SGNScoops Magazine and Website has several great writers on staff, from those who interview artists to create feature articles, to those who dig deeply into their faith and creativity to craft opinion pieces that we call “devotionals.”
Joining the team is our new devotional writer, Kristina Cornell. Starting as a vocalist with “Victory Express,” Kristina developed into a sought-after songwriter, lending her talents to the fields of Christian and Country music. She has now come full circle, using her talents solely for the Lord.
Kristina is a prolific writer and has a lot to share about her life, her faith, and her Lord.
Let’s get to know Kristina a little better!
What is your first musical memory?
I was four years old, I was cutting out Valentines with my mom. She was singing, like always, and she began to sing “Oh How I Love Jesus.” I was singing along with her, “because He first loved me;” I continued into a verse that she had not heard, “First, He died on the cross for me, first, He died on the cross for me, first He died on the cross for me, but now He’s living in me.” My mom asked where I learned that verse. I told her, “I made it up.” She hugged me so tightly, I knew it must have been a good thing based on her reaction. I continued to write as if it were as involuntary as breathing.
When did you begin singing professionally? Tell us about this point in your life.
I was 14 when my family began to travel about 150-200 dates per year. My family continues that ministry, Victory Express. We sang on the Jubilee At Sea cruises with Maurice Templeton’s, “Templeton Tours”. We attended the NQC annually singing in various showcases. We sang in hundreds of fairs and festivals. But my favorite was when we sang in churches that we knew did not get a lot of Gospel Music. I LOVED the tent revivals. My father is an evangelist, so he would preach also. Those were fundamentals in my life in every facet. I learned things about business that I would utilize my entire adult life. I learned that like it or not, there is a political side. I learned sound and recording, I grew tremendously as a songwriter and vocalist. The greatest lesson that I learned was how to allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in every service. I learned that it is no longer I that lives, but Christ who lives in me.
When and why did you shift to country music?
I have always had such a passion for songwriting. My family moved to Nashville when I was 22. I was determined to become a successful writer. I had already written with Ronny Hinson, became a charter member of the Southern Gospel Songwriters’ Association (thanks to Phil Cross), (and) I believed it was my destiny. And write I did. I was signed to Daywind Publishing by Wayne Haun (when he started as head of publishing) within three months of my moving to town. After I left Daywind, I continued writing over the next several years with some amazing talents and it was not always gospel music. I wrote with Billy Dean and Jimmy Lee Sloas, some phenomenal talents. I was writing with Dave Gibson and he asked if I would sing a demo for him because he wanted to pitch it when he took the stuff that we had written to the labels. That song was “Little Red Balloon.” When Mike Borchetta heard it, he signed me to a country deal without even meeting me in person. He was into the vocals and the song, and wanted to release that song to country radio as soon as possible. So, we recorded that song first and while they shipped it to radio we recorded the other nine songs, six of which I co-wrote with some of the greatest writers. I made a deal with Mike that my music would not step over any of the boundaries of my beliefs. I refused to sing about things that I would not do. “Little Red Balloon” went on to chart in the top 40 and the video was nominated as GAC’s video of the year. It also crossed over into gospel markets.
Tell us about your faith. When did you first begin to believe in Jesus? How has your faith grown throughout your life?
I was saved at a tent revival when I was four. I will NEVER forget that night. The evangelist, Brian Ruud, was from Canada and he was so charismatic about the Lord. It was exciting! I wanted whatever he had. His music team had a real B3 that they carried with them. I remember the way that Leslie cabinet looked (it was huge) and the sound was even bigger! The music was not just good but authentic. These people clearly believed in what they sang and preached. We were there that night till after midnight, as they took time to pray with every single person. I got my first little Bible from Brian Ruud, it was one of those little New Testament versions. Throughout grade school, I would take that Bible with me and tell the kids at the playground about Jesus. The school called home many days trying to explain to my parent that I could not do that. Finally, in the sixth grade, I was taken from the public school system and began Christian schooling. I learned so much about the Lord through the next six years. I had teachings about Jesus at home and at school. It was great! I thank God for the foundation that was laid in my life. My parents sacrificed for my Christian education, and I cannot thank them enough. As I went into adulthood, even still today, those foundational truths remain in my heart. I admit, after a really heinous trauma in my life, I walked away from the Lord. I say it that way because I literally was so angry with Him that I told Him that I was walking away from Him. The Psalmist, David said it best when he said that he had hidden the word of the Lord in his heart, that he might not sin against God. The words that were written on my heart did not leave, no matter how far I tried to walk. Ultimately, I realized just like every other believer, that my only hope is in Jesus. Nothing fills or fixes but Him. My journey has been tough so far, but in my weakness, He is my strength, my ever-present help in times of trouble.
What made you desire to write about faith?
I made a commitment to the Lord that if He would allow me to continue to write, and if I would ever have an opportunity to sing to anyone again, I will only write and sing Christian music. It is a personal decision. I do not think there is anything wrong with writing and singing other genres, as long as it does not condone sin. For me, I have been delivered so many times by the hand of God that any creativity that I have I only want to give back to Him. I really have nothing else to say, as I have learned that I have nothing of significance to offer of myself. I am just like everyone else, in need of a Savior. I write from my heart, I write devotionals, stories, songs, messages, even starting on a book, and all I have to offer is Jesus and what He has done in my life!
What is your favorite scripture right now and why?
This is really hard for me because I CLING to many of them. The Lord spoke into my spirit, while I was asking to draw more closely to Him. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33. Those words etched into my soul because shortly after that prayer I descended into one of the most brutal valleys of my life. Some days all I could do was cry out to God. I sought Him, I actively pursued Him. I needed His provision and protection, I needed His consolation and comfort. He added all I could ever need and so much more!
Thank you Kristina for opening your life and your heart to SGNScoops and all of our readers.
Please look for upcoming devotionals by Kristina and all of our great writers here at SGNScoops.
You can find out more about Kristina on Facebook HERE.
For more Gospel Music news, read the latest SGNScoops Magazine HERE