Saturday, August 29, 2009

More good news!

I can't believe I haven't blogged about this yet!

So, a few months ago, Gerald and I met with NSAI's workshop director and membership coordinator to discuss ways we might be able to partner with them in Ontario. Toronto actually has a very active and well respected chapter, and we were members of that group before we even moved to Nashville. But we wanted to bring a few more ideas to the table...

In the States, there are a few Christian songwriting chapters, so we pitched the idea of starting a new Christian chapter in Toronto. Christian songwriters have specific needs that aren't always met in a regular songwriting group. We need to be able to discuss matters of theology, and songs like hymns and praise and worship have different structures than traditional pop or country songs.

Last week, we sent in our application packages, and within hours, we received approval! We're about to start a new NSAI Christian songwriting chapter in Toronto!!! Whoo-hoo!

I'm crazy excited about this! There are so many Christian musicians in Toronto - writing songs for choirs, artists, congregations, or their own ministry - but there are few ways to connect these writers. I'm envisioning a group that will encompass all genres and all denominations. Not only will we not be in conflict with the other Toronto chapter, but I definitely see ways that we might be able to work together. And here's the other thing: we could easily start a songwriting group in our living room, but by partnering with NSAI, we can provide our members with all the benefits of NSAI, including webcasts, online critiques, and a direct line to the Nashville industry.

Yes, I'm also a little nervous. This is a volunteer position for us, and it's going to take a lot of work, but I'm so excited about the chance to build a community of songwriters writing great songs for the church!

We have a coordinator training day in September. As only God's timing would have it, that day is during the trip we'd already planned to Nashville. I'll be sharing lots more details about the group over the next few months! And if you know any Christian songwriters in Southern Ontario, send them my way...

Friday, August 28, 2009

New songs & midnight worship

Last night, we were so lucky to have our first Nashville visitor in Ontario! Jenna dropped by for a night on her way through town. We enjoyed several hours on the back deck, filling ourselves with good food and great conversation.

Earlier this week, I finished a new communion song, "Living Manna, Living Bread." I hadn't played it for anyone yet, but I really wanted Jenna to hear it. (I was planning on sending her an mp3, but this worked out even better.) So after everyone went to bed, we sat at the piano with a lyric sheet, and played my song. Jenna loved it and added her beautiful piano accompaniment and harmonies, and we sang it over and over and over. It was a blessed and wonderful way to end the evening.

She asked me to please send her the mp3 and lyrics so they can do it at Redeemer some Sunday. Joy!

This morning, her friend Susan Hookong-Taylor dropped by. Susan is also a Christian singer-songwriter, and has a great song that was part of World Youth Day in 2002. After we all indulged in oatmeal and fresh Ontario berries, we had a lovely exchange of songs, passing the guitar around in true Nashville style.

It was an awesome time, but it also reminded me that I am now far from friends who've been so close to me for the last few years. Tonight, I'm feeling very grateful for facebook, email, and free long distance...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gerald's Big News

Yes, this is a belated post, but I am in relaxation mode!

Soooo, as you know, the week before we moved from Nashville, Gerald and I had our career meetings with NSAI. At Gerald's meeting, not only did they freak out about Gerald's songs, but they arranged for him to meet with a publisher on Music Row. I blogged a little at Edgehill while sipping a latte and nervously waiting for him to call.

Well, he got in the car and said, "It couldn't have gone better". They loved his songs, and offered him a publishing deal!!! Yes, literally 3 days before we moved out of the country, Gerald gets offered a publishing deal!

The details are still to be worked out. They want to hear all the songs he's written since moving to Nashville (all 150), and then they'll demo the songs they want to publish. We don't know if that will mean a bunch of single song contracts or a staff writer position, but either way it's fantastic, and we're super, super excited about it all.

And here's where it gets even better: Since we made our decision to move, I was afraid something big would happen where we'd be told "We won't work with you unless you stay" or "We won't work with you over the border." Well, this company was founded by a Canadian, many of their artists are Canadian, and a third of their writers live in Canada. Not only will Gerald's songs be pitched in the States and in Canada (good for Canadian Content regulations), but they have no problem with him working long distance. He can send songs via the internet and mail, and he'll make regular trips to Nashville, which we'd planned already. We couldn't have planned this any better!

So, what next? We need to record worktapes of Gerald's songs. A worktape is basically a rough guitar/vocal version of the song. It needs to show the lyric, melody and chords clearly so the people doing the demo can hear the song and write the charts. We spent Sunday and Monday at Monika and Brent's studio in Stouffville, recording songs and catching up. Within the next day or 2, we'll get the songs back from them, we'll send them to Nashville, and the process will begin! Whoo-hoo!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Well, it's been almost a week, so I suppose it's time to write something. I've been on my computer this week, but I've been deliberately avoiding anything that could be considered a To Do item.

