I’m wrapping up my final day on an exciting and incredibly humbling experience with my first Nashville recording session. I’m drinking coffee on a beautiful Fall Day outside a little diner on the outskirts of the city before I head over to the studio to meet up with my producer. I’m taking in the morning and reflecting on my week and thought I’d share the experience. I thought people might want a peek at what happens when you mix a world class recording studio employing professionals who play, write, and record music for a living with someone like, well, me. I’m guessing a lot of people still have dreams or passions they would like to explore, or an accumulation of things they’d like to cross off their bucket list. This has been one of mine.
I’m in a town where even the busboys play guitar better than most (including me) and the lady who just poured my coffee probably sings as well or better than the people you hear on your favorite radio station or streaming service. It is called Music City for good reason. Not everyone here is a household name, but many come here trying to become one. And it they didn’t, they are building a career writing, producing, marketing, editing, recording, and playing/singing the songs they hope will be on your radio station or in the soundtrack of the millions of movies, commercials, and TV shows we now have at our fingertips. It’s that kind of town and if you’ve been here you know. It’s all music all the time.
The specifics of my journey to how I ended up here this week are a story for another time. The abbreviated version starts with me being invited to Nashville for an event hosting musicians from across the country to learn about and consider possible opportunities to use their music for charitable ministry and outreach. The event’s organizers invited all attendees to submit our original music for consideration to producers, promoters, event organizers, etc., for feedback or other possible opportunities outside the scope of the event we were attending. Somewhere, somehow one of those producers heard my music and thought it intriguing enough to reach out and ask me if I’d be interested in exploring working with him to record and possibly co-write some songs. In his words, “it’ll require a lot of work, time, and money.” I only had the ability to come up with two of the three. But I prayed for the third and at the very insistent urging of that inner voice (and if I’m being honest, some amazing and perfectly timed divine interventions), I took him up on the offer to come down, everything worked out on the financial front and here I am.
I knew myself well enough to know I would need to make some decisions and promises to myself before I made any agreements with this producer and drove down to Nashville.
Promise #1: I wouldn’t try to impress anyone by looking or acting a certain way, saying the right things or going out of my way trying to meet the “right” people to get noticed. I would simply be myself, show up where I was supposed to and work hard to make the best music I am capable of making at this point in my life. I know where and who I am at this stage in life when it comes to my music. I have a dream to share music and connect with an audience through the music I create and play. I want to do it in a way that is authentic to who I am and what I stand for. I have NO desire to seek fame, notoriety, or in any way become anything that resembled the next “big thing.” That ship sailed over three decades ago for me personally, and I’m okay with it. I am not trying to be discovered as the next great song writer either. Hundreds of great writers come to Nashville every day and just as many go home each day after years of getting nowhere professionally speaking. I decided to go to Nashville and simply be myself and create something I would be proud of and happy to share. It’s easier on everyone, but mostly me.
Promise #2: I am pretty humble…but I’m also very human and prone to being sensitive and protective of my abilities as an artist, writer, and performer. So, I had to decide what I wanted to put on the pedestal and showcase in Nashville. Would it be me or my music? I made the promise to choose my music, and I knew it meant leaving any trace of ego and sensitivity behind. Putting myself on a pedestal would have looked a lot like making sure I was in control even if it came at the expense of the song. I made a very conscious decision to arrive in Music City ready to learn, defer, and be completely open to any and all feedback, suggestions, or critique. I pushed back when I felt changes or artistic approaches weren’t authentic to who I am as an artist or writer, but I mostly kept my ears and eyes open and simply learned from people who do this for a living. I had fun and I think I came out with something pretty amazing.
I really do like what I created. I hope others do too. Creating something that represented my authentic voice as a writer and artist and have it be something I enjoyed listening to was important to me and I think I achieved that goal. I didn’t worry about who might like it or if it would be something for a wide audience, radio, or a “good pitch” to a label. I made art for the pure joy of making it. I invited God into the process and asked for guidance, patience, wisdom, and courage to create something that I was proud of and honored the gifts I have been given when it comes to music. I know these songs are the best I can make with the skills I possess today. AND, because I took the time to watch, listen and, open myself to feedback, I know I left town a better writer and artist. I can’t wait to go back.
There’s so much to share about the process for those interested, and I’ll probably put together a few more posts capturing the musical side of things. The creation and production of songs is a really amazing process and a lot goes into it behind the scenes. I was excited and pleased with my trip and I wanted to share and encourage you all to follow that inner voice calling you! If there’s a seed of desire inside you then it is meant to grow into someTHING. Follow that voice. You don’t have to figure it all out at once. Go make some mistakes, meet people, learn, gain ideas…create. Enjoy the journey because as cliché as it sounds, it really is about the journey. The journey is where the magic happens. The journey is where we learn and grow. The journey is where we connect with God, the universe, and others. It’s also where we connect with ourselves and that may be the greatest gift of all, discovering a little more about who you truly are and who you are meant to be. I’ve found it’s really about what happens inside you more than whatever the end product looks like. And I’m sure that’s probably why God put it there. That seed of desire and passion is as much for you as it is for anyone else. Water those seeds and just see where it takes you!
More to follow on my journey. I cannot wait to share these songs with y’all. 😊