Inspiring Artist Of The Week: Jon Foreman


If there’s one person on this earth whose songs have changed my life, it’s Jon Foreman. I, like many people, was first introduced to his songs through the movie, A Walk to Remember (I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy a good, sad romance flick). I was about fourteen at the time, and I developed a slight obsession with film’s feature song, Only Hope. I learned how to play it (to an effect) on the piano, and sang it at least seven times a day for a good while. I remember seeing the name “Jonathan Foreman” on the sheet music I was reading from and thinking, “This guy knows how to write a song”.



Although Only Hope made an impression on me, I never fully grasped what it was about until a few years later. I had initially assumed that it was just another boy-girl love song (albeit a really, really good one). I knew that the song was originally by a band named Switchfoot – I’d even listened to their version a few times. I’d also heard that they were a “Christian Band”, whatever that meant.

In 2007, I met my husband, Cuan. When we began dating, he mentioned Switchfoot often. By then, I’d heard a few more of their songs, but not really paid them a great deal of attention. It soon became apparent Switchfoot were Cuan’s favourite band. As such, I started checking out some more of their songs, and listening more closely.

From the very beginning of our relationship, Cuan and I had lots of intense discussions about God, faith and the Bible. I believed in God, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that Jesus died for me (or anyone else). I listened to Only Hope a LOT at that time. I let it play on repeat every chance I got, and let each word penetrate my very soul (which is fitting, considering the opening line is, “There’s a song that’s inside of my soul…”). The more I listened to it, the more I became convinced that the God this man was singing to is real, alive, present and loving. The words, “I pray to be only Yours; I know now, You’re my only hope…” resonated in the empty space in my heart, and I realised that I was not created to live this life on my own.


Of course, Cuan’s prayers and testimony were instrumental in my conversion. God used him, along with this amazing song, to lift the scales from my eyes. I am forever grateful!

When I finally accepted Jesus as my saviour, I knew I wanted to write songs like Only Hope, that could move people and communicate the love and grace of God in a real and tangible way.

Eventually I discovered that Only Hope was not the only inspired (and inspiring) song that Jon Foreman had ever written. It turns out that he has a song for pretty much every profound or difficult thing I’ve experienced. Let That Be Enough is another song that holds particular significance to me. It’s my go-to song. When I’m struggling with something, when I lose sight of the hope that I have, I listen to that song.

I’ve had the privilege of seeing Switchfoot live on two occasions – once in London, and once in Cape Town. After the Cape Town show, I was lucky enough to experience a Jon Foreman After-Show. Every few shows, Jon will meet fans in the parking lot or lobby after the gig, to share a few more songs with those who want to hear (NB: NEVER go home from a Switchfoot gig without checking Twitter first!). At the Cape Town after-show, one of my dreams came true – I got to hear Only Hope, sung straight from the mouth of it’s author.

Mali & Jon

Unable to conceal my joy at experiencing a Jon Foreman After-Show

I’ve thought long and hard about the best way to thank Jon Foreman for all that his songs have meant to me over the years. How could I possibly make him understand the extent to which his words have affected my life? Even this post seems inadequate in truly conveying the extent to which his songs have changed me, both as a person and as a songwriter. I suppose the greatest way we can thank those who have made our lives better through their art is to pray for them. In addition, let me publicly say:


Yep, that's my hand.

Yep, that’s my hand.

Top 10 Jon Foreman/Switchfoot Songs (choosing 5 was just too hard):

1. Only Hope (New Way To Be Human – Switchfoot)
2. Let That Be Enough (New Way To Be Human – Switchfoot)
3. Revenge (Oh! EP – Switchfoot; Spring EP – Jon Foreman)
4. Let Your Love Be Strong (Oh! Gravity. – Switchfoot)
5. Happy Is A Yuppie Word (Nothing Is Sound – Switchfoot)
6. The Blues (Nothing Is Sound – Switchfoot)
7. The Shadow Proves The Sunshine (Nothing Is Sound – Switchfoot)
8. Twenty-Four (The Beautiful Letdown – Switchfoot)
9. Up Against The Wall (Fiction Family Reunion; Holiday EP – Fiction Family)
10. Love Isn’t Made (Spring EP – Jon Foreman)

Has Jon Foreman’s music influenced or inspired you in some way? Have you experienced a Jon Foreman After-Show? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!


Photos courtesy of Cuan Korsten

Be Slow To Take Offence


When you choose to make a living from regularly baring your soul to complete strangers (as well as family and friends), it can be extremely difficult to swallow “constructive” criticism regarding your art. But being easily offended cannot only damage important relationships (both professional and personal), it also hurts you. If you’re one of those people who is quick to take offence, and don’t work at becoming a bit more resilient, you risk spending your life feeling worthless, victimised, unloved and misunderstood. The good news is that you control your emotions – they don’t control you.

The first thing you have to realise is that not everyone is going to love what you do. That’s just life. Don’t let it steal your joy. If you write folk music and your classic-rock-loving friend isn’t in love with your latest song, don’t let it rock your boat.

Secondly, some people really are just trying to help. When your uncle tells you that you “should” do XYZ to become more successful, appreciate the fact that he’s trying to help, even if his advice is misguided. You may even find that it’s not as misguided as you think, if you take the time to properly listen.

I don’t speak from a place of ignorance. My producer, recording engineer and band-mate also happens to be my husband. He is very honest, and has no trouble saying what he thinks, if he feels it will benefit the overall product. In the past I would routinely storm off or cry if I felt that I was being criticised as a songwriter, singer or musician. Then I would get over myself and realise that he’s not being mean – he’s trying to help me make the best album possible. The opinions of others (particularly those who have a vested interest in you for one reason or another) can be very important and helpful.

Of course, non-constructive, “I-hate-you-and-your-music-and-everything-you-stand-for”-typed comments should be dismissed without a second thought – they’re not worth your time or energy. But next time a friend, family member, creative partner or fan offers some advice – or an opinion – that you don’t immediately love, don’t let it anger you. Know who you are as a person and as an artist, and don’t let the opinions of others shake your identity. You may well find you learn something really valuable when you don’t let your emotions interfere with your ability to hear.


Photo courtesy of Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

The Butterfly Circus

A friend showed us this beautiful short film today, starring the ever-inspiring Nick Vujicic. I wanted to share it with you all. I hope you’ll find it encouraging!

Other News

Last week I did an interview with fellow blogger, DJ Deb. Click the image below to check it out!












Why I Don’t Write “Christian Music”

Mali & Me

My husband, Cuan and I are believers. That is, we believe that Jesus is Lord, that he died to redeem us, and that Bible is the true and inspired Word of God. We are also musicians. You could say that we are “Christian musicians”. This is true, in that we are Christians and we are also musicians. However, a question that we frequently get asked by fellow believers is, “Do you write Christian music?”, or, “Why don’t you play Christian music”, or something to that effect. In this post, I hope to give you a new perspective on how faith and art can interact.

Firstly, let’s define what it means to be “Christian”. According to my understanding, a Christian is someone (i.e. a human being, not an object or an abstract concept) who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and saviour and is now following Him. The word “Christian” literally means “little Christ” – a term coined by the Romans, who noticed that the followers and disciples of Jesus conducted themselves much like He did. Thus, the word “Christian” can only be accurately applied to a person, since a) it is not possible for anything other than a person to accept Jesus as their Lord and be saved into the church of Christ, and b) it is not possible for anything other than a person to behave in a Christ-like manner. As such, the term “Christian Music” is a huge misnomer. Music can be inspired by Christ, or written by Christian people. It can reflect spiritual truths, or even directly quote the Bible. But these things don’t make the music itself “Christian”, since the music itself cannot choose to follow Christ.

I also dislike the assumption that anything other than overt “Worship Music” must, by default, be “secular” (the term “Worship Music” is also a misnomer, since all music is an expression of worship towards something). Secular means, “of the world”. The Bible is very clear that “the world” is at enmity with God. So what happens when one writes a song that is not a “worship song”, but strongly reflects a spiritual truth? How can it be categorised as “secular” or “of the world”, when truth is the very thing God delights in and the world rebels against?

It is true that we should glorify God in our work (in all we do, in fact). But what does this actually mean, on a practical level? Must a Christian carpenter carve Bible verses into all of his products in order to glorify God in his work? Must a Christian architect only design church buildings? What about someone who cleans toilets for a living? Is he spiritually inferior because he’s not a qualified preacher-man? Does his life glorify God less than that of a pastor? The answer, of course, is no – at least, not by default.

Christianity is not a genre – it’s a way of life. Equally, worship is not a genre. It too is a way of life, a condition of the heart. With every decision we make, we can either glorify or deny God, and which one of these we do is usually dependent on the motive or heart behind it. It is possible to stand in a church building and lead worship, without actually worshipping God. Equally, it is possible to do very ordinary things (e.g. wash dishes) in a manner that brings glory to God.

So, back to the original question: why don’t I write Christian music? Firstly, because (as discussed above) there is no such thing. But for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that the question is, “Why don’t you write music that overtly praises Jesus?” The main answer is that I don’t believe that’s what God wants me to do right now (that’s not to say that I don’t praise Jesus with my heart and with my very life). “Worship Music” is exclusively for Christians, and is not really something that non-believers can participate in. Whilst I know that not everyone will love what I do, or be able to relate to my songs, I don’t want to deliberately exclude anyone. I have no problem with those who do choose to write music exclusively for the purpose of edifying the church, but I don’t believe it’s what God wants me to do at this point in my life. If that changes, you can bet the content of my songs will change too. At present, the desire of my heart is to relate spiritual truths to believers and non-believers alike – to encourage those who already believe, and to bring a message of hope to those who don’t. I honestly feel like I don’t have much to do with most of the songs I write – they’re gifts, over which I am given stewardship. As such, I have no desire to strive to write anything other than what I feel compelled to write.

I hope this makes sense, and clears up some confusion for those who have been wondering why on earth a Christian would write anything other than “Worship Music”. If you have any questions, or have had direct experience with this particular issue, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Peace and love,


Photo courtesy of Warren Fleming

Opening for Just Jinjer at The Lost Plot

Yesterday was an amazing day for Mali & Me, as we had the privilege of opening for one of South Africa’s most well-loved bands, Just Jinjer. The venue – The Lost Plot – overlooks the Knysna Lagoon, and is arguably one of the most beautiful in the Garden Route!

The stage backdrop at The Lost Plot

Tigger kicked the day off with a fantastic set, which included some amazing original songs.

Tigger, getting the party started

We played after Tigger, and had an awesome time entertaining the beautiful crowd, who were more than happy to brave the less-than-perfect weather in order to hear some live music.

Getting ready to play

Once we were done, Just Jinjer took to the stage and rocked the party!

This photo is actually from their soundcheck – we were far too busy enjoying the music to think about taking photos during their set!

Thanks so much to The Lost Plot for hosting such an amazing event, and thanks to the wonderful people of Knysna (and the surrounding areas) for making it so memorable. You guys rock!

The lovely locals, showing their support for live music

See you at the next show! 


Photo’s courtesy of Cuan Korsten.