Thursday, February 28, 2008

Celtic Woman

I call her "International Amy". My friend, Amy Rivard, has literally sung and danced her way around the world. She's currently touring with the show, Celtic Woman, and gave me tickets for tonight's show in Nashville.

I had some idea what to expect, in that it was a vocal show, all female lead singers, with lots of stage flash. I don't think it was as Celtic as I thought it would be. They did a number of contemporary songs, including popera favourites like "You Raise Me Up". The percussion team was truly amazing - almost a show all by themselves. The main vocal quartet did do a really beautiful 4-part acapella version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Very still in places, with some unexpected harmonies. Really lovely.

I met Amy years ago through our church choir, and she sang in one (maybe 2?) of my Gospel concerts in Toronto. She truly enjoys life, and it was so awesome to see her tonight. I always feel inspired after seeing Amy!

In other news: I got 2 requests from DJs last week for Real Big Fan, so that's pretty cool. I used my GMA membership to vote on the Dove Awards today - also pretty cool. Oh, and I'm currently a Featured Product on House of Jubal- hopefully a very cool thing that will lead to some sales!

Tomorrow, I'm helping Gerald record some demos for a possible gig. Should probably think about getting some sleep soon...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Working on the dream...

I finally got to see Aaron today and put "Real Big Fan" in his hands! Obviously, he's heard it, but we haven't been able to hook up since we got back from Christmas. It was great to get his reaction on the graphics, and get his thoughts on where to go from here.

And a few bits of news:

- "Real Big Fan" is a Featured Product on! You can check it out here.

- I finished my article on Charlotte Ritchie for It should be posted the first of March. I'll post a link when it's up.

- Three of the Christian DIVAs will be gathering in Nashville in March. I've just booked a church for us on the Sunday morning in Lebanon (Gerald and I did their Christmas concert in early December). We'll be doing the whole service, so it's going to be cool.

- I'm having a run of 1000 CDs manufactured. As soon as I get them, I'm going to start sending them out for reviews and radio play.

Working on the dream, one step at a time...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Writing, talking, taking it step by step...

Happy Valentine's Day! We don't do a whole lot for V-Day, as we put our big celebrations into our anniversary. However, today is also Sebastian's birthday, so that needs a little celebration!

My day started with a long-distance co-write. Kara and I are continuing to work on our Song U co-write that we started in December. After our last draft, Kara submitted the song for a critique. The feedback was very good, with a few suggestions. So today, we tweaked the lyric and made some final decisions on the song. I think it's pretty much done, which is very exciting!

Next step: Kara is going to record an instrumental track at her house and email it to me. Then, I'll record a vocal here at our place, and when that's done, we should have a good little demo. I'd like to bring it to Write About Jesus in March and see what reaction we get there.

This afternoon, I started work on my next article for I decided I wanted to write about Charlotte Ritchie moving into solo ministry, so last week at the Gaither concert, I asked her manager for an introduction. I was hoping we could do a phone interview, but I couldn't find the right equipment to record the call. So today, I called Charlotte to re-introduce myself and chat a bit. I've emailed her 7 questions, and should get her response tomorrow. I'll have lots of time this weekend for writing the article. Well, in between NBA All Star coverage...

The rest of the day was filled with small steps necessary for achieving the bigger goals. I'm still waiting for a few cheques from Christmas, so I followed up on them. I'm getting 1000 CDs manufactured, so I connected my graphics designer with the manufacturer, and got all the required paperwork.

I also posted my House of Jubal link on my Shoutlife page. What is "House of Jubal" you say? House of Jubal is a CD store for indie CDs. It's very similar to, but it's all Christian music.

Here's my page: REAL BIG FAN

I have lots of plans for getting my CD online: a Snocap store, a Paypal button on my site, CD Baby, and itunes, to name a few. It's all so much work, but I have to remember that the big goals happen by small consistent steps.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Breakout Artist Interview

A few weeks ago, I got the awesome news that Rob Patz, host of radio's "Southern Styles Show", wanted to make me the "Breakout Artist" of the month. The show is carried on 100 stations across the US and Canada. The feature involves playing a song from the CD, plus an interview. I sent Rob my CD so he could take a listen, and we did the interview over the phone today.

The whole thing was very cool! We did 8 questions. I think 6 will be on the show, and 2 will be featured on their website. Rob loves the CD, which is just awesome. He actually thought a well known writer wrote "Do You Wanna Be My Neighbour in Gloryland", so I took that as high praise.

We talked about all sorts of things in the interview - making the CD, my experience at Stamps-Baxter, how I came to learn about Southern Gospel, who inspired me to start singing, and growing up a PK (pastor's kid). We also did a Christmas moment. You know at Christmastime when they have artists talk about their favourite Christmas memory? Well, he asked me my favourite thing to eat at Christmas. My answer was "ginger snaps", which gave me the chance to talk about my family a little.

I was really nervous before the interview, but I felt very confident once we started. Rob thought I sounded very comfortable and asked if I'd done a lot of radio. The answer is "no", but I think all my improv training helps in moments like that.

The interview will either play the end of this month, or early March. I'll post more info when I know! So excited!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Happy Anniversary to us!

Today marks our second wedding anniversary! We decided to do something special, so we just got back from...

Memphis! It was our first visit, and we just loved it! We stayed at the Heartbreak Hotel - the perfect mix of music history with a hint of kitsch. We spent yesterday afternoon at Sun Records. We heard amazing stories that never make the TV documentaries. And we stood right in the Sun studio. The air changes when you walk through those doors. Music and history and life have steeped into the floors and the tiles and the dust in the corners. I held the mic that Elvis and Johnny and Jerry Lee sang into. It was truly amazing.

