If you were to take a look at Tasha Layton standing center stage at a concert arena belting out one of her hits, you’d see a talented, confident woman sharing her musical gifts. Today, the 40-year-old American Idol alumna and former backup singer of Katy Perry is one of Christian music’s most successful recording artists. Since arriving on the scene in 2020, the mother of two has amassed 127 million career streams with a 1.1 billion airplay audience and scored back-to-back No. 1 hits with “Look What You’ve Done” and “How Far.” And now, her latest single, “Never,” is quickly climbing the charts.
But despite her success, Tasha Layton will be the first to say that not so very long ago, her life was drastically different — as was her outlook on faith.
“I have a suicide attempt in my history,” Tasha shares with Woman’s World. “I grew up in the church, but I really started to get excited about God and my faith when I was at a particular church in my teen years. I joined the youth worship team. I went on mission trips. I did all kinds of stuff, but then I was really wounded by a church leader.”
Tasha was just a teenager when the situation unfolded. “This church leader had said a lot of lies about me,” she recalls. “She had her own baggage. I didn’t really understand fully what she was going through or why she might be attacking me, but I ended up believing the lies that she was saying about me. It was so toxic. My family left the church. I left the church, and I went searching for meaning, for God.”
Here, Tasha shares her incredible journey from her lowest point to restoring her faith to finding the joy she has today — and how she realized God was with her the entire way.
Tasha Layton’s difficult journey: “I tried to take my life”
After Tasha was hurt by a trusted church member, she says she began exploring other religions by visiting a Buddhist meditation camp, a synagogue and a mosque. “I studied mysticism for a while,” Tasha recalls. “I searched because I wasn’t okay and I needed something to help me. I couldn’t reconcile the fact that I was excited about Christianity, and yet Christians had been the people who hurt me the worst.”
But Tasha admits that when she was searching out other religions, she ended up just feeling very isolated and alone. “I wasn’t finding what I was looking for,” she confesses. “I tried to take my life and I didn’t succeed.”
Tasha says family and friends encouraged her to visit a former youth pastor in Charleston, South Carolina, to spend time healing and continue her search for peace. “In all those other religions, I didn’t find the peace that passes understanding,” she admits. “I didn’t find the power to transform. That power was what I really needed. I needed the power of healing.”
Tasha’s turning point: “God changed the trajectory”
“I decided to go back to church…and I hated it,” Tasha Layton admits. “I went for a whole year and didn’t feel a thing. I was really numb and depressed.”
But then a year later, Tasha says she forced herself to attend a service. “The pastor said one day, ‘Hey, if you want a touch from God, why don’t you come up at the end of service? We want to pray for you.’ I left three hours later,” she recalls. “I’d always make a joke that they had to replace the carpet where I was laying because of all my snot,” Tasha laughs.
“That was a turning point for me,” Tasha says. “The people in that church just loved me. They didn’t judge me and were there for me consistently. That, coupled with that altar moment experience with God, really, really changed the trajectory of my life.”
Finding her calling: “I wanted to help people”
Tasha Layton decided to go to seminary and moved to Los Angeles. During her 10 years in California, God revealed a different plan for her life. “I describe LA as a black hole of sunshine,” the native South Carolinian said with a laugh. “I loved the weather. I loved the terrain and the food, so I just ended up staying and became a worship leader at church.”
Tasha says she always loved music, and her mom used to joke that she came out of the womb singing. “I enjoyed music, but I really just wanted to serve God,” she says. “I wanted to help people, and I didn’t care what that looked like. If it had to do with music, that’s awesome. But if it didn’t, that was good too. I just felt music was what I had in my hand to fulfill what was in my heart.”
Tasha competed on season nine of American Idol, the same season as Tori Kelly and Lauren Daigle. Though Tasha didn’t win, after her stint on Idol, Tasha felt called in a different direction. “I felt maybe I was supposed to be doing music outside of the church.”
Tasha went and told her pastor. “He said to me, ‘Oh, Tasha, we’ve known that for years. We were waiting for you to figure it out.’ I just began to pray for an open door and literally received a call out of the blue, ‘Can you be at SIR Studios in Hollywood in 20 minutes?’ And I was like, ‘Yes!’” Tasha recalls.
“I downloaded Katy Perry’s single on my phone and learned it on the way to SIR Studios,” Tasha recalls. “I was the last girl of the day to audition, and I left for Madison Square Garden, with Katy, two days later.”
