Saturday, January 31, 2009

Song U Chat

Song U, in its university-style concept, has several different clubs on 'campus'. I'm a member of the CCM Club and the Performing Songwriter Club, which basically means I can go into those sections of the discussion boards and join in the discussions of related topics.

This morning, the CCM Club met online for a live chat. We all met in the e-auditorium. I think there were 7 of us who chatted over the course of the hour. There was the option of using a mic, but we kept it all to typing, which just seemed easier.

This kind of gathering was all kind of new to me, so it took a bit to get used to the flow of things, but after a while, it got to be pretty fun. I didn't really know anyone there, so we passed around a few introductions. One new member of the group brought up the topic of "what makes a Christian song Christian?", an oft-discussed topic in Christian music circles, but actually a great topic for getting to know people and their knowledge and background in Christian music.

Later in the chat, one guy suggested we take on the exercise of a group co-write. We're going to start with a hook, and write the whole thing on the discussion boards. Once the lyric is down, a few people will work on the music, and then one of the members has volunteered to demo it. I have no idea how this'll turn out, but it'll be interesting if nothing else!

By the way, I don't know if I've shared this yet, but I do have a webpage on Song U. It has songs, news, and an interview about my songwriting influences. You can visit it here.

I had great plans to go out tonight, but I'm fighting some kind of sicky thing. I can't afford to get sick because I'm on the praise team tomorrow. Gerald is forcing me to watch TV and sip tea. I feel blah, blah, blah.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A bit of quiet time...

Writing late at night in a quiet moment...

Gerald and I spent a good part of tonight rehearsing. He's a last minute addition to this Sunday's praise team (I was already on the roster, but we were short a guitar player). We met with Jenna yesterday to pick up music and we'll squeeze in a few rehearsals before Sunday. Tomorrow is busy, but I have no doubt it'll all work out.

I've spent a good part of the week organizing the house. I recently painted the living room a warm, country yellow, which has made a huge difference! A great colour just affects everything - your mood, your efficiency, your creativity... I then decided I wanted to put up the rest of the art that's still in boxes, so I've pulled out every box that was still packed up. That lead to emptying out closets, armoires, shelves. You can probably see where this is going. For the past week, my house has looked like one of those 'before' shots in an organizing show on HGTV, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. I've been able to recycle bags full of paper and piles of cardboard boxes. The walls are full of great photographs and pictures, and my creative room is close to near-perfect organization. There are new little decorating vignettes in the living room, and my receipts are almost ready for tax season.

"If you give a mouse a cookie..."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Calvary Baptist Revival

Calvary Baptist Church was the first church to welcome Gerald and me when we moved to Nashville. I met their music director, Don, at an NSAI meeting, and within a few weeks we were singing in their sanctuary. This morning, we returned for an awesome service billed as their Deacon-lead Revival.

The entire service was lead by the men of the congregation. The ladies of the choir sat in the congregation, and the 'mens' choir lead the congregational singing and sang a great anthem by Don called "One Man". The message was delivered by five of the church's deacons. Each man gave a five minute testimony about their walk with God. None of these men were professional speakers, but each one spoke from his heart. The honesty of their testimonies was powerful and moving. Many tissues were used in those 25 minutes.

Gerald played an instrumental during the offering, and then I joined him on harmonies for "A Church Song Broke Me Down." I followed this with "Neighbour", which got the whole church clapping. My Elijah Conference training really came into play during my segues. I wanted to give very short intros to the songs so that our music became a seamless part of the revival theme. I think it all worked out very well, and we got a wonderful response from the congregation.

Visiting Calvary again really got me thinking about how much we've learned in the past 2 years. Some of our accomplishments are easy to see - my CD, radio airplay, Gerald's 150 new songs. But today highlighted the intangible, non-quantifiable things. We're just better. Gerald plays better. We write better. We sing better. And as a duo, my ability to sing harmony and our ability to blend has gotten better. That's no slight on anything we did two years ago, but it's awesome to recognize that living here and being in this city has made a wonderful and positive improvement on our skills and abilities.

The rest of the day was very "Nashville". Gerald had a writing appointment booked for the afternoon, and we wanted to go to lunch. But being Nashville on a Sunday afternoon, most restaurants had a 20-30 minute wait. We ended up at a Chinese buffet that, in addition to the expected items, served duck (always great), frog legs (love 'em!), and crawfish (my first taste - salty but interesting).

After Gerald's appointment, we attended a birthday dinner for our awesome friend, Tom. Tom is a songwriter, painter, and overall awesome human being. After a wonderful feast and several hours of chatting, we turned to the five guitars Tom has lined up in his living room. Gerald and I did a mini-concert of half a dozen songs. Tom and other guests played several of theirs as well. As Gerald played, another guest improvised solo guitar parts. I improvised harmonies. Those who didn't play hummed and clapped and smiled. It was so awesome, and so wonderfully Nashville!

Friday, January 23, 2009


Yesterday, it was so warm you could go for a walk without a jacket.

Today, I have all the windows open and the heat turned off.

I love "winter" in Nashville :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

January stuff...

I've been getting subtle complaints that I haven't written lately. I knew it had been while, but it wasn't til I looked at the date of my last post that I realized just how long it has been.

