Tasha Layton had been touring with Katy Perry for four years when the backup singer was offered the chance to be a pop star – and she turned it down.
For the singer/songwriter, the timing was perfect. She was ready to share her testimony through the Christian music genre – and she went on to do just that. Layton recently released a new single, “Never,” which is inspired by how she turned to God during tough times.
“When I was growing up, I wanted to be in ministry full-time,” Layton explained to Fox News Digital. “I wanted to be married with a family. I just had this picture of what I wanted life to look like. I was in my 30s and that still hadn’t happened. I just thought, ‘What’s wrong with me? God, are you holding out on me? Did I do something to deserve this?’ The deepest part of my heart wanted this thing and it wasn’t happening. I just felt like I was forgotten and abandoned.”
“When I started writing this song, it had a lot to do with that,” she added.
Today, Layton is a happily married mom of two residing in Nashville where she makes music on her terms. She couldn’t have predicted how her story would unfold.
It was 2010 when Layton found herself auditioning for Season 9 of “American Idol.”
“Some people I knew were auditioning and asked me to go just hang out,” Layton explained. “I ended up learning that you can’t go hang out in the line unless you are signed up. I thought everyone was crazy. There’s 14,000 people coming to the Rose Bowl [in California] and they’re only choosing 300. Like, none of us have a shot. This is just for fun. And then when I got picked… I was like, ‘Oh, I gotta follow through with this now!’”
The South Carolina native didn’t make it to Hollywood – Lee DeWyze won that season. But she did briefly meet her future boss.
Layton went back to her normal life and led worship for a multi-level marketing conference in Orange County. That’s where she received an offer that seemed too good to pass up – at first.
“The keys player played keys for Kesha, and they were needing a background vocalist for the Kesha/Rihanna tour,” said Layton. “She told me that I should audition. I thought, ‘Maybe this is the open door that I’ve been praying for to do music outside the church.’… I got the job, and we were supposed to start on Wednesday at 2 p.m. for rehearsal and leave Friday for Japan.”
When Wednesday came along, Layton said she realized the gig wasn’t for her.
“I just felt that small voice say, ‘Don’t do it,’” she recalled. “I had gone against that voice enough in life… So I called them and I said, ‘I’m so sorry. I just feel like maybe this isn’t right for me.’ And they were so gracious.”
Layton admitted she immediately had second thoughts. But fate had other plans.
“As soon as I got off the phone, I thought, ‘I have made a huge mistake. I’m self-sabotaging. What have I done?’” she said. “At 2 p.m., the same time I was supposed to be starting rehearsal with Kesha, I get a call from Katy Perry’s manager. ‘Can you be here in 20 minutes?’… I had taken off my 9-5 to go to this other rehearsal. So, I downloaded the song on my phone, and I learned it on the way to [the studio in] Hollywood. I was the last girl of the day. I met Katy, spoke with her for a few minutes, auditioned, and then I got a call the next day. I needed to show up for rehearsal, and we were leaving for Madison Square Garden on Friday.”
Layton learned that one of Perry’s managers had remembered her from “American Idol.” It was the same season the “Teenage Dream” singer served as a guest judge.
“That didn’t have any bearing on her hiring me,” Layton insisted. “She didn’t realize that I was the same girl. I had a different hair color when I auditioned for her. I think my hair was red. I don’t know what color my natural hair color is. I haven’t known that since I was 16.”
While on the road, Layton befriended the pop superstar, who maintained a sunny demeanor for her team while under the glaring media spotlight.
“I look back at those days and have a new perspective at the weight that Katy was carrying during that time and the pressure that was on her,” she explained. “Waking up so early for photo shoots and interviews. And then the paparazzi. Fame changes your brain… But we had a blast. I think I crossed almost everything off my bucket list when I traveled with her because on days off we’d do fun things and activities… We got to experience a lot of the world without the pressure of being the artist.”
“Katy is a really compassionate person,” Layton continued. “She’s got a big heart and cares for the people who work with her. She takes care of them. She’s very loyal and professional… I’m proud of how she has come through it all.”
Layton said that over the years, she encountered many stars behind the curtain. But Perry was different.
“We were doing a show and there were some other celebrities involved – I will not name their names,” said Layton. “They were unprofessional. She didn’t badmouth them. She didn’t make it a big deal. She was just uber professional, and she made up the difference where they left off.”
“We had one artist walk off-stage because they didn’t know the music or like what was going on or something,” Layton shared. “She just took over at that moment and the audience would never have known… It was a duet that she was doing with someone, and they quit on the spot… You’ll never hear her trash-talking about someone to a bunch of people or being loud about someone’s failures… She’s just going to do what she does… She’s very confident in who she wants to be and who she is.”
WATCH: KATY PERRY’S BACKUP SINGER TURNED DOWN POP MUSIC CAREER TO SERVE GOD
Layton said that some labels were eager to sign her. But the singer was yearning for something more. At the time, she was still leading worship at her church whenever she was home from touring.
“I had no interest in it at all,” said Layton about launching a solo pop music career. “Having experienced that culture and that pressure from being on the road with Katy and seeing it firsthand, I got a bird’s-eye view of how damaging it can be to your soul. And I just missed singing songs that directly connected people to God. I’ve always led worship in church. And you know, when I’m on my deathbed looking back, I’m not going to care that I built a career. I’m going to care that I helped people. I just didn’t see how a mainstream deal and the music that they wanted me to sing, the kind of thing that they wanted me to do, was going to be helpful for anyone and much less, connect people to who I believe is the creator of the universe.”
“And there’s so much icky stuff that goes on behind the scenes with that kind of thing that it didn’t really tempt me at all,” Layton shared. “I think there was a lot of money thrown at me to do that kind of thing, to do that kind of music, a pop album by a big label. And it wasn’t hard to turn it down.”
After touring with Perry, Layton said she “felt stuck.” She focused on her mental health before feeling ready to share her message with audiences, one of how her faith in God has been a guiding force in her life. As someone who once struggled so much in her college years that she considered taking her life, Layton wanted to help uplift others through song, letting them know that they weren’t alone.
And sharing her connection with God has been “everything,” said Layton.
“That’s the impetus for everything that I do,” said Layton. “I want [people] to see God’s hand in my life over the years, through the valleys and the hard times… And when they see God’s hand in my story, my prayer is that they’ll be able to see God in their stories, too.”