The Pre View: An “Inner-view” with Music Artist and Producer TJ Pompeo on Dreams, Faith and Trust

“God plants dreams in your heart and in your soul for a reason…” – TJ Pompeo

Growing up, TJ Pompeo had a devastating experience that could’ve permanently skewed his spiritual vision. Thankfully, through a myriad of circumstances he realized that the only way to truly see clearly was to keep his eyes focused on the Cross and to give his life and dreams to the One who set him free…

Editor’s Music Pick: Below take a listen to TJ’s song “Tomorrow” (ft. Corbett) about waiting on God’s timing for your life and dreams. It’s one of my personal faves from TJ’s album The Pre View that you can download here for free.

At age 15, TJ embraced his passion for music and started stepping into the rhythm and purpose God placed in his heart by producing and writing songs. As he matured and honed his craft doors started to open for him to share his music on a wider scale. During the summer of 2011, he was discipled by Cross Movement Records group Level 3:16 and embarked on a tour around the nation. Since then, TJ has traveled the world, touring in England, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Uruguay, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and many more, and he’s had the privilege of sharing stages with many incredible artists like Da T.R.U.T.H. (check out a video of them performing together below).

TJ joins in on Da T.R.U.T.H’s song “Hunger Games” at the Impact12 Conference:

I first came across TJ’s music through the Impact Movement (an amazing organization we’ve been supporting for the past few years on Dream in Soul) and we’ve previously posted TJ’s song with Level 3:16, LOVE. The fresh vibe he brings (he describes as a mixture of hip hop pop, soul and R&B that can’t be put in a box) and sound messages in his music will impact people of all ages. In this candid interview TJ tells us about his journey, overcoming a tough experience in his childhood and how he’s learned to trust God with his life and dreams. Here’s just a preview into what makes his heart – and music – beat…

Dream in Soul: We know you do music, but music isn’t who you are- so let’s start off with who is TJ? How would you introduce yourself to us, where are you from, what moves you, etc.?

TJ: Right, so like you said, “TJ” is my artist name and that’s what fans know me by. Everybody who’s known me for a while just calls me TEEJ. TJ is my real name, and it IS short for something, but you’ll only know what the “T” stands for if you’re friends with me on Facebook. =D I’m 22 years young. I’ve got roots in Long Island, NY, but I was raised in the small city of Harrisonburg, VA. I’m all about family, and the one that I have is absolutely amazing. They’ve all been so key in getting me to where I am as a young man and as an artist. I’m also big on family because I’m very Italian. It’s just who we are. One big happy (and loud) family. Along with my family, my friends and my mentors are equally as incredible. They’ve without a doubt been my motivation through life, music and all. They encourage me consistently, and I’m so grateful for them. What else??? Hmmm. I love cheese sticks, having slap-boxing fights with my friends, and collecting rainbow colored gumballs (JUST kidding… Kind of). My favorite show is the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Denzel is by far my favorite actor. One of my goals in life is to visit all 7 continents. Oh, and I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. Sorry fellas.

Dream in Soul: Can you give some background about your story and how you came to know Christ, how you got started in making music then transitioned to dedicating it to God? Did you start out writing music & producing on your own or were there people instrumental in mentoring you? (Can you also share the significance of the way you write your artist name?).

That’s a long one, but I’ll try to not write a novel. As far as my artist name goes, like you said, there is a story behind the way I’ve decided to spell it. When you think of a capitalized letter, it typically symbolizes something of importance, or something that has significance. Someone’s name, celebrities, the name of a city or state, a type of car, a notable product brand, etc. I decided to make the “t” in my artist name lowercase and the “J” uppercase because I wanted it to symbolize that I have no significance without Jesus. TJ is nothing without Jesus. The “J” in my artist name represents Jesus Christ in me. It’s the only letter capitalized in my artist name because of what I stated above… His name is and always will be more significant than ANY other name to ever exist. My own obviously included. To put it simply… I suck without Jesus.

My story has a very common beginning though. I grew up in church, but never fully understood the concept of actually “walking with” or “following” Christ until I was 18. My life prior to 18 was full of bitterness and anger towards God, mainly due to things that occurred in my upbringing as a little boy.

