Friday, July 22, 2005

Nashville - Day 5

I can't believe it's Friday! The school is officially half over! On Monday, the day felt so long, and now it's flying by way too fast.

Well, today was a day of brave things. I have started showing some of my songs around. I won't discuss details now, just in case nothing comes of it. Hopefully, I'll be able to share a few things next week.

My Peace in the Valley "reputation" is growing. This morning in theory, I was called to the front of the class. I nervously staggered up. Jack started to play the intro for Peace in the Valley, and I just started to sing. We did two verses, and the class joined in on the choruses. How amazing! An amazing accompanist to support me, and then this awesome group of music-loving-singers joining in.

My final feat of bravery was performing in front of the whole school during Performance Opportunity, which happens every night after the concert. This is when anyone can get up and sing, play, whatever. There is no feedback or anything. Just performing. I sang I Believe, and my new friend Karen played piano. She's also a great accompanist. I was nervous, but I really tried to focus on communicating the message of the song. I think that part worked well, and I've gotten some nice comments since. We did a lot of work on segues today in class, so I really tried to do well on my introduction to the song. But sooo nervous! Who wouldn't be with Ben Speer in the audience?

I continue to meet new and interesting people here. I amazes me how Southern Gospel, shape-note singing, convention music, and quartets is such a culture here. These people are steeped in it. Even the kids are singing these intricate harmonies and busy texts. It's so neat!

One more thing I've been meaning to mention: Southerners are a lot like Newfoundlanders. It's true! They're very generous and warm. Everyone you meet is instant family. There's lots of food and it's not always very good for you. Fashion and style are not so important. God, family, and being a good person are. And they have music and humour in their blood.

Tonight's concert was the faculty concert. It was Gaither-style - everyone sat in a semi-circle and got up for solos. Sarah Delane was a special guest singer. And the highlight was Allison Durham Speer's special appearance as ... wait for it ... Vestal Goodman! She was all dolled up with a huge wig and crazy clothes, hanky in hand, and she came out and sang in her best Vestal voice and mannerisms. It brought down the house! But for me, the most poignant moment was when Mary Tom Speer sang a solo, and Ben and nephew Tim sang back up harmonies. Mary Tom must be close to 80, and she just sang out in this strong and open voice. Her diction was clear and her message was strong. She was an absolute inspiration!

We have our most relaxing evening now. There's a movie showing later on, and people are making plans for Saturday. Tomorrow is a lazy day, so I'll be sleeping in. I've also told my suite-mates to find another bathroom for an hour - I'll be locking myself in the bath-tub for a nice long soak. All this deep breathing and good posture is exhausting!

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