Imma Do Me (What Does That REALLY Mean?)

My single “Diva Diaries” has been out for a week now and the line that people seem to really connect with is found in the bridge and sings, “imma do me.” After all the feedback I’ve received this week, it has made me think about what the message behind “imma do me” really is. First, I’d like to outline the main premise of the song for you divas so you can understand where this song came from.

I wrote this song at a time when I definitely wasn’t feeling confident or secure in who I was. Most of the lyrics in that second verse are about me trying to affirm myself as confident, and not needing the approval of others. I sing, “gimme all the glares…I don’t really care,” but let’s be real; I CARE. We all care what people think about us in some capacity whether we want to admit it or not.

So, when we come to the bridge, and I’m singing out “imma do me, if you don’t like you can leave,” I’m standing up for who I am and saying that I won’t change for someone in so that they’ll like me, approve of, and accept me. The Lord has given everyone unique traits, characteristics, and personalities that make each one of us different and original. Those things should be embraced, not hidden because we are afraid of what people will think.

However, I’ve found in my own life that I have to be careful about who I think I am and who Jesus says that I am. Just because I feel like something is “me”, if it doesn’t line up with the Word of God and what Jesus says about me, then it isn’t REALLY “me”. This has been something that I’m still learning about and dealing with every single day, like all of us I’m sure. We all live in a fallen world and sin can cause us to think and feel things about ourselves that aren’t true and are contrary to the Word of the Lord. What the Lord says about me is more important than what I think or feel about myself. What the Lord says about YOU is more important than what you think or feel about yourself.

So, in conclusion, when I sing, “imma do me”, I’m saying that I am going to be the ME that God made me to be. Not the person I think or feel that I am sometimes, but the human being made in the image of God that I truly am. It’s a nice thing to say, “imma do me if you don’t like you can leave,” but if we’re are in the wrong than that phrase loses it’s power and it’s true meaning.

I hope that when you listen to Diva Diaries you gain a sense of confidence and self-love. But, I pray that that confidence is rooted and grounded in Christ and Christ alone. True confidence is only found in Him, because He is the one who holds your identity and your purpose.

The simple truth of the matter is this;

So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:27

You have been created in the image of God. So God KNOWS you, better than you know yourself. If you feel insecure, confused, inadequate, or unaccepted I urge you to look to your Maker for the answers you seek. He knows you better than you know yourself. Trust Him with who you really are!

With all the love I have,

Ciara Brooke

Be My Dystopian Daydream

I'm in a haze today. I just finished a dystopian series (Shatter Me) that has left me reeling. I hate it when I can't binge-read the entire series because all of the books aren't out yet. You'd think I'd learn to check and see if the whole series is out before I become emotionally invested in the story. I haven't learned yet. I probably won't. 

There is something about a post-apocalyptic world that draws me in and won't let me go. Something about a young hero or heroine fighting evil and saving the world. I just love it. So much. I have a problem. So much so that I wrote a song about it. :)

Anyway, I thought I would share some of my favorite dystopian reads that I've had the pleasure of discovering over the years. In no particular order, here are some of my favorites: 

(I do not own any of the pictures in this post) 

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The Uglies Series

Scott Westerfeld

I've read this series twice. The first time I was probably a freshman or sophomore in high school, more recently I read it again a couple of years ago. This story has always stayed with me. In a world where everyone is "pretty" no one is original or unique. You spend your childhood and teenage years just waiting for your operation to become "pretty". Of course the series has all of the action, romance, resistance, revolution, etc. that one would expect in a dystopian fiction, but the main concept of the story is what hooked me from the beginning. Our society is already so fixated on being "pretty". Is the Uglies world really that far-fetched? 

 

 

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Shatter Me

Tahereh Mafi

The Shatter Me series is one of my favorites for several reasons. Like most of the series I will list, I've read it twice. It was originally supposed to be a 3 book series, however, Tahereh just released the 4th installment "Restore Me" this past March and announced that there will be 2 more books in the series. Yay. I have to wait practically forever to find out what happens in the lives of Juliette, Aaron, and Kenji. 

Anyway, I love this series because I think Juliette is a very relatable character. Learning to love yourself despite your flaws, learning to deal with our past instead of dwelling on it, and learning to fight for a better life instead of being complacent and stagnant are all things we have to deal with in our own lives. Again, this series has all the necessary components needed to make a binge-worthy dystopian read. The action is perfect, the drama is there, and the romance (though I think is a little much at times) is definitely not missing. 

And lastly, the reason why I love these books is because Tahereh Mafi is a beautiful writer. She makes me feel. Also, her instagram page is gorgeous so give her a follow. Also, also, there are rumors that Shatter Me is going to be made into a TV series so, whoever is in charge of casting Juliette hit me up. 

