“I am free”. These are the last words ringing out in the chorus of Kristina Ward’s chart topping single “Be free” and they perfectly describe an artist who’s ready to liberate others. In Ward’s debut album, #UNFILTERED, she vulnerably explores the darkest places of her heart allowing listeners to journey with her to the light.
Kristina’s journey includes spending most of her life serving the body of Christ in some capacity, and when asked what compels her, her answer reveals the same depth that makes her music so powerful. She reveals “Acceptance drew me in to God, where I found love and security that I never knew. There was no judgement, He loved me unconditionally. And ever since then He’s been my stability and my constant.”
"Constant" is one word that would not describe the early years of Kristina’s life. A Boston native that grew up in the Carolina’s, young Kristina began drawing and writing to find a refuge and release for her emotions. At a tender age, Kristina was filling the role of caretaker for her younger brother and sister to help alleviate the strain her mother faced managing her father’s schizophrenia and Parkinson disease. This tumultuous time left the young teen feeling alone, isolated, and craving the security of someone that could show her the love and care she longed for.
As many teens do, she went searching. At the age of 14, upon accepting a friends invitation to church, Kristina found what she she was looking for. It didn’t take long for her to throw herself into a church family where God started revealing Himself and His love to her through the people that welcomed her with open arms.
Kristina’s hunger for more of God developed into her enrollment in Masters Commission, a year long, hands on ministry training in Atlanta GA and around the country. She fondly describes this time in her life as a “Spiritual Bootcamp”. For twelve months, she learned how to take part in reaching kids in the inner city and the homeless population of Atlanta with the Gospel. Through ministry classes, memorizing scripture, prayer, mentorship and service- God deepened Kristina’s understanding and relationship with Himself and the power of His Word.
The single event that had the most impact on her was a drive by shooting that killed one of the kids that was going home from an outreach Kristina was serving at. “My life was hard growing up but to see what these kids grew up in gave a new perspective to what hard really is” Kristina elaborates. This event awakened her to the fragility of life and how important it is to seize the moments we have to touch people’s lives for eternity.
Upon coming home from this radical year that changed her entire life perspective, Kristina stepped into mentorship, service and leadership roles at Fort Mill Church of God. Through these years, God continued to mold and shape Kristina and draw out gifts she wasn’t even aware she possessed. Teaching, counseling, leading and investing in other young women’s lives became a source of joy for her. In the midst of this, she decided to attend Lee University, hearing of it’s world class music. She ended up traveling with their “Evangelistic Singers” and earning her degree in Video/Audio production with a minor in Bible.
Two years prior to her father’s passing, Kristina distinctly felt the call to move to Nashville TN and pursue a ministry of music. The timing and “release” from God for this move hadn’t come yet, but the passion to write, record and share her music was stirring within her heart.
The first full song that Kristina wrote and recorded is a touching ballad entitled “Daddy”. Years of longing, love and pain poured out into the lyrics. Her father was able to hear the song before his passing and a new chapter began in her life.
She finally felt the release to make the big move she’d been considering. She realized afresh that life is too short to waste. Knowing only one acquaintance in Nashville, Kristina packed up all of her belongings and drove to a foreign city.
Within 6 months of making the bold move to Nashville, the providence of God was clearly being seen. The right friends, co-writers, and producers came together to allow Kristina to fulfill a life long dream of putting her heart to song and sharing it with the world. #Unfiltered is a landmark album. It’s the culmination and story of a young girls journey to find her identity, belonging and acceptance in God. Each song beautifully expresses another facet of her story. Producer Evan Sieling skillfully orchestrated pop infused ballads with urban touches to perfectly counterpoint Kristina’s soulful yet angelic vocals. The result is 4 songs weaved into a tapestry to that shows a picture of God’s grace, love and acceptance.
Freedom is ironically found in being bound to the right things, and as Kristina has fastened herself to God, her song will release other’s into this same truth.