in our minds. Our mind is a battlefield. Yet God is our ever-present help in times of trouble.

Q: What else would you like our readers to know about you?
A: I was raised in a poor, yet very rich family. Though money was often hard to come by, we were rich in our love for each other. When I describe my family, it makes me think of some of the interviews I have heard with Dolly Parton. She talks a lot about growing up a country girl in the Tennessee mountains. In her heart, she was rich. I relate to her humble upbringing.

Anyway, my father was a construction worker and my mother stayed home with us most of my life. As a child, in all honesty, I hated how poor we were, but as a man, it was the lack I experienced during those years that helped me have courage and be tough. Family sticks together no matter what is happening and that is the type of family I am glad to be part of while on this earth. I hope people will know that I do not take anything for granted and I hope that people will discover my music.

To sum up my journey, there is a scripture that says, “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth.” (Isaiah 45:2) Hold on and know who has your back if you believe. It is God. He has kept me going.

Wesley’s “The Break” is available on YouTube under the channel, The Will Wesley Band. There is also a Christian-based music video called “The Hardest of Hearts.” Visit his website at or view his Facebook page. The duo, The Yesterdays is also on Facebook.

Will’s band gets ready for a performance.
Will Wesley and Jenna D’Shay play at Jolie Pearl downtown.
Will Wesley and Jenna D’Shay perform as ‘The Yesterdays.’

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of the Lake Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales, and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

Creative LIFE, September 2018

Creative Life

Creative life, Seek and Ye Shall Find

Gail Barber Lloyd

#Selfie #Bff (Gails daughter and one of her best friends)

Q: Please share your journey as an artist:
A: As a child, I was encouraged in my artistic endeavors. My uncle on my mom’s side was a full-time artist and there were musicians on my dad’s side. I remember as a young girl, my mom speaking positively about one of my drawings to someone. It was through those types of experiences that I gained confidence in my artistic abilities. Throughout my primary education, I enjoyed success in art classes and competitions. In high school, I was involved in advanced placement art class which gave me a good foundation regarding artistic elements like line, value, and color theory. I chose to pursue a degree in “commercial art” as it was called in those days and minored in art history. I never finished college, however, I met my mate during those years, so I did acquire a “Mrs.” We began having children and I enjoyed those years of educating and raising my four kids. During those years, I was blessed to use my gift and passion by teaching art and art history to a group of homeschooled students. When my years of raising children came close to an end, I spent a lot of time conversing with the Lord about what I should do next. What did He have in store for me? I believe art is the gift I was given and that I am to share it and that is what I continue to do each day. My husband is very supportive and encourages this calling in my life.

Q: What are some of your favorite paintings?
A: My Word portraits are my favorite. Years ago I prayed about what kind of artistic present I could give to a dear friend who had been a Titus 2 woman in my life. A Titus 2 woman trains younger women in Biblical, simple-to-measure, Spirit-empowered, love-based living. So I decided to create a portrait made out of descriptive words that personified my friend — her interests, character qualities and her life. Although I have seen words used in art, I had never seen a portrait made up of words that are biographical and meaningful about the person. Word portraits are still my favorite to create because they honor the life of the person depicted and it is not just about their appearance. After I complete these portraits, I stand in awe of our amazing Creator because of each person’s individuality and uniqueness.

Q: Do you believe creativity is a spiritual gift?
A: As a Christian, I believe the indwelling Holy Spirit gives every aspect of my life spiritual significance. As a parent, it is delightful to watch our children enjoy their specific gifts and see them grow. I believe it delights our Heavenly Father when we use those gifts he has given us. Art does draw me closer to Him because it is something He has given me.

Q: What is your favorite book of the Bible or Scripture and why?
A: Psalm 139 has always been one of my favorites. The cry of the human heart is to be loved passionately and unconditionally — for someone to know every part of us, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and love us anyway. To me, Psalm 139 is a declaration. Lord, you know all of me. You formed me in the womb. You know my innermost parts and you see me as valuable and lovable. What is most powerful about this psalm is that he wrote “all the days of my life.” So when life seems a bit confusing or tragic, I find peace that He is not surprised. He is the author of my life. Each stage of life is like turning the page of a book. I can trust Him with the plot, the players and the outcome.

Q: Where can readers find your work?
A: The best place to find me is on my art Facebook page: Gail Lloyd Art . You can see my art at and, which is an organization that connects businesses with artists who create custom art for corporate spaces. Recently, I have been accepted into the Associated Women in the Arts. One of my paintings was featured in August at Elizabethan Gallery.

Q: What else would you like to share about your personal life?
A: In my home, I have a beautiful studio, but the opportunity presented itself to paint around other creative types and to be surrounded by seasoned artists. It has helped me learn and develop as an artist. Every day, I am so thankful to be doing what I love and painting around others who share the same passion.

Louisiana Times
Look What I Found
Gail Lloyd Self Portrait
Artist Gail Lloyd
August 2018, Creative LIFE

Creative Life

Brushstrokes of Love … Thoughtfully Placed

John K. Lee

Q: Describe your journey as an artist.
A. My journey is unique. I was born and raised in Baton Rouge. When I was 20, I moved to New York City where I studied business at NYU and worked as an analyst for an advertising conglomerate. After living in NYC for five years, I moved back home and worked as an accountant for a local nonprofit. I did not stay very long. In 2012, I ventured out to southern California where I studied at Fuller Theological Seminary and obtained my Master of Divinity. I enjoyed the dynamic city of Los Angeles. During my time there, I discovered my love for pop culture and my affinity for the arts. After living in California for five years, my journey led me back to Baton Rouge. Throughout most of my life, I worked in financial and administrative roles. But after discovering more about myself and my artistic gifts, I wanted to be an artist.

In the summer of 2017, I painted to discover who I truly was in the Lord. Throughout my childhood, it was difficult to love myself — the ideas I had about myself were false. Life’s challenges gave me wounds that made it hard for me to see myself as worthy of love. But over time, God revealed to me my true identity in Him. He revealed that I was intimately made, made in love, and made in his image. This is true for all of us. Only humanity was formed in this special way. As Erwin Raphael McManus says in The Artisan Soul, “While all creation declares the image of God, we humans bear the image of God.” Being an artist for me is declaring and living out my true identity as God’s child.

I believe in a sense that each of us are artists. God is the main artist. He is “Creator” and because we were all created in God’s image, we’re all fundamentally creative beings. Most people may think they have no artistic talent, but we all have creative abilities that we use in our daily lives. For example, a chef uses his culinary skills when cooking and creating beauty on a plate.

As an artist, what I care about most is how a person sees himself or herself. My desire is for others to know who they are in God, especially younger people. There are so many false messages in media and throughout our society, and it is important to find a confidence in knowing God’s love.

The medium I enjoy using now is mixed media. I enjoy acrylic paint and spray paint on canvas. Abstract art is something I enjoy doing because it uses the deepest recesses of my imagination. Having lived in some major metropolitan cities combined with my southern Louisiana upbringing, I feel that my southern Louisiana upbringing and the fact that I’ve lived in some major metropolitan cities impacts my art, making it contemporary but also intimate and down-to-earth.

Q: What are some of your favorite paintings and why?
A: One of my favorite paintings is Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. There’s such a peace and purity in Monet’s paintings. Another painting I like is Vincent Van Gogh’s Café Terrace At Night. I love the light in it. As for my own art, well, it remains untitled, but it’s a piece that has actual leaves on it from my parents’ backyard that I spray painted. It makes me think of this verse: 1 Peter 1:24-25: “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

My second favorite is called Home. There is great peace in being home after being away for ten years. The white around the image or “blankness” represents starting over and how everything is “blank” in a sense. But even though there’s this blankness, there’s texture in it. The texture represents the experiences I’ve had throughout my journey — smooth terrain and bumps in the road, so to say. They’ve added “texture” or layers to my life. Even though I’m back at square one, those life experiences remain.

