Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Guest Post by Gerald Flemming

Today we feature a guest post by my husband and partner in all things Infinitely More, Gerald Flemming. 

The Nutrients of Prayer
By Gerald Flemming

Allison and I are nigh unto finished with our shiny new CDs, ‘How The Light Gets In’ and ‘Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem’. Anybody who has made a single CD knows the incredible odyssey it is, but like last time, we decided to do these two simultaneously. We’ll never learn. The reasons are many, some of them economical, some of them having to do with the ability to streamline the process. To say we are totally wiped out is an understatement of epic proportions. The last month alone, we didn’t have a single day off.

Two years of writing and road testing songs across Canada and the States, culminated into a three month gauntlet that, at times, tested the very fabric of our convictions. The recording process of course was our main focus, but we were still doing concerts and leading worship on a weekly basis, at different churches and venues. This, while also booking a two and a half month East Coast Tour that looks incredibly full and exciting. The reason I’m actually writing Allison’s blog post this morning is because this is technically, ‘almost’ a day off for me, while she is spending the entire day teaching.

And we’ve all experienced that extended period of time without rest. The seemingly endless days of dawn till dusk, having to make hay while the sun shines. We do everything in ‘our power’ to persevere. Contemporary success tech has lots of words for this focus, but all of them feel like they’re lacking because most of them are rooted in the ‘our power’ paradigm.

For Allison and me, I would have to say, this long arduous process
 was fueled more by the ‘our prayer’ paradigm.  

Prayer, for us, is the flash paper. It unites us and ignites us, giving energy and focus when we really shouldn’t have any. It’s the moment of eloquent quiet and solemnity that not only prepares us for the grind but also gets us excited about the possibilities. There’s no question in my mind that we would have folded at some point in the last few months, if we hadn’t been fueled by prayer.  There were times that all of the crazy brought Allison and I closer, and there were times it felt like it drove a wedge between us. Prayer would then help mitigate any energy draining conflict, align our purposes, and set us back to the task at hand.

In less then two weeks we’ll be leaving for the East Coast for two and a half months.  We have to finalize the set list of a new concert. Make sure all of the tech is sound (pun intended). Get our vehicle fixed (don’t get me started).  And the rest of the toilet roll list of things that need to be done before we leave. Even the thought of all this starts my head swimming and my heart palpitating in an unhealthy way...

Excuse me please, if you will, while I turn away and find a quiet little moment to pray about it.


We would love your help finishing our new CDs! 
Please visit our Kickstarter page to watch our 'making of' video 
and learn more about our exciting pledge rewards:

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Why We're Recording a Christmas Album!

In 2012, we did a "never again." 

We started out recording our Infinitely More CD and partway through the process thought, "Hey, while we're pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into this CD, we should record a second CD!" So, we did. Every Church Is A Small Town became Gerald's first solo project. We were thrilled with the results, overjoyed when both projects received GMA Covenant Award nominations, but if we're being honest, it was completely exhausting. By the end of that summer, we were drained emotionally, creatively, spiritually, and financially.

Never again.

Or is that, never say 'never again'...

This spring, we began preproduction on our 5th studio project, How The Light Gets In. It's been an amazing journey of songwriting, collaborating, and recording. But partway through the process, a new idea started to surface.

You see, back in 2012, we recorded a single Christmas song, My Heart Is The Manger.

We've loved sharing that song in our concerts, but it's always led to the question, 
"When are you going to make a Christmas album?"

A few years ago, we recorded some live Christmas performances. They contain the beauty and spirit of the season, but they've only been heard by a few friends and family members.

And then we have these great new songs we wrote last Christmas that everyone keeps asking about. It wouldn't be that hard to just record 2 songs...

As we started thinking, the idea formed, "What if we took all those beautiful performances, and brought them together into a special, festive project?"

And the Christmas EP was born!

So this fall, when we release How The Light Gets In, we'll also release our first Christmas album - 

Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem.

You never know where this creative journey will take you. But the beauty of doing more is learning more, and I can honestly tell you: even though we've had definite moments of exhaustion this summer, this time around, the recording process has been pure joy!