When I was 8 years old, I was sexually molested by someone who I knew very well. It was absolutely devastating… That event would prove to shape who I would be for the next 10 years of my life. From the ages of 8-13, every single day was a Christian version of Halloween for me. I would wear the mask of Christianity on the exterior to appear like a “good kid,” but on the interior I was angry and I could have cared less about God or Jesus. When I was 14, I decided that I was sick of wearing the mask.. I wanted to live “my” life the way I wanted to live it and ultimately do what I wanted to do. This is also the age where I started experimenting with the typical peer pressures: Party scene, alcohol, drugs, chasing girls, etc. At this time, I also noticed that I really enjoyed the musical genres of Hip-Hop and R&B. All of my family was/is musically inclined (my dad, all three of my older siblings, and all six of my older cousins). They all played a significant role in getting me started with writing music…

So the age of 15 is when I began composing my first couple of songs. I would write songs with my best friend Lee and we would record them in my parent’s basement on a Skype headset that we bought at Wal-Mart. It wasn’t much, but it definitely was a great place to spark a passion for music. The songs of course sounded horrible and incredibly amateur, but I thought I was on top of the world! And of course, to “fit in” and please the crowd around me, I decided that I was going to be a secular hip hop artist. I tried to put on this hard thug image and of course it wasn’t truly “me,” so it wasn’t satisfying me; but I didn’t care at the time. I would just indulge in some sort of sinister hedonism if I wasn’t feeling so “on top of the world.” My first secular album released my freshman year in college. To say the least, it was pretty successful considering the small crowd that it was being marketed to. So as my ego was being subconsciously fed, the emptiness and desire for SOMETHING MORE IN LIFE kept on growing within my heart. Keep in mind that I’d known all about Jesus since I was a little boy and I was fully aware of the fact that I was sinning and spitting in His face DAILY. I was just too “tough” to care at the time.

Well as the first semester of college developed, my roommate at the time Blake was attending an on-campus ministry at our college. He would always invite me, but I always said I had better things to do (of course I really didn’t); but we came back to classes after Christmas break and he was relentless and persistent in inviting me every single week until I finally decided to go (I went mainly so he would stop asking me!). So I went with him to this Bible study. The Holy Spirit completely captivated my heart that night. It truly is hard to describe and place in words what I experienced on that memorable night, but I will surely never forget how loved and accepted I was for who I WAS… For who TJ was.

What really did it for me that night though was that at this bible study, when I walked in to the room, I saw for the first time in 10 years the man who had sexually molested me when I was 8 years old. What shocked me even more was that he was SAVED and living passionately for Jesus! And it was HIS first time at this particular Bible study that night too. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?! And what’s even more is that as I grew up, I always wondered what kind of feelings I’d have in my heart if I ever saw that guy again… Would I want to hurt him? Would I hate him and be full of bitterness and anger? You would think so. But when I saw him at that Bible study, the ONLY thing I felt in my heart towards him was compassion and forgiveness… TOTAL forgiveness.

That was the moment I realized the power of God’s forgiveness. In the same way that I had forgiven this man for hurting me, God forgives me to the exact same lengths EVERY SINGLE DAY. The Lord met me exactly where I was at that night: a broken, bitter, lost, confused, hedonistic junkie. I went back to the dorm room after that Bible study and just wept on my bed. At that moment I could feel and sense Jesus literally wrapping me in His arms and assuring me of His outstretched grace and forgiveness. It was such a beautiful encounter! Through the grace, love and strength of Jesus, I decided to completely turn my life around that night; turn over a new leaf. I knew it was time for my music to change as well. Ever since that day, God has opened doors for me that I never could have imagined. I’ve had the privilege of ministering and sharing the Gospel all over the WORLD! I’ve gotten to release multiple Christian albums/mixtapes, and the Lord has also blessed me with the opportunity to go on multiple tours and share stages with some of the industry’s finest artists.

Dream in Soul: How does it feel to make music (especially the genre you do) with faith themes compared to the type you used to make, and what would you say is the mission of your music?

For me, music is an expression of my life. It’s not just sitting down and writing out lyrics that rhyme together and hit on the snare of the beat. It’s taking my everyday encounters and translating them through a tangible art form so that listeners can hear those words and immediately relate to them. My goal as an artist is to make music that impacts people’s lives. I want to challenge people to shift their perspective to something greater than them; that they can in turn be inspired to impact the very world that they live in. I just want to be faithful and obedient with what I’ve been entrusted, and let God do the rest. He is phenomenal and words can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for the abilities He’s graciously given me. I love pointing it right back to Him, as He rightfully deserves.

Dream in Soul: For me it’s always compelling to hear the story and inspiration behind a song and project. What was the motivation behind your latest album The Pre View and what do you want listeners to take away? I noticed the project title and track names all seem to tie together, can you share the meaning behind that uniting theme and why you picked particular song titles?

