Thursday, October 27, 2005

ALPHA - Week 6

Tonight's theme felt very close to my heart: What is God's plan for us?

Nicky Gumbel presented the idea that, not only does God have a plan for us, but God has a good plan for us. Needless to say, it raised lots of different points of view in the discussion period of the night. I think for a topic like this, it has to raise a personal reaction. It's not like the discussion of the Bible where we all have this common item to view and discuss. When we think about whether or not God has a plan for our lives, we immediately look at our own lives and think, "Is this a plan? If so, is this really what God wants for me? And if this is His own plan, how come it's not different/better/more?"

I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God wants me to be an artist. I know he wants me to perform. I know he wants me to use my talents of acting and singing. In my bio, I call it The Beethovan Moment, and it's the clearest moment I've ever had. I've struggled with using these talents in God's service versus just using them in my own service. In retrospect, God has always been trying to steer me towards using them for Him - I'm thinking mostly of Agnes of God, Ruth, and Job and the Snake - All projects that brought together my love of singing and acting with His own stories.

This summer, at Stamps-Baxter, I realized that I want to give more and more of my art to God and doing the work of God. I recently heard of a gospel group that cancelled their performance at a local craft show. Their reason? Someone else at the show is doing psychic readings, and that's against their religion. I'm not saying they have to agree with psychic readings, but why cancel your performance? God is giving you a chance to spread the Gospel, and you're saying, "No thank you. I'm looking for a better venue." Please! Did Jesus only preach in the "proper" places? No! He preached in the temple, the market place, the hill, and the boat. He preached to anyone who would listen. I so completely disagree with this group's decision. I hate this concept of only singing "for the church" when it means only singing in the church. Everyone needs to hear this message! Not just the pretty people sitting in your church. The guys selling drugs on the street corner needs to hear it. The people working 16-hour days in the stock exchange need to hear it. The men and women of the country club need to hear it. And the women giving the psychic readings at the craft fair needs to hear it.

The Gospel is not simply "good news". It's great news! Doesn't everyone deserve the chance to hear that?

Oh, and as far as God's plan for me: I pray and pray every day for guidance. I put my trust in Him. And I continue to pray, "Yes, Lord!"

Sunday, October 23, 2005

WRITE ABOUT JESUS - Going home...

Well, the day is only half over, but I'll be getting home pretty late tonight, so I want to write now while my head is still fairly clear.

I'm still in the hotel, and I've just said the last of my good-byes. I truly wish I had more time with these people. I would love to see what would happen if we had another few days to hang out and start throwing around song ideas. I'm ready to work now, and that's always an exciting place to be.

This morning, Jennifer, Linisa, and I went to church at First Baptist Church Harvester. This is where the workshop was held. It's huge contemporary building. They have 3 morning services and one evening service. They also have a preschool ministry. I don't really know what that is, but it sounds intriguing. The earlier service was traditional, and I think I would have liked the music at that one cause they sing out of the Baptist hymnal. The one we attended was a contemporary worship, using a praise team and song leader. They were really great, and added a lot of energy to a tired morning. Also, Chad Cates, from WAJ, did a song, and that was a wonderful thing to hear.

This church is doing a special series right now called Living Life On Mission, and it's incorporated into their music, preaching, and outreach efforts. Today's sermon was about "giving away", meaning to give the message of the Gospel, but also to give of ourselves to others, to the community, and to each other. The pastor was a really engaging speaker, with a comfortable and humourous style.

There was something else about the service. It started with the baptizing of three young girls, and it was the full-dunking kind of baptism! They had a place above crowd, right at the front, where they did it, and they had a video camera in the booth (by the pool? I don't know the right terminology!) so you could see it happening. We baptize children and sometimes adults in the Anglican tradition, but still, it's mostly babies. And even then, it's just with water on the head. It was really neat to see this kind of baptism in person. And a little funny to see them all react to how cold the water was!

