Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Inspired by Amy...

It's gotten very late, but tonight was wonderful, so I really want to write before I head off for sleep...

First off, let me mention the great new thing that happened today: Gerald had his first Nashville guitar lesson! One of his goals in coming here was to find a great guitar teacher who could show him some of those special Nashville techniques that all the great session players have. He found this teacher through a guitar store, and booked his first lesson for today.

The teacher was very impressed with Gerald's playing (of course!), and he'll be able to teach him more skills that will improve his ability to compose on the guitar. He's also going to teach Gerald the Nashville Number System. This is a way of writing chord charts here is that is used by every session player in Nashville. In simplest terms, numbers are used to represent the chords of the song, and where they fall in the scale. Once you choose your key, your 'Do' becomes 1, 'Fa' becomes 4, 'So' becomes 5, etc, and then you can play the same chart into any key. (Yes, I'm explaining this terribly, but I already told you I was tired!)

Oh, and if you're unfamiliar with the term "session player", this is someone who works primarily in the studio, recording back-up instrumental parts on other people's CDs. A singer like me would hire session players to play piano, drums, cello, fiddle, etc, on my CD. A session player needs to be highly skilled so that they can play a huge range of music. On one CD, they'll be playing southern gospel, and on the next, they're be playing country-rock, and they need to sound equally awesome on each song. They are paid by the hour, so they also need to be able to play new music very quickly with almost no rehearsal. A skilled session player is a gift to the music industry.

And speaking of gifts, guess what we did tonight? ... We saw Amy Grant perform!

Lipscomb University was having their Christmas lighting ceremony tonight, and what a gorgeous night for it. After the sun went down, it was still 20C and perfectly clear. The air was warm and rich, and we had to laugh at the people lining up for hot chocolate.

Lipscomb is sort of interesting in and of itself. It's a Bible college, but they also have an entire grade school that's somehow part of the same system. So you can start at Lipscomb in Kindergarten, and stay at Lipscomb all the way through University.

The ceremony was outside on the steps of a huge building surrounded by tonnes and tonnes of lit-up trees. The first group to perform was the University Jazz Band and Vocal Ensemble. Really smooth, tight harmonies. Then, they has this mass choir of 300 children, made up of 3 choirs from the Elementary, Junior High, and High Schools. Each choir performed on its own, and then they did a few songs as the mass choir. I'm such a sucker for choral singing, so this was all just so wonderful for me.

And then they brought out the guest of honour, Amy Grant. I found out about this free concert the first or second day that we arrived here, and I've been counting the days ever since. Sooo excited!

She had a small band, and the mass choir backed her up on several songs. It was all Christmas music, and she did a nice mix of classics and originals. And you can tell it's a songwriter's town - she announced the writer's names before the title of every song.

She told us that her daughter always wants to get up on stage and dance. So, at one point, Amy opened the stage up to all the children in the audience who wanted to come up and dance. Her daughter led the way, but once the other children saw that it was for real, there was a flood of children up on the stage, rocking away to Up On The Housetop and Mr. Santa (to the tune of Mr Sandman). It was so joyous and wonderful! And so tempting to jump up and join the party. Gerald made sure I just danced on the spot...

After the party settled down, Amy sang one of her most beautiful songs, Breath of Heaven, the song that tells of Mary's journey to the birth of her child. It has haunting music, and as the first chords sounded, it started to rain - cool and soft. It scared away a few folks, but really, it just set up this lonely and beautiful atmosphere for the song. The choir filled in with lush harmonies, and Amy's singing was rooted and honest. It was truly magical. (Until the woman in front of us decided to gouge our faces with her ginormous umbrella, but we can edit her from the memory.)

She did about a 50 minute set, after which they had more Christmas lighting ceremony stuff to do. We didn't stick around for all that. We were just there to see Amy. And I'm sooo glad I went! So talented, and so inspiring...

Tonight just reminded me how much I want to be here... how much I want to write and sing for God's glory... how blessed I am to be on this adventure... I'm just so thankful for it all!


Anonymous said...

My name is Matt, and I work for Lipscomb. I got a kick out of what you wrote about the event last night. I'm really happy to hear you enjoyed yourself at The Lighting of the Green, and I hope you'll come back next time.

I moved to Nashville from Chicago about a year ago, so the line for hot chocolate was pretty amusing to me, too. It doesn't seem right to be outdoors in November without a coat on.

Best of luck to you and your husband.

Allison Lynn said...

Thanks, Matt! I really did have a great time, and I thought the organizers did an awesome job of things.