Today takes the record at the longest day at Stamps-Baxter. We started at 8am with devotions, and auditions have just ended at 11PM!!! So ready for some sleep, but I really need to get down all the awesome stuff that has happened today, and I think I just need to start at the climax:
Today, I met Bill and Gloria Gaither! That's right, not just Bill, but the elusive Gloria. Bill came last year for a Q&A and it was such a huge experience for me. But to spend time in the presence of Gloria Gaither was a dream come true. I am so influenced by her writing. I love her ideas and wordplay. I love to hear her speak on the Gaither videos. I know she speaks at conferences, but it's never in my area, so today was a rare and incredible experience.
First, Bill sat at the piano and led us in a singalong of some of their classics - He Touched Me, Because He Lives, Let's Just Praise the Lord, and so on and so on. He even treated us to the 'cult classic' - "Not A Hoof Shall Be Left Behind". Bill claims that this is the worst song he ever wrote, and used that to launch into a talk about songwriting. For the next hour, he and Gloria talked about writing and their process and the stories behind some of their songs. It was so amazing and brilliant and wonderful. I took lots of notes. Gloria encouraged us to write meaningful songs, because at some point, we will need those songs to minister to us. She is just so passionate about words and their use in ministering to others. I was so emotional through the whole thing. I have admired this woman for so long, and to sit in her presence was nothing short of inspiring.
They talked a little about the Gaither Vocal Band and videos and stuff, but then they also gave this 15 minute history on their song, "I've Just Seen Jesus". Yes, the same duet we've been working on for the past 2 weeks. They told us all about the writing process and how it came to be the song it is today. What a great story to get this week, of all weeks!
After their talk, we could all say Hi and have photos, so I had my photo taken. (Don't worry, you'll see the photo. I'll be showing this one to everybody!) When we were 'visiting', I asked if I could tell them a quick story. I told them about when we lost baby Carter, and how upset I was. That night, I had tickets to a Gaither show. I really didn't want to go, but the tickets had been expensive and Mom and Dad thought it would be good for me to go, so I went. The show opened with Bill just walking out on stage and leading us all in a few songs. The first one he sang was "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands", and the first verse he sang was: He's got the little-bitty baby, in His hands! I couldn't believe it. I cried, but I could cry with tears of joy, because I knew Carter was safe in the hands of God. I've always wanted to tell Bill how much that moment meant to me, how God had spoken so clearly through him that night. I'm sure they hear stories like that all the time, but I still felt that they appreciated me telling them.
So that was definitely the high point, but the rest of the day was pretty full too. In theory, we're writing our song. Remember, this is a co-write with 18 people. Today, we harmonized the verse, and Tracey asked us to start on lyrics. I had an idea prepared, so that's the one we're using. I thought we could write about Noah in the first verse, the second verse would be an application verse, and the hook would be something like "He washes it all away", with reference to washing away sin, grief, etc. (An application verse is that verse that turns the song out to you, the listener, and tells you how this story can apply to you. Think of the second verse of "Ask the Blind Man, He saw it all".) We all started writing lyrics, and we came up with 3 verses.
We then started to write music for the chorus. We did this more in a singalong process. We started with the end line of the verse, and someone sang what they thought would be a good opening for the chorus. Tracey played this, and we would all sing what we thought should come next. We would then decide on which of these phrases we liked best, and then add it on. We just continued this process til we had a chorus worth of music. It all seemed a little haphazard in the moment, but I think we may have a pretty good song. Tracey's class often writes a song, and they usually get published in a songbook, so that would be pretty cool.
I had my final lesson with Daryl today. I stayed up very late finishing my song. I actually ended up grabbing my guitar (my loaner guitar) and finding an empty room on my floor where I wouldn't bother anybody. I'm not happy with the music on the bridge, but I'm sure that will come. I am very happy with the tune and how it all builds. Daryl liked it too, so that was very satisfying. I also presented my Christmas song. Can't remember if I mentioned this before, but Daryl has been asking every student to write an uptempo Christmas or Easter song. I had one I wrote last year. The lyric was good, but the music was terrible. So I revisited it, and brought it in. Daryl was very enthusiastic about this one and thinks it's very pitchable. Again, we both thought it might be good for a Christmas musical. We spent the rest of the time talking about how to make demos and pitch songs. I'm just so excited to get to Nashville where I can be surrounded by writers all the time. You know, writers other than Gerald!
(By the way, I just found out that NSAI doesn't have a Christian songwriters night next week, so I can't go to that anymore, but I'll probably still drop by the office and check it out.)
Tonight was audition night, thus the very late evening. Remember how I said they were having an open audition? Well, there were at least 20 groups, and just over 50 soloists who auditioned. It was crazy! Everyone had 2 minutes, but it still went on forever. I'm such a voice junky and I love hearing people sing, so it was mostly good. But I have to say, by the end of it, I was just ready for bed and cozy clothes. Actually, it was very cool to see all the different styles and arrangements people had to offer. There are some great groups that have been assembled just over the past 2 weeks, and lots of great soloists that I hadn't heard before.
Scott and I were the first to go with "I've Just Seen Jesus". Because we only had 2 minutes, we started halfway through the track so that we could get in lots of the high notes. We had a lot of fun, and I think we did it well.
My quartet auditioned too, and we now go by the name The Accidentals. (Great name; can't take credit for it.) We sang "Moving Up to Gloryland", and it also went really well. The audience response was great, so I was really pleased with that.
The results of the auditions will be announced tomorrow morning. I would really love to be a part of the program, but even if I'm not, I'm just so pleased with tonight's experience. It's just been so good to work on these songs and get to know these musicians. All very satisfying.
I'm just ready to crawl into bed. Please excuse all typos and weird sentences in tonight's entry. It's taking all my energy just to keep my eyes open, and I really don't think I'm up to proof-reading tonight.
It's all been so good today!