You know, I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a woman who seemed very uncomfortable when I told her I like to visit other churches of different denominations. She and I were not of the same denomination, so I still don't really know why it would strike her in such a strange way. Does she think it's wrong? I think we should visit other churches, especially when we travel. I think it's interesting to see the things we do differently, but it's even more important to see the things we have in common. After all, we're all Christians, and it's all the same God, all the same Jesus. I think we can get very locked in "our" worship, and we get in this strange place of judging other forms of worship as "wrong". What a destructive point of view! How many churches are struggling to survive in our growing cities, and in our generally secular society? Do we really need to be fighting against ourselves as well?

Whoa, that's my sermon for the morning!

I'm flying back this afternoon. I still have a few more hours. Not enough to actually go and do anything. I'm going to spend a bit of quiet time going over the events of the weekend, have a leisurely lunch, fly home, and hug my family.

Sounds like a good day to me.


It's all officially over! I can't believe it all went so quickly, but there is it. My feedback for next year: Please add another day! I still haven't met everyone, and I'm still not a perfect songwriter!

We started early again, with the shuttle and breakfast at 8 am. Our worship today was lead by Dave Moffit, with Kevin and Chad helping out. All praise and worship music. Dave is a great leader, so it was a wonderful way to start the day. Chad is leading music in church tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to that.

This morning was the competition, and here's how it worked: We all met in our small groups, and everyone who wanted to could submit a song on cd. Then we basically had an open critique session. We all heard a song, and Dave and Kevin would give their feedback. Slightly nerve-wracking, but I had an open critique yesterday, so I felt pretty prepared for the experience. My song choice was a song Gerald and I wrote in September. I didn't really have any hopes of winning, but I really wanted the feedback. Well, I got it.

Let's just say, my song was not well received. I was so disappointed! I wanted them to stop looking me in the eyes because I thought I may cry. I wanted to sneak out, find a payphone, and call Gerald so he could tell me I'm talented and brilliant. I love that song! We've done it in church and I know it's ministered to people. But not in this room. They did give a few practical tips, which I completely understand. But the hardest part is that they didn't think it lived up to the title. Dave said he found the title familiar, and therefore we should say something new and innovative in the song. He said he understood the imagery, but we weren't saying anything new. I was so crushed. I didn't think I'd win, but I at least thought it would do better than that.I know it's not personal and I shouldn't take it that way, but this is my heart and soul sung on a tune. How can I not at least feel it in a personal way? I'm having to remind myself that, even though some of their suggestions are practical, critiquing is a subjective process. It may not appeal to these people, but other people have loved it.

I also must confess: It's so hard to write about this awful morning. I'm meeting lots of people here who've read my blog (which is truly weird and wonderful all on its own) and it's hard to think of people reading about my disappointments. But when I started this blog, I vowed to myself that I would be honest about the struggles and triumphs of being an artist. Shame must be put aside. Honesty must always win.

I was quite relieved to hang out with new friends at lunch, and to hear about their better mornings. The Alumni Cafe brought grew new sounds. I met a wonderful lady who,in addition to having four children of her own, has adopted eight (yes, 8!) children through being a foster parent. And she writes music and drama. I got her book and gave her one of my cds. She was just incredible to meet. I love that I've gotten to meet so many new people. And we've all done lots of cd exchanges. Again, I'd like it to be a day longer so I can actually get to have conversations with these new people. Yay email!

I had three sessions this afternoon. The first was Women in Christian Music - a panel with Sue, Belinda, and Twila, and moderated by Sue's daughter, Holly. ( I was almost named Holly!) This was actually a perfect antidote for the morning. Good, old-fashioned girl time. There was such a sweet, joyous energy in the room. The ladies shared stories of their struggles in a male-dominated industry, but they also gave great advice on how to achieve your best in the industry. It's amazing that so few women are in decision-making positions in an industry where the greatest consumers are women in their thirties.

