Christian Hip-Hop artist, LaToria is someone you definitely want to keep your eye on. She brings impressive and soulful rapping abilities along a with fire for God that is definitely something we want to shine the “spotlight” on.
LaToria has had the privilege of sharing the stage and opening for artist such as Matthew Schuler, Dez Duron and Brandon Chase of the hit TV show, THE VOICE, Natalie Lauren (fka Suzy Rock), Flame (Clear Sight Music), Lecrae, Trip Lee,Tedashii (Reach Records), Derek Minor (RMG) and many more as well as featuring on several compilations, mixtapes and projects.*
If you aren’t familiar with Whole Spotlight, this is a part of the magazine where we shine the light on women impacting their community or the world around them with the gifts that God has given them.
LaToria’s fresh approach to Christian Hip-Hop, smooth voice, and inspiring words are sure to impact those around her.
WM: Can you share with our readers a little bit about your upbringing?
L: “I was born in Dallas, TX and raise primarily by my mom and aunt. Between the two of them there were 5 children and I was the oldest of the 5. I was raised in a Christian home. But my mom and aunt had experience a lot of hypocrisy and church hurt growing up that caused them to seek their own understanding of what it meant to be a Christian. Nonetheless, they raised us with Christian values and instilled the reality of God in us at an early age.
Growing up I was very much a tomboy and would much rather be outside playing with the neighborhood boys than the girls. I grew up seeing women life Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Da Brat, Missy Elliott and a few others who encompassed the same personality traits and contributed to Hip Hop music in a way that I could identify with. I saw this and was instantly inspired to do the same, but from a Christian perspective. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any examples of that growing up so I put that dream away and decided to play basketball instead.
Early on I perused basketball and was very successful throughout my high school years. I received a scholarship to play at the collegiate level and truly had dreams of one day playing in the WNBA. However, God had different plans! My dreams of being a professional ball player quickly came crashing down due to some of my own poor choices, but ultimately, God’s sovereign hand at work in my life. During my sophomore and junior year in college I found myself in an Identity crisis, very far from God and kind of floating through life. It was during this time that the Lord wooed my back into a personal relationship with him through my love for music.
My childhood dream had always been to be a hip hop artist and no one had ever known that. So it was to my surprise when a producer who was a friend of a friend’s randomly asked me one day, “Do you rap or something?” That one question reignited that dream on the inside of me and shortly after, I decided to connect with this producer and work on a few songs, which turned into him taking me under his wing discipling me and showing me the ropes of what it meant to become a Christian artist. This is what has led me to where I am now. “
WM: How did you come to know Jesus personally?
L: “Looking back I can see that He has always been there with me. I may not have understood the gospel at an explicit level, But I would say that I had a conscious awareness of him at about age 10 or 11. It was my teenage years where I found myself really perusing Jesus and it honestly was an on again off again pursuit. It was my early 20s when I truly started to understand my need for a savior and recommitted my life to Christ and began to live for him and with him at the center, as Lord of my life.“
WM: When did you first know that you wanted to be a music artist?
L: “I knew this at a very early age! I would say I was about 7 or 8. Growing up music was a huge part of everyday life in my house. I grew to have an appreciation for it early on and knew that one day I wanted to also make music that people could live life to.“
WM: What artists have inspired or influenced you?
L: “There are so many! But I will list a few of the main ones, Michael Jackson, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin, Jill Scott, Mary Mary, Mahogany Jones, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, Lisa McClendon.“
WM: When in your life was your faith truly tested or challenged, and how did you get through?
L: “There have been some very traumatic events that have happened in my life (car accidents, unexpected deaths, injuries etc). With each one a different part of me was tested. But the constant outcome was God showing himself to me in various ways like, inexplicable peace during ciaos, different people that stepped up to help and support me and my family in difficult times, random words of encouragement and acts of kindness etc. Through it all, God has always shown himself to me and allowed me to feel him. I can honestly say that none of these events, caused me to question Him.
At the same time, I know that life isn’t over and there are more challenges to come. I really battle with thoughts of there being a devastating event that I encounter that does in fact lead me to question God or be far from him. The tools I use to battle those thoughts are the truths found in his word about his character and love for me.”
WM: Congratulations, on your album “The Long Walk Vol. 1.” What’s your favorite track and why?
