It's been a wickedly long day, and all I want to do is crawl into bed with the family, but I really want to get all this down. Please excuse typos and things that just don't make sense!
This morning started with a worship service for the whole conference. Ross Parsley, from Colorado Springs is not just the Senior Pastor of his church, he's also the music minister. Very impressive to see the music leader suddenly stop jamming and just start preaching. He was good, but there were so many sound issues that it just got distracting. The percussion overpowered the vocals, so you couldn't sing along. And then a very loud sound check in the next room killed almost every intimate moment in the sermon. Rough way to start the day.
After that we had a rather long break, so I wandered through the exhibit hall, filling up my free tote bag with free pens. Love free stuff!
This afternoon was awesome! We did "networking roundtables". We all sat at round dining tables in a large room, and each table had an "industry leader". This person could be an artist, booking agent, manager, radio promoter, producer, etc. We would have 20 minutes to bombard that person with every possible question we might like to ask. After 20 minutes, the industry leader would stand up and go to another table. We now had a new person to bombard with questions. My table had a publicist, a record distributor, an artist manager, an indie booking agent, and an e-newsletter developer. It was just incredible. The manager was the last one, and by that time, the other people at my table were networking amongst themselves, so I got to have her all to myself. I took tonnes of notes. This workshop also had a reception with cannoli and chocolate-covered strawberries, so this gets my vote as Best Workshop of the Week!
Right after this, we all raced down to the park across from the Country Music Hall of Fame for the Music City Walk of Fame induction ceremony. There were several people honoured, including The Crickets, Wynonna Judd, and Nashville BMI founder, Francis Preston. But I had personal interest in the other 3 honourees. Emmylou Harris is the love of my father-in-law's life (don't' worry, my mother-in-law knows). I felt I was his proxy today. Michael W. Smith was nominated, and his chosen presenter was his good buddy, Jim Caviezel (Jesus of "The Passion"!) Finally, John Hiatt. John Who? John Hiatt wrote "Have a Little Faith in Me". Gerald sang that to me constantly when we first met. It eventually become 'our song', and that was our first dance at the wedding. *sigh*
During the afternoon, I hooked up with some Write About Jesus alumni, so we all headed down to the Hard Rock Cafe for supper, and then off to the first of the evening's concerts. Hillsong United in one of the world's leaders in praise and worship music. One of the most popular praise songs ever, "Shout to the Lord", came out of their music program. Tonight, their youth band lead worship at the Ryman. I've seen them before, and for what they do, they're just fantastic. They are bringing teens and young people back to the church in droves. I can't believe I'm going to write this, but at the risk of sounding like an old lady, I just don't like loud music in worship time. I like to hear the voices of the other people singing around me. Yes, even those of you who think you can't sing. But I can never put down the incredible gift of ministry present in these young musicians. They are truly blessing so many people.
Michael W. Smith was the host of this worship time, so he came out to lead a song or 2. Then he brought out his good buddy, Jim, again! Jim Caviezel is a soft spoken and articulate man. It is clear from his demeanor why he was considered for the role of Jesus. He told some amazing (and some frightening) stories about making "The Passion of the Christ". He talked about getting the call from Mel Gibson. But most importantly, he talked about finding God while he was literally hanging on the cross. He reminded us that earthly fame is fleeting, but we have the greatest awards and rewards awaiting us in heaven.
Finally, at 9:30 tonight, we got one of the 2 shows that got me really excited. (Tuesday will be the second) The Songwriter's Showcase featured some of the top songs of the past year sung by the writers. A lot were artist co-writes, but a few were pure writer performances. The best of these was definitely my friend, Joel Lindsey, and the song I adore, "Orphans of God". I sang this song at an audition last week, so I sang it about 20 times in rehearsal last week. But tonight, it still moved me. It still gave me chills and made me want to stand up and cheer. What a great song!
The artist line-up for this show was completely impressive. One of our hosts was Mandisa (who got kicked off American Idol way before her time; what were Americans thinking?), and she sang a song off her new album. Great song, and what a set of pipes! I hadn't heard of our other host, Mark Schultz, but as soon as he started singing his song, "I Am", I recognized it from the radio. Chris Tomlin sang "Made to Worship" with his co-writers, and ended by leading us in a chorus of "How Great is Our God". Everyone sang, and people added harmonies. Awesome! Jonathan and Ginger Bond of Young Harmony sang "God's Sing God", which combined a powerful testimonies with great harmonies. There were a few bands that did acoustic versions of their songs, which was very cool. It ended with Mark Hall's "Praise You in the Storm", which I'd never heard before. (sometimes I am so out of the loop!) It's a song about giving God praise even when your life is completely falling apart. It's not just a great message, but it's a great song.
And now, tonight, I'm tired and inspired and ready for bed.