Next, I did Extreme Song Makeover, a great class on rewriting a song. This was very inspiring, again, in light of this morning. Sue, Marty, and Chad all shared stories of when and how they had had to rewrite songs. Sue gave some really practical tips for doing a rewrite. And all three were able to play before and after versions of their songs. Very helpful!

My final class was highly recommended by everyone: Dave Clark's class on creativity. He showed a video called Everyday Creativity, followed by a discussion. "Great", I thought, "a waste of my time". After doing the Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, I'm pretty closed-minded about other creativity programs. I'm very confident that because I've experienced the best, I, therefore, have nothing to learn. Oh, silly girl!

The video was hosted by photographer, Dewitt Jones, who equated creativity with falling in love with life. Isn't that wonderful? He told us that, to every solution, there are many right answers. As creative people, we should never just settle for the first right answer. We should move around, look at things from different perspectives, and try to find a better right answer. It was really great. I think more people should see this video. (Oh, and more people should do the Artist's Way too. It's on the reading list here, and I've been chatting it up to people all day. Soooo good!)

We had another Alumni Cafe tonight, which ended with a great acapella performance. I'm such a voice-hound, so I love acapella singing! We then had the awards and final presentations. I, of course, won nothing. (insert self-pity here) But lots of great and deserving songs did win awards. It's exciting to think what will happen to these songs now. I wonder if this pedigree will help put them in front of the people who need to hear them?

Then came the worst part - saying goodbye. Such a short time, and yet so many new friends. I am so thankful that Joel told me about this. I am so glad I came. Just a few days ago, I was wondering why God would bring me here. But answers have been revealing themselves all weekend. What a blessing this place has been for me! I am so thankful for Sue and all the wonderful stuff she's doing. I can't wait to come back next year.

Of course, by then, I'll be brilliant!

Friday, October 21, 2005


It's the end of a very long, very wonderful day. I don't know how I'll ever fit in all into a blog, but here goes:

This morning started at 7:45 when I met my new friends Stacey and Connie O'Hara to share a shuttle to the church. Stacey is a singer-songwriter, and Connie is her Mom and manager. They are great people, and a great example of the kind of people I'm meeting here - friendly, generous, eager to learn, and eager to share.

All of our meals are provided by the workshop, and breakfast was a great time to meet new people. The morning started with a worship time lead by Phil Mehrens. He played piano and sang, and was joined by a harmony singer and a violinist. Beautiful combo! He started with a picture of a planet erupting in space, and brought us to thinking about how large God is. This is a God who can count every hair on my head, yet He also made the planets, suns, and galaxies. As we sang, they ran photos of planets in space. Such a great reminder of the majesty of creation and the Creator.

My first class was lyric writing with Dave Clark. I took his class as Stamps-Baxter this summer, and what a joy to be in his presence again. His approach to songs is so precise, in rhythm and rhyme, yet his approach to finding inspiration is loose and open. I took tonnes of notes, thank God, cause I'm too tired to remember a word of it all right now.

My next class was melody writing with Guy Zabka and Kevin Stokes. This was incredible and so very useful for me. They started with a short lesson on structure, breaking down all the essential components of a song. Then, they talked about how the melody can build and move through each of those components. I found this really useful. More than once, I've looked at a lyric and been overwhelmed with the thought of having to write a melody for the whole thing. This encouraged me to treat each part as special and important. They also talked a lot about filling the song with hooks, both lyrical and musical. To quote them, "the song with the most hooks wins". I would love to have spent more time in this class.

Next was lunch, but meals are not just about sitting and chatting. During meals, we have the Alumni Cafe, where WAJ alumni take a turn to perform one of their own songs. My favourite song was about the singer's little sister, who doesn't have a wedding ring, but she's "Having a baby for Christmas". It was just so full of love. Wonderful!

(At this point, I have to share a blogging thing - I have tried to publish this post three - count 'em 3!!! - times, and each time it has been lost in cyberspace. I'm ready to kick in the screen of this computer, but the Holiday Inn will never welcome me back. What you are about to read is a rewrite, so I don't know if that will make it better or worse. If I lose this entry again, you'll know it cause there won't be any words. Just the sound of me sobbing!)

