LANCASTER, Pa. – Cécile Manuela performed for several years, but never wrote her own songs until coming to Lancaster Bible College. At LBC, she realized her passion for worshiping God with music, and her debut album is set to release on Sept. 14, with the first song already available.
“For a few years, I was trying to figure out how to tell the world what God did for me,” Manuela said. “Through coming (to LBC), I was able to finally discover that and actually do it.”
Manuela wrote the album over the 17-18 school year while studying as a TESOL major. “It took… over eight months to write and record… and I found that a lot of people were interested.”
Manuela decided to take this semester off college to publicize the album before returning to finish her TESOL degree in the spring.
“I want to give my all to music because it is something I’m good at now,” she said, “and I also still have teaching (English to speakers of other languages), which I love and will go back to in the spring.”
Manuela’s music is influenced by her Christian faith, by her birth in Cameroon, Africa, and her family’s move to the United States when she was ten.
“Because Cameroon is a third world country,” she said, “and America had so much (more) to offer materialistically…, I kind of pushed God to the background. In Cameroon, we were not well off, but I remember we were really happy…. We didn’t have computers, fancy TVs or high-end cell phones. In the States, we had all these materialistic things … (and I) stopped going outside as much. Material things became (my life). For ten years that was my life, and I fell into deep depressions and anxiety. I felt purposeless.”
Manuela said she continued to attend church during the time but felt “dead spiritually” as she went off to college in North Dakota.
“(While there) I met this boy,” she said, “and he was on fire for God, but he made me uncomfortable. He had all his happiness for God… I wanted to challenge it …, but he was just so unchanging in his perception of God, and he reintroduced me to God…. It didn’t happen right away, but over some months and weeks I started remembering my time in Cameroon, when I didn’t have all the materialistic stuff but I was happy and on fire for God…. It was embarrassing… I had become so consumed with everything God wasn’t doing that I’d lost sight of what he was doing. It hit me that God is very kind, and he’s very good, and so I decided I want to tell the world.”
She drew on her experiences in Cameroon and America as inspiration for her songs.
“Growing up I always wrote poems and short stories, and performed at sixteen,” Manuela said. “(At first) it was just other people’s songs, then the seed came into my mind that I needed to praise God, but I didn’t realize I was going to do it through songwriting until I came to LBC.”
Manuela explained she took a class that constantly asked how she could use her gifts to praise God. “After hearing it the 1000th time, the alarm went off and I thought ‘this is how I’m going to do it.’ I’m going to write a small album, four songs, (containing) a general overview of the stuff I’ve been through, (and that will) praise God.”
Each of Manuela’s songs have their own message, according to her website. It explains the album’s title track, ‘(This is the Cry of) Children Everywhere,’ was written as a prayer asking God for strength in the difficulties of obeying him. Manuela described this song as her favorite because it is “asking God to help us as we try to live his way, because there’s so much on TV and in society that is trying to get people away from that. This song is a prayer asking God to help his children young and old, all over the world. That’s where the title comes from.”
Manuela said she also enjoyed the song because it features the voice of another LBC student, sophomore Briana Stoltsfuz.
Manuela’s history in Cameroon also shaped the style of the songs, which she calls Christian Pop.
“When I grew up in Cameroon… all we (had) there music-wise was the huge artists like Michael (Jackson) and Celine Dion,” she said. “I grew up with that kind of sound (and), when I decided I wanted to sing for God, that’s the kind of melody I’m used to…. There’s been some controversy. (People say) you can’t do pop music and praise God, but I tell them God calls music a gift…. I happen to love this kind (of music) and would they rather I sing about bad things… or turn it around and use it for God?”
The title song of the album, “Tomorrow Will Take Care of Itself,” is currently streaming on Spotify and YouTube, and available for purchase online. The full album is available for preorder starting August 31, with full release coming Sept. 14.
For more information, visit Manuela’s website at www.cecilemanuela.com.
Contact Jesse at email@example.com.
Image courtesy of Cecile Manuela.