 

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Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles)

Marissa Meyer 

The Lunar Chronicles follow the life of Cinder, whose story starts out as a twist on the classic Cinderella. It's been awhile since I've read this series, however, it's always stuck with me as one that I really enjoyed. 

There are humans, androids, and a deadly plague. Sounds entertaining enough, right? Then add a moon people to the mix and you're in for an exciting time. There are 4 books in the chronicles so you'll be kept busy for a while, unless you're like me and read a book a day, then I'm sorry. Anyway, read this series and thank me later. 

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Legend

Marie Lu 

This dystopian series involves a Robin Hood-type criminal fighting the system from his place in the slums and an elite young prodigy being groomed for the highest military circle. Their paths cross and they end up fighting the new world together. Classic tale, but still entertaining and well-written.

This series includes many twists and turns, plus all that action and romance that you would expect in a dystopian work of fiction. Is this series my favorite? No. But I still recommend it because I did highly enjoy it. 

 

 

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The Girl With All The Gifts

M.R. Carey 

I don't want to give away all the details in this delightful book, but, if you are a fan of zombie-type entertainment, then you need to read this book RIGHT NOW. 

I am pretty in love with this story. I didn't sleep much while I was reading it. The suspense kept me up along with my emotional ties to the characters. It's so different from any other zombie-type book or movie I've enjoyed. 

I recently discovered that there is a second book called The Boy On The Bridge. I'm waiting to read it until I can read the first one again. It's a little too soon for me to be diving back in though. 

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The House of the Scorpion 

Nancy Farmer 

This may be one of the best dystopian books I've ever read. In the land of Opium (named after its chief product) there rules a drug lord known as El Patron. The story follows the life of Matt, a boy who has been a prisoner on the El Patron estate for his whole life, and how he comes to discover who he is and why he has been held captive for so long. 

This tale is one that makes your stomach churn and your skin crawl. It's weird and disturbing at times, but the good kind, the kind that makes you want to keep reading and find out what happens next. I don't want to give to much away, because Matt's story is one you will want to discover on your own. 

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Matched 

Ally Condie 

The Matched series is set in a world where your lifelong mate is chosen for you. The system doesn't make mistakes, until one day it does. And so follows the story of a girl who was given two matches by accident, oh no, what does she do? 

The setting of this series is an interesting concept and the drama that follows is very entertaining. I'd relate this series more to Divergent than anything else. 

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Not my favorite series by any means, but I enjoyed it and it's a great one to binge-read by the pool on a lazy Saturday. 

Delirium 

Lauren Oliver 

What would a world without love be like? Lauren Oliver shows us in the world of Delirium. The chemical that produces the feeling of love in our brains is removed when the citizens reach the age of 18. Love is considered a disease from which the citizens must be cured. 

The story follows Lena, a girl who has been looking forward to the procedure her whole life because she thinks she is sick. However, she falls in love right before the procedure, and so now she is on the run with her bae.

The plot of the story is cool. The idea that love is debilitating and causes us to do crazy irrational things that cause a whole lot of problems for the societies we live in is an interesting one. The series has action, revolution, and romance so it's guaranteed to entertain. Another great read for a lazy pool day or an all-night dystopian binger. 

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Pines (Wayward Pines Trilogy #1) 

Blake Crouch 

I first discover Pines from the TV series Wayward Pines, based on the dystopian series by Blake Crouch. 

I watch the TV show with my dad on HULU. We had an ongoing father-daughter date every week to watch the new episodes together. I would definitely recommend the first season as a must-watch. The second season kinda sucked and we were very disappointed. 

The book series, however, doesn't disappoint. This isn't a young adult series like most dystopian fiction, so there is some use of strong language in the writing that I would rather not be there, but it is, so just a warning. 

Pines is a full-on thriller that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Set in the wayyyyy future, it follows the story of a town of captives who are trying to survive the new world that they had no desire to be a part of. It's very strange and weird and scary and all the good things that make a thriller entertaining. 

Other good dystopian reads...

Of course I've read the popular Hunger Games and Divergent. Love them both and if you haven't, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? I wasn't a huge fan of the Divergent movies...and I thought the Hunger Games films were kind of a let down except for the second one, Catching Fire, I thought they captured that one well. 

I also really enjoyed the Maze Runner series. It was refreshing to have a male as the main character. Most of the dystopian fiction I read have a female as the lead. 

The 5th Wave novels were really good, but I heard the movie was bad so maybe just stick with the books. I also loved I Am Number Four, and I should probably read it again soon. 

More dystopian reads that I've enjoyed but can't remember well enough to thoroughly include them on this list are: 

The Partials

Undertow

Firstlife

Steelheart

Across The Universe  

Get to reading...