My first session after lunch was amazing - writing traditional gospel with Maurice Carter and Twila LaBar. I thought this would bring me back to the realm of southern gospel, but traditional gospel is what's also known as "black" gospel. In Canada, we don't have black or white churches, per say. It's just church. So I still can't get comfortable with calling a church black or white, but I guess that's just my learning curve. So, what is traditional gospel? It's what you hear with mass choirs, especially when they have a soloist doing that awesome call and response thing, and then the soloist just wails over it all. It's what's sung by Toronto Mass Choir. The arrangements are often improvised on the spot, and the choir members just focus on their director to see where they're going to go next. This is challenging from a writing standpoint, because how do you structure the thing? I was really intrigued and inspired by this class, and I think I'd like to try writing a traditional gospel song. I don't know who will sing it. Maybe me and Gerald in the living room? We also had a special treat when Maurice sang and Twila accompanied on the piano. We had church in that room!

My next class was about getting critiqued, with Steve Siler and Wayne Haun. It was all about how and when to get critiqued. They talked about how to receive the info you get, and what to do with it after. It was really helpful, and a good preparation for my next class...

My open critique. This is when you sit a room with a group of people and a critiquer (not a word?) and everyone listens to your song and the leader (better word!) gives you feedback on the song. Yes, in front of all those other people! My leader was Rick Shelton, who's a publisher from Daywind, and my song choice was "I am waiting here for you." I was terribly nervous, but I'm really happy I did it. Rick was really positive about the song. He had a few things he suggested that might help tighten the flow of ideas, but overall, his feedback was positive and encouraging. He was really practical, too, because he took the song literally line by line, and gave feedback on each line. He was also impressed when I told him I'd only written about 20 songs, so that was really cool.

Just a few overall things that are coming up in the classes. They are all encouraging us to listen to and study great songs. And many have suggested we study the great American composers of the 20's to 40's, like the Gershwins and Harold Arlen. Baby,I'm already there! One thing I'm having wrap my head around here, is that the focus is on writing a commercially viable song. Something that will get cut by a major artist and can get air-time, perhaps printed in a choral book, etc. We're talking about a faculty of people who make their whole living off the writing and publishing of their songs, so it makes sense that this would be their focus. Still, for someone like me, who has only ever written for myself, this is a really new concept to incorporate.

This evening brought another Alumni Cafe, and Stacey sang a beautiful song called Break Me.

After supper, we had what many people believe to be the highlight of the entire workshop - the Writers in the Round Concert. Each of the clinicians sang one of their own songs, and it was amazing! I couldn't get over the range of songs. There was Steve's very funny "Saul, Saul the Know-it-all". And Marty's epic "Cross Examination", set in a courtroom on judgment Day. Kevin did a Billy Joel-esque song called "Confessions of a Lesser Me", my personal winner for best title. Sue and Chad did a great song called "Broken to Beautiful", inspired by women who've lost their self-confidence due to trials in their lives.

But two songs really stood out for me. One was Belinda Smith's "I don't want my Momma to get old." How many of us can relate to that? It was set in a hospital room, and she is sitting by her mom, waiting for test results. It hit such a deep and personal place for so many of us. Truly wonderful!

The second song to blow my mind was by Joel and Twila, and it's called "Orphans of God". It's just been cut by Avalon. When this song comes out, find it, and buy it. I'm serious. You will want to have this song. In short, it says that we all have pain, but we are all accepted, because there are no orphans of God. I can't really describe it in detail, because I won't do it justice. You know, the last time I spent time with Joel, we were eating deep-fried Twinkies in Nashville. But tonight, I got to see how God is using him to do His work. Just incredible!

We got back to the hotel close to 10 pm. A late night run to Dairy Queen gave us all a little rest. As I'm writing, there is a blues band belting out cover tunes. On my floor, there is a teenage girls' soccer team. They're all nineteen and proud of it.

