By Josette Keelor
WINCHESTER -- Kristina Simpson of Winchester never planned on building a career as a singer.
Growing up with missionary parents in Papua New Guinea, she learned to play piano, clarinet, alto saxophone and guitar. But, despite a love of singing, she pursued a career in nursing after moving to Front Royal with her family when she was 16.
Then in 2012, after years of passing up opportunities to try out for "American Idol," she accepted a friend's suggestion to audition for the Actors, Models and Talent for Christ competition in Baltimore.
Tate Publishing in Oklahoma heard her sing and offered her a record contract. Her first album, "This Time," came out Tuesday and features nine songs of what she described as country pop.
"Pretty much any genre you would like in the secular arena you can find now in the Christian world," she said. "Mine kind of falls somewhere between a pop feel and a country feel."
Her songs are generally introspective and try to balance the trials of life with faith.
In "The One Who's Really There," she searches for her potential:
"They say I'm too weak. They say I'm too old. / They say I don't deserve to stand here in this place. / They judge my talent, critique my image. They question if I'm the right one to fill this space."
"And I don't pretend that I don't agree, / and I ask our God what He sees in me..."
In "Too Late," she sings of biblical figures Noah and Moses:
"There are so many people who simply reject / The things we know are true, / But when the skies unfold and the trumpets will sound / They'll finally know the truth. / ...will it be too late when they find out?"
At 10 a.m. Sunday, she'll perform with a group of musicians at What's New Worship, 160 Front Royal Pike, Winchester, where she and other worship leaders trade off weeks leading performances each week.
"You never know what you're going to get if you come in, if it's going to be bluegrass, if it's going to be hip hop, if it's pop. I mean you just don't know and so it keeps everybody on their toes," she said.
Joining her will be pianist Misty Fields, singer T.J. Stevens, singer and guitarist David Roy, pianist Rob Talton, bassist David Hickey and drummer Randy Craum.
After finishing an interim position at Winchester Medical Center this January, Whitman decided to leave nursing pursue music and a couple other business ventures.
She credited her husband with supporting her enough to drive her to Florida and Oklahoma for recording sessions, she said without him and her two children, "There's no way it would have happened."
"It's very surreal," she said. "My dream was to be a nurse -- and I'm thrilled with that, I've never regretted that career choice -- so I never expected all this."
Look for Kristina Simpson's album "This Time" at iTunes, on Amazon.com or at TateMusicGroup.com.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org