Ayiesha’s home for Christmas
Ayiesha Woods will take the stage at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship’s Christmas Eve service.
The contemporary Christian artist, who is known for hit songs Happy and Big Enough, is the daughter of Sandyanne Bean and Donald Woods Jr.
She moved to the US in 1987, at the age of 8.
“I definitely have Bermudian roots and we come back as often as we can, which works out to be at least once a year,” said the mother of three.
“I still have quite a bit of family in Bermuda so I’ll be home for Christmas definitely resonates with me this year. I haven’t been in Bermuda for the holidays for around 12 years now, so I am really looking forward to it.”
Tomorrow’s service will be a celebration of life, love and family and all that God has done in people’s lives through Christ, she said.
“God is more than able to sustain and restore no matter what the situation, so our aim will be to minister through songs that not only celebrate Christmas but the hope that we have in relationship with Christ Jesus.
“Ultimately, the message I want to relay is encouraging people to get to know who Jesus is and, if they already know Him, to challenge them to go to a deeper place by gaining or maintaining a personal relationship with the Saviour. When it’s all said and done that’s what it comes down to and that’s what is the most important thing. If I haven’t conveyed Christ it’s all for nothing.”
The 38-year-old grew up singing in the church. Her mother and stepfather, Steven Salters, pastored in Texas; she frequently wrote and performed songs for the Sunday service. Eventually people began asking her where they could find and purchase her music. It was the inspiration she needed for her first album in 2002.
Then 21, she was studying music and business management in university and also working in finance. She used the money she received from tax returns to pay for studio time. Her independent album received three Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards.
Ms Woods was later discovered by Christian hip-hop recording artist and music producer TobyMac. She signed with his company, Gotee Records, in 2004 and stayed there for six years. Her debut album Introducing Ayiesha Woods was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2006; the single Happy was nominated for a Dove Award the following year.
She released her second studio album, Love Like This, in 2008 and a holiday collection entitled Christmas Like This, a year later.
She married in 2010 and has three sons aged 5, 4 and 1. She took a break from her career to raise them.
“I tell people all the time when talking about my time in the music industry, in the big scheme of things, God has far exceeded any expectations that I have had for myself.
“It has been an interesting and wonderful journey. Of course, it has had its ups and downs and hasn’t all been a walk in the park, but nonetheless I wouldn’t trade it for anything. God just continues to show His grace and His hand in what we do as a family and ministry and it’s been amazing to see how far He has brought us.”
Ms Woods counts it a blessing to have been able to worship “in so many different settings with people of all religious backgrounds”.
Along the way she has also learnt the importance of having an intimate and personal relationship with God.
“Especially with so many situations in life that can come and cloud our paths, it’s essential to let God’s truth define who you are,” she said.
“I just encourage people to come out on Sunday to not only be ministered to, but to enjoy the service and have a good time. So many times people think being in a relationship with the Lord is drudgery and boring, but it’s the complete opposite of that for me, so come out if you are looking to have a good time of celebration.”
Christmas at Cornerstone starts tomorrow at 10am at Ruth Seaton James Centre of Performing Arts.
For more information, visitcornerstone.bm
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