I'm just praying for sleep.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I'm here! I'm in St. Charles, Missouri for the Write About Jesus workshop. I was sitting in the restaurant this afternoon, marveling over God's way of guiding our lives. A year ago, I would never have imagined my life taking this direction. I'm here today because of a chain of events set in motion at a Gaither's concert...

For those who are new to the story, I've been singing gospel music for ten years, when I was first introduced to southern gospel by my choir director, Boni Strang. We went to a Gaither concert last year, and Bill Gaither and Ben Speer said something about a gospel singing school. A what? A gospel singing school? I'd never heard of such a thing! Could such a place truly exist?

Well, it does. This summer, I attended Ben Speer's Stamps-Baxter School of Music. I've never worked so hard in my life! I kept a blog every night so my parents and fiance could keep up on what I was doing. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, other people found it and read it. Joel Lindsey thought I sounded so cool (hee hee hee!) that he tracked me down and we hung out together. He told me about the Write About Jesus workshop and suggested I go.

And here I am.

Today started early with a morning flight. Seven a.m. at the airport with tonnes of people in line. What are all those crazy people doing up so early? The flight went well. At least I think it did. It was actually nap-time for me. I was met at the airport by John Smith, husband of Sue Smith who runs the workshop. They are both so welcoming and friendly.

My hotel is okay. It's not exactly "up to snuff". If you lie on the bed and look at the ceiling, there's a little bit of water-stained-modern-art up there. But lots of other participants are staying here, so that's nice. They have a complimentary shuttle service to the workshop and the airport. And a Dairy Queen next store!

The afternoon was another nap to get rid of the headache brought on by the early flight. Really, I don't know how Morning People do it.

Tonight was registration for Write About Jesus. I got my t-shirt, which is pink! Yay! They obviously knew I was coming. Our binder for the weekend is full of lots of great info, including interviews with the staff. There are lots of workshops to chose from. I'm going to take some time to look over the schedule tonight so I make the best choices.

One awesome thing is that they've dividing us into small groups. Each group is lead by two of the staff members, and we meet several times over the next few days. In the binder, it says it's so no one "slips through the cracks." I appreciate that! There are over 100 participants this year, which, apparently, is quite larger than other years. Everyone is very friendly, but when all the classes are lecture style (which I'm guessing these will be?) it can be hard to get any one on one time with people.

But I am getting to meet some of the other participants. Everyone is at very different levels of writing and/or performing, and I'm finding that to be a great comfort. I will admit, I felt really intimidated about coming here. I assumed everyone would be very skilled and accomplished, and I would be the lone beginner in the crowd. I have tonnes of confidence about my performing, but I'm still pretty shy about my writing. But there are all levels of people here, and it's proving to be a very supportive atmosphere. There are lots of returning participants, and I always think that says great things about a place.

We only had one session tonight, but it was a great one: We got to observe a live co-writing session. Yes, I've participated and observed co-writing in my own living room, but this was different. For one thing, there was no puppy trying to co-write the song! And more importantly, these are people who are full-time writers. They do these sessions on a regular, professional basis.

We could choose from one of three sessions, and the one I watched was with Joel and Sue. There was a piano in the room, and they both had Apple laptops. It's odd to create in front of an audience, so they started with the "this is so weird" stuff. Then they chatted a little about their parents. You could tell that helped them both to settle into the room and to remind them that they know each other. Finally, Sue threw out an idea, and the dance began. Sue gave the hook, and the style. Joel started writing a chorus. Sue started writing a verse. Joel turned to the keyboard and started to play chords. They discussed a Bible story to use, and how to put a new perspective on that story. Within the hour, they had created an almost-complete song! They both admitted that this was much faster than usual.

One thing I thought was really interesting thing was, before the song was even started, they spent time discussing which group they could hear singing it. They used this to determine the style of the song. In singing, we really try to avoid styling ourselves after other singers, but I guess in trying to create songs that are commercially viable, you want to have something that can reflect the style of the singer.

