Sunday, November 29, 2009

My hymns-stress is lifting!

We had a great praise team at church this morning! Monique choose great songs, and with 5 of us on vocals, the sound was great. Gerald's song "For God so Loved the World" was beautiful, especially with Chris's fiddle sounds.

This afternoon was dedicated to getting stuff done! I've contacted 3 people about being headliners for Tin Pan North 2010. So far, 2 have responded positively. They aren't booked yet (which is why I'm not naming names), but they're interested and are working out details.

I've also been putting together the final details for "Hymns in the Key of Grace." I can't believe it's almost done! I'll pick up the reference disc tomorrow morning. This will be the music as we'll hear it on the final CD. Once I approve this disc, we get the PMCD and we're ready for manufacturing.

I got the graphics tonight as well - they're beautiful! There are a few small tweaks, but overall I'm just so happy! Once I approve this, the graphics get sent to the manufacturer and we're ready to go.

So, we're 2 quick approvals away from manufacturing! We don't have time any more for a full run of 1000 CDs, so I'll need to get a "short run". You can get a short run in just a few days, but you pay a lot more per unit. Not ideal, but few things about this production have been ideal! I can't believe all the obstacles we've had to face over the last few months. I've been so stressed this past week as we've pulled together the final details. I didn't want to have to sacrifice quality in order to get CDs done in time for Christmas concert season, but I was also really working in a time crunch. (After months of waiting and delays, I end up in a time crunch. Always the way...)

Once I saw the graphics tonight, however, my stress started to dissipate. The end is in sight, and it looks and sounds great! I'm so happy with the mixes, I have faith in the mastering, and the graphics are going to be gorgeous! Maybe I'll get a good night's sleep tonight?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

From mixing to mastering!

Just found out that the hymn mixes have now been successfully delivered to Ray, who will master the songs. Once that's done, and the graphics are finalized, it's a quick trip to manufacturing!

I can't believe it's almost done!

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me-ee...

Everybody sing along!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rehearsal, mixes, and turkey.

"Got kind of tired of packing and unpacking, town to town, up and down the dial..."

That song has been in my head all night! We're having birthday company over the next few days, so I wanted to get the boxes in some kind of "order" and have the house look more like a home and less like a storehouse. Exhausted now!

We had a great rehearsal at St. John's tonight. Sunday morning, the team will be me, Gerald, Monique, Michelle Pillar on vocals, and Chris McKhool on fiddle and guitar. Tonight was our first time working as a group, and it was great!

During communion, we're going to do Gerald's new chorus "For God so Loved the World". The fiddle solo really lifts the whole thing!

In other news, I am days away from finishing my hymns CD! Finally, finally, finally! For a while, the frustration was all I felt, but now, I am truly excited again. The mixes sound wonderful, I have someone lined up for mastering and graphics, and I'll have CDs in hand by the end of next week. Can not wait!!!

After celebrating American Thanksgiving over the past 3 years, I found myself craving sweet potato casserole and deep-fried turkey this week. I am so thankful that I have friends on both sides of the border. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tin Pan North 2010

Tonight I finally made it to a Tin Pan North planning meeting, and it was worth the drive to the west end!

Tin Pan North is Toronto's version of Nashville's annual songwriting festival, Tin Pan South. We're actually the only regional workshop to do a Tin Pan festival, so that's pretty cool. Gerald and I have played it before, and it's been growing every year.

The festival runs several days at several venues in 3 or 4 different cities. Each show is a Nashville-style round featuring one hit writer and 3 NSAI members. It's always fun and very entertaining.

Since we're going to be regional leaders ourselves in 2010, I thought it would be a good idea to get involved in planning the festival. Tonight was a great overview. I'll be working with volunteers and probably some publicity, but here's the very cool news:

There's going to be an all-Christian night at one of the venues!! I am so crazy excited about this! I suggested a Christian writer as one of our headliners, and then other people in the group suggested having an all-Christian night. In my heart, I really wanted to suggest this, but I didn't want anyone to think I was pushing my own agenda. When other people suggested it, and then got excited about it, I knew it had to be God working.