Okay so now you know what I, Ciara Brooke, like to read. It's because of my love for all things dystopian fiction that my song Dystopian Daydream was created. I can't wait for you all to hear the finished track on my upcoming album Diva Diaries. Stay tuned for more info. And while you're waiting, get to reading! 

Diva Diaries: In The Studio

I just got home from my trip to California where I recorded my upcoming album Diva Diaries. My twelve days away from home were an absolute blast and we got so much work done. I wanted to share my trip with you all and give you an update on the album and what's next. 

We left for California July 4th after my show in Tonkawa that night, so we didn't get out on the road until after 11 PM. We were hoping to make it to Amarillo, TX that night, but we didn't even make it out of OK (shocker). It ended up being perfect though. We got a good night of rest then left early the next morning, and we didn't have to worry about OKC traffic or anything. 

We drove all day, Brody spread out in the backseat, mom and I up front binge-listening to the In The Dark podcast. We drove 13 hours that day and successfully listened to one and a half seasons. The time flew by. I highly recommend true-crime podcasts for your next road-trip. We stopped in Kingman, AZ for the night and were pleasantly surprised by the appearance of a Habit Grill in the town. The Habit was our favorite fast-food restaurant when we lived in California over 10 years ago, so we were all pretty excited to eat there again. 

Our last day on the road to LA was Friday the 6th and we arrived at our hotel around 3 PM. We hung out by the pool for a while but, can you believe it, it was almost too hot. Yup, LA was having an extreme heatwave, it got up to 118 degrees that day! So we came in early then went out for some dinner and a movie at Universal City Walk. We saw Ant Man and the Wasp and it's definitely a must-see for any and all Marvel Universe lovers. 

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The next day, Saturday the 7th, I had a meeting with Judy Stakee at her home in Studio City. I attended Judy's songwriting retreat this past March in Nashville and it was such an amazing experience for me. I'm so thankful she was able to squeeze me into her schedule! Judy Stakee was the former Senior Vice President of Creative at Warner Chappell Music where she spent 20 years developing and managing artists and songwriters. I was able to share my journey with Judy and hear her input and professional opinion on my songs. And to top it all off, that night she hosted a house concert for the lovely Shelly Peiken, and Brody and I were able to attend. It was amazing being in a house full of fellow artists and songwriters, and hearing Shelly Peiken's story was truly inspiring. I'm reading her book, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, now and it's awesome! My good friend Chase Reeser, whom I met while at ACM, was also at the house concert and it was great to catch up with him again. Overall, our time in LA was well spent and simply fantastic. 

 Santa Barbara beach with Travis and Jeff 

Santa Barbara beach with Travis and Jeff 

On Sunday the 8th we packed up the truck again and made our way to Santa Barbara where we would stay with my Uncle Travis and Jeff for a couple of nights. The plan was to stay the whole week with them, however, the distance between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obisbo (SLO) was much farther than we had originally thought. Anyway, we stayed two nights with them and they treated us like royalty. Travis had an amazing Asian Chicken Salad waiting for us when we arrived that Sunday afternoon, then him and Jeff took us to the beach for some much needed R&R. That night they took us out for some amazing seafood and we spent the evening talking about life (mostly Jeff telling his hilarious stories about his time spent in Oklahoma, I think mom peed a little she was laughing so hard). 

Fast Trax Recording Studio: Day 1 

I had talked to Brent via Facetime a few instances before we met in person so it wasn't a totally awkward first encounter. I knew from our phone meetings that I was going to be comfortable around him, and that's something that was really important to me from the beginning. We shook hands, said hey, small-talked for a bit, but then basically got right to work. I knew it was going to take me a while to warm up. Singing in the studio is so much different than singing onstage at a show. It's weird but it seems so much more vulnerable. It's just you in this small room with headphones on and a mic right up close to your face. All you can hear is the music, your own voice, and the producer on the other end every now and then giving you directions or asking you if you need anything. It's all very intimate.

I get a sort of anxiety in the studio, because what you accomplish behind that mic is what people are going to hear in that song forever. On stage, there is so much freedom and leeway. You can put the sass and emotion behind a note and if it's a little flat because of it, no one will really know anyway. You can get away with a lot more on the stage. I know that in the studio you can do take after take to get that perfect sound you're going for, however, when you're crunched on time, there is an urgency to what you're doing. All this to say; it took me a bit to warm up that first day. Regardless of my nerves, we accomplished a lot. Recorded vocals for both Bother Me and High School and tracked Brody on the drums. By the end of the day I felt good and excited about the rest of the week. 

Sadly, that night was our last one with Travis and Jeff. Four hours in the car each day was going to severely take away from our time in the studio. Travis cooked us an amazing last supper (steak, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and avocado bacon salad) which we followed up with homemade lemon bars from their next door neighbor (Travis, can I move in?). I wish we could've spent more time with Travis and Jeff. I guess we will just have to make another trip out to Cali, right? 