After the session, we all gathered for a Q&A, and to hear bits of the songs that had been created in each session. Really interesting to hear the different things that could happen in the same amount of time. I, of course, asked a question. I was wondering what you usually bring in to the session with you. Joel answered that he usually brings in at least one idea, but that sometimes that idea isn't even used.

We ended with prayer by John. Tomorrow will be very long, so I'm going to try and settle in and get a good night's sleep. I'm just so excited to be here, and I want to make the most of everything.

An encouraging phone call...

A while back, I sent some songs to a publisher in Nashville. Well, I heard from him today.

We have sent a few emails back and forth, so I knew he was taking time to listen to my songs through several times, and I really appreciated that.

Today, I got a "call of encouragement". This person had a lot a great feedback for me, but mostly, he wanted to tell me that my writing has a lot of potential, and he wants to encourage me to keep writing. He thinks it's awesome that I'm going to Write About Jesus. He's given me several people to look up and spend time with. And, he wants to me to continue to send him my songs. Yay!!!!

I don't really know what I expected to come from this whole thing, but I'm really happy with this phone call. It's great to know that some one in the "big leagues" thinks I have potential and that I'm on the right path to fulfilling that potential. And it's great to know that I have a contact in Nashville who will listen to my music. I'm feeling excited and blessed! Yay!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

ALPHA - Week 5

I missed last week's Alpha cause of my rehearsal, and it was great to get back to it tonight.

The last few days have been insanely busy. I've been trying to get everything together for Write About Jesus, while also organizing the moves of some new furniture we've bought. Wedding plans have kept us busy, and I've also been preparing for some gigs I have coming up within the next six weeks. I've been trying to get some proper sleep, but that part hasn't been working out so well. Maybe on the plane tomorrow?

Tonight's Alpha was all about the Bible - why and how should we read it? I've always had trouble with the Bible. How do I reconcile the loving God I meet through Jesus, with the Old Testament God who seems to think nothing of killing off five thousand men and their cows? And how do I embrace a book that has been the inspiration of Hitler and the KKK? Yes, I know the Bible is a book of God and love. And I know it has been instrumental in saving the souls and inspiring the lives of millions of people around the world. I'm not dissing the Bible. I'm just saying: It's complicated!

It's huge and dense and complicated. I love that Jesus came to bring things into a tight focus. Concentrate on two things - love God, and love your neighbour. I think that's the key to the Bible for Christians. There's lots of stuff going on, but when you get overwhelmed, just think about that - love God, and love your neighbour. So simple. And yet, sometimes so difficult to put into practice.

When you hear that the KKK believes in the Bible and uses it for inspiration, you have to wonder, "Did they read the Love Thy Neighbour part?". You see, I have this crazy and radical idea that when Jesus told us to love our neighbour, he actually meant everybody. And I mean, everybody. I think he meant the guy who lives next door who yells at our puppy. I think he meant the prostitutes on Dundas Street. I think he meant that old man in my church who can't deal with using a contemporary prayer book. I think he meant that woman at work who just can't stop babbling. I think he meant people who are different from us - different in colour, financial status, education, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.

And I think he meant for us to love them. Not just tolerate them. Love them. I know I find this hard. I just want to scream at that neighbour to move out of the neighbourhood. And I want to tell that woman at work to shut up. But none of that is love. Love is generous. St. Paul said it best: Patient and kind.

Oh the Bible! So simple. And yet almost two thousand years after the first pages were written, we still can't figure it out.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sweet Beulah Land

I did Sweet Beulah Land as a solo in church this morning. I really wanted to try a few of the skills I learned in Nashville from Allison Durham Speer.

