Once disinterested in music-making, college student Brianna Gaither has enthusiastically embarked on a career as a singer-songwriter.
Gaither, 19, was featured in a 2006 Mother's Day story in The Oklahoman that chronicled her-then burgeoning love for songwriting. Her mother, popular Oklahoma Christian University professor Kim Gaither, died of cancer in 2005, and the teen said she was drawn to the family piano.
Brianna Gaither said she had argued with her mother for many years about piano lessons and the daily practice that came with them. However, the teen said she connected with the Lord while writing songs at the piano after her mother's death. The tunes became an instant hit with family and friends who requested that she make copies for them.
"There was such a downpour, there's no way it wasn't God. I sat down to play something, and all of a sudden He started giving me things," she said at the time.
The songs Gaither had written stood as testimonies of her faith in God and her love for her mother.
These days, Gaither is a junior at Oklahoma Christian University and attending Bridgeway Church.
She recently released her debut EP called "New Thoughts," which includes five songs. The compilation is for sale online at www.myspace.com/briannagaithermusic and will be offered on iTunes in a few weeks.
The teen said she had been reluctant to pursue a music career.
"I talked myself out of it out of fear," she said.
"Then I just had a huge change of heart and realized that the more that I performed and the more I practiced before I performed, the less fear I had. It's all for and by the Holy Spirit, and it's not me at all," she said.
Gaither said she and friend Kelcy White have performed at local Starbucks and other venues in the Edmond and Oklahoma City areas. Plans for this summer include performances in Tulsa, Wichita, Kan., and Texas.
How has her music changed since her first foray into songwriting several years ago?
"At the time, it was just about sharing the songs, and now I'm about multiplying the ministry of these songs. To be able to express emotion through music is a blessing," Gaither said.
And what would Mom think of the new career?
"I think she would be really proud because music is something that I've always shared with her.
"She had a lot invested in music for me, and she would be really excited to see how much I have devoted to it.".