Q: Creativity is a spiritual gift. How is painting spiritual to you?
A: Painting is naturally spiritual to me. My parents’ garage is my studio. God is in there and I experience His intimacy while painting. Additionally, I am very passionate about evangelism. The false views and perceptions of God bother me. So many see God as this domineering figure who is judgmental, rigid and mundane. God is quite the opposite, and art gives me a way to draw people close to Him or at least seek the God I have come to know. God is dynamic, diverse, loving, personable, and down-to-earth. God is humorous too. We can see the reality and beauty of God in things like art, food, movies, music, fashion, and sports. This outlet, or rather new beginning, helps me to present God and his attributes.

Q: What is your favorite Scripture and why?
A: One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 139: 13-15: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”
This scripture shows just how special and how thoughtfully God created us.

Q: Where can readers find your work? 
A: In August, some of my art will be displayed in Magpie Café on Perkins Road. I also have a few pieces in Rue Beignet on Highland Road and I hope to display my art in more local businesses. Mid City Rising and Re-stabbed in the Art are local art events where I have showen my work. One can find my art on facebook ( and Instagram @artbyjohnklee.

Q: Describe your faith life and the people who have influenced you.
A: I became a Christian when I was a freshman in college. I grew up going to church, but I never had a personal relationship with God. At LSU, a good friend named Phil Koch told me how I could have a personal relationship with Jesus. Before this, I always thought being a Christian was about following rules and trying to be a really moral person. One evening in my dorm room, I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my life. I found true fulfillment in life. Because of my experience, I’m passionate about ministry. If it is the Lord’s will, I want to start a church one day and help others have an intimate relationship with God who does hear us, sees us and loves us.

Aside from art, I work as the Connections Coordinator at The Chapel on the Campus. My role is essentially to help welcome and connect people into our church community. Two of my heroes are my mom and dad. My parents have owned a drycleaning business in Baton Rouge for over 30 years. They are the hardest working people I know and the purest example to me of Christ’s sacrificial love. One of my all-time heroes is Erwin Raphael McManus, pastor of Mosaic Church in Hollywood, California where I attended when I lived there. Erwin is an amazing pastor, but he is also a fashion designer, filmmaker, writer, speaker, and artist. His book The Artisan Soul literally changed my life and influenced my views about art.

My dream is to be an influential artist in the world who uses art as a platform to speak about beauty and the Gospel. When people see my art, I want them to see love.

Sharon Furrate  Bailey grew up in Alexandria, LA and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B. A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales, and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at 

Creative LIFE, July 2018

Creative Life, Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

Kenneth Drake
Musician and Music Minister

Q: When did you first discover your musical talent?
A: Music was always in my home. My mother taught piano and was minister of music at our church into my high school days. Therefore, I was inquisitive and interested in music and piano for as long as I can remember. After I began studying piano around 8 years old I began receiving positive feedback in competitions. My mom, one of my greatest mentors musically and spiritually, “threw me in the fire” at church having me play for assemblies and worship services at a very early age so I learned to sight read well early on. In the eighth grade, she sent me kicking and screaming to a piano audition at Furman University to be accepted into their college prep program. I was accepted and studied piano there throughout high school and attended Furman for college. My mom’s insistence set the course of my life. I received a degree in piano pedagogy with minor studies in church music which then brought me to LSU for a master’s degree in piano performance, accompanying, and doctoral studies in pedagogy.

Q: Describe your experience as music director at Chapel on the Campus and Chapel in the Oaks (alongside your wife Kathy) and a few memorable moments that come to mind.
A: Years of memories are flowing as I ponder this question. Tears are flowing as well as I recall how instrumental Pastor Donald Tabb, the Pastor Emeritus of the Chapel on the Campus, was to myself and Kathy. We were so saddened by his recent passing but so blessed to have ministered with him for almost 20 years. Honestly, I wish Kathy and I had kept a count of how many funerals we played and sang when Donald was officiating. That God would grant us that opportunity … there is no way to put into words all that dear man meant to us, what he invested in us biblically and spiritually, and just living life as a married couple. In 1983, Kathy and I were asked to organize a music ministry, but God had so much more planned. In Donald’s presence, we were like the two men on the road to Emmaus with Jesus. “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”  Oh, the days of ministering and working with that remarkable man! Praise God we were blessed with that opportunity so many years ago.

Recently, 80-plus choir members gathered to sing at Donald’s memorial service. Even amid our grief, it is a sweet memory due to all the choir members that surfaced over 31 years of ministry to pay their respects. To look out and see so many familiar faces, literally thousands, I was overcome at the lives he touched.

 As for memorable worship services, we orchestrated moving Christmas musicals, cantatas, and pageants that dramatized the full life of Christ. Kathy had a vision of incorporating all aspects of the arts into the church and the purpose was to reclaim the arts for God’s glory. We sought to incorporate this plan all the way down to the “Hallelujah Little Ones” and the preschool choir. For me personally, YMAD, the Youth Music & Drama Group for middle and high school, was a tremendous blessing. This group attracted the unchurched youth because it presented Broadway musicals with a biblical theme. We are still seeing the fruit today from that ministry. What a joy!

Q: What advice would you give to other music directors, and what wisdom did you gain?
A: Seek God in every decision. When it comes to selecting music, it is important to ask how this will help people grow spiritually in worshipping God from a Biblical perspective. People are placed in our path daily, so I would encourage one to be a pastor, not just a music director or worship leader. Kathy and I have been blessed ten-fold by those who we just sat and visited or ministered to in a time of need.

 Q: What are you learning in your role at Community Bible Church?
A: The richest blessing Kathy and I have experienced since joining this church body is that we are part of the body. We are worshippers and not just leading worship. One of the church’s core values is to provide a worship setting for a multigenerational congregation, so we are working on this desire daily. Since I have been there as part of their music ministry, I would have to say this past Christmas was amazing. We presented an inspirational musical/drama and dance including 60-plus voices, representing eight churches. Pastor Steve Foster has been a great mentor and friend and yes, I am now serving 30 hours a week at the church.

 Q: Tell us about your family.
A: Kathy and I will soon be celebrating 39 years of marriage. She has been my wife, partner, best friend, mother, grandmother, teacher of the Word, amazing singer, worshipper, best voice teacher, and interior designer. She is so full of grace and beauty … what more can I say? In our first year of marriage, we took off for Salzburg, Austria to study at the Mozarteum Conservatory. Kathy had received a Rotary Scholarship for post-graduate study there and we thought we would seek musical careers in Europe. Yet we were led in another direction. We joined a little Baptist mission, the only church we could find that offered services in English, and through John Linderman, a young mentor in our lives, we joined a weekly Bible study with a group of internationals. God opened the scriptures and His heart to us in deeper ways than either of us had experienced before.

God has also blessed Kathy and me by giving us two daughters who are both talented, gifted artists. Can you imagine being with four artists in one household? I am outnumbered since I am the only male, but I would not trade it for anything.

Maggie is a visual artist/painter. She teaches art, and at the same time, is a wife and mother to her two daughters. She perseveres with her crazy schedule and is doing well in Greenville, South Carolina with her own paintings and classes. Spencer, her husband, is very supportive. Mary Elizabeth lives in New York, is pursuing a career in musical theatre, and has been cast in two shows and a nationwide tour since moving there in 2015. I am so proud of both daughters and their desire to grow in the Lord is still a very big part of their lives.

I appreciate the readers’ prayers for them as they continue to hone their talents and pursue their careers as Christian artists! They have very different and unique personalities and to watch them operate in their gifts is a joy to see unfold daily. Praise God!

 Q: Do you have a favorite book of the Bible or scripture?

