None of us know the plans God has for us. No statement had ever been more accurate than in March 2020 before the world changed forever. With the COVID-19 pandemic, so many of us experienced prolonged isolation like we never imagined. As weeks turned into months and - for some - into years, our isolation led to loss. We all grieved the loss of loved ones, relationships, time and memories we would never have. For some, the pandemic was a time of reflection, maybe re-evaluation. For others, it was a time to get household projects done, bond with family and enjoy a simpler life. And for others, it was a time of utter heartbreak. No matter what the experience, for everyone it was a time of change.
“The Dreamer” is independent singer/songwriter Julie Elias’s newest album and was birthed in this time of uncertainty. As an optimistic adventurer, the idea of being confined and stuck was something Julie had never experienced. “I had the range of COVID emotions,” says Julie. “On one hand, I was so blessed to have another job that was considered ‘essential’ to pay my bills. Without traveling, I got to spend a lot of time with my dogs and horses that brought me a lot of inner peace. But I hated not getting to see family and out-of-state friends whenever I wanted. Without traveling to sing and lead worship, I was so worried about being forgotten as an artist who didn’t have label support or a huge fanbase. My loneliness was exacerbated like never before…the insecurities that I had somewhat worried about previously became overwhelming; I had anxiety like I never had experienced. I forgot what it felt like to get excited for anything…and frankly, I was afraid to since everything seemed to end in disappointment.”
And what a change this was for such a positive, busy, on-the-go person. For as long as she can remember, Julie had big dreams and worked hard for them. After graduating college, including a two-year study abroad in London, she moved to Hollywood to try her hand at acting. Several years of persistence and hard work led to small appearances on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “CSI:NY” and even a few feature films, but something wasn’t right. It was fun and a great experience, yet without purpose. The constant scrutiny and pressure to be beautiful and thin outweighed the joy of acting, especially in a community where everyone was willing to do whatever it took to look perfect. “I know that God didn’t create me to be constantly beating myself up. That’s not how I wanted to live in my early 20s when everyone else I knew seemed to be thriving,” Julie remembers. “So I prayed for the very first time that God would give me big-picture direction. Even if that meant changing everything, I was ready to do something that mattered.”
“I forgot what it felt like to get excited for anything…and frankly, I was afraid to since everything seemed to end in disappointment.”
As only God can do, He opened doors into Christian music. Growing up going to church in a Christian family, Julie never imagined herself being on a platform. But God used her unique story, a love for music and her passion for people to create a fulfilling ministry. In the last decade, Julie released five albums, headlined concerts, performed in multiple states and countries and became an in-demand worship leader, artist and speaker. In 2014, she created a 501(c)3 Non-Profit called Aurora Ministries that creates events, content, music and resources for teenagers, especially teenage girls. In 2021, she began opening for award-winning comedienne Chonda Pierce’s national tour in over 90 cities, singing throughout the night and loving the road experience.
After a 5-year break from releasing new music, “The Dreamer” is full of inspiration from life, love and the world around us. Julie’s musical style doesn’t fit the cookie cutter mold of a particular genre, something she appreciates about being an indie artist. Musically the style is all her own; there are elements of pop, rock, worship, even some country, a bit of 80s and a dash of musical theatre. “I feel like I needed to have an album that properly reflects my own Apple Music playlists,” she laughs. And why not? To create a musical journey for the listener, it makes sense to have varying styles that keep the sound fresh that fit the message of the lyrics.
As the producer and writer of all of the original songs on the album, Julie gets creative license to make the songs she wants, the way she wants them. Of course, a team is more than just one person and the musicians and collaborators on this album have some of the most impressive resumes in music. “It’s wild when you walk in a studio and see someone’s Grammy on the shelf or a Gold Record on the wall. To me, it’s not intimidating; it makes me so incredibly grateful for the people God has put in my life,” she says with a smile. Many of the musicians on this record have been a part of Julie’s ministry since the beginning and have become friends. “You feel like they aren’t just people you’re paying to work for you, they are there for you; they’re actually doing their best with their amazing talents to make YOU win. And that is so encouraging.”
When coming up with the theme for the album, it had never been easier. The combination of personal struggles and the aftermath of COVID kept bringing Julie back to one of her favorite verses: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) Julie says, “What COVID did for me - and so many others - was force me to spend time with…me. I had to face the things about myself I didn’t like. I had to live with my insecurities because I no longer had the distraction of ‘life.’ But I couldn’t change the past and worrying about it didn’t do any good. I had to trust God that this ‘new normal’ would NOT be my forever future, to keep my head above the anxiety, so I wouldn’t be consumed by it. There is something good He has for me and I have to look for it.” Almost every song comes back to this scripture in one way or another, whether it’s about asking God for strength to close a chapter or for wisdom to see what He is doing. In Julie’s case, specifically asking Him to restore her hope so she could find the joy in dreaming again.
“I had to trust God that this ‘new normal’ would NOT be my forever future, to keep my head above the anxiety, so I wouldn’t be consumed by it. There is something good He has for me and I have to look for it.”