Last Monday, Gerald and his Dad left our house at 5:40am with the moving truck. They had a smooth drive, a quick visit at the border, and were able to arrive at Mom and Dad's house and relax the rest of the evening. Mom and Dad and I got up at various times, but we were all up by 6-ish. We spent the next 3 hours packing the car, returning keys, and doing a final cleaning on the house (stipulated by our lease). We left just after 9am, and the long, long drive began. We hit a lot of traffic and construction, and we had one 30 minute stop while we waited out a severe thunderstorm just north of Cincinnati. But the dogs were well behaved and we listened to good music, so even though it was a crazy long day, we survived it in good spirits.

So since then, we've been mostly on deliberate rest. My friend Cindy described it best - it's like the rest in between the movements of a symphony. You need that quiet space to reflect on the last movement and prepare for the next.

Still kind of feels like a vacation and not a move, though. I'm sure it'll sink in soon.

Today, however, is not a day of rest! More blogging tonight...

(or tomorrow, if things run late!)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Twas the night before moving...

and all through the house,
the furniture was gone,
and everyone was really, really tired!

Long day! Gerald and I were on the praise team this morning, so we were all up at 6:00 am. Mom and Dad came to the second service, which was awesome. For the psalm this morning, we did Jenna's and my new setting of Psalm 116. Everyone sang out on the chorus, and it seemed to have been really well received. During the service, Thomas and the congregation prayed for us, and after, the praise team held a lunch for us. Awesome and emotional morning.

Then the packing began. Because we're going over the border, each item going into the truck had to be itemized. As the organizing person in our marriage, I was assigned the task of creating the list, which freed me from the hours and hours of heavy lifting endured by our friends and family.

To celebrate the end of the day, and the end of this chapter, we all went to our favourite, Jim and Nick's, for BBQ and fun. Now, I'm sitting in my almost empty living room. The beds are packed, so we're sleeping on air beds - oddly reminiscent of our first month here, before we had moved down our furniture.

Tomorrow, we'll be up bright and early. (Well, early - don't know if I'll be very bright.) Gerald and his Dad are driving the moving truck. Mom, Dad, the puppies, and I will be in the car. If you're the praying kind, please pray for safe travels, a fast border crossing, and a happy road trip for all.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Storm Before the Calm

So we've been here almost 3 years, and all of a sudden, everything is happening!

NSAI allows you to have 2 one-on-one career meetings each year. Since we're moving, Gerald and I each had both meetings this week. Yes, that's 4 meetings in the middle of Crazy Packing Week. Each meeting was incredible! Lot of encouragement and excitement about our music! We both walked away with a To Do list, including several phone calls and meetings that need to be attended to before the end of the week. Crazy!!

As I'm writing, I'm sitting in Edgehill Cafe (the same place where I did my single release party a few years ago), and the head of Big Machine Records just walked in. Gerald is up the street meeting and pitching songs to a label head. Tomorrow, he has a cowrite with an Emmy nominated songwriter and a mentoring session with a lyric specialist. I'm trying to set up meetings and workshops for our short trip back in September.

Oh, and on Sunday, Jenna and I are leading the congregation in the Psalm we wrote last week.

We're crazy excited about the move and our new plans for Toronto, but we both agree, there are things about Nashville that just can't happen anywhere else. This week is full of them!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Cowrite with Jenna

Ages and ages ago, Jenna and I threw around the idea of cowriting together. We both agreed it sounded like a great idea, but life being crazy, it never actually happened.

Then a few weeks ago, I was reading some psalms in my music room. When I got to Psalm 116, a chorus melody jumped off the page at me. I grabbed my laptop and wrote and recorded everything I heard. (Funny bit: In the middle of transcribing, Gerald came in the room to talk to me. I gave him a big "Shhhh!!! Writing!!!" and he happily left me alone. That's why it's good to marry a musician!)

The chorus came out easily, and I had a sense of the verses, but I knew it needed something else - someone else really. I sent what I had to Jenna, and asked her if she'd be interested in cowriting the song.

This morning, we met at Redeemer to write. Even though Jenna and I are great friends, writing can be a whole other experience. Before entering the church, I prayed that whatever we wrote would honour God, and that I would be open and creative in the writing process.

Well, simply put, things couldn't have gone better! Jenna showed me her ideas for the verses. We tweaked melodies and lyrics, and within 30 minutes, we had a song! The result is a pretty, responsorial psalm that can be sung in a church service. It's written to be sung with a soloist on the verses, and choir/congregation on the chorus. We did a rough demo on garageband, and spent the rest of the time chatting and catching up.

So happy with this experience! I know it's not always this easy, but when it is, it's gooood!