The Psalms are just gorgeous and steeped with what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. In 1985, I had the opportunity to attend a conference, and it was there that I was introduced to the Psalms written by musician/choral writer Don Wyrtzen, whom I greatly admired. God certainly had His hand on Kathy and me and a specific plan and direction for our life! The life verse that I hold closely is Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) and it’s what I seek daily as a husband, father, grandfather, worship pastor, musician, and friend.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Q:  What else you would like our readers to know about your personal life and journey as a creative person?
I haven’t talked about my piano teaching, but I do love that one-on-one with my students. The ones that impress me are those who do not have the most natural musical instinct or talent but have the drive to learn. Finding students who have the time and/or make the practice time needed to succeed at the piano or any instrument is rare in these challenging days.

Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteous and all shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6: 33)

The Chapel’s production of Les Miserables from 2009 featured a spiritual message
Ken leads Sunday morning worship with the Worship Team and Chorale at Community Bible College
CBC’S 2017 Christmas musical included drama and dance, and represented eight churches
The late Donald Tabb and his wife Mary joined Ken, Kathy and The Chapel Choir at one of the choir’s retreats in the fall of 2013.

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, LA., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. The earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of the Lake Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales, and public service since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

Creative LIFE, June 2018

Creative Life, Erin Landry, M.S. Live Healthy from the Inside Out

living healthy- inside and out

Erin Landry, M.S.

Q: What drew you to the art of making beautiful soaps?

A: Truth be told, I never thought I would be making soaps that were appealing to the eye. I wanted each soap to serve a purpose. The artist rose out of me to my surprise. When creating, my scientific background took the forefront and my goal was to help those dealing with skin issues.


Q: What is your artist statement and why do you enjoy creating soaps with healing properties?

A: My artist statement is simply this: “There’s a science behind it.” I say this because though my soaps may appear to be decorative, they actually do contain ingredients with healing properties. I have products for eczema and psoriasis, and products to help strengthen the vasculature that breaks down in rosacea. I have facial bars for oily skin, dry skin, and even combination skin. My latest formulations are for a skin care line for those suffering from Malassezia yeast. My line makes it hard for the yeast to survive and it’s therefore unable to grow in unbalanced proportions.


Q: Do you feel that you are using a spiritual gift?

A: I know this ability is an anointing from above. Prior to making these soaps, I had worked in education for a little over five years. One day, I just knew it was time to make a change. God is the creator, healer, comforter, and holds all things together. My desire is to help heal those who have skin issues. I know this gift came from the Lord because my heart’s desire was to always educate, but now I am also healing the populace. To me, healing comes from divine intervention and I feel God’s guidance while educating myself and by using my hands and tongue in a positive manner.

Q: Tell us about your faith journey. How has the Holy Spirit touched your life?

A: My husband led me to Jesus. I remember kneeling together beside our bed and saying The Sinner’s Prayer. The next thing I knew, I was waking up on my side of the bed. I had fainted as far as I could tell and awoke the next morning. Over the next year, I began to pray and get into The Word. I started following Kellie E. Lane on Facebook. She does Bible study and prayer on a daily basis. I also have a very good girlfriend who has been a prayer warrior for me since the beginning of our friendship in 2012.

With all of this encouragement, I began pressing in, praying, and fasting. But there was suddenly a road block. Nothing was moving. Everything had come to a standstill, a wilderness in a sense. I was invited to a three-day women’s conference at a local church as a vendor. At this point in my life, I was searching for someone to baptize me. I belonged to a church, but there seemed to be so much ceremony involved around their baptisms. They were only done on certain Sundays. Well, as I was sitting in the conference, I heard a church member say in passing, “Our pool stays full.” And a light bulb went off in my head. I pulled the member aside and asked what I had to do to be baptized right then and there. And her answer was simple: “Let’s go call the pastor.”

So, I was baptized on Saturday, February 16, 2018 and with that act of obedience, doors began to open, both in the natural world and the supernatural. The morning of Sunday, February 17, I awoke under a supernatural attack on my physical being. I’d had a sore throat the day before, but this morning I was stricken with fever, no voice, and body aches. Within the next two weeks my temperature remained between 101 and 103 degrees. No doctor was able to pinpoint the cause of my ailments. I was tested for strep, pneumonia and influenza. All tests returned with negative results. It was not until I called on help from my sisters-in-Christ and my own voice returned that I was able to pray and convalesce. This experience made the concept of faith very concrete, almost tangible … it strengthened my relationship with the Lord.

Q: What is your favorite hymn or scripture?

A: It may not be considered a hymn, but my favorite Christian song is Reckless Love. My favorite scripture is found in 2 Chronicles, chapter 20 when King Jehoshaphat was surrounded in battle and the Lord says to him, “Do not be afraid or dismayed by this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” These words bring me great comfort. For any God who will “leave the ninety-nine” to chase after the one, is truly a God to be worshipped and praised. Any God that will take on the enemies of his loyal servants is one who is truly not just good, but great.


Q: What is the name of your business and how can one order your products?

A: My business is Thomas Therapeutics, LLC. No, my last name is not Thomas nor was it my maiden name. I named the company for my maternal grandparents who have passed. My maternal grandmother had a huge hand in raising me and my siblings. Being the first black full-time teacher at Baker High School, she was able to instill in me that we are “made from sterner stock.” I have been sharing my soaps at events like Live After 5 and will continue to research places I should be set up in the fall. My favorite quarterly market is Sugar Plum Market held in the Mall of Louisiana. I also enjoy the markets held in Denham Springs, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.


Q: What else would you like to share with our readers?

A: I enjoyed educating my classes at the college level but wondered if it were possible to get to students before they had the preconceived notions of being “good in math,” “a bad reader,” or “bad at science.” Ever the scientist, I decided to test my hypothesis and became certified in middle and high school education. I figured if I enjoyed seeing the light bulbs go off in college kids, I would love to see it in 6th to 8th graders! And I was correct. Students would inevitably come to me and say they were bad at math or science, and I would answer, “You’re twelve. You’re not old enough to be ‘bad’ at anything.” Though I am now creating soaps with medicinal properties, I miss the classroom in many ways, but feel this new direction has given me an opportunity to educate.

This journey really took off in 2014-2015 when a friend said to me, “Let’s make soap for Mother’s Day.” My reply was simply, “Who makes soap?” Well, later I discovered … I make soap.

For more information, visit Https:// or on Facebook, go to Thomas Therapeutics/Erin’s Eromatics. On Instagram, see @thomastherapeutics_llc.

Erin Landry, right, with Makeva Armat, Miss Black Louisiana 2018

Landry’s Soaps are artistic and made with natural ingredients 

Landry’s booth can be found at many events around southeast Louisiana

BRCL Sharon Furrate Bailey
Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

Creative LIFE, June 2018

A Little Lagniappe, Sharon Holeman visits with Hillsong on a recent visit to Baton Rouge

There is More, Hillsong visits baton rouge

by: sharon holman

The room goes dark, and the crowd starts to cheer. Anticipation builds, and then in a unified moment of energy, song and light erupt as the room comes to life. Smiles and singing, clapping and jumping – the response would most likely be similar in just about any culture, although the note structure and outward expression might vary – the joy that music brings is a seemingly collective reaction from God’s created ones. The powerful combination of spoken word and melody amazingly appear to intensify when it is purposed for His glory.

I was privileged to get the personal thoughts on the power of song from one of today’s most well-respected musicians, Ben Fielding. Fielding serves in the immensely popular group Hillsong Worship as Worship Leader and Songwriter. In fact, he and fellow Hillsong member Brooke Fraser just earned a 2018 Grammy Award for Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song with “What a Beautiful Name,” which the band performed as part of their There is More Tour at Bethany Church (Baton Rouge) in April.

The night started with what Fielding said is a song that has meant a lot to him personally, “Who You Say I Am.” The song, which he co-wrote with Reuben Morgan, also of Hillsong Worship, serves as a reminder of whom God says we are. “Competition for our identity is insidious” Fielding stated. He explained that once we are saved, “You are no longer a slave to sin, (the power of sin was destroyed through the death and resurrection of Jesus) … but you are a child of God, a son or a daughter” … with a “permanent place in a family, a son or daughter will belong forever.” (John 8:35-36) The words in verse 36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” are closely paraphrased in the song’s chorus.