Well, I’m currently working on another new album which will be releasing in early-mid 2013, so this most recent album serves as a preview for that one, hence the title “The Pre View”. haha The Lord has been revealing many amazing things to me over the past 2 years, but also many convicting things. Beautiful things about Him and His ways, but also some ugly things about me and my ways. He’s shown these things to me, and He’s opened up my eyes in regards to all of them. That’s why you see the “sight” theme woven throughout “The Pre View” and you’ll also see that theme placed within the next album as well. Also, the word “View” is relevant to the actual title of the next album, and you won’t fully make the connection between the two until the title is revealed. ;)

Dream in Soul: I know it’s mostly hard to for artists to pick out their favorite songs, but…is there a song or two on the album that are your “favorites” and why (maybe they’re close to your heart & really significant to your personal story)?

That is honestly VERY challenging to pick my favorites, because they’re all so close to my heart. If I had to choose a few though, I’d go with Fairytales, Remember When?, Don’t Let Me Go, and Hourglass.

I love “Fairytales” because it speaks directly to what drives my passion for music. My passion in inspired directly from a God-given dream. I know that this is what He wants me to be doing, and while the world may shoot it down or attempt to point me in a different directions, I’m standing firm on His promises and knowing that my dreams are not fairytales, because they’re God-inspired dreams.

Hear t.Jay sing his song “Fairytales” about following his God-given dreams:

I really enjoy “Remember When?”, first of all because of the simplicity of the beat. I don’t typically do songs to beats like that, but I just loved it when Corbett showed it to me, and I had to do something to it. As far as the context goes, the song was inspired by a conversation I was having with my older sister Kristina one night at like 3 in the morning. We were in her apartment sitting right outside of the kitchen having a great nostalgic conversation. We were reminiscing about the old days and what it was like to grow up together in our family. We recounted amazing memories and we talked about how innocent we were as little children, and how the world basically robs children of their innocence as they get older. Our conversation sparked something within me, and I knew I had to write a song about it and give listeners some insight into TJ’s childhood.

In “Remember When?” t.Jay reminisces about the good old childhood days:

“Don’t Let Me Go” is very close to my heart as well, mainly due to the battle I fought with an addiction to pornography for years. My verse personifies the computer screen and the pornographic images that can be so easily accessed on them, and the computer screen is telling TJ “Please don’t let me go. I feed off your use of me, even if you’re abusing me. Don’t let me go.” BUT! Praise God for deliverance! He is so faithful.

Hear t.Jay share his battle in the song “Don’t Let Me Go” below:

“Hourglass” is a special one. Sound-wise, I love it because it’s the first song I’ve ever done that was ALL singing. Not an ounce of rapping in this one. It was definitely a challenge for me vocally, but it was a challenge that I was up for. I so badly wanted to do an all-singing song, so I’m really pleased with the way it came out. The song itself is very relevant to me, mainly because I’m single and patiently (doing my best) waiting for that special young lady. Have I met her already? Have our eyes met before on a crowded street? Have I known her my whole life? Who is she? When will she be revealed? Only God knows. He’s in control of the hourglass that separates her and I. I don’t control it. With every grain of sand that falls through to the bottom of the hourglass, that’s one step closer that her and I are to laying eyes on each other.

Take a listen to t.Jay’s song “Hourglass” another one about love and waiting on God to write his story…

Dream in Soul: You have two songs on the album “If I Have To Wait (The Patient Pursuit)” and “Hourglass” that some would call love songs (touching on romantic love). What’s the story behind those and how do they flow with the rest of the theme of the album?

Oh man… haha As I said in my last answer, I love “Hourglass”. And I love “If I Have To Wait” as well. I actually wrote that one before “Hourglass”. They’re both definitely very significant to me, because they speak a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes with me. Honestly, they were inspired by the fact that the Christian Hip Hop scene doesn’t really have any “love” songs written from the perspective of someone who is single. CHH has it’s fair share of love songs, and they’re great don’t get me wrong, but they’re all pretty much written and recorded by men or women who are married and the songs are dedicated to their spouses. As I stated above, I am single, and I really REALLY wanted other single men and women who want to do it right, be able to relate to these songs, and I wanted these two tracks to encourage them in their season of singleness. I know it can be challenging. Trust me. EVERY SINGLE DAY on Facebook, I see that another young couple just got engaged or got married, and it definitely ushers in a sense of pressure to rush the process and just “find someone already.” But that’s not God’s best for me, and it’s not God’s best for you either. His timing is right, because His timing is perfect.

