For 20-year-old Hope resident Avery Tallent, writing and performing music is his way of praising God.
"Music is also a way of conveying my emotions and how I feel about things," the IUPUC student says. "It started out as something to do in my spare time. Now, it has evolved into something I want to do for the rest of my life and I'm taking it more seriously now."
Tallent recalls his first public performance as a child in the sixth grade at his school's talent show. He admits he was a bit nervous when he stepped on stage as a boy and his guitar with a song to share. However, support from family and friends in the audience helped calm his nerves.
That single performance set the tone for a love of the stage that radiates strong today.
"I got a first taste of what it was like to perform in front of people and it was kind of addicting," Tallent says. "I knew I wanted to keep doing it."
Tallent began writing his own songs as a sophomore in high school. Inspired by the likes of Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz, Tallent says there was a little '80s music thrown in the mix courtesy of his parents. And it is from that introduction to a diversity of musical tastes that his appreciation for all genres of music was born, he says.
As time passed, Tallent's preference for the music he would write and performed began to evolve.
"I kind of heard a calling from God to go into churches," he says. "I started out doing secular music and it evolved into what God wanted me to do and use my talents for."
Like many other artists, the creative process can come in fits and sputters while other days one can barely keep up. Tallent says he may write one song in 30 minutes, while another may take days or even a week to perfect.
"It starts with I hear a melody in my head and start humming through it," he says. "I always ask God, 'What do you want to speak to me? What words do you need me to know?' and I just go from there and the music writes itself."
Currently studying business management, Tallent says he hopes to use his education to one day combine his love for music and business.
However, fervent studies are just one element of several Tallent regularly juggles to make time for his music and songwriting.
Despite time crunches, appointments, studies and life's other obligations, Tallent always makes time to practice and perform. Currently, he averages around five performances each month at area churches and festivals.
"I just love the freedom music gives me," he says.
There is another element that overwhelms him. It is his work with a jail ministry called Residents Encounter Christ (REC).
Knowing he is making an impact on the lives of prisoners in ways he may never know is humbling.
"It is beyond words," he says. "Just to know I can help them in some small way is huge."
Tallent's mother, Jackie, says music is something her son has always done.
"We got him his first guitar when he was eight years old," she says. "It was just a little red guitar. We gave it to him and he took off from there."
With most children, nagging reminders are necessary to get them to practice. But that wasn't the case with Tallent, his mother says.
After nearly 10 years of writing songs, Tallent felt it was time to compile them in some way. He recorded his songs by himself with the aid of his computer.
All her son's hard work is definitely paying off as he is on the cusp of releasing his first solo CD, "Perfect Love," at the Winter Finale of The Cross at 6 p.m. April 8 at WILLow LeaVes of Hope.
Believing her son's talent and love for music to be divinely inspired, Jackie says she cannot take credit for what her son has accomplished thus far and will in the future.
"For such a young guy to be able to write this music and have this insight into what God wants him to do and what message He wants to convey through Avery it is unbelievable really," Jackie says. "I hope his music takes him wherever God wants him to be. I'm a firm believer in that."
Tallent says if there's one piece of advice he can offer other young adults out there it is to not give up on what you want to do.
"If you have something you love, stick with it no matter what life obstacles you have," he says. "Just go with what God tells you to do."