Fielding said he is “an ardent believer in the necessity for the songs we sing in our churches to be firmly founded in the scriptures.” He relies on divine help to accomplish this mission. “As a songwriter, I need the Holy Spirit to illuminate (the) truth of who God is and what He is wanting to say to and through His Church.”

The message the team is bringing in this season with their 26th live praise and worship album There is More comes from a place of cohesiveness as the album, tour, conference, and book by Senior Pastor Brian Houston all carry the same name.

Houston, who also attended the event at Bethany, spoke to the full house on living larger and digging deeper. He referred to the story in 2 Kings, Chapter 3, during the time of war between Israel and Moab when Elisha prophesized about the dry valley being supernaturally filled with pools of water. It happened just as the prophet said. The next morning, after the sacrifice was offered. Houston explained, “The water was already there” – the people just had to dig deeper in their faith and believe God for it.

As the stage was given back to the musicians, and the team led the room in worship, the presence of God fell on Fraser. She openly shared with the crowd, on two separate occasions, what she believed to be a word from the Lord for three individuals in the building that night. Fraser’s emotional performance of the team’s new song, entitled New Wine was powerful, and Hillsong member David Ware offered a salvation prayer.

The night ended with dancing, as Aodhan King of Hillsong Young & Free led the party with the popular songs Alive and Real Love.

The days of our walk can often be challenging, so it is imperative for us to remember that sometimes the room goes dark before song and light erupt to bring forth renewed life. We can take comfort, however, that it is always there. We often just need to dig deeper. Joy does come in the morning. Ultimately our lives, just like music, can be a blessing to those we encounter if we are purposed for His glory.

Sharon Holeman is a writer and photographer living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was the project creator, coordinator, and co-author of the book Backyard Miracles-12 American Women , 12 True Stories, 1 Miraculous God. Previously published in Her Glory and Inspire Louisiana. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at San
Antonio and The Art Institute of Houston. She is currently attending Bethany College to further her pursuit of the Lord and His Word.

Creative LIFE, May 2018

Hot Art, Cool Nights

Hot Art, Cool Nights

Mid City Merchants 14th Annual Art Festival

Art rings by Christina Vasquez
These works by Cheryl Palmer will be on display at Bistro Byronz.

Anyone who has ever attended the annual Hot Art, Cool Nights festival knows what a special event it is. It’s a family-friendly evening filled with food, live music, and dozens of local artists showcasing their original works. Sponsored by Mid City Merchants, the event is a great way to discover new talent and connect with the businesses that keep Mid City growing.

Hot Art, Cool Nights will be held Friday, May 11, from 6 to 10 p.m. in the area loosely bounded by Jefferson Highway to Goodwood and Government Street to 14th Street. The area has long been known for its galleries, sculptors, painters, photographers, jewelry designers and other artists.

Participating businesses include: A-1 Air Conditioning, Aladdin’s Lamp and Antiques, Atomic Pop Shop, Bistro Byronz, Brew Ha Ha, Brewbacher’s Grill, Caffery Gallery, Calandro’s Supermarket, Create Studios, Curbside Burgers, Cutrone’s Barber Shop, Elizabethan Gallery, ELS Landscape Architecture Studios, Everything Philly, Graphic Prints, Happy Cajun Gallery, LES Federal Credit Union, Mo’s Art Supply, Monjuni’s Italian Café and Grocery, Mosaic Garden, Painting with a Twist, Radio Bar, Red Stick Spice Company, Reginelli’s Pizzeria, Sabai Jewelry Gallery, Serop’s Express, Shopper’s Value Foods, Soiree, Studio C, Superior Grill, Sweet Leather, Twine, Guru, The Market at Circa 1857, The Pink Elephant Antiques, Time Warp Boutique, Whitney Bank, Williamsburg Senior Living, Yoga Path, Yvette Marie’s Café, and Victoria’s Toy Station.

Hot Art, Cool Nights is a free event. Visitors can take advantage of a complimentary shuttle bus and Uber discounts throughout the night, but it’s also fun to stroll along the streets as you take in the art and most likely run into old friends you haven’t seen in a while.

Let art arise! For more information, call (225) 571-2176 or email You can also check out the Mid City Merchants Association page on Facebook. Many purchases made during the event will be tax-free.

Maddie Lea Alford is among the participating artists.
This oil painting by Sharise Ruiz will be at Mosaic Gardens.
This painting was done by Maddie Lea Alford.
Jewelry designer Maria Ramirez will be featured at Hot Art, Cool Nights.

Sandbar Beach and Walk the Line by Sharon Furrate Bailey.

BRCL Sharon Furrate Bailey

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B. A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales, and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

BRCL Bruce Boyet
Creative LIFE, March 2018

Bruce Boyet – Singer / Songwriter

Bruce Boyet


by Sharon Furrate Bailey

(Psalm 98:1) “Sing to the LORD a new song … for he has done marvelous things.”

BRCL Bruce Boyet

Kirk Andres Wilson Band  / Bruce Boyet 
Album Release Concert
Saturday, March 3, 6:30 p.m.
Manship Theatre
For tickets, visit or

Q: Talk about your journey as a musician. When did you realize you wanted to pursue music?

A: In 6th grade, my Uncle Kenny came to live with my family after serving in the Marines. I looked up to him as a young boy and he taught me how to play the guitar. His vast library of music exposed me to some awesome musicians. I got a taste of Neil Young, the band Rush and other musicians who helped me “cut my teeth” or rather “work my fingers to the bone” as I practiced the guitar.

Q: Your music is described as Christian folk rock. Did you ever play in the secular realm?

A: Since I began playing the guitar at a young age, it allowed me to really delve into my craft and become a better musician over time. With that progression into music, the next step naturally was to play in a band. So throughout high school, I played in bands and continued playing in college. Around my sophomore year in college, my Uncle Kenny dedicated his life to the Lord and his lifestyle began to change. He sat me down one evening and led me in the Lord’s prayer … and at 19, I accepted the Lord into my life. The vision, purpose and direction of my life took on a different meaning after I accepted Christ and the urge to write music became very important to me. I had tinkered with writing music prior to this time, but it became easier and more effortless because I felt inspired by the Holy Spirit when I sat down to write. It was like the Spirit breathed the words into my heart and mind and helped craft my songwriting skills.

Q: Your CD, titled Live the Life, was launched in January 2018. What are some of your favorite songs on Live the Life?

A:  Live the Life is a project that I started over a year and a half ago, and I am very pleased with the outcome. Most songs were written a year or two before they were recorded, but one or two of the cuts are from many years ago. Different songs are written to different audiences. Some are addressed directly to God — like House and Cars — the chorus says, “All I need is you Lord, All I need is your peace, All I need is your grace to help in time of need, All I need is your mercy. Cause when all said and done, I realize all I need is you.”

In the song Rest, God is saying to the listener, “I’m listening, and I hear you, and I’m moving you’ll see, It’s okay now – to say now – that I am free. Because there’s not one hair that’s not numbered … No need to worry, because I’m in no hurry … just put all your trust in me. You will find rest … rest into my arms … you can rest.”

Gonna Make It is about the trials and valleys of our lives. And the title cut, Live the Life, is about the choices we make in life. (Download the title cut at

BRCLM Image Bruce Boyet1
Bruce Boyet’s song carry a message of hope and redemption.

Q: Your best friend is Kirk Andres Wilson. How did you meet and become friends?

A:  Kirk and I go way back. We worked together at a church for 10 years and during this time we played music together weekly. We remained friends even after he moved to Los Angeles in 2007 to pursue his music career. He is an absolutely amazing piano player and jazz guitarist as well as a vocalist. We are both performing on March 3 at the Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge. Kirk is bringing some of his band members from Los Angeles and will do his regular show. I will be performing songs from Live the Life with my band. However, we have not decided if we will perform together.