Last night, we hit Beale Street. It was fairly quiet (I think this is their off-season) but it was still ringing with the sound of the blues. They had all the traffic blocked off, so you could wander in safety. The bars all had open doors and windows, so the music mingled in the street. We saw a great band at an outdoor stage, and people were dancing and grooving on park benches. We wandered into A. Schwab's, the oldest general store in the South. It was like Honest Ed's, but even older, with a strange but charming time-warp appeal.

This morning, we went to Graceland, which we've learned is properly pronounced GRACE-lind. There's a fine line to be walked in Memphis - We wanted to learn about the history and touch the energy that started it all, but we didn't want to be tourists. We wanted to be inspired, but not by buying key-chains and ashtrays. So, we stood across the street from Graceland, and remembered the talent of the man, and the generosity of a son who wanted a great house for his Momma. As I looked at those famous gates and that long stone wall, I couldn't help but remember film footage of mourners lining the streets, leaving flowers and tears for the man that inspired them. We'll probably tour Graceland some time in the future, but for today, just being there was enough.

We had lunch at a Memphis institution, Corky's - without a doubt the best BBQ we have ever tasted. We thought about visiting another music museum, but what we really wanted was to feel inspired by the musical energy of the town. So we sat in a cafe, pulled out a note pad, and did some Memphis dreamin'. We talked about how we were doing with our 2008 goals. We made plans for the month and for the week. And we talked about how we could each help the other with our individual goals.

In our wedding ceremony, we both wrote vows that stated our commitment to each other, not just as people, but also as artists. I vowed to "always choose the dream over the comfortable". For some people, making a "to do list" might be a weird way to spend their anniversary, but for us, it was the perfect way to celebrate our partnership and love for one another.

I'm entering the week feeling strong and inspired, and that's always a good thing.

On a quick side note, I want to applaud the Grammies for having such a great presentation of Gospel music. In those 5 minutes, the Gospel was preached to millions of people around the world. In a city ruled by money, power, and the gods of fame, the name of Jesus was lifted up and praised and blessed. Amen to that!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Booking 101 Dinner

We spent time with Tara and Kyle Jackson today, to pick their brains about the ins and outs of booking in the Southern Gospel world. They were a good match for teaching - Tara could speak from the artist point of view, and Kyle from the management side. Like us, they are on the newer side of the industry, so they're hungry to sing and minister. They're neither jaded nor naive. They still care about reaching people, and they know that a bus may eventually be a necessity, but it is never the goal.

We talked a lot about practical things, like travel fees, love offerings, contracts, and festivals. We talked about press kits and bios and websites. Allison Durham Speer always teaches that you enter a church as a servant - Besides serving God and the Gospel, you are there to serve that specific church and their ministry. So one of our biggest topics today was maintaining an authentic and sincere approach to ministry.

At one point, I tentatively suggested that, when Tara releases her CD, perhaps we could do a joint concert? Well, that lead into a huge discussion, and we are now looking at touring together over the next year, including a possible trip to Newfoundland!

Gerald and I left with brains chock-full of information, but mostly, we left inspired and excited about all the opportunities before us.

My SGM Radio article!

My SGM Radio article is up! Check it out here.

So excited! I didn't know it would be a feature. They included all the photos I sent, and I just think the whole thing looks great!

Soooo excited!!!!!!!

(Our Booking 101 dinner has been postponed, so I'll write about that tomorrow.)

Sooooo excited!!!!!!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Exciting Days!

So, as a quick catch up: The last 2 days have been very busy with working stuff. I finally got everything booked for Music on the Hill and all the grant info submitted - yay! I dropped my CD off at NSAI for Sheree, the membership coordinator who has been incredibly supportive. And I've been chatting with a Canadian singer-songwriter about how to get an O1 Visa.

I spent a good part of the day working on a new song. Actually, it's only really "new" in that it's not finished yet. I started it last summer. I'm really struggling with it, but I'm so confident in the idea and the chorus that I still think it's worth working on (dangling preposition, I know!) It's my first praise and worship song, and even though I've had a few people look at it, I think I need to get a praise writer to take a look and give me their thoughts.

But here's the exciting stuff: I don't know if I mentioned this before, but a few months ago, I was asked to write an article for about my experience with the Stamps-Baxter School. Well, they liked it so much that they've asked me to become a monthly contributor! Sooo excited! I still need to find out some details, but Tara writes every month, and she gets thousands of hits each time. I'll post a link when the first article comes out.

And speaking of Tara, we had a very exciting phone call yesterday. is going to feature me as a "Breakout Artist", and they also want me to submit my CD for review. Again, I still don't have all the details on the Breakout Artist thing, but I know it involves an interview, and radio play for my CD. Sooo excited!

Tomorrow, we're going out with Tara and Kyle for our Booking 101 dinner. Toronto and the surrounding area is so dense that you really don't need to travel far to find dates. We rarely drove more than an hour to a gig, and we worked different places all the time. Here in Nashville, and especially in SG, touring is the norm, and things are done very differently than they are in Toronto. So tomorrow night, we're going to pick those JMA brains to figure out how to book and tour and all that other cool stuff!

Feeling very positive and excited! Already making headway into my 2008 Goals and Resolutions! Yay!

ps - Can you figure out who just learned how to add links to her blog? Cool, wha?