I had it all planned out, cause you know, that's the best way to look spontaneous. (Actually, I'm being serious. Sometimes you need to plan your 'spontaneity" on stage so it doesn't come off as sloppy.) Singers in our church are generally of the plant-and-sing mentality. So.... I decided to move! I used a handheld mic with a long cord, and during the last verse of the song, I moved off the chancel steps and walked towards the congregation. And then ... oh my! ... at the end of the song, I asked them to sing along, acapella, on the chorus again. This was so completely planned! I had the lyrics printed up for the screen, and I made sure the choir knew it so they could be my support.

Nobody has done this kind of thing in our church on a Sunday morning before. I was a little nervous, cause it's always risky trying new things during Sunday worship. But as my wonderful friend, Archbishop Ted Scott said, "We should comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable."

My singing was good. I felt strong and in the moment. I asked God to sing through me, and He came through for me. (Isn't that just His way?) But it was hard to tell the congregation's reaction. A lot of people sang along, which was great. But you know when you just can't tell an audience's reaction? It was like that. Only one person, other than my parents, commented on it after the service. Not that I'm doing it to see how many people will line up to praise me, but we all know we use it as a barometer.

All in all, however, I'm glad I tried it, and, God willing, I will definitely try this style of communicating again.

Our preacher yesterday was from All Saints church in downtown Toronto. She works in a church that caters to addicts and the homeless. What a powerful speaker! Her church is in my neighbourhood, so I've offered to come and sing some Sunday morning. I know they could never afford to hire musicians. Their needs are so much more basic. I hope she asks me to come. I'd really be honoured to sing there.

Only a few days til Write About Jesus. Still trying to gather all my stuff together. Very excited!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Good show!

Today was long and exhausting, but just awesome. The highlight was, of course, our big band show.

It was a noon-time concert, and you never quite know what kind of audience will turn out. But we had about 100, so that was really encouraging. Paul, our conductor, kept things really tight. The pace was great, and we really packed in the songs.

The audience had a fantastic time. Mostly an older crowd, and you could tell they appreciated the choice of songs. Often times, I'd look down, and people would be singing along. I love that!

I love our arrangement of What a Wonderful World. It's a lovely 12/8, with an orchestra solo the second time through. It gives me goosebumps everytime I sing it. I mean, it's a killer song with an awesome message. But to sing it with a full orchestra behind me? Amazing! People smiled when I announced the song. And they started to sing along. But one man was really affected. At one point, he started to cry. I don't know if it was the message, or a particular memory, but it clearly hit him in a deep place. Whatever it was, I hope it was a very positive experience for him. I said a little prayer for him.

What a great time! Great songs and an awesome audience. I love my job!

A big rehearsal.

So, tomorrow was supposed to be an easy gig with the big band. Just a few songs. But our other singer is unable to perform. So ...

Tomorrow is a full solo gig! Arg!!!!!

Only a few days notice, no charts to study, and one rehearsal. Yes - terrifying! Tonight was the one rehearsal. I went in nervous. Technically, I went in early to study the charts. It's all songs I've done before, but not for several months. And I'm not in rehearsals now cause of Alpha (which I missed tonight.)

The band is in good shape under the strict baton of our new conductor, Paul Weston. He's musical, which is always great, but he also has a really strong work ethic. Rehearsal starts on time, and we are there to work. I can completely respect that attitude. Isn't that why we have rehearsal? To work? To spend our time making music? If I wanted a social club, I'd join a social club. Actually, I don't know if I can afford a social club. But I digress.

We have a great line-up for tomorrow. Lots of awesome songs - Beyond the Sea, S'wonderful, and Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars. I was in good voice tonight, and I was able to relax into the songs. I actually had a great time, and I'm now looking forward to the gig.

My job tonight is to get a good night's sleep. When I get up in the morning, I need to write my morning pages, eat a lot, do a good long vocal warm-up, and do everything possible to breathe out my nerves.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Audition day.

Finally, a day with more than one audition!

Today, I had two auditions. Both were for commercials, but at least it's paying work. The first was for Peak Freans. I had to be delighted at finding a crumb on a plate. The next was for Best Buy. I had to be a Victorian Christmas Caroller - type casting? - singing a carol about cordless phones and mp3s. All very silly, but that's what commercial auditions are all about.

I got the proofs from my shoot last week. I'm really happy with them. I need to spend a few days looking at them, getting my whole family to look at them, having my agent look at them, and finally, getting my puppy to look at them. (You really do need as many opinions as possible.) I should have prints by the end of the month. Finally!!!

We had a meeting of the Gospel Vespers committee tonight. Sort of a post mortem for September, and planning for October. This will be a fun one cause our Gospel Choir is the music leader. Boni has asked me to be the prayer leader, and I'm so honoured at the request. She said she asked cause she knows I'll "lead" and not just "speak". *blush* I'm so excited about Gospel Vespers. I love that we're creating a new style of worship. And I'm so impressed that my Dad, who is so close to retirement, is still pushing the boundaries, still creating within his field. Everyone on the Vespers team is so open and positive. What a great base for worship!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

ALPHA - Week 3

Tonight's topic : How can I be sure of my faith?

Well, I thought this would be the easy one. After all, I'm quite sure of my faith. I've had times when my faith has been shaky, weak, and downright non-existent. But not now. I am super Christian!

So, I thought, tonight will be easy.

Ha! How wrong I was! Yes, my faith is still strong, and tonight did not bring up any doubts. But it was a humble reminder of how much I have yet to understand about receiving and living in faith. I didn't realize how many questions I had - not about God or Jesus, but about how God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit enter and work in my life.

I did disagree with one thing Nicky Gumbel talked about. He was speaking about the "free gift" of the Holy Spirit, and how this gift is given with "no catches". But isn't being a Christian the catch? "Yes, you can get the free gift of the Holy Spirit, but first you must give your life over to Christ." That sounds like a catch to me. I know he means catch as some kind of deceitful trick, like the small print in a sales ad. But to say that God's free gift is freely given to all doesn't quite seem correct to me. Yes, it's given to all, but you must choose to accept it through Jesus Christ. After all, if I said to a non-Christian friend, "You have the free gift of eternal life, but first you must accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior", they'd probably call that a catch.

I also had some difficulty with the "fruits of the Holy Spirit". Something I've heard about my whole life, but revealed to me in a new light tonight. By accepting the Holy Spirit into my life, am I guaranteed these fruits, or am I guaranteed the opportunity to attain or achieve these fruits? Very confusing for me!

Despite the fact that I leave each Wednesday with my head spinning, I really am enjoying this course. I would whole-heartedly recommend it to everybody - Christian and non-Christian alike. There are so many things we assume we know, until the question is asked a little differently, or the fact is given a new presentation.

In a practical sense, Alpha is getting me very excited about reading the Bible. My homework requires rooting around several different books for quotes, and when I find the quote, I always want to read the chapter so I can get the context. Last night, I got so excited by the process, that I stayed up and read Revelation. I'd never read it before, and my initial comment must be: What the ?????

Artsy business stuff...

It's been a few days of getting artsy business stuff done.

I've booked my first Christmas gig of the season! It's a Victorian carolling gig at the Royal York Hotel. Nice to get an early start on things.

I'm all set up to go to Write About Jesus this month. I have my flight and my hotel. Now, I just need to compile all my song recordings, burn more cds, get Gerald to write up chord charts, pick out what to wear... Maybe I'm not quite "all set up" yet.

I need a new 8x10 headshot, so I had a photo shoot today. It was actually a reshoot, cause I didn't get what I needed the first time around. It was a really relaxed shoot, which is great. And if was pretty efficient cause I knew what I wanted this time. Usually, on this kind of shoot, you bring in lots of clothes and try lots of things to get that magic shot. Since we'd already done that the first time, we could eliminate the search time and just go with the look I liked best. I get the proofs next week. Fingers crossed!

My biggest job in the next few days is assembling music for the gigs I have coming up. Of course, they are all completely different, so there can be no cross-over of songs! *sigh* An artist's work is never done ... thank God!