Q: It’s quite an honor to perform at the Manship Theatre. How did this come about?

A: Yes, it will be a big night for us. Back in 2016, Kirk was scheduled to do a release concert but unfortunately, the show was canceled due to the flooding in Baton Rouge. In 2017, I began searching out venues to perform songs from my new CD. Kirk and I talked and decided to schedule a date that worked for both of our schedules. I will be performing an hour set followed by an intermission. Kirk will perform afterward. It will be an incredible night and no matter what type of music one likes, there is something for everyone in our song line-up. We want to really glorify God and put on a great show.

Q: What is your favorite scripture and why?

A: Ecclesiastes 9:11 has always been one of my absolute favorite Scripture passages — “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” This scripture has so much meaning to me in that I don’t have to be fastest, strongest, wisest or the most skilled, but time and chance happen to us all. Time and chance are in God’s hands. I am called to trust the Lord daily because he holds the power to make things happen. The Lord can lift me up or make me wait, but in time, I truly believe by leaning on Him, all good things come to those who wait. 

Bruce Boyet’s songs focus on self-enrichment and redemption. There is always hope and a chance to live again despite the barriers that tend to blind us. The messages in his songs are positive and may reignite a flame in your spirit that has been burning low. It’s possible to LIVE, truly live, life again.

For more information, go to or To book Bruce’s band, send an email to

Sharon Bailey

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

Creative LIFE, January 2018

Christina Root: Jewelry Designer “And the Lord gave me a Lifeline…ART!”

Christina Root: Jewelry Designer

“And the Lord gave me a Lifeline…ART!”

by Sharon Furrate Bailey

Q:  When did you begin creating your unique jewelry pieces: charms, rings and more, and what technique do you use?

A:   Everything I have ever done in my life has contributed to the culmination of the rings that I create as well as the charms. My father was a gifted artist and musician, and my great grandfather worked in theatre. So, I have been surrounded by visual artists, musicians and the theatre. The process is called Electroforming. I use electricity to move copper from one place to another through a copper sulfite saturation, sort of like plating with metal. 

Q:  Share about your personal life.

A:  I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia in a town where many of my friends were born with silver spoons in their mouths. I consider myself fortunate in the sense that I was born with silver spoons in my hands. I was surrounded by creative

thinkers and I am thankful for this aspect today, but at times, I just wish I had a “normal family life.”

In art class, I was like a free bird. I felt like I was soaring while creating art. I sometimes wonder where I would be if it were not for art? There were several times that I even went back and told my art teacher in high school that she saved my life. I enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Art and earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in ceramics.

Upon completing graduate school, I moved to Michigan to participate in an art exchange program with the Soviet Union. There is too much to share about that experience, but it did shape my life as an artist. During this time, I married and began teaching at an art center on Lake Michigan. Community involvement became very important to me, and with the help of many in the community, I started a program called Art Angels. This program helped many people through a somewhat holistic approach to health. From pediatrics, to oncology patients and those in foster care, I taught art, but they also extended a life line in a sense. 

Q:  You have faced challenges but overcame them. Share some more about those difficult times.

A:  While I was pregnant with my daughter, [I felt that] my husband “checked out” of my life emotionally, spiritually and as a supportive mate. We stayed married during this wilderness time for seven more years, but we were separate on every level. What helped me? Art helped me express myself in a positive manner…Now, my daughter is attending Louisiana State University and majoring in the arts field. I am so proud of her. She is following her true calling.

Q:  As an artist, you studied ceramics seriously most of your life, so how did your jewelry line begin?

A:  Ceramics are not easy to sell. I started making jewelry because, in a way, it is a form of journaling for me. It is fun and the jewelry I create represents a faith journey. There are many spiritual symbols used in my designs, and I feel a deeper connection to God when using these symbols in my work. For some reason, God seems more accessible to me by incorporating these images of Jesus and his mother, crosses and other Christian symbols. They remind me of Him and help me to reflect more of His goodness. Having been raised in the Catholic culture and religion, I am fascinated with the different pictures of Jesus, the saints and their stories and the stories in the Bible. There are many stories of miracles that encourage me, because throughout my life, I have experienced divine intervention myself. At the time I was experiencing a miracle, I cannot say I recognized it as a miracle.

Q:  Share one of your most spiritual revelations.

A: I will never forget the day I truly felt so close to God. I literally felt I could reach out and touch the hem of his garment. While driving to work on a very gloomy, rainy morning in the center of Philadelphia, all I could see was traffic and people carrying umbrellas. It was like a sea of people with black umbrellas. I was stuck in my car next to this huge old church. Suddenly, the rain stopped, the sun beamed through the clouds, and I could see the faces of the people that once had their umbrellas opened, but had closed them. At that moment, the church bells started to play a Cat Stevens song called “Morning has Broken.” When I hear that song today, tears come to my eyes because of the intimacy I felt with the Lord.

A variety of unique charms designed and created by Root.
A variety of unique charms designed and created by Root.
A variety of unique charms designed and created by Root.

Q:  How can one find your unique jewelry line?

A: I sell my work on (Christina Root) and locally at Mosaic Garden on Government Street as well as a few galleries in New Orleans.  For more information

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17

Sharon Bailey

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

JULY 2015

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Creative LIFE, December 2017

Kim Larrison Bullen Freeze Frames of Hope: Look for the Silver Lining

Kim Larrison Bullen

Freeze Frames of Hope:

Look for the Silver Linings…

by Sharon Furrate Bailey

Q: When did you begin painting and when did Josephine’s World of Paintings begin?

A: My journey with the paint brush began ten years ago when I was on a break with my children. During that weekend, I painted seven paintings with poetic writings attached. Josephine emerged at that point but was not refined. I realized that God was actually refining me. About two years ago, I picked up the paint brush again and 100 paintings were birthed, each with a message of hope. It was healing for me, genuine therapy. God reminded me that He is very near to the downtrodden and never far from our heart’s cry.

Q: Poetic messages are tied to many of your paintings. Share more about Josephine – what she represents in your paintings?

A: Typically, the painting and message come through someone sharing their personal hardship and how they got to the other side. Sometimes, it’s a scripture that will inspire a painting and sometimes it’s the other way around. Many times, I have worship music playing while I paint and in that infused world of praise, messages emerge from the Holy Spirit. I feel that God told me to “write with paint and paint with words.”

Josephine is a story teller. She is woven into the canvas just as we are woven in the womb (Psalm 139:13). Her color is black because that encompasses all colors and absorbs light best. Josephine was created to absorb the most that she can from her Creator. Her white dress reflects all the Lord’s blessings and mercy. The red stitching symbolizes the blood of the Lamb, a reminder that she is covered and protected. Her arms are always lifted up to show her surrender to God in all things.

“The Green Grass and Silver Linings” painting is very special because it emerged during a very dark time when God gave me a vision. I saw a dark ominous sky and a bright green pasture with one big white cloud lined in silver. He encouraged me to look for the green grass and silver lining in each moment. I call these moments “grassitude” moments. Look for the green moments for they represent hope.

Rising Above with Heart Filled Hands”

Q: I love the phrase “freeze frames” of hope you mention in one of your blogs. Do all of your paintings represent hope?

A: Yes, each painting is a “freeze frame” of hope. This world is full of darkness and negativity. God will reveal a way out if we lean on him and listen in the silence. Proverbs 29:18 says it best: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he who keepeth the law, happy is he.” Our walk becomes lighter when we focus on the Great Physician (Psalm 55:22).

I have to shed light on the heroine and opioid addiction attacking and stealing our children’s lives. The painting, “Rising Above with Heart-filled Hands” depicts a single mom who had a vision of climbing a mountain with two or three sons in tow, both addicted to heroin, and finally arising out of their private hell to the mountaintop. The mountain top is where they lay it all before God and where they surrender all.

Q: What is your favorite scripture?