This month has been a mix of things, and to be honest, I've been on a bit of an internet diet. I've had such a range of stuff going on that, for whatever reason, hitting the internet has become one of my least favourite activities. Gerald will laugh a little at that, because up til this month, I've been pretty internet obsessed. In addition to my blog diet, I've barely gone on Shoutlife or MySpace, and I think my Facebook status says I'm still opening Christmas presents. I have at least a hundred unanswered emails, and that's the only thing I really feel badly about. Really, we all deserve a decent turnaround time on emails.

So why the silence? Well, when we first got back from Canada, I think I just needed a rest from things. December was amazing, but with the gigs and the family stuff and the driving and the everything, I needed some silence, some rest, some regrouping. I spent a significant amount of time working on my New Year's Resolutions. As I wrote for my SoGospel News article, I take New Year's Resolutions very seriously. Gerald and I both see this as a significant time to start things anew. This year, I wrote 2 lists: one for Resolutions and one for Goals. It's probably self-explanatory, but the Resolutions are larger changes I want to make - create an inspiring home, take creative risks, get healthier. The Goals are practical realizations of the Resolutions - paint the living room, record a new CD, walk 3-5 times a week. The lists are fairly long and involved, but they're reflective of a very large and somewhat intimidating reality - we have one year left on our visa.

One official year left on the Dream. We're going to apply for another visa in August, which would give us another 3 years, but even with all that work, a great lawyer, and astronomical fees, there are no guarantees that we'll get another year. It's a little scary, and a little overwhelming. But I'm trying very hard not to get ahead of myself. I'm trying not to think about Plan B. Instead, I'm really trying to focus on making the most of these 12 little months. We've decided to approach this year with the attitude of "this could be our only 12 months left". If that's the case, we don't want to go home with any regrets. We want to record and perform and do everything we can while we're here in Nashville. We're recognizing that we may have to go into some debt to make that happen. Anyone who knows me well will know that this prospect just freaks me out, but I'm willing to cope with that situation if it means doing the thing we want to do in our (possibly) short time here. I'm thinking of it as "noble debt", and I'm also trusting God wholly and completely with our finances. If He wants us recording and touring and making the most of this opportunity He's given us, then He's also going to need to open some doors for us financially. I'm contacting everyone I know who has a church and saying, "You know how you said you'd like me to come and sing for you some time? Well, my time is getting shorter. When can I come?"

I know it may sound dramatic, but we are limited in our time here, and it's making us hungry. Not literally (we hope :) but hungry and passionate to pursue our dreams and follow this path with commitment and focus.

It's "Live Like You Were Dying" rewritten as "Live Like You Might Be Moving".

That said, it's been a very emotional month as I'm putting these plans together in my heart and in my mind. I'm trying to be very balanced in terms of creative time and practical time and family time and friend time. I'm studying and writing and singing on an almost daily basis (It's harder to do it all on days when I work 8 hours in the office. This is why people with full-time jobs have trouble making time for art. Quit your jobs, people!)

So what does today look like? This morning, I'm writing and singing. Gerald is doing the same. We painted the living room a bright, warm country yellow on the weekend, so today I'm going to finish putting the room back together. It's already a much more inspiring place to be! Last Sunday, Gerald and I sang on the Redeemer praise team together, and we had an awesome time. This Sunday, we're singing at Calvary Baptist here in Nashville, so we have some rehearsing to do for that. This evening, Gerald will meet up with his songwriting mentor to continue on their plans for demoing Gerald's songs next month. I'll spend that time sipping hot chocolate, hopefully with a friend. Tonight, we'll find something to do together - well, I say that not knowing if there's a basketball game on...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Gerald at the Bluebird

Last night ran late, so I'm updating today. Long story short: Gerald rocked last night!

He's been so sick all week with a terrible cold that we started making back-up plans: Should he stand or sit while performing? Which of his songs could I sing? How could he make a funny joke about coughing through an entire song?

But prayers obviously worked.

The illness drastically cut his rehearsal time, which meant we weren't able to work out harmonies. My role for the night was adoring-wife-eating-sweet-potato-fries-at-the-table, and I was happy to do it. We had a nice number of friends show up for the night, and we knew a few of the other performers from Gerald's last performance.

Despite the shortened rehearsal time, Gerald did really well. He opened with "Modern Day Outlaw", followed by "Saturday Morning". (I think he calls this something else, but it's one of my favourites, so I've given it my own name.) He closed with "Water Tower", which is just awesome.

Sundays always end with a set by a pro-writer. Tonight we were treated to a performance by Joie Scott. I didn't know any of her songs, but she's fantastic. Really cool voice, and awesome songs, including a new cut by the Imperials.

After the show, Gerald and I closed the place out, chatting with new and old friends. Ger received a lot of great feedback from people in the audience, so we're hoping he books another date there soon. We'll find out on Tuesday...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Home again!

We got back to Nashville 10:00 last night. Thankfully, we had a great drive with clear weather and very little traffic.

Today, I'm resting and recovering while Gerald is preparing for his Bluebird appearance tonight. He's been suffering with cold and flu symptoms all week, so most of his prep today involves rest and tea and honey.

I'm watching decorating shows and trying to get the energy to take the dogs for a walk. (the same dogs who are also resting and recovering today!) The show I'm watching now is decorating a children's room and the little boy just said, "I like pirates cause they don't brush their teeth." That is my biggest laugh of the day!

Please pray for Gerald's voice and health tonight!