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None of life’s highways lead us directly to fulfilled dreams. We all need the courage and fortitude to go off road, blaze new trails, and persevere through gullies and thorns. We also need people who love and encourage us along the way.

At least that’s how it has been for Daniel Evans, an award-winning, hiphop artist and long-time Inspiration partner. His music is often a product of personal passion and pain. But Daniel believes the gifts God gives to each of us are worth stewarding—and he shares his story to encourage other budding artists!

The seeds of Daniel’s dream were sown when he began following Jesus around the age of seven—and discovered the Christian rap and rock group DC Talk. Soon after, he started writing his own rap music to share the joy and hope of faith with his friends. Daniel spent hours writing lyrics, trying out new beats, and sharing his work with family and close friends.

At first, nothing was more important to Daniel than telling others about the power and love of God. He carried on with his music for several years, but over time his enthusiasm faded, and his joy dimmed. Slowly, Daniel slid away from daily time with Jesus and stopped rapping about the joys of a faith-filled life. The dark clouds of depression enveloped him.

When friends couldn’t get through to Daniel, they went to his dad. “My dad came and said my friends missed how I used to talk to them about God. They told him it had helped them. Just hearing that helped me turn back to God. I had been so depressed, really even suicidal. The first rap I did after that was ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me.’ It was my message to keep trying. I believe we all have a ministry, and I was determined to be a good example for others, someone who spent time in the Word and in prayer.

God blessed Daniel’s efforts, and opportunities to play at church and for community groups began to open up. His mom commented on how much more anointed Daniel’s playing became during this time. When an opportunity to submit his work to an Alabama radio station appeared, Daniel jumped at the chance. He was overjoyed when he won the Inspirational Artist on the Rise award the first year. With that exposure and win, he submitted a music video to another industry competition and won Inspirational Video of the Year.

Asked to offer advice to other aspiring Christian artists, Daniel says, “Don’t get discouraged, and always give God the glory. He will help you grow, and He will open doors for you.” Daniel’s next goal is to find a manager or booking agent who can help him share his music even more. “I work a regular job selling fish to men (Captain D’s), but what I love to do is fish for men for Jesus!”