We're so excited to share these live and studio performances with you! If you're interested in learning more about both projects and placing your download or CD preorder, you can visit here:

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page visit us every Wednesday!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

BIG Announcements about Our New CD!

Today, we have HUGE news!

Not only are we recording a new full-length CD of original songs and favourite hymns - How The Light Gets In - we're also recording a brand new Christmas EP!

Tonight, Everywhere Is Bethlehem is our long awaited Christmas project, combining sweeping studio recordings with beautiful live performances.

To help bring these projects to life, we've just launched our first ever Kickstarter campaign!

We would love for you to pre-order your CD, and prayerfully consider supporting our recording with some of our exciting pledge packages. You can receive CDs, custom songs, house concerts, and even join our East Coast Tour Club!

Here’s how we want to make this campaign extra special: Our full project budget is $20,000, but if we reach our minimum goal of $3000, every contributor will receive a free Christmas bonus!!!

Please visit our Kickstarter page for all the details:

We'll be posting lots of photos, videos, and song samples over the next few weeks. 
Check back often, and help us bring these projects over the finish line!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Our New CD - Announcing the Songs!

On Sunday, we have a big announcement with our new CD, 
but each day this week, we're posting mini-announcmenets on our Facebook page.

Today, we're sharing the songs!

Stay tuned for more updates!! 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Worship Wednesdays

Worship Wednesdays is on hiatus this week as we prepare some BIG NEWS for you!

Visit us in the next few days for all the announcements and new developments with our New CD!!

Worship Wednesdays returns in its regular format next week...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - The View From The Vocal Booth

The lights are slightly dimmed, save for the summer evening sunshine peering through the shaded window. The warm brown of the soft wall-covering gives the small room the feeling of a cube-shaped blanket.

I carry my lyric sheet, my pink mechanical pencil, and my Contigo water bottle. The water is room temperature, of course. I lay each piece in its appropriate spot, and take a deep breath. My sunglasses and earrings are removed and sit on the stool. They'll just be in the way.

Checking to see which earpiece is marked 'Left', I don the headphones. The room is deliberately silent, but I can hear myself breathing in the phones if I get close to the mic. I swing my arms and stretch my legs a little. Loose is good. Loose allows the breath to flow.

I do a few of the weird sounds that only other singers find attractive - cascading lips thrills, soaringly high sighs, nasal na-na-nas...

I can see Gerald and Carmon, our engineer, in the next room, chatting and trading guitar gear wish lists.

My eyes catch the lyric sheet I've placed on the stand. "A Divine Heart Imagined You" - I love this song. I remember the first time I heard Gerald sing the first draft. The words and the melody were hauntingly beautiful. I was so moved I declared myself "cowriter" and together, we finished the song.

And tonight, we record the vocals.

Photos taken during our current recording sessions at 
Emmanuel Recording Studios, Toronto, ON.

Over the past few months, this song has had to complete in a class of 50 to see who would make it onto this new CD. We created our arrangement, brought it to the musicians in Nashville to add their creativity to the mix, and then shipped it back to Toronto for this moment.

We've sung it live many times, but tonight's performance will be something else. This is the one that people will listen to in their living rooms and on their car stereos. They'll hear it on good days when they feel confident in God's love. They'll hear it on the horrible days when the world feels like its crashing in on them, when they doubt that love or mercy or grace exists at all. As I look at the lyric sheet, I think about all the people who will hear this song, but especially the ones who will need it the most. I imagine them listening to melody, letting the message wash over them...

I hear Gerald and Carmon talking to me. We're ready. Carmon hits play, and the track starts to play in my headphones. I hear Gerald's guitar and that beautiful cello. I take a singer's breath, and start to sing, 

"Before the first face felt the first dawn..."

A few full takes to get the feel of the song. Then, a few passes on individual lines and verses to really work the expression and beauty of each section. We break the song into its most minute moments, using every technical and emotional tool we have to explore the fullness of the song.

After capturing each verse several times, I remove the headphones and rejoin Gerald and Carmon. We sit together to choose our favourite takes and create a vocal that is emotional, powerful, and beautiful. We make sure my harmonies match perfectly with Gerald's melodies. We fuss over the tiniest details to make sure every phrase, every note, expresses the message we want to share.

