Amazing day! Completely exhausted! This morning started at 8am (8ish for some of us), and I didn't get home til 1 am. (I've adjusted the time on this post to keep the date accurate.) Loooong day, but gooood!
The morning started with a chapel service for all GMA registrants. The music was lead by Travis Cottrell - fabulous band, and he has a great voice. Beth Moore gave the message, and she was awesome. I really only knew her by reputation, but it was clear she had many fans in the audience. She spoke about Jacob and the angel, and related that to times in our life when we need to "wrestle with God". Such a great way to start the day!
Next was the opening of the exhibit hall. An hour and a half later, I'm dragging around a bag of free stuff. Good times...
I almost skipped the next session because of its uber-cheesy title: "How to build relationships during GMA Week that will last". I only went because I had friends in there (maybe I could have rationalized that as 'relationship building'?), but seriously, it was fantastic. The opening part on how to network at industry events was fine, but then we broke up into groups of ten. We had to introduce ourselves, and give our email address to everyone in the group. Well, we had amazing people in our group - the woman who works at X-Box who's feeling a call to ministry, the woman from Nigeria who wants to bring CCM to her country, and the "Mom-ager" - a mother managing the career of her daughter.
Next we had the Networking Roundtables. This was great last year, so I was pretty excited about it. Basically, it's a room full of tables and each table has an industry professional in fields like radio, management, booking, etc. You rotate through the tables in 15 minute sets. I didn't get as much out of it this year, but I did sit at Tom Jackson's table for a while, and that was amazing.
Last year, I skipped the Live Showcase so I could watch the Walk of Fame inductions, so this year I decided to attend the showcase. Everyone puts their name in a hat, and over the course of 2 hours they pull names out and those people get to sing. I put my name in, but it didn't get drawn. That was cool though cause a few friends got to perform, including Virginia Hill, who was on the Indie Fest line-up with me and Gerald last summer. Everyone was good, and some people were extraordinary.
Oh, and I also met up with some great Shoutlife people today! I love putting real faces to the cyber faces! Some of us had summer together on the patio of Panera. Nothing says "spring" like sitting on a patio!
From Panera, we rolled down the hill and into the Ryman for Sunday Evening Worship. It was lead by Michael W. Smith, Mandisa, and Israel Houghton and New Breed. At two hours of solid music, it was a bit lengthy for the end of a long day, but soooo incredible! I'm such a fan of Mandisa's, and I'm now a brand new fan of New Breed. Such an amazing mix of praise and rhythm and just cool, cool music!
And then, finally, my favourite part of GMA Week: The Songwriter Showcase. Hosted by Bart Millard (Mercy Me) and Mark Hall (Casting Crowns), the two hour line-up featured over a dozen stunning performances. Each song is performed by the songwriter, which is sometimes the artist, sometimes not. Where the worship service felt a little long for me, the Songwriter Showcase could have gone til morning and I still would be in my seat. It was just incredible. Each song is performed simply and acoustically, so you have rock bands going unplugged, and some songs simply performed with piano or guitar. Joel Lindsey and Sue Smith performed their Hoppers cut, "He Erased It" with piano and 2 part harmony - beautiful. Leeland did their Dove nominated "Tears of the Saints". I'd never heard this song before (I think most people over 25 hadn't either), but it was truly moving. You could feel something shifting in the room as this 'kid' sang about saving the lost of this world. Really incredible.
Another favourite moment for me was Toby Mac singing his hip-hop song "Made to Love" in an acoustic arrangement. I love this song, but to hear it performed with just 2 voices, guitar, and a guy on beat box was really cool. Mark Hall ended the night with "East to the West", which I just love.
Today was my last full day at GMA Week, so after exchanging email addresses and cell phone numbers, I finally got in my car to go home. I walked in the door at 1 am. I'm wired and exhausted and nowhere near ready to sleep. I can't believe I have to work tomorrow morning...