Awesome day! It is currently 2:00am Louisville time as I start to write this entry. A lot happened today, so I'll try to get down as much as I can:
I woke up feeling very relaxed, until I realized that this was Showcase and Single Release Day. Ugh - nervous knot in my stomach! Gerald made the espresso while I started the day with vocal warm-ups. (Yes, we brought our espresso maker to Louisville!) I went over to sign up for the showcase and have showcase orientation. My showcase today was the Regional Artist Showcase, which is basically the first level of showcases. They go up from here in prestige, the number of songs you can sing, etc. I think anyone with a booth gets to sing in this one, but frankly, I was just excited for the opportunity. It's organized by the Artist Initiative Committee, who were all present to welcome us this morning. Part of our showcase overlapped with the Gaither/Signature Sound showcase over in Freedom Hall, so the committee was also there to assure us that whether our crowd was five or five thousand, they were happy we were there and please have a great time. Phil Cross, songwriter extraordinaire and committee member, reminded us that "God will not bless you to be somebody else". Love that! After a quick chat from the sound guy, I headed back to the hotel for more rehearsal.
I really wanted to see the Gaither showcase, but I figured I had to give my own rehearsal priority. Gerald took me through a vocal warm-up (so nice to have a husband who sings), and we did some final rehearsing of the song. We then loaded up the car with all the Single Release stuff, and headed over.
I got to the showcase in time to hear about an hour's worth of other performers. The Hoppers did a song, and Kim and Dean also did a duet. I would love to tell you the names of some of the other regional artists, but to be honest, I was too nervous to keep track of the names. I'm fine if I have a whole show to do, but sometimes, it's just harder to sing one song. In a concert, you can warm up into it (not a good practice, but it happens sometimes), but with a single song, you have to be 'on' from that first note and make an impact in just a few minutes. I was the last on the program, which actually made me kind of happy. The Gaithers were over by that time, so we had a pretty good crowd of several hundred people. The moment I hit the stage, all my nerves disappeared and I just had a great time. I sang "Do You Wanna Be My Neighbour in Gloryland", and the crowd really seemed to like it. There was lots of clapping and smiles, and that just felt great.
Mark Bishop closed the showcase with two of his songs, and I'm always a fan of his. After the showcase, I got lots of great feedback, which felt wonderful, but the most powerful moment was from the man who told me he was blessed by the song. It's all worth it just for that...
Tara finally arrived in Louisville today, so after the showcase, we gathered at the booth to prepare for the Single Release Party. While getting ready, several people from Ontario stopped by to visit, so that was very cool. At 5:30, we got the party started. We played "Neighbour" and Tara's new single, "God's Got a Word", from my laptop. We passed out mini-chocolate bars, and stapled on each one was a slip of paper asking people to request our songs from their local radio stations. Because we were building on the "neighbour" theme, we also took prayer requests for neighbours. People could write down their requests on an index card and place it in a box, and we're going to pray for them tomorrow. And as a special "neighbour" gift for DJs, I had these neat little slate signs with "Welcome" or "Home" carved in them. All in all, I think the party was a great success! Again, we were up against the Gaither autograph session, but we had a good number of people come through and talk to us, make prayers requests, and eat our chocolate. Tara and I also got a joint interview out of it. A DJ from Ohio came by, and after chatting with us, asked if he could interview us together. We talked about our songs and about the Christian DIVAs, so it was all very cool!
After that, Tara and I decided we would try touring the aisles and visiting the different booths. Unfortunately/fortunately, we kept running into friends, so we never got very far. We did get over to America's Home Spun Gospel to record some liners, so that was cool.
At 8:32, however, I made sure I was in Freedom Hall for the one performer I've seen all week - Ben! He had a ten minute spot where he lead the whole audience in singing Gaither favourites. In true singing school style, he got everyone on their feet to sing Because He Lives, Something Beautiful, and He Touched Me. What a great sound! When he was finished, we left to go back to the booth, when the next group, The Dove Brothers, started to sing the Speer classic "Rain". Well of course, they pulled up Ben for the lead. It was awesome! He just nailed it, and the Doves sounded great, the crowd went nuts, and three encores later, Ben finally left the stage.
At 9:30, we all wandered over to the SGMRadio.com booth for a 'surprise' birthday party for Rob Patz. I say 'surprise' because he clearly knew about everything, but with a bit of singing and some great chocolate cake, it was a nice little party.
The rest of the night was socializing, networking, sharing CDs with radio people, and just trying to spend time with as many friends as possible. At midnight, we all wandered over to the Executive Suites for the midnight breakfast buffet. (I was actually a little overloaded on heavy foods, so I chose a midnight salad instead.) Tara, Gerald, and I shared a table with Judy Nelon and Sue Dodge, who were great ladies, and since Sue sang with the Speers, it was nice to hear some of her history as well.
And that, of course, is why I'm writing at this crazy night-time hour. My friends are singing in a showcase tomorrow morning, and I really want to see them, so I must go sleep for a few hours, and then start all over again. Now that I've sung my showcase, I don't care if I don't sleep til Sunday night!
Shot of the Day: Me and Tara in our first joint interview!