Tasha Layton singing for Katy Perry: “It was a wild ride”
Tasha has fond memories of the years she travelled with Katy. “It was a wild ride. It’s everything you would imagine it to be,” Tasha says. “She’s just fun and creative. The tours were amazing. I had a lot of different color wigs and a lot of different outfits. I was on the California Dreams Tour, and I was every kind of cotton candy — pink, blue. I was a candy cane, a giant purple cupcake. The costumes were just outrageously fun. I went to probably 50 countries and crossed so many things off my bucket list.”
Tasha’s next step: “I got to the root of my depression”
After 10 years in LA, Tasha Layton returned home to South Carolina and began contemplating her next move. Feeling lonely and depressed, she decided to go to Colorado to a program that offered intensive therapy.
“It was at that place that I felt the truth I had known in my head my whole life moved to my heart,” Tasha says. “I had known scripture and that I was loved by God in my head, but I did not feel that in the heart. I was not living that in my life. It took me digging in my history to find the roots of where things started because, otherwise, I was just going to cycle through that depression and just keep cycling through depression.”
She continued, “It took a while. I wrote everything that had ever hurt me down. And I went through a process of reimagining those wounds in the presence of God and said, ‘God, where were you when that happened to me? And what do you want to say to me?’ And it really did move truth from my head to my heart.”
The counseling Tasha received set her on a new path. “I was there for two weeks, and I’ve never been the same since,” she smiles. “I had always wanted to do my own music, but I was afraid to step out because I was afraid of messing up or not being perfect or not being good enough or comparing myself to other people.”
“But when you know how much God loves you, it releases that weight of comparison,” Tasha adds. “You don’t need to compare yourself to anybody else. It changed my life, and that’s when I moved to Nashville. I didn’t have anything but a suitcase with me. I just came in faith, and I just trusted that God would open up the doors for music. And He did.”
Tasha Layton from backup singer to superstar
After moving to Nashville, Tasha Layton began leading worship at a local church and soon after, landed a record deal. She pours her life experiences into her music. “Every song I write is coming from a deep place in my heart,” she says.
“‘Into the Sea’ was directly connected to my suicidal period,” Tasha explains. “And then, ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is my life’s testimony in a song. ‘How Far’ is a song about how far God’s love went to find me. I really have to pour my heart into the songs, or I can’t sing them night after night. I would get so bored. I would hate to sing songs that I don’t believe and that have no meaning. I don’t love to sing enough to do that.”
Her new single, “Never,” is another poignant expression of Tasha’s faith. “I’d always wanted to serve God with my family, and I was into my 30s and still hadn’t experienced walking in what I wanted to do in life, nor did I have a family, and I felt forgotten,” she admits. “I felt maybe God is holding out on me because I’m not good enough. ‘Never’ is about the fact that I’m never forgotten. I’m never forsaken. I’m never abandoned by God.”
Tasha Layton’s message to women: “Reach out for help”
“Never” will be featured on Tasha’s new EP, due this fall. She will also be going out this fall on her first headlining tour, beginning October 26 in Indiana. With her books, her songs and also by doing interviews, Tasha is hoping she can inspire other women.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out for help,” insists Tasha who wrote the books Look What You’ve Done: The Lies We Believe & The Truth That Sets Us Free and Boundless: A Guided Prayer Journal to Move Freedom From your Head to Your Heart. “We feel we have to have it all together all the time, or that our faith should be strong enough to get us through something alone, just us and God. But God made us to be together..”
She also encourages women to remember they are stronger than they know. “You have more fight in you than you realize,” Tasha says. “If something were to hurt someone you love, you would do everything in your power to protect them or fight for them. And yet, you don’t fight for yourself sometimes. We have to stand up and fight for ourselves sometimes. I really believe that God wants us to walk in everything He’s made us for. And yet, sometimes that takes some fight.”
For more Christian inspiration:
Deborah Evans Price believes everyone has a story to tell and, as a journalist, she considers it a privilege to share those stories with the world. Deborah contributes to Billboard, CMA Close Up, Jesus Calling, First for Women, Woman’s World and Country Top 40 with Fitz, among other media outlets. Author of the CMA Awards Vault and Country Faith, Deborah is the 2013 winner of the Country Music Association’s Media Achievement Award and the 2022 recipient of the Cindy Walker Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Western Artists. Deborah lives on a hill outside Nashville with her husband, Gary, son Trey and cat Toby.