Fast Trax Recording Studio: Day 2

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I was so excited to get going on Tuesday. I had gotten the first day jitters out and was ready to work. We started the day by recording vocals for Diva Diaries, the title track on the album. I was feelin it, so we got the bulk of the main vocal in one take. The rest of the day was spent getting the background vocals and "Ciara Sprinkles" (little puffs of Ciara vocals here and there). My favorite part of recording is all of the vocal production. I love to track harmonies and cool little vocal elements. There is so much you can do with just one voice.

I was more myself on that second day; it takes me awhile to warm up to new people. Brent and Mike (assistant engineer) both made me feel right at home. They weren't afraid to tell me to sing something again because I could do it better, or "nah, don't like that". We had a great time, and we made a great song. 

Fast Trax Recording Studio: Day 3

We tracked vocals for three songs on this day: Finer Things, Messy Parts, and Dystopian Daydream. I already had BGVs recorded for all the songs except Diva Diaries, so these tracks didn't require as much time behind the mic. I was pretty nervous about Messy Parts. It's a really emotional song for me, and I wanted to capture that emotion while still killing the vocals at the same time. Thank God, we were able to do it. One take with a redo on the bridge due to a mic pre issue. I'm really happy with the performance. It's raw and unfiltered. No BGVs or Ciara Sprinkles. It's just me. 

Fast Trax Recording Studio: Day 4

Our last full day in the studio. We re-recorded some vocals that I wasn't super satisfied with. We mixed and worked on tuning the vocals on some tracks. It's really important to tune up the BGVs because when you have 14 tracks of vocals layered on each other, you want them to be precise and in-tune with each other. We spent 10 hours in the studio that day. Playing with reverbs and delays, production on the vocals, and just throwing around ideas. I was kinda sad that day. Our week was almost up. I couldn't believe it flew by so quickly! I could've spent three more weeks in the studio with Mike and Brent. 

That night we went to Avila Beach and had a nice dinner on the pier. I will retire to Avila one day. Josh is coming with me, he doesn't have a choice. 

 Avila Beach 

Avila Beach 

Fast Trax Recording Studio: Day 5

 Mike, Brent, Me, and Brody. Finn in the back sniffin around...

Mike, Brent, Me, and Brody. Finn in the back sniffin around...

It was our last day in the studio. It was bittersweet. We accomplished so much and had a fantastic time doing it. We had a final listen through and I gave Brent the last of my mix notes and we said our goodbyes. I don't think it's a goodbye forever though... 

I'm so thankful for Brent. I'm glad our paths crossed. I can't wait to hear what we created, and for you all to hear it as well. I had the time of my life that week. I'm believing for a future in my career where I get to do that all the time. I'll keep grindin...

 

VEGAS BABY 

We spent the next three days in Vegas resting and enjoying the city. My Nanny and Boppy gifted us with a free room at Caesars Palace and I enjoyed every minute of it. Brody and I visited the Marvel Avengers Station at Treasure Island. It was a blast, and I recommend it to any Marvel fans visiting Vegas. 

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Me, tryna pull out Thor's hammer. Brody, wielding Captain America's shield. 

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We got to see Le Reve that night and it was magical. The dancing, the tricks, the lights, the stage, I felt like I was in a dream. If becoming a pop star doesn't work out, I'd like to be in Le Reve please and thanks. 

 Brody and I at the Wynn before Le Reve. 

Brody and I at the Wynn before Le Reve. 

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The next day I relaxed by the pool and read my new, signed book by Shelly Peiken, "Confessions of a Serial Songwriter". It was a perfect day. We enjoyed a limo tour that night, a gift from Neva. Our limo driver told us that if we didn't get a picture in front of the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign our trip never really happened. Our time in Vegas was a blast, at least to me. Brody was ready to be home. He hadn't gamed in two weeks and his withdrawals were starting to get really bad. The ride home with Nanny and Boppy wasn't too bad either. 17 hours in a car listening to Serial and S-Town. It was an entertaining time. Nanny said her favorite part of the whole trip was sitting between Brody and I in the back, cause she got to love on us the whole ride home. She is so sweet. I love her. 

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And now I'm home. Trying to catch up on sleep and prepare for the exciting and busy weeks ahead. There is still a lot to be done. Final mixing, mastering, merchandise, etc. I also want to make sure I do everything I can before the release of this album to ensure that people hear it. I've worked so hard on this album, I want everyone to hear it and experience it with me! I'm thankful for the opportunities the Lord has blessed me with so far, and I can't wait to see what He has in store for the future. 

Stay tuned for more updates, and thanks for joining me in the writing of my Diva Diaries.

 Up in da studio 

Up in da studio 

"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple." Psalm 27:4