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Zhaklina’s “17 Reasons Why II ”— Using the Power of Music to Help Those Struggling

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Zhaklina is an alternative artist based out of Nashville, TN. She is originally from the Hudson Valley in New York, where she was born and lived for much of her life. Zhaklina is an artist and a storyteller, creating a safe space for her listeners to feel heard and seen. She advocates for mental health through much of her work, donating portions of her profit from music to various mental health organizations. Her vocals express unique power and sensitivity, drawing listeners in to both a passionate and inspiring experience.

#liveloved You shared how ‘joy’ is your word for 2020 and how Lysa TerKeurst’s “Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely” has inspired you. TerKeurst writes, “Together is our most favorite word as a family.” How has your family brought you joy this year?

Although my family and I live in separate states and COVID has made it difficult for us to visit each other this year, we have still been intentional about being there for each other and connecting as best as we can. That effort and love has brought me great joy this year.

From together to apart. The impermanence of life, how loss is a reminder that nothing is really ours to begin with. The pandemic has altered our perceptions and reality. What advice can you share for others struggling to deal with all that 2020 has brought into our lives?

The best advice I can offer is to live life day by day, appreciating the moments. I don’t believe anything is guaranteed to us beyond our faith in this life. So put your faith into everything you do and cherish every experience as valuable and irreplaceable.

“Blank Maps” by Cold Specks. Living our best life by leaning into who God tells us we are. How does this inspire you on a daily basis?

Insecurity is a major battle for me — I compare myself in almost every aspect of my life. To a degree, that “habit” continues to sharpen and challenge me to grow. But, it can also lead me to falter if I place my identity in those comparisons. So, every day I have to remind myself that I did my best and no matter how well I lived life that day, my identity is always grounded in who God tells me I am. And that’s very simple: his daughter.

What are your favorite Bible verses about finding balance and boundaries?

Ecclesiastes 3:1–8, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

Mark 12:30–31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than these.”

Your fiancé custom designed a skateboard with the number 17 for your birthday. What does the number represent for you?

17, for me, means that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. It’s a reminder that no matter what is going on in my life, good/bad, there is purpose for it. The number grabbed my attention in 2017 when I went on a road trip around the country seeking God’s direction for my life. The number started appearing and when I researched its significance, I discovered it’s message. And it’s continued to be a reminder that I am walking in step with Gods will over my life, even and especially when I least expect it.

You said your favorite thing to do is dance at celebrations and weddings. What songs will make your wedding playlist?

A wide range of music will be on our playlist! I’m half Albanian, so there will definitely be some cultural, Albanian dances at our wedding. We will also have a wide range of contemporary music & throwbacks — from YMCA to Blink 182 to Justin Bieber and Rihanna. Might even throw in some EDM for fun. 😁

Loved how you described past adventures with a friend that often led to you having to explain yourselves to your parents. What adventures do you have on your post covid, bucket list?

Post Covid: I’ve been dreaming about getting a tiny home for some time now. My fiancé and I are looking into getting a mobile tiny home within the first couple years of our marriage to live and travel around the country for a while. We both have some big music dreams and are hoping we’re able to play all over the world. I really want to visit Ireland & Hawaii! We also want to go to some big music festivals together once they’re running again (Firefly, Bonnaroo, etc). Have a baby at some point — that’ll be an adventure. 🥰

“Gossip Queen.” Facing demons and finding you were always stronger than you thought. What is the backstory to the song?

This song was initially written as a vent about a person in my life who was gossiping about me behind my back. As I was getting ready to record the song, I felt convicted about being hypocritical (gossiping about someone who gossiped about me!)…so, I internalized the message and decided to make it more personal, but also more relatable. Gossip is something most of us (if not all of us) can relate to. It doesn’t feel good to experience but it also doesn’t feel good to be the perpetrator. So, I wrote the song to remind myself (I’m the girl I’m talking to in the song) and inspire others to remember they’re better than what their inner demons make them feel and that we’re loveliest when we live from a place of love.

More new music, “17 Reasons Why: Part II” EP. How has your music evolved with the changes in your own life?

My music has evolved in depth and become more personal in its messages. My sound has also become more defined. I feel I’ve grown more in understanding who I am as I have embraced the lessons in my life and it’s translating through my work.

Asking fans for feedback (how they think and feel) after listening to your new music. How does this interaction influence you as an artist?

I like knowing how my music impacts people. I appreciate knowing what connects with my fans and what they want to hear more of. Some of my favorite feedback is when a fan tells me my music inspired them to pursue something they’re passionate about, made them feel safe, and gave them a meaningful experience. I think getting feedback builds a relationship with your fan base, even if you never have the opportunity to meet them in person. It shows you’re real and that they matter.

Writers’ Rounds at Belcourt Taps and Encore Stage. How does the music industry need to improve opportunities for growth for female artists?

I’ll be honest — I probably have dozens of recommendations for how I think the music industry could improve in general. For women specifically, it would be nice to see an increase in female representation for performing artists, songwriters & producers. Music festivals can also include more women, and, most importantly, we should celebrate women in the industry not only for their physical appearance and sexual appeal but their skills, stories, messages, and impact on the industry.

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