L: “Thank you! My favorite track on this album is “I need More (Soul Cry)” I Need More was a song that came as a surprise to me. The producer contacted me when I was at a point where I thought the album was complete and I wasn’t going to add anything else to it.
However, the Holy Spirit led me to not only listen to the producer’s tracks but hear the concept for this song. I couldn’t shake it. It was clear that I was supposed to write to this song and include it at the end of the album. It is the perfect ending but also the perfect segue to The Long Walk Vol 2. The song is my interpretation of what the soul goes through.
Firstly addressing someone who may not have put their trust in Christ and secondly to those of us who have. Regardless of what side of the fence you land on, we all have one thing in common, we need more of God. Our hearts have an eternal size hole in them that only He can fill. This song is meant to point us all to Christ. To look to him to get that fulfillment.“
WM: The first track of your album is “Journey.” Can you share with our readers the background of this track, and how it relates to your life?
L: “Journey is a song to introduce this album. It expresses the concept of starting a journey. This theme has a double meaning as the album itself will be a journey and the listener has also already started their own life journey. The song serves as an invitation to walk with me personally, through the music, as I express my experiences and perspectives along the way as a follower of Christ Jesus. All the ups and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly. I try to be as honest as possible with the music I make and in that process, I believe the listener will be able to relate and find encouragement for their own life journey.“
WM: Share with us some of your favorite Bible verses, and why?
L: Philippians 4:12-13. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – “This scripture encourages me and reminds me that true contentment is found in Christ alone. That He is the only one who truly satisfies. It’s amazing to think that even in the worst possible situations life can bring, contentment can still be had even during those times.“
Proverbs 3:6. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. – “As I look back over my life and look ahead, this scripture brings me peace because it sets me free from thinking that I have to have it all figured out. I can just live and submit my life decisions to the Lord, knowing that He will guide me into His will for my life.“
John 3:16-17. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – “Though this may seem cliché, the reality of what this passage of scripture tells me is mind blowing. None of us will ever know a love as deep, wide, high or thick as the love of God. It’s a love that we will ponder until our days are done. And I’m glad that I have been given the opportunity to be aware of it and experience it. He loves me. This is my default resolution when everything else in life doesn’t make sense.“
WM: You did a song with B. Holy and Fred Counsil called, “Worth The Wait.” We live in a sex saturated world that tells women that purity and waiting for marriage is unpopular. Share with our readers the dangers and benefits that come with “waiting.”
L: “Dangers: -You open yourself up to heart ache, regret, shame, feelings of unworthiness etc. (This is really the danger of succumbing to any type of sin.). You will be rejected by guys who feel like it’s okay to have sex before marriage. The reality is, if you’re dealing with a guy who has this perspective, he is mistaken on what it means to be a man of God and to pursue a woman with the intentions of loving a wife the way Christ loves the church. That isn’t the kind of guy you want to put in charge of caring for your heart anyway!
You will be rejected by peers that feel like you’re being “Holier than thou” by following God’s standard for your life. When done God’s way, sex is an act of worship to the creator of all things.
When done the wrong way, it is idolatry…
Benefits: Choosing to wait is an act of faith. By doing this you are being obedient to your Heavenly Father and also believing that God’s way is better than the way of the world. By doing this, you are pleasing God. The Bible tells us that, “…without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6) and “Obedience is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22).
You get the opportunity to experience sex the way our God intended which leads to fullness of joy that should always role up into worshiping the creator of all things, including sex. You don’t have to deal with ridding yourself of the baggage that comes with sleeping with (or becoming one with) someone who you are not spending the rest of your life with.“
WM: Any other passions besides music?
L: “Art in general. I love the arts and self-expression.”
If your life was a reality show, what would it be called?
L: ““Get your life together!” When people ask me how I’m doing, this is often how I respond, “I am trying to get my life together!”
L: “It’s a tie between The Great Debaters and What’s Love Got to Do with It? I really love bio pics. Especially those telling the story of a musical artist’s life.“
Coffee or tea?
L: “COFFEE! But also TEA.“
L: “Style pics and funny videos on Instagram. I really love seeing other people’s sense of style and sense of humor.“
L: “Most friends and family call me “Tori” or “LT” or “T-Dubb.”“
If you could perform with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
L: “Hands down it would be Michael Jackson! I feel like I would learn and grow as an artist tremendously just by working on one song with him!“