“God plants dreams in your heart and in your soul for a reason…” – t.Jay
Growing up, t.Jay (TJ Pompeo) had a devastating experience that could’ve permanently skewed his spiritual vision. Thankfully, through a myriad of circumstances he realized that the only way to truly see clearly was to keep his eyes focused on the Cross and to give his life and dreams to the One who set him free…
Editor’s Music Pick: Below take a listen to t.Jay’s song “Tomorrow” (ft. Corbett) about waiting on God’s timing for your life and dreams. It’s one of my personal faves from t.Jay’s album The Pre View that you can download here for free.
At age 15, t.Jay embraced his passion for music and started stepping into the rhythm and purpose God placed in his heart by producing and writing songs. As he matured and honed his craft doors started to open for him to share his music on a wider scale. During the summer of 2011, he was discipled by Cross Movement Records group Level 3:16 and embarked on a tour around the nation. Since then, t.Jay has traveled the world, touring in England, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Uruguay, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and many more, and he’s had the privilege of sharing stages with many incredible artists like Da T.R.U.T.H. (check out a video of them performing together below).
t.Jay joins in on Da T.R.U.T.H’s song “Hunger Games” at the Impact12 Conference:
I first came across t.Jay’s music through the Impact Movement (an amazing organization we’ve been supporting for the past few years on Dream in Soul) and we’ve previously posted t.Jay’s song with Level 3:16, LOVE. The fresh vibe he brings (he describes as a mixture of hip hop pop, soul and R&B that can’t be put in a box) and sound messages in his music will impact people of all ages. In this candid interview t.Jay tells us about his journey, overcoming a tough experience in his childhood and how he’s learned to trust God with his life and dreams. Here’s just a preview into what makes his heart – and music – beat…
t.Jay: Right, so like you said, “t.Jay” is my artist name and that’s what fans know me by. Everybody who’s known me for a while just calls me TEEJ. TJ is my real name, and it IS short for something, but you’ll only know what the “T” stands for if you’re friends with me on Facebook. =D I’m 22 years young. I’ve got roots in Long Island, NY, but I was raised in the small city of Harrisonburg, VA. I’m all about family, and the one that I have is absolutely amazing. They’ve all been so key in getting me to where I am as a young man and as an artist. I’m also big on family because I’m very Italian. It’s just who we are. One big happy (and loud) family. Along with my family, my friends and my mentors are equally as incredible. They’ve without a doubt been my motivation through life, music and all. They encourage me consistently, and I’m so grateful for them. What else??? Hmmm. I love cheese sticks, having slap-boxing fights with my friends, and collecting rainbow colored gumballs (JUST kidding… Kind of). My favorite show is the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Denzel is by far my favorite actor. One of my goals in life is to visit all 7 continents. Oh, and I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. Sorry fellas.
Dream in Soul: Can you give some background about your story and how you came to know Christ, how you got started in making music then transitioned to dedicating it to God? Did you start out writing music & producing on your own or were there people instrumental in mentoring you? (Can you also share the significance of the way you write your artist name?).
That’s a long one, but I’ll try to not write a novel. As far as my artist name goes, like you said, there is a story behind the way I’ve decided to spell it. When you think of a capitalized letter, it typically symbolizes something of importance, or something that has significance. Someone’s name, celebrities, the name of a city or state, a type of car, a notable product brand, etc. I decided to make the “t” in my artist name lowercase and the “J” uppercase because I wanted it to symbolize that I have no significance without Jesus. TJ is nothing without Jesus. The “J” in my artist name represents Jesus Christ in me. It’s the only letter capitalized in my artist name because of what I stated above… His name is and always will be more significant than ANY other name to ever exist. My own obviously included. To put it simply… I suck without Jesus.
My story has a very common beginning though. I grew up in church, but never fully understood the concept of actually “walking with” or “following” Christ until I was 18. My life prior to 18 was full of bitterness and anger towards God, mainly due to things that occurred in my upbringing as a little boy.
When I was 8 years old, I was sexually molested by someone who I knew very well. It was absolutely devastating… That event would prove to shape who I would be for the next 10 years of my life. From the ages of 8-13, every single day was a Christian version of Halloween for me. I would wear the mask of Christianity on the exterior to appear like a “good kid,” but on the interior I was angry and I could have cared less about God or Jesus. When I was 14, I decided that I was sick of wearing the mask.. I wanted to live “my” life the way I wanted to live it and ultimately do what I wanted to do. This is also the age where I started experimenting with the typical peer pressures: Party scene, alcohol, drugs, chasing girls, etc. At this time, I also noticed that I really enjoyed the musical genres of Hip-Hop and R&B. All of my family was/is musically inclined (my dad, all three of my older siblings, and all six of my older cousins). They all played a significant role in getting me started with writing music…