We're all set for a busy week of concerts. Tin Pan South is a nightly celebration of the songwriter and the song. We've bought passes, so we're planning on seeing one or two shows per night til Saturday.
As soon as I got the program, I knew I would have to see tonight's show at the Rutledge. GMA partnered with NSAI to present a night of Christian songwriters featuring Stephen Curtis Chapman, Billy Gaines, Ashley Cleveland, Geoff Moore, and Matthew West. In short - amazing!
Obviously, I'm well acquainted with Stephen Curtis Chapman's music. He was an excellent host, and as he and Geoff are co-writers, he often joined in on his songs too. He played his new hit, "Cinderella", which celebrates the father-daughter relationship - something that means a lot to me. He also sang his classic "I Will Be There" which I sang years ago at my cousin's wedding. Listening to it tonight, sitting next to Gerald, the whole song just took on a deeper meaning.
Geoff More has an incredible voice and great songs. My favourite was "Erase", inspired by a trip to Rwanda. It's basically a plea to erase the differences between us and Jesus so that we may see and hear and love like Him. Beautiful!
Billy Gaines has a soulful voice and a great message. His songs showed a great sense of rhythm and pocket and improvisation.
It was funny about Matthew West. I'd heard his name many times, but I didn't really how many of his songs I know and love. I found myself singing along with him all night. He debuted a incredible song about his wife's journey to God that had the whole place singing along. Gerald said he's a little like a Christian Jason Mraz. Very cool!
And Ashley Cleveland - so amazing! That huge soulful voice and great stage presence and that cool pink guitar and just rocking praise. She had this great song about prodigals called "Little Black Sheep", and every time she sang it was engaging and cool.
There was so much to love about tonight. Every song was unique and strong - not a weak one in the bunch. And every singer had great vocals and strong communication skills.
I wish critics of Christian music were there tonight. If you think Christian music is wimpy, listen to Ashley Cleveland. If you think Christian music is geeky, listen to Matthew West. And if you think people go into Christian music because they can't make it in 'real' music, well, just listen to any of them!