A: Isaiah 61! It reminds us that there is hope for the brokenhearted and paints a picture of restoration despite all the devastation endured.

Q: Where can one find your work?

A: The Foyer in Baton Rouge has many pieces as well as Studio Gallery 30A in Grayton Beach, Florida and the Dollface Salon in Grand Coteau. I am also feeling led to do trunk shows so that it becomes more of a ministry. In addition, I am in the process of setting up e-commerce on my website so cards and journals may be purchased.

“Grassitude Angel”
“Angels Among Us”
“Josephine Close Up”

Q: Share some personal things about your own life.

A: I’m a physical therapist for special needs students in the school system. These kids minister to me every day. They remind me that blessings are found in the moment. I am married to a wonderful man who is very supportive of my journey as an artist. Thanks to his encouragement, my next goal is to create inspirational greeting cards. I am a mother to Josh and Hannah who are my two blessings.

I pray that my story will help others discover who they were created to be. God did not put us in a box. He gave us wings to fly. Website:; email:

Sharon Bailey

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

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Creative LIFE, November 2017

Trish Dry: Drama Teacher Step UP and Step OUT


John and Trish Dry

Trish Dry:  Drama Teacher

Step UP


Step OUT

by Sharon Furrate Bailey

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell when his influence stops. -Henry Adam

What drew you to earn your degree at LSU after working in the marketing/advertising profession for so many years?

A: I attended LSU twice. I was a student in the ‘80s and returned in 2011 to pursue a liberal arts degree because I realized there was a need for volunteers in the arts. But my desire was to become a teacher. Luckily, upon graduation, I was blessed to join the talented theatre arts team at the number one school district in the state, Zachary Community schools. During my first year, I traveled to four campuses teaching theatre to students in the talented program, grades K-8. After just one year, the program doubled so we brought in another part-time teacher and I taught students in 5th-8th grades. The program continued to grow each year. Today, I am full-time at one campus teaching 6th through 8th grade students. This schedule allows me to focus even more on productions and communication skills for my students.

What do you like about teaching drama/
performance arts?

A: Acting allows one to become someone else. Growing up an only child in a rural community, my imagination was my best friend! My cousins and I would put on variety shows at every family gathering. I could easily entertain myself for hours. My first chance to perform came to me at University Louisiana in Monroe, and later, in my mid twenties, I made many lasting friendships by being cast in several Theatre Baton Rouge productions. As a teacher, I let my students know, that when one takes on a role, it is time to leave all personal issues at the door. During the 50 minutes they are in my class, they are free to be someone else. I encourage them to focus and become the character he or she is playing. I hope that their time in class allows them to escape as it does mine. Directing is very fulfilling. It allows me to have a vision of a production and see it come to fruition. Sometimes (at the end of a production), I weep when I witness the growth in my students. It never gets old.

For many of my students, their role in this on production may be the only time that he or she ever perform in front of a live audience … and that’s okay!

Not everyone is destined for Broadway, but those I teach at least had a taste of the artistic world. Theatre incorporates every aspect of learning. Science, foreign language, math, history, PE, business technology and economics are all wrapped up in theatre. It builds self- confidence and improves reading and articulation skills. Have you ever thought of theatre in this way? My students also learn to hear the word “no” and accept it. This genre is one that has a lot of no’s. I like to think they leave my class with skills for the real world.

Trish Dry, Madison Russell, and Anna Johnson, musical director of The Music Man.

Do you feel acting and singing are spiritual gifts?

A: I absolutely believe some are blessed with the gift of music and acting and these natural abilities are God-given. I like to encourage my performance art students to pursue their dreams. I know from my own experience with my daughters that had they not been exposed to the arts, they may have gone down an entirely different career path. My oldest, Shelbi, graduated from Samford in Birmingham, Alabama and teaches theatre at a Montessori school. Emma, my middle daughter is a music education major with a minor in praise and worship and vocal performance. They were both exposed to the arts at an early age. I believe this helped shape their career paths. My youngest, Grace, will be an amazing patron to the arts! She tried acting and tech theatre and although she was gifted, she will pursue a degree in medicine. We are excited that someone will keep us all healthy!

The cast and crew of Steel Magnolias
Emma Dry and Jamarcus Smith in Hairspray.

You have directed many productions in Zachary. Which Q:are you most proud of and why?

A: Ha! It is hard to pick a favorite since each production has been so good. I have been blessed to direct for many years our community’s Black History Celebration, a “variety show” style showcase of all my students’ favorites, be it song, dance or skits. I prepared my high school students for competitions for years and they have won numerous awards. In addition, I have had the honor of working with the 8th grade Northwestern Middle School musical for years with the amazing Paula Swilley who is now a close friend. There are many other productions I have worked on with the students and other professional teachers, but too many to mention. These productions I have worked on were all meaningful, but one that will never escape me was a musical I was asked to direct. We had all the major players in place and were ready to move forward in our rehearsals, but we lost our musical director. I have never seen a group of students come together and make it happen. Our production was Broadway quality. We had directors and students from schools all over the state come to see our performances. The set was designed by Jeremy Reynolds who is now a professor at Louisiana Tech. Tony Rollins, an amazing choreographer,
worked with us as well. I had an amazing tech and house management student team led by Curtis Hooper And did I mention the lead in the musical? Well, Emma Dry, my daughter, played Tracey. It is a wonder we even speak today! We all faced the challenge together and my mom’s gumbo helped provide sustenance as we rehearsed.

What are you working on this academic year in terms
of productions?

A: At Northwestern Middle School, I am teaching an Intro to Drama 7th grade class which has new students every nine weeks. Those students get a crash course in basic theatre and will perform a one-act play. My 8th grade advanced musical theatre class will be performing Alice in Wonderland, Jr. The Musical.” I will also co-direct an 8th grade advanced “straight” play class which will perform “Once Upon a Crime, The Trial of Goldilocks by Flip Kobler and Ciny Marcus.

Describe your personal journey as a wife, mom and drama teacher.

A: God truly enlightened me to pursue this journey and I am blessed. In 2008, my husband John and I opened our family pharmacy, Dry’s Pharmacy in Zachary and once it was up
and rolling, I returned to LSU. John has been so supportive! Yes, we have had trials, but I know that God is sovereign. Professionally, teaching theatre is my ministry. Each day I have the opportunity to share God’s love to my students. I have met families I never would have encountered were it not for teaching in a public-school system. God has sent me students with literally nothing—holes in the floors of their homes, no food except what they eat at school, and no Christmas presents! They help me put my selfish, minor trials into perspective.

Do you have a favorite book of the Bible or scripture
that is most meaningful to you?

A. I actually have two favorite scriptures that are my “cling to” verses: “God didn’t give me a spirit of fear, but of love, power and sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

A: Yes. I am on a 20/20/20 plan. I like to tease my husband. I told him that I plan on changing careers every 20 years. My final career will be as a travel agent. Free vacations, right? By the way, this makes my husband a tad nervous. However, I expect him to come with me.

William Shakespeare’s famous monologue As You Like It begins with, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”

My friend and drama teacher, Trish Dry, would probably tell Shakespeare, “Yes, all the world is a stage, but I think the students should give mine a try.”

Sharon Bailey

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

JULY 2015

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Creative LIFE, October 2017

Monica Wood – Visual Artist SHAPING BEAUTY Treasures in Earthen Vessels

Monica Wood – Visual Artist


Treasures in Earthern Vessels

by Sharon Furrate Bailey

Q: What drew you to pottery as an artistic medium?

A: In 2008, several friends and I attended a Christmas shopping event in a south Baton Rouge neighborhood. When I saw the pottery created by local potter Becky Nash, I literally cried. In 2009, I signed up to take classes with Becky, thus beginning my journey into the discovery of working with clay.

Q: What would you say is your artist statement … why you create?

A: As an artist, my desire is to capture beauty, elegance and peace in my work, be it pottery, painting or floral design. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t seeking a new creative adventure or learning experience.

