Check out this video of an amazing singer, Amanda Richardson Blount singing one of my FAVORITE songs. I am a little biased, because she was a part of my first student worship team at NorthStar Church in Atl in the late 90"s and her sister, Ashley, is an amazing keyboard player. Amanda would take a song that I had written and give it life like you could not believe. She inspired me to write better. The whole family means so much to me...you go, Amanda! I'm so proud of you!
I have been a Mayer fan from the beginning...he played Eddie's Attic in Decatur, GA in the early days which was a venue I played once in my life (I know..who cares, Cyn?) ANYWAY, his new live record is fantastic. If you have ever seem him live, this is a great representation of that...you'll love it.
Sydney likes to sing every song she knows before bed at night. We read some books and then we start our nightly concert. Last night, she wanted to end the set with 'The Ariel Song" which is actually "Part of Your World." Not exactly the easiest song to just start singing...well, being the TALENTED musician I am (yeah, right...) with relative pitch I try to start singing it and I am just dying...can't find the right key. I ask Sydney, "Key, please?" And yes, she starts singing in the EXACT key on the right note. I found out she could do this a few days ago when I checked her key out on a song she was singing in the car with the recording when we got home...dead on. Yeah, I'm loving this.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Every artist was first an amateur." It has been a long time since I have felt like such an amateur when it comes to music. I am there right now learning to play acoustic and lead worship for services. There are some Sundays that I think, "Wow. I am really not that bad." and then there are Sundays (like this last Sunday) that I feel,"Cynthia, you would never let yourself play in your OWN band!" Today, I was rehearsing for our Beach Service this week (yeah,life's tough) and it just clicked today as I was playing HOW much this journey of learning a new instrument has been THE BEST thing to happen to me as a musician in a LONG time. I am energized, frustrated, excited, mad, and loving the process all at the same time. I could lead worship and play keys in my sleep at this point in my life and this is making me engage at a level that I have not had to do in some time. So, I like being an amateur right now...it's kicking my butt and I'm loving it!
My 4 year-old daughter Sydney has slowly come into the world of being comfortable singing, comfortable with me singing all the time, and me actually singing with her. The other day, I was listening to "Happy Day" by Kristian Stanfill and Sydney spoke up from the back,"Hey, Mom, that's your song you sing at church! I was like,"Yeah, you're right!." She is asking me questions about my guitar and when I play "piano" at church - it is really a cool phase of life. However, she is currently only watching 2 movies...Polar Express and Lady and the Tramp - I finally figured out why ...the MUSIC! She has been singing "The Train song" as she calls it and "The Cat Song" from Lady and the Tramp. As a musician, I am LOVING this!
Whether you like Huckabee or not, he is holding my friend, Gary Eubanks' bass guitar! Gary and I toured in college together in a band so this is pretty cool to me...that's Gary in the back corner smiling really big. Gary has renamed his bass "Huckabass."
I was so pumped to run into my worship leader friend, Will Goodwin, at the Unleash Conference. Will was one of the people in my life that showed me some stuff on acoustic years back and it was SO awesome to tell him that I am now leading a song or 2 every week on acoustic. My friend, Jack, and his family are living overseas now and he is on the journey with me on learning acoustic, so I found the short video of my 1st time leading and here it is...the cool thing is I really see improvement from a month ago (plus, I am using a cut capo and a real capo now - life is good!).
I am one of the weird ones in the fact that performing is great, but I could rehearse ALL DAY LONG! Last night, our musical team rehearsed for Palm Sunday...just the fact that we could all get together and rehearse is a victory in itself with work schedules, kids, and the fact that we have to find a space to rehearse (Thank you, LCC-Bluffton!) BUT, it was not just any rehearsal. We laughed, and laughed, sang, played, made fun of each other, laughed again, and then had some incredible creative musical moments evolve. I can't tell you the joy that I feel when someone on our team has a creative musical moment that we all stand back and go,"Wow - that was amazing!" Our team this week consists of me leading worship, playing keