Rising Music Star Arizona Lindsey: Why I Aim To Start A Movement To Improve Accessibility To Mental Health Care
Something that I feel very strongly about is the issues surrounding accessibility to mental health care. While overall accessibility to health care is a major problem, even with private insurances, mental health care benefits are often minimal or non-existent think it is really important to educate the public that mental health is just as important as physical health. They are not only connected in so many different types of ways, but they also both have in common many ways that we can help reduce more severe illnesses and global costs surrounding health care. As a short example, both physical “check-ups” and “early care interventions” are done in physical health care to help avoid higher cost treatments and lower the amount of more severe illnesses. Similarly, psychological assessments, counseling, and early education about mental health and wellness can help in reducing higher cost treatments for mental health challenges and illnesses/disorders when implemented.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Arizona Lindsey.
24-year-old pop-country recording artist, actress, and mental health advocate Arizona Lindsey has most recently been in production for her highly anticipated new album “The Process” which is set for a Spring 2021 release. “The Process” drives the listener through the experience of life-changing trauma and the process of trauma recovery. Lindsey’s debut, “The Castle You Built Me” premiered in July of 2018 to critical acclaim.
In support of the album, her new single, “Anxiety” was pre-released in February 2020. Arizona followed up the release with a live performance and media tour including; but not limited to The Grindhouse Radio (iHeartRadio), WUSB 90.1 FM and WHPC 90.3 FM (where “Anxiety” had been receiving regular airplay). Continuing her tour schedule prior to the pandemic — Lindsey made countless appearances throughout New York (encompassing the Hudson Valley and Westchester County regions, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island), New Jersey, North Carolina (Jacksonville & Charlotte), and winding down in New Orleans, LA. Ari was nominated for two NY Readers’ Choice Awards in the 2020 Chronogram Magazine: “Readers’ Choice of Activist/Advocate and Local Artist” garnering new fans in the Mid-West. It’s no wonder that Arizona Lindsey has been captivating audience’s attention worldwide; as she approaches her music with a sweet-sounding voice, passionate vocal performances, and powerful, heartfelt lyricism.
Arizona has become a regular featured artist on East Coast Radio including Last-FM, Blast-FM, WUSB Homegrown Long Island, Granite Coast Entertainment, Inc., and WHPC Rising Stars to name a few. Once Lindsey opted to take her dynamic message from audio to video, she teamed up with seven-time Emmy Award winner, Chris Sassano to film the video for the single, “Close the Window” which quickly became a fan favorite. Her video for, “The Desired Way” has been in rotation on IndieArtist TV (Roku Music Streaming Channel) and has seen great success.
As a passionate mental health advocate and growing public figure, Lindsey also works to de-stigmatize mental health — promoting wellness and empowerment. She aims to reach others about these important messages through her lyrics as she writes about mental health as well as conducts open conversations with her fan base on social media. She speaks openly to her audience about her goals and experiences, stating, “I want to open conversation in communities about mental health, wellness, and how to build stronger support systems. No matter what it is you are going through, you’re never alone. It does get better, but it’s certainly a process. My work as an advocate and artist is to help people through that process; for the good parts and the really challenging ones.”
Lindsey was crowned the winner of the Gold Coast Arts Center’s Your Big Break Competition, and performed for major regional annual events including the Montauk Music Festival and the Hudson Valley “Music Networking Conference.” Furthermore, she was hand selected by former VP of Warner Chappell Music, Judy Stakee, to be a songwriter for her company’s songwriting retreat. Moving forward, Arizona has been building her management and production team that includes producer L*A*W ( Planet 12 Productions / Amy Winehouse Band), a 7-Time Grammy Nominee, 2 Time Indie Award-Winning singer, multi-Instrumentalist, Producer, writer, choreographer, and dancer; as well as her advisor — Brimstone, an internationally renowned entertainer and entrepreneur.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born and raised in small village on Long Island in Lindenhurst, New York. I’ve been singing and songwriting since I can honestly remember. When I first started writing and performing songs (way back in elementary school) I would sing and play the drums — my dad called me Ringo! I started piano and guitar when I got into middle school and from there, I just continued to learn more instruments, compose more music, and perform in more diverse genres and groups. Classical and field percussion remained my proficiencies as I got older and began auditioning for colleges but with my background in acting, music theatre, and singer-songwriter music, I was mostly interested in applying everything I was learning in the music and entertainment industry (as a whole) to being a better songstress and performer.
I worked a lot growing up (throughout middle school and high school) and when I was in college I worked sometimes three or four jobs at a time. I thought going to school and finding a stable 9 to 5 job right after was the mold I needed to follow to better my life from the trauma, homelessness, and other challenges I faced growing up. I thought it would create a sense of fulfillment, happiness, and safety. But the more I worked towards this mold, the farther away I felt from feeling happy or ‘safe’. My dream goals of becoming a recording artist and entertainer were always on my mind and keeping me from feeling like I was satisfied with any of my unrelated accomplishments … Last year I made the decision to pursue my music career full time which is probably the biggest jump I have ever taken- and it has truthfully been an incredible journey and I am SO excited to see where things go in my career.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
While I play, write, and enjoy a very diverse collection of genres, country and pop music have always held a special place in my heart and I am honored to contribute to both genres! My interest in mental health started in high school after struggling with the effects of trauma. From 4th grade up until college auditions I was planning to be a band teacher and band director, pursuing songwriting as a duel career. But, at college orientation I changed my mind from what I wanted since 4th grade, to attending college for an education in psychology. Specifically, I majored in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I have also completed 2 years of a 3-year Masters program for Clinical Mental Health Counseling at a different University. I decided that I wanted to use my education in mental health to help educate others through my music platforms and bring light to subjects that are really important. Music is my everything and I am blessed to have found a way to combine my passions.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
So, a fun fact that is not so secret about me is that I am an incredibly “quirky” person. Sometimes, this may come off as (what is most commonly referred to as) “awkward”. When I was performing at the Your Big Break competition last year (in NY), this became very apparent to both the audience and some of the judges very quickly (more quickly than I think I preferred at the time).
I had performed my single “The Desired Way” as part of my set. This song is a narrative I wrote after losing my mom unexpectedly the summer before. With the lights so bright in the room, I didn’t know half of the audience broke into tears during this song or that I received a standing ovation. I finished the song, bowed, turned my back briefly to take a deep breathe, and continued with the last song of my set (which was a more uplifting song called “Our Favorite Place”).
Right after my performance was the intermission. I got off stage just around the same time audience members were piling into the lobby area for drinks. Person after person, people came up to me throwing their arms around my shoulders crying and sharing stories about people they have lost. Looking back, I am not sure why I didn’t put the two and two together, but I remember thinking, “why are all of these people crying”, “what the heck happened while I was on stage?”, “why are they touching me?” I wasn’t saying anything out loud but I was also frozen in posture and just kept apologizing to each person lined up to speak with me. Eventually, it became apparent I wasn’t sure what was happening and was overwhelmed; they began to give me more space. I finally pulled aside a friend’s parent who came to see the performance and said “what is happening” and she said “your song made everyone cry”. I began FREAKING OUT. I felt horrible for upsetting so many people. I just kept saying, “my song? …I did this?” Even two of the judges were crying. I was convinced I wouldn’t place and even started thinking of ways to apologize to the host for singing such a sad song and being too emotional.
Later that evening I won the competition and my friends and family spent a while afterwards explaining to me why. I was so shocked that when they called my name, I didn’t stand up. And yes, I still tried to apologize to the host and a few judges who were very, very confused. But now I know, of course, that helping people connect with their emotions isn’t just my privilege, it’s a beautiful part of my job that I will always be thankful for.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was performing live around the age of 12 or 13, I got up for an open mic just to find out that my guitar pickup wasn’t working (still to this day one of the most annoying things that can happen!). A friend in the audience offered for me to play my two songs on his guitar, an electric Ibanez. I saw my friend get up and leave the café to go next door to the music store but didn’t think anything of it. I plugged the guitar in with the host began strumming away on the Ibanez. I could hear very well that the guitar didn’t sound like it was tuned so I grabbed a tuner quickly (nervous that the audience had been waiting so long) and without looking at what notes they were, I quickly scanned to see that each note was not flat or sharp. All the notes were showing up green on the tuner and as a new guitar player, I then quickly moved to beginning my set. I was playing the chords to Skyscraper by Demi Lovato and convinced myself that the guitar must just sound off key because I was nervous. I just remember half way through the song looking up and seeing my friend holding a tuner he got from the music store and looking at me really concerned while I sang and played. I realized the bad sounding guitar part wasn’t in my head at all. I later found out the Ibanez was in “drop D” (a different tuning than standard). I was so new at guitar when this happened (I had been previously only focused on percussion and theatre) but I never forgot the experience! For the rest of the song I just strummed so quietly you could barely hear it and sang the song with a lot of passion. By the end of the song I was acapella. I have learned to 1. Trust my ear and 2. To always, always check the tuning anyway.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
About a year ago, after spending some time in a psychiatric trauma treatment center, I began working on a full-length album called, “The Process”. This album has songs written about trauma (including loss, grief, and struggles with mental health) and my journey navigating the trauma recovery process. The content of this album has not just resonated with the numerous fans who have experienced mental health struggles, challenging life experiences, and/or love pop country, but the content has also attracted an incredibly diverse and supportive fan base from the US to Australia and Japan; and for that I am both humbled and grateful. There is a song on the album “The Real You” which will be released in the winter of 2020 to promote the album and will have an accompanying music video. To keep up with sneak peaks of the album, music, video/audio content, please check out my social media platforms and my Patreon.
To be behind a project that works to destigmatize mental health challenges, speak to groups of people I am super excited about. Known for his work with Amy Winehouse and George Clinton, L*A*W, for Planet 12, will be working as a producer for the album and as the head choreographer for my upcoming music video. Additionally, I have the pleasure to be advised by the internationally renowned entertainer and entrepreneur, Brimstone (Therealbrimstone.com).
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diverse populations make up the entertainment industry just as diverse populations make up the world. Representing this reality in film and television as well as music and literature is significant to portray an accurate representation of what our culture looks like; for the good and the bad.
Representation and Connection — I talked a little bit about how following Demi Lovato helped me through much of what I was going through as an adolescent. I come from a town where mental health was not an open conversation (similar to most towns). I didn’t have a family that was concerned about my suicidality or mental health challenges resulting from the trauma I was experiencing. Knowing that mental health challenges weren’t just unique to me stopped me from feeling completely alienated and alone in the world. In fact, it taught me how to turn many of my inside thoughts and secrets (as a kid) into music and a form of more open expression. Knowing there were other people who have faced similar struggles like self-harm, suicidality, and abuse AND made it through, helped me feel like there were people like me out there in the world- and they were strong successful people. I would also add that when I came open about struggling with my mental health, I faced issues with stigma and discrimination, like many others do. Watching certain films and shows, reading certain books, and looking at people in the entertainment industry who were open about their mental health challenges helped me internalize that my adversity was something I could grow from and my environment could one day be more supportive and respectful.
Of course, this is just an example of one type of population being represented and how it helped me feel connected to others. But, imagine me not having this experience. Imagine never seeing someone of your gender, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, age, or disability represented in films, TV, music, or literature. Imagine if a population you identified with was finally mentioned or represented and it was done so in a negative way. How would this make you feel about yourself? What about children who are more vulnerable to these messages? That feeling of alienation and isolation is hard to describe to populations who haven’t experienced it, but I would say it’s important to do your best to challenge yourself and think about it. When we look back at old films, we learn about what the world was like at that time. Are we accurately representing the world in the art we are making today?
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Trust your instincts. Something I have been working hard on overcoming this past year is “people pleasing”. Especially in the entertainment industry, everyone (and I mean everyone) has an idea of how they think you should go about doing something. If I asked my seven colleagues of mine what they think I should do about a decision I have to make, chances are is I would have 7 different answers. I have found that decisions become a lot easier to make when you take into consideration the opinions and beliefs of people around you (that you trust) but never forget that your own feelings, thoughts, and emotions should be the most important to you. When I am making a big decision or a stressful one, I always take intentional time to consider my own core value and belief system. I have learned that being true to myself helps me feel better about decision making.
- You are worth everything you desire to do in your life. One of the first things I notice about successful individuals I meet in the entertainment industry is their breathtaking confidence. To be honest, it is almost always followed by a feeling of “how are you that confident?” Now, I know very well that how we look on the outside is not always how we feel on the inside. But I still often found myself (and currently find myself) wondering how people learn to have so much faith in themselves that they are capable of what they want to do. There are two things I have learned in regard to this. One, that confidence and self esteem are often something that can take time and intentional hard work to build- it doesn’t come to everyone naturally (especially survivors of trauma). Two, it’s okay to not always be so sure of yourself (it is human actually!), but if you spend your entire life thinking you aren’t worth what you want to do, you will never do it- and rather you know it or not you deserve better than that. You deserve to start putting some of the faith into yourself that you put into other people. This is something I am still working on but I thought was worth sharing.
- You can only do as well as what you know in that moment, so your best will always be enough. In trauma treatment, someone once shared the affirmation “I am doing the best I can with the skills and resources that I have in this moment” and since then, I apply it to everything. When thinking back on the past, I remind myself “I did the best I could with the skills and resources I had in that moment” and when applying it to the future, I simply change the words “I did” to “I will”. While affirmations are only as powerful as you allow them to be, for me I have found them to be helpful reminders of things that I often forget when my mind gets caught up in the “what ifs” and “if… then…” phenomenon’s. Trust that you are doing the best you can in each moment and know that your best is all you can do- so it is by far “good enough”. This helps me be at peace with my past and feel compassion towards my past, present, and future self. In the music industry (and life), it is so easy to get caught in the “pressure to be perfect” (Demi Lovato), so remind yourself that your best in each moment with consideration to your own circumstances, context, skills and resources is all you are aiming for.
- “You are enough.” Regardless of your sex, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, education, race, ethnicity, ect… you are enough- just the way that you are. You do not have to fit in or identify with any label, box, or preference that is not your own or you do not want to be your own. You can always keep working to improve yourself, and that is a value of mine I am always practicing! But I think it is just as important to appreciate the self-defining qualities and strengths you already have that make you the person you are. When you tell yourself that you are enough, remind yourself why. I have found in working on my music that just because I know I will keep getting better at my passions, doesn’t mean I am not doing a good job at them now.
- Are you happy with it? When I first started working professionally in the industry, I feel like I settled for a lot. I settled on vocal takes in recordings I didn’t like. I settled on instrumental parts being changed that I really liked the original composition to. I settled on accepting recordings and videos of my content that I didn’t love. And to be honest, sometimes this old settled-on-work can even make me cringe. But now, I ask myself in every project before I release it- Am I happy with it? I have gotten better at using my voice to share my ideas and making sure that projects aren’t released until I feel like the product has done justice to the work I put into the composition and performance. Every musician deserves that.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Something I would encourage to anyone working hard to succeed in their work industry (any work industry) is to practice self-care and wellness with the same dedication and attention that you give to your career; if not better. Burn out in any career often stems from the over extension of boundaries, an issue with creating unrealistic or unmeasurable goals, or a lack of understanding and compassion (for self or others). I know that ‘self-care’ and ‘wellness’ are very general terms and you may have trouble identifying a stronger meaning or action list from them. For me, these words mean practicing affirmations, recognizing self-defeating thoughts, writing down two realistic goals everyday and reflecting on them in the evening, and identifying gratitudes every day no matter how rough my day was.
To help figure out what these words mean to you and to help integrate them into your day-today activities I would really recommend self-compassion workbooks, DBT skills workbook, or even going online and looking at a list of wellness activities, self-care activities, or “adaptive coping strategies”. You can also check out a YouTube video I made about this topic:
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Something that I feel very strongly about is the issues surrounding accessibility to mental health care. While overall accessibility to health care is a major problem, even with private insurances, mental health care benefits are often minimal or non-existent think it is really important to educate the public that mental health is just as important as physical health. They are not only connected in so many different types of ways, but they also both have in common many ways that we can help reduce more severe illnesses and global costs surrounding health care. As a short example, both physical “check-ups” and “early care interventions” are done in physical health care to help avoid higher cost treatments and lower the amount of more severe illnesses. Similarly, psychological assessments, counseling, and early education about mental health and wellness can help in reducing higher cost treatments for mental health challenges and illnesses/disorders when implemented. To learn more about the significance of mental health, you can check out https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health. To learn more about the benefits of implementing a better mental health care system, please check out https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/improving-mental-health-care-america-opportunity-comprehensive-reform.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am incredibly blessed to say that there is more than one person who has been in my life who fits this description. I’ll use this particular opportunity to mention someone who I met last year during a very difficult time of my life. I had just started my long road of trauma recovery treatment and I was really in need of genuine connection, love, and support. They have truly been all of this since day one…and so much more. They have only continued to be a supportive and helpful person in my life since then and I am incredibly thankful to even know them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
When I was pursuing my undergraduate degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, NY… I had taken this “public communications” class to help with my ability to speak about heavy topics despite my anxiety. While I can’t remember the professor’s name, I will never forget what he said to me.
In the beginning of each class, each student was asked to say their first and last name in front of the lecture hall. When it was my turn, the professor stopped the chain of students from speaking their names to provide me feedback. When he was done, he asked me to try again. I immediately tried again, hoping to please the professor and move forward to another student. He said “Let me tell you something I hope none of you will ever forget. No one, not one person has the right to take your breath away, not me…not anyone. You take the time you need before you do anything.”
I think this quote resonates so strongly because it reminds me (and others) that we all have the right to take a moment before we respond. We have the right to take care of ourselves before we take care of others. We have the right to respond to our own body and mind; our own feelings, emotions, and even the physiological manifestations of these emotions that may impact our ability to respond (may impact our ability to have more logical and clear thoughts and decisions). This advice has made me a better decision maker, a better worker under pressure, and overall a better communicator.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Demi Lovato. Demi Lovato has truly been one of my biggest influences in the music and entertainment industry. Her ability to utilize her platforms to speak about the significance of mental health and its’ impact on her- and the significance of preventative care is both inspiring and admirable. She wasn’t just one of the reasons I made it through some of the most difficult times of my life as an adolescent, she is also one of the reasons I am working hard to pursue my dreams of contributing to a cause that she has been a driving pioneer of. It would be hard to say if I am more musically or personally inspired by her, but I know that she is on my goal sheet of collaborations I hope to get to do one day.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can help support my journey by following me on any of the major social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Patreon, and Reverb Nation). You can also find me on any major music streaming platform such as Spotify, Itunes, Apple Music, Amazon, and Deezer.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!