I'll be organizing the shows, so my first job is to find a downtown church who is willing to offer us a free venue, and then find 2 amazing headliners.

The shows will be Friday, May 28, 2010, at 7:00 and 9:00pm. Mark your calenders!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Faith Gospel Tabernacle & St. John's York Mills

Today was a 2 church day.

We already had Faith Gospel Tabernacle in Brampton booked when we were contacted about working at St. John's, so we did Faith Gospel this morning and St. John's tonight. What a day!

Faith Gospel is a growing church - literally! When I was there a few years ago, they were just talking about their new building, but when we drove into the parking lot yesterday, we could see the huge frame of the new sanctuary. They have a full praise team, but each week they invite guest artists to sing 2 songs for each of their morning services. We opened with "Do You Wanna Be My Neighbour in Gloryland" and closed with "Give Me Jesus". This is a friendly and encouraging congregation, and we met lots of wonderful people. We've been invited back for one of their monthly Gospel concerts, so hopefully, we can work that out.

The morning started early (up at 6:30!!) and ran long, so after a short afternoon nap, we got ready for the evening service. Monique is away this week, so Gerald and I were on our own for leading the music. We invited Monika to join us on harmonies, so that was all good. We did some great praise songs - "Blessed Be Your Name," "In Christ Alone," and "Amazing Love" - and we also introduced a new chorus Gerald wrote based on John 3:16. And here's where God had to be stepping in - even though we didn't plan this, part of Drew's message was based on John 3:16! I love it when that happens!

We're feeling more and more comfortable at St. John's. We have a lot of support, and we're excited about Advent - it's just around the corner!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

First St. John's Sunday morning!

Okay, we've had our first St. John's rehearsal, our first St. John's evening, and finally, our first morning service at St. John's.

It's all still a little surreal to me. Sitting in church today, it was all so familiar, with so many friends in the congregation. At the same, we're there for different reasons than before, and we've both experienced so much since we were last there.

A lot of people were away today for the Alpha weekend, but there was still a good crowd. We opened with "Be Thou My Vision," "Here I am to Worship," and "Holy is the Lord." I really tried to choose a good mix of classic hymns and newer songs. We sang "Spirit of the Living God" in reference to the Alpha weekend and "On Eagle's Wings" in response to the sermon. During communion, we did "Living Manna, Living Bread," and "Give Me Jesus," and closed out the whole service with a rousing rendition of "How Great Thou Art." I couldn't always hear people singing, but I could see lots of mouths moving, and a few smiles, so that was good.

After the service, we were greeted by hugs and "So glad you're here" and "How're your parents?", and of course, "Aren't you Hollis's daughter?" We were grateful for the welcome, and even more grateful for the positive feedback.

There are a few technical things we still need to tweak - where to stand? where to put the SoloAmp? - but overall, I think this was a great start to our new adventure.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

All Saints & St. John's York Mills

It's been a long, but good, day!

This morning, we sang at All Saints Church. I've talked a lot about how much we love visiting All Saints, and today was no exception. The crowd was about 40 people, which is great for this small downtown church. The readings today included a story from Ruth, and the tale of the widow's mite (2 of my favourites) and Jeannie used them to preach a great sermon on compassion. After the sermon, Gerald sang "A Prayer Will Find You" which was calming and beautiful. During communion, we did "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" - a little uptempo for communion, but these are people who appreciate an extra jolt of joy.

After the service, we stayed for lunch. They provide a full lunch each Sunday for anyone who wants to stay, and it was a good chance to get to know the All Saints crowd. One thing about that congregation, you never know who you'll end up talking to, and you never know what may come out of their mouths! It's always vibrant, and sometimes a little outside reality, but the people there have good hearts and kind souls. We always come away humbled and blessed.

Tonight was our first official service at St. John's York Mills. I have to admit, I was a little nervous this afternoon. After all, they pursued us, and they want us to be part of a transformation, so we want to bring our best to the table.

It was a good 'soft' entrance into the new St. John's. Just because it used to be my former home church doesn't mean I'm assuming I know how it's all going to work. There is new leadership and new congregants and new ways of doing things. And Gerald and I aren't the same people or musicians we were three years ago.