A little techno magic, and the whole vocal is ready. We take a final listen. Not so long ago, this was simply an idea that entered Gerald's creative space. By the end of the summer, it will be a fully recorded song, ready to play its way into the hearts and lives of folks who need to hear about God's plan and provision for their lives. Amazing.

Our work for tonight is done.
With a click of a button, everything is sent back to Nashville where it will be mixed... 
But that's another story....

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page & visit us every Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - The Musical Fountain of Youth

Last week, my Facebook feed was inundated with cell phone videos from this year's Stamps-Baxter School of Music. If you've been reading this blog since the beginning, you'll know that Stamps-Baxter was very influential on my decision to enter ministry.

I've been watching videos like this, of 80-something-year-old Rosa Nell Powell ripping up the piano:

Thank you, Marian, for this video!

Southern Gospel musicians get a lot of flack - some deserved and some not - but there's one thing they do right: they raise their children with music. I saw it every year at the school. Whole families would come, training their children to sing harmony, write and arrange songs, and play instruments.

We would also get the seniors, folks in their 70's, 80's, and 90's who were still singing and playing.

I remember the first time Earl Scruggs visited the school with Little Roy Lewis. Little Roy and the band were tearing it up, and poor Earl was off on the side of the stage. I kept thinking, "Why are they making him sit there like that? How can they just parade him around like a mascot?" Then, someone helped Earl out to a chair in the middle of the stage, and he started to play. I was gobsmacked! All of a sudden, this man came to life, playing energetically with precision and passion. The crowd went nuts. I was amazed...

At that same school, a man named Harold Lane spent his days sitting in the back of the auditorium. In his prime, Harold was a prominent vocalist and song arranger, influencing a generation of music makers. But now, he seemed weak and distant. Ben Speer asked if I would please ask Mr. Lane to arrange one of my songs, to give him something to do. I felt terrible asking this frail man to do anything. One afternoon, I sought him out and made my request. He asked me to repeat the question. I wondered if I was causing him confusion, so I nervously asked again,

"Would you please arrange my song with harmony?
"Why?" he asked, "Don't you know how to write parts?
"No, sir, " I answered. 
"Well then, sit down and I'll teach you." 

He grabbed a piece of chalk, drew a staff on the board, and turned to face me. Remember that scene in The Wizard of Oz when everything turns from black and white to colour? Well, Mr. Lane had turned to colour - bright, vibrant, ready to share his passion for harmony with me. I met with him every chance I could get. When teaching music, he was a man on fire.

When Gerald and I talk about who we want to be as seniors, we never speak about retiring in the traditional sense. We may change how we do it, but we'll always make music. Stopping just isn't an option.

In our travels, we often meet folks like Earl and Mr. Lane, people who have allowed their passion for music making to carry on throughout their lives. As they age, their bodies and sometimes their minds start to fail them. Eyesight fades, limb grow weak, and yet, the music stays alive. They continue to sing, write, and play. If one skill becomes too difficult, they pick up another:
  • Soloists with weaker voices move to the chorus where other voices will support them. 
  • Double bass players who can't stand learn to play electric bass so they can sit to play. 
  • Guitar players with stiff fingers learn to write lyrics and collaborate with other musicians to create melodies.
It's almost as if the music fills the gaps left by aging. 
It energizes them, and propels them forward into living life it all its vibrancy.

I'm reminded of this verse:

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6 NIV

Music classes in schools have been on the chopping block for years, and that battle will continue as long as people are foolish enough to think that music and art are frivolous. Those of us who teach and practice the art of music making know that it's essential to who we are as individuals and as a society.

It's critical that we introduce music to children when they're young, so that they learn early how to make music and how to weave it into their daily lives. But I believe it's also critical to make music as long as we possibly can.

Perhaps, in making music, we can find a fountain of youth. 

Let's continue to make music, to teach music, and to encourage others in the art and practice of music making. Let's find a place where our lifetime pool of skills, talents, emotions, experiences, and passions can strengthen and inspire us to explore and enjoy life for as long as possible.

And maybe, in that place, we can inspire the next generation to sing, play, write, arrange, and create...
And the circle will begin once more...

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page & visit us every Wednesday!