I began my venture in the world of pottery in 2009 and found that I enjoy the creative process of hand-building works. I use stoneware clay and especially love working with white clay, as it brings out the brightness and pure colors of the glazes when fired. My pieces are thin compared to a lot of pottery, and I often incorporate metal leafing into the design. Both add elegance to the work.

Aside from my love of hand-building, I explored painting in watercolor and acrylics. Through this part of my journey, I discovered the beautiful world of oil paints. I was hooked and began serious study with professional artist Elayne Kuehler. I believe in painting from life whenever possible. No camera can capture all that the human eye can see or the emotions the heart can feel. The beauty of light, shadow and color in the natural world makes my heart sing and frequently brings tears of joy. Choosing items for a still life and setting up the composition are part of my enjoyment of the creative process.

As I continue my journey in discovering the artist within, my goal is to connect with the God of all creation, to express His beauty and bring Him glory in what I create. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – (Ephesians 2:10)

Wood says she enjoys making bowls that “evolve’”during the creative process.

Q: Do you feel sculpting and painting is a spiritual gift?

A: I believe God is the creator of all things and that man, being created in His image (Genesis 1), is given the gift of creativity. Exodus 31:1-6 tells us that God “filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.” James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” I believe any knowledge, skill, or ability I have is a gift from the Father through the Spirit.

I also believe the creative process is much more than artistic ability. It includes business decisions, organizing, managing a family, the way we love those that God brings into our personal world, and how we bring laughter and joy into the lives of others. Anyone who has the desire to paint or make pottery can learn to do so. All it takes is study, discipline and lots of practice. But it is most fulfilling for me when I connect with God in order to express His beauty and bring Him glory through the work.

Q: You are known for your pottery. Describe the types of pieces you create. What are your favorite pieces and why?

A: I make bowls, trays of various sizes, and vases. I enjoy doing pieces that “evolve” throughout the process. I might begin with a particular thought in mind, but as I manipulate the piece, certain curves and angles might take it in a different direction. I particularly loved a very large bowl I made this past summer. As I added and overlapped various pieces of clay, I began to “see” the final piece. It was a delight to have that “aha” moment! 

Two of my favorite pieces hang in my home. They were works of pottery attached to wooden panels and created for Transformation 2014 Visual Art Display , a group art exhibit at The Chapel on the Campus. The pieces are titled Beauty out of Brokenness and Lord, Shape My Soul.

Orchid and Angel vine

Q: You are talented at floral arranging and creating beautiful table displays. As a painter, what are some of your favorite flowers?

A: Yes, I love painting flowers! I love gardening and floral arranging. I actually “talk” to my flowers. I believe artists are frequently drawn to paint things they are familiar with or that make their heart sing on a regular basis. Some of my favorite flowers are tulips, peonies (which, of course, we cannot grow in the South), antique roses and orchids.

Q: Do you have a favorite book of the Bible or scripture?

A: I love the book of Habakkuk in the Hebrew Bible, three short but powerful chapters. Chapter 3:17-19 says, “ Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, YET I will exult (sing with joy) in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet (sure footed), and makes me walk on my high places.” In 1980 I wrote in my Bible, “God, let me meet all of life’s circumstances with a YET!” I don’t achieve it all the time, but it is my goal.

Lord, shape My soul

Q: What would you like our readers to know about your personal life and journey as a creative person?

A:  First and foremost, I am very blessed to be married to my biggest supporter and encourager, who is willing to do anything he can to help me succeed. I was almost 60 when I began to explore the world of painting and pottery. My journey to discover the artist within is a joy when all goes right and you have those “aha” moments, but there is also the battle with the inner voice that says “your work is not good enough” or “what makes you think you can do this?” when I struggle with a work. I have a perfectionist side, so I have to frequently revisit my artist statement and remind myself why I do what I do.

Q: Where can one find your pottery and paintings?

A: My pottery is available at Tay James Décor and Gifts (Highland Place). You can also contact me directly at or at (225) 769-1131.

Sharon Bailey

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

JULY 2015

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Creative LIFE, Septermber 2017

Painting with a Purpose Maria Boudreaux is an Angel to Many

Painting with a Purpose

Maria Boudreaux is an Angel to Many

by Sharon Furrate Bailey

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. -Proverbs 31:25

Q: When did you discover you were an artist?

A: I don’t think I ever “discovered” that I was an artist. As a young child, I noticed colors, shapes and textures. I remember noticing all the different greens that made up the grass when I was playing in my back yard. However, I did not realize that seeing the details in the grass that day would lead me to where I am today—a full-time artist. In fact, the only art class I ever had was as a freshman at Saint Joseph’s Academy. My love for drawing and painting has been with me my entire life. Through the years, people would ask me if I could draw or paint something for them and I would. It was a challenge for me. These challenges helped me paint anything, on anything, and in various styles, techniques and mediums.

Q: What would you say is your artist statement … why you create?

A: Art of any kind should make you think, feel and fall in love. I create art to express what I love, what influences me, and what makes me smile. Many of my paintings are influenced by the Gulf Coast way of life which is abundant in colors, nature, sounds, spirituality, and the attitude of the area which is about being outside and soaking in its beauty.

Q: Do you feel painting is a spiritual gift?

Prayer and Meditation
Angel on gold leaf

A: Absolutely! You paint your life with the colors God gave you. I discovered this idea during a period of personal struggles and trials and found it was hard to create and deal with everything going on. But then I heard God speak to my spirit … He encouraged me to express what I feel and think through art. Art influences others and my artistic journey has opened up so many friendships and lines of encouragement. My clients say that my art makes them happy and that makes me happy. I pray that the Spirit God (Holy Spirit) who influences my work shines through my paintings and in turn encourages and enlightens the owners to paint their lives with whatever colors God gives them.

Q: You have been a live painter for many organizations — what are some of the causes that are near to your heart and some of the events that you shared your talent as a live painter?

A: I am grateful to work personally with Dreams Come True and JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). My main event with JDRF is their “Derby After Dark.” I have painted at this event for four years. I do a number of events for Dreams Come True in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. I have worked with DCT for at least 10 years. Our biggest event is “Wine Tasting at Ruffino’s on the River.” This year’s event is September 21, and yes, I plan to be there.

Children are my soft spot. Working with these organizations and others always helps me realize the blessings in my own life. The money raised helps many young people and my art hopefully brings joy to the owners. Jesus also embraces children. Luke 18:16 is a scripture that shows his love towards children.

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” So if I can help children with the gift God gave me, then by all means, I will continue and be of service for these organizations. If my gift can help others, then I feel that “tug” to help and so I paint.

Q: Tell us about the team building and classes you offer at your business.

A: My company, Fleur de ME Designs, offers customized team building packages for business owners, department heads and more. We have worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield, BASF, Cox Communications, Eatel, Our Lady of the Lake, Lewis Physical Therapy and many others.

We offer on-site or off-site classes. We have open paint classes, several kinds of parties and special events, as well as classes for kids of all ages and art camps. Check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin. I also do commissioned art, murals, unique creative projects and live painting events.

Two Wings on gold leaf
Lady Justice

Q: Do you have a favorite book of the bible or scripture?

A: Proverbs 31 is my favorite proverb in the Bible. It reminds me to be the best woman, wife, mother and person God wants me to be. It speaks of a strong creative woman. It touches upon how a woman can be creative in love, her home, in parenting, and other endeavors. Hopefully I can portray these characteristics along with my faith in God daily.

Q: Share anything you would like our readers to know about your personal life and journey as a creative person.

A: As stated before, I am a self-taught artist. I have always drawn and painted. I started as a calligrapher. When my daughter Shelby was born, I painted a mural in her room. When people would see it, many asked me to paint one for them. This evolved into a faux finishing/decorative painting business. I realized that what I could paint on walls, I could paint on canvases, so I started Fleur de ME Designs in 2004. For a while, I did residential projects, sold my art and calligraphy both wholesale and retail, developed Creative Kids Art Camps, and volunteered frequently at my church and school.