Check out t.Jay’s video for his “love” song “If I Have to Wait (The Patient Pursuit”

Dream in Soul: Tell us about some of the collabs on the album and what it was like working with those other artists, producers, etc. Are you currently collaborating with other artists on their projects, either producing or vocally, and can you share some of those projects that we can look out for? Also, is there anyone you haven’t worked with that you’d love to?

Well, starting with track number 2, Corbett is just a dope musician overall. He was the dude who sang the hook for Lecrae’s song with Saigon, and Corbett is just crazy gifted. He’s actually a producer first, and he produced two tracks on The Pre View (“Tomorrow” and “Remember When?”).

On track number 4, with my dude Young Joshua, that was just a funny timing thing. He and I have a ton of mutual friends in the industry, and it was just a matter of time before we linked up and did some music together. I hadn’t even met him yet before we did that song on “The Pre View”, and then I met him like a week after he sent me his verse at a show we were both doing, and it was like we’d been boys for years. Love stuff like that.

Buy Focals (feat. Young Joshua)

On track 5, Applejaxx has become a household name in CHH. He’s a dope artist with a crazy grind. I’ve always enjoyed his projects and the creativity behind them. I met him back in January of 2010 at a show we both did in Richmond, VA. Kept in contact with him and we just ended up collabing. He’s definitely been a big encouragement to me and he’s invested a lot of wisdom to me about the inner-workings of different aspects of the industry.

Money Ain’t Everything (feat. Applejaxx)

On track 7, Musixbox is my good friend Nate Kearney, who I’ve been doing ministry with ever since I got saved back in ’09. The dude is stupid talented when it comes to music. He plays like 40 different instruments, and as you can hear, he’s got pipes too. He’s a great brother and he’s also my drummer for my concerts! =D

Lens Crafter (feat. Musixbox)

On track 10, CrimsonMuzik is my boy Lee Andes who I mentioned earlier in my answer to question 2. His music is DOPE. Be sure to peep his stuff. He’s been there with me since the beginning of my music pursuit, and even before that. I’ve known him since middle school, and he and I have been best friends for about 10 years now. Ridin’ with that dude to the end.

Lastly, track 13 is an acoustic remix of a song “Love” that Level 3:16 and I released in October of 2011. Level is by far my favorite group of people on planet Earth. They’ve become my 2nd family, and according to them, I’ve actually become an honorary member of the group. Haha I would seriously move out to Indianapolis just to be with them 24/7. They’ve blessed me so much, and I love getting to spend time with them.

Listen to Love the Acoustic Remix (feat. Level 3:16)

Currently, I’m working with some artists on their projects, some who can’t be named, but some can. I’ll be on Young Joshua’s mixtape that he’s releasing with the producer TEE WYLA, and I’ll be on Lee’s (CrimsonMuzik) next album too. I’ll also be mixing and editing R-Swift’s new album, as well as Level 3:16’s upcoming album. I’m extremely excited about both!

As far as other artists go who I aspire to work with, I would love to do something with Mali Music. He’s one of my personal favorites, and I feel like we could make some CRAZY dope music together. Kari Jobe is another one of my hopefuls for a future collaboration. She’s got an amazing voice and an incredible ministry. I’d also love to do something with Christon Gray, and Musiq Soulchild too. (The latter is a little far-fetched, but can’t blame a dude for dreaming.. haha)

Dream in Soul: The site is called Dream in Soul and is geared toward encouraging young adults to revive their God-given dreams and use their gifts & creativity for the Kingdom (“Fairytales” was one of my favorite songs on the album by the way:). Do you have any advice for other artists who may feel called to do music, maybe something you’ve learned along the way, what someone has taught you or what you’d tell the younger you?

That’s a great question, and it’s one that I get asked a lot actually. When it comes to pursuing your passions, there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with doing that. As I said in “Fairytales”, God plants dreams in your heart and in your soul for a reason. He wants you to chase those dreams and He desires for you to enjoy the pursuit of those things. And it’s not just limited to music. It’s relevant to anything and everything in life.

One of the best (and hardest) things that I’ve learned along my musical journey so far is in regards to the matters of my heart and my perspective. God wants us to be satisfied with HIM. Not our achievements, not our “successes”. He wants us to find our joy and our satisfaction solely in the fact that we are His and that He is ours. If I never create another song or do another concert, would I be OK with that? If I were to lose my voice one day and never be able to speak in front of another crowd, would I still have peace and joy? Would I be content with my life? At first it was very VERY hard for me to answer “yes” to those questions, but it honestly wasn’t until I WAS able to fully say “yes” that I felt God’s complete approval on my pursuit of music. He wanted me to be ENTIRELY content with just Him first.