As I put the poppy on my coat today, I realized that 3 years ago this weekend, we drove to Nashville to find our apartment and start our move south. How amazing that 3 years later, on the same weekend, we'd be starting this new chapter, back at St. John's?

The service tonight was wonderful! They call it a dialogue service because the sermon usually takes the form of a loose Bible study/discussion. Drew recently returned from a conference at Princeton, so that formed the topic of tonight's discussion. We opened the service with prayer, a psalm, and music. Monique was on piano, Gerald on guitar, and all of us on vocals. Our first set included "Praise to the Lord," "Indescribable," and a new one for us, "King of Love." On this one, Gerald took the vocal lead, and I sang harmony. What a gorgeous song! We ended the service with "They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love," with Gerald pumping a cool guitar groove and me on tambourine.

Next week, Monique is away, so we'll be leading the 9:30 service on our own. We'll meet with Drew tomorrow to plan. We just have such a good feeling about all of this, and tonight helped us to get even more excited. It's going to be an interesting year...

Friday, November 06, 2009

First St. John's Rehearsal

I've dropped by Mom and Dad's to pick up a few more boxes, so I finally have a few minutes of internet. I don't mind not having a phone or TV, but I'm definitely in wifi-withdrawl!

Last night, Gerald and I had our first rehearsal with Monique at St. John's. We'll be playing the evening service this Sunday, just the three of us. For a first rehearsal, I think it was a good success. There was a good exchange of ideas and creativity, and the songs came together quickly.

There are a few exciting plans for Advent, and we don't know yet what Christmas will entail. Overall, a good start to everything!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

In Our New Home!

Today was a great moving day! Everyone was in good spirits and things went really smoothly.

This house is so beautiful - I feel like we've snuck into this gorgeous house and the owners are on vacation and we love it so much we've just moved our stuff in.

This is going to be a good home for us - lots of space to play and write and make music and be a family.

Dropping tired - teaching and rehearsing tomorrow - hope I can find all the things I'll need!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Moving tomorrow!

The contract has been approved, the boxes packed, and we've picked up the keys.

We're moving to Toronto tomorrow!

Okay, we didn't need to pack a lot of boxes. Most of them are still packed and in storage from our last move, a mere 3 months ago. A few weeks ago, we thought we'd be here in Burlington til some time in the New Year. This time tomorrow night, we'll be in our new home in Toronto. And we can't wait!

Sunday evening, 7:00pm, will be our first Sunday in our new position at St. John's York Mills. (We won't be doing evening services on a regular basis, but we were already booked for All Saints in the morning.) If you're around Yonge and York Mills Sunday night, drop by the service and say Hi!

I'll be away from internet all day Wednesday, and we won't have internet at home til Monday (ugh!), but I'll try and blog soon to give a update!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Gerald at the Moonshine

Tonight kicked off the first of a series of NSAI Songwriter Nights at the Moonshine Cafe in Oakville. Gerald and I played the Moonshine a few years ago, and we've been looking forward to a return engagement.

Tonight's show was a Nashville-style round featuring Gerald, Laura Ranieri, and Joe Hash. There was supposed to be a fourth writer, but his last minute cancellation meant the three on deck got to play extra songs.

The whole night was fun and relaxed. John Marlott, owner of the Moonshine, threw some burgers on the grill, so the audience had full and happy tummies. Laura has an energetic performance style, and Joe has a great sense of storytelling with his songs. Gerald was, of course, excellent. He did some of my favourites, including "When Saturday Morning was All Day Long," "Up on the Watertower," and "Whiskey and Dragonflies."

I was supposed to join him on harmonies, but I've been knocked out of commission this week by a terrible sinus infection. So glad I was well enough to attend tonight, though. So proud of my talented husband!

Busy week coming up: Brian has sent me the mixes for my hymns CD! We'll be reviewing them this week, and also working on the graphics. Hoping to have product in hand within the next few weeks!

Also, tomorrow we sign the contract with St. John's, and on Wednesday, we move! Very exciting times, indeed!