Things had to change in 2009 due to my daughter’s lengthy illness. I had to give some things up to care for her, so I stopped painting in homes and selling both wholesale and retail. I thought of ways to keep my schedule flexible which would allow me to care for Shelby and spend time with Trent, my husband, so I began offering wine and sip classes and continued summer art camps. With prayers and much support, Shelby is much better. My work can be seen locally at The Foyer, Babin Dental, and by appointment at my studio at 11666 Cedar Park, Suite C. Also, my art can be viewed on and on Facebook-Maria Prochaska Boudreaux. Take time to paint the colors of your life.  It has helped me and it could help you.

Sharon Bailey

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

JULY 2015

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August 2017, Creative LIFE

Pay Attention to the Still, Small Voice


Pay Attention to that Still, Small Voice

Christopher smith: musician, producer, songwriter, and child of Christ

by Sharon Furrate Bailey • photos provided by Christopher smith

“Awaken, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”-Ephesians 5 :14

Q: When did you first discover you were an artist?

A: From around the age of five, I always knew I had this passion and love for music. It was all around me, and I found myself always getting drawn to the different types of instruments, styles and rhythms of music. Being co-raised by my grandparents who were solid Christians and growing up in a local Baptist church in Donaldsonville, music enveloped me. I mainly heard music that glorified God. As I began getting older, I discovered I had a talent for writing, putting lyrics together and creating what we call “rap” today. It was at that time I knew God would use this gift for greatness, a greatness that would serve and minister to the hearts of people.

Q: What would you say is your artist statement? What compels you to write songs and produce, among the many other things you do?

A: My reason for writing and producing songs is because I truly believe this is my calling. I was put on this earth to create, and I believe I am operating in God’s will by sharing my talent. My heart’s desire is to reach those who need to know the Lord in a personal way, those who may be lost in this chaotic world. During my daily prayer time, I always hope that my music breaks the yoke and bondage that many people carry. This world can be confusing and burdensome, but I know there is freedom in having a dependence on Christ. The Bible tells us that we are all strangers here on this earth – just passing through. So what must we do while we are here? From my experience, it is not just about the 9 to 5 job or getting into a career that makes a lot of money, or raising kids, though all of that is fine and well … but there is a greater purpose while we are here and that is to gain understanding of the truth which lies in Jesus Christ and to share that truth with others. This is what drives me to continue creating and walk with the Lord no matter what storms may come my way.

Q: What was the turning point in your career in terms of dedicating your work and music to Christ?

A: In 2008, I co-founded a music recording label by the name Blow Yo Mind Entertainment with a very close friend. Until 2010, I created music that glorified the world and went against everything godly. Being fresh out of college, my life consisted of drugs, partying, sex, chasing after every dollar, and a lot of local traveling and performing with my label mates. For those two years, I lived a reckless life. God had a higher calling for me because I am still in awe that I am alive and not dead. I knew during that period that without a shadow of a doubt, if I had died I would go straight to hell. In November of 2010, I took a break from the music scene and started experiencing a presence that felt like pure love. Every time I felt this presence, I found myself crying because my emotions would surface and overtake me. I would reflect back on my life during those times and when I would feel this loving presence, in my heart, I knew that it was the presence of God surrounding me. He was drawing and calling me unto Him. I knew that my life was in a spiritual battle of good and evil. His still small voice was calling me and I knew the sacrifice I would have to make to serve Him 100 percent. I would have to leave my old life behind. It was like God was presenting the changes and consequences to me as a warning before I made a move. I did not want to give up my lifestyle or lose friends along the way and it tore me to pieces thinking about it. Yet on May 14, 2012, when I had no place else to run, I surrendered my life fully to the Lord Jesus at a revival conference. The Holy Spirit filled me and my personal relationship with Jesus Christ began. Everything I am doing now is for the kingdom of Jehovah, God Almighty. Performing music, producing, evangelizing and participating in community outreach is for His Glory.

At the GiG (Gospel independant Grammy) awards with his wife, alwonda Randolph smith

Q: Do you ever feel God’s presence when writing or singing? What is one of your favorite songs to sing and share with others?

A: A: Anytime I get the urge to write a song, I know it’s something that God wants to speak through me and that I’m being led by the Holy Spirit, because unlike other artists who say they are always writing and coming up with songs and different ideas, I only write when I feel it on my heart. One of my favorite songs inspired by the Holy Spirit, is a song titled Don’t Run Away , from my debut album Awakening , which was released in April.* The song speaks about what people may be going through and that God has a plan for their life and that Jesus Christ is their salvation.

Q: Have you ever received a note from someone who heard you perform – telling you how it impacted their life for the better?

A: I have received so many messages on Facebook and love from people about how much one of my songs has touched them, and they thank God for my life and testimony. However, it has not just been my music that has had a positive impact, but my testimony and ministry as a whole. When I see others being motivated to go after the things of God rather than the things of this world, it gives me strength and I praise God when I get to witness another life changed for the better.

Q: Do you have a favorite book of the Bible or scripture that you have always enjoyed or reflected upon?

A: I love the whole Bible because it’s God’s word spoken through man and driven by the Holy Spirit, but I am crazy in love with the New Testament from the Gospel of Matthew to Revelation. All of my favorite scriptures come from the New Testament (John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, Matthew 5:14, 1 John 4:4, John 10:10 and so many others). Not only are these some of my favorite scriptures, but I see just about all these numbers every day at least once. There is not an hour that goes by that I don’t thank or talk to the Lord, because each time I see these numbers, I immediately quote that scripture and get in prayer or a conversation with the Holy Spirit.

Smith with WtQt’s Kerwyn Feeling

Q: Where have you performed before and where will you perform in the near future?

A: I have performed just about everywhere in this great state of Louisiana, as well as in Texas and Mississippi. However, 2018 is going to be my first BIG performance/ministering break since being a part of the gospel music scene. In May and June of 2018, my production company and music label, along with some other names, will kick off our first official southern regional tour called the Awakening Revival Tour, which will cover 33 cities. I know this is just the beginning of an awesome move of God. For updates, see the website, or go to ChristChild.

Q: The name of your company, Jesus Muzik Dynasty, is very catchy. What does your company specifically do?

A: Not only am I a youth minister and musical talent, but I am also the founder and CEO of CCB Productions, one of the fastest growing production and label companies in Baton Rouge, as well as the supporting company for the recording label Jesus Muzik Dynasty Recording. If someone has a need for production, photography, videos, commercials, songwriting, or recording, they should give us a call or go to our website. We love to help others’ dreams become a reality

Q: Share anything you would like our readers to know about your journey.

A: I moved to Baton Rouge in 2015 with my beautiful wife Alwonda Randolph (facebook/ Alwonda.Randolph) and our kids (13 in all). They are blessings in our lives. Yes, our family is large enough to start our own football team, megachurch and more. We are committed to reaching people by showing love to others. Once a month, we (Living 4 Christ Outreach Ministry) go to the St. Vincent DePaul bridge and minister to those who are homeless or lost. We feed them and give them clothing. On Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving, we minister so that these people know we are about putting God’s purpose into action. This ministry is a non-profit organization and all we do comes out of our own pockets. We trust in God’s provision and believe he will bless us. We do not expect anything in return from those we help. We want them to feel someone cares and most importantly, God loves them. So if you would like to give or donate to Living 4 Christ Outreach Ministry Organization, please send your gift to 9466 Balboa Drive, Baton Rouge, La, 70810. Thank you for your time, loving heart and obedience … and pay attention to that still small voice. God changed my life for the better and he wants to be close to you.

Q: Share anything you would like our readers to know about your journey.

JMD official logo

Awakening can be downloaded on itunes, Google Play or CD Baby, or on the websites at; youtube (search sons of God2000); and (Chris.ChristChild)

Sharon Bailey

Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at

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