I’ve also learned that you can’t sit back and just expect everything to fall into your lap. You have to go hard after that bad boy. If you really want it, then put in the work for it. God won’t turn his back on hard work. It may seem that way at times, but trust me… He sees your efforts, and He honors them. Keep pursuing your passions. “Let go and let God” is not the same thing as “Sit on your rear and do absolutely nothing”. “Let go and let God” is saying “Trust God and get going”. As I also stated in one of the lyrics on “Fairytales”, I said “You can’t steer a parked car… You can try, but I promise you’re gonna sit there where you are.”

Dream in Soul: Going along with that previous question can you also leave us some general words of wisdom for anyone about living out the dreams God has placed in our hearts, waiting on God’s timing (which I know relates to the theme of another one of my faves “Tomorrow” from the album) and encouragement on moving forward in our purpose when it can get discouraging.

Yeah, very similar to what I stated above, just keep on going hard after your passions. If they’re not meant to be, trust me, God will make that very clear to you along the way. Patience is probably one of the hardest principles for us human beings to continually practice. I promise you though that when you surrender your dreams and your plans to God and lay them at His feet (but keep on doing YOUR part in pursuit of those dreams), you’ll begin to see doors open left and right. Also, don’t get discouraged when things don’t go the way YOU plan. Obstacles will arise, and challenges will come. God never promised easy, but He did promise to be faithful; and He never breaks a promise.

Dream in Soul: Okay, nuff about the music, haha. What else can you tell us about you…what do you do when you’re not traveling & making music – how do you like to spend your time (eg. any favorite books, pastimes, etc.) Anything interesting we wouldn’t know by looking at you, dreams for the future, extra words of wisdom or something we missed in the rest of the interview?

Thanks for taking the time to ask all these questions! I appreciate it. When I’m not making music or touring, I love just being at home with friends and family. I know that sounds very typical and cliche, but it’s so true. I’m a very extroverted person, so I enjoy getting to spend time around people, whether it be out on the road or back home. And in all honesty, I actually LOVE traveling. It’s one of my biggest passions besides music. So when I’m not touring for music, I’m usually traveling on my own just to see the world. I also like playing basketball and I love being an uncle to my 4 little nieces and nephews. They bring me so much joy.

I also enjoy sitting on my roof and watching the sunset, while doing a little leisure reading up there too. One of my favorite authors is Dr. David Jeremiah. That dude has got insane amounts of intellect and wisdom. I love his material! Any book by him is a winner for me. I’m a big dork at times, and I’m definitely a goofball ALL the time. As far as future dreams go, I would love to go skydiving within the next year, most likely in Seattle so I can see Mount Ranier from up above while I’m free-falling. I already know it’ll be breathtaking. I’d also love to visit Africa in either 2013 or 2014.

Dream in Soul: Where can people go to connect & learn more about you, download your music, get booking/tour info, find out about production and all that good stuff? Have any upcoming events, exciting tour stops and projects coming up that we can look out for?

As I mentioned in one of my other answers, I’ve got a new project coming out in 2013 which I’m VERY excited about. I can’t wait to get that in your all’s hands. Also, I’m doing my first international tour (“The Pre View Tour”) in March of 2013. I’ll be making stops in Tokyo, Argentina, and Uruguay, in addition to 5 U.S. cities!

Check out t.Jay’s Adventures in Tokyo Where He Recently Toured

If any of you beautiful people would like to connect with me, you can keep up with me on Facebook at:

You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram, both @tJay_Music.

For booking inquiries or anything of that sort, you can e-mail And if you want to download my most recent album “The Pre View” for FREE, you can get your copy here:

Dream in Soul: Thanks t.Jay for your transparency & for the inspiration! Be sure to check out t.Jay’s sites above for more on his ministry and music.

t.Jay just keeps rolling out great music, check out his latest song “See Saw” (feat. Sean Simmonds & Mark Arthur)

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About the Author

Julene, editor of Dream in Soul and SOAR, is a young dreamer, entrepreneur, artist, writer and speaker who loves to create to inspire others. She founded her own creative media company, Envibrance Studios as a teen, and runs an inspirational apparel & product line. Visit her website online at

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