By Derrick Bertram
To get you guys prepared for the Davenport Diocese’s High School Youth Rally in Coralville Oct. 4, this article is an opportunity for you to have an idea who our keynote speaker, ValLimar Jansen, is.
On Sept. 15, I had the opportunity to interview ValLimar over the phone. First, I asked ValLimar if she could tell me a little bit about her childhood. She told me she grew up in Louisiana. She was raised in a Christian family; her mother especially “was faithful of going to church.” Before they would eat supper, ValLimar and her siblings had to say a Bible verse. “I grew up learning the Bible,” she said.
She told me she started singing professionally when she was 5 years old. She got the opportunity to do so because she won a contest. She also told me her mother also was a singer.
So I then wondered how ValLimar knew she wanted to be a singer/storyteller. “It took a while,” she said. She continued to say that when she was 6 or 7 years old, her mother told her the story of David. “Not King David, but the boy David.” Her mother told her that the boy David played songs with his harp while he watched sheep. As her mother continued the story, ValLimar said, “Mom, that’s what I want to do when I grow up!”
“What’s that?” her mother asked.
“I want to tell stories!”
ValLimar grew up to be a singing storyteller who would travel the world to spread the message of Jesus through songs and stories. Some of the countries she’s been to include Jamaica, Japan, Belgium, Germany, France, Canada and Italy. While in Italy, she performed for the largest audience she had ever performed for in her career — 300,000 people. Before she went on to perform, she asked someone how to say “jump” in Italian. This was part of one of her songs called “You Gotta Move.” “Seeing all of those people jumping and participating was an amazing experience.”
Because she traveled a lot, I asked ValLimar if she ever got homesick. “I don’t get homesick, but I do miss my family.” But she does keep in contact with her family when she travels. Before she would leave, she would ask her family, “What am I doing?” And they would respond, “Giving the great commission.”
Being a performer myself, I sometimes get a little nervous before I go onstage. So I asked if she ever got nervous and what she did to calm those fears. ValLimar told me she does get nervous and she calms those fears by asking herself, “Who am I to be performing on this stage?” And so she would try to remind herself who she is. Even during her performances, she would pray in her head.
So what exactly does ValLimar do when she performs? Well, she tells stories that are usually Bible-based. She would sometimes even tell stories of her personal life. When she sings and tells stories, ValLimar tries to have the audience participate in the story or song. “My goal is to make the listener become the participant.”
I finally asked ValLimar what she is looking forward to at the youth rally. She said she is looking forward to seeing the “renewal of our sense of commitment to the work of Christ.”
She also hopes the youth would learn from her “that each person is special in his or her own way. Part of the fun of being human, unlike a cat or dog, is discovering what is special about ourselves.” She continued to say that she even had fun discovering what was special about her. She was only 6 or 7 when she discovered what she was going to do in her life. “At that time, I never thought I would be where I am right now.”
To watch videos of ValLimar Jansen, search for her at www.youtube.com.
(Derrick Bertram is a junior at Clinton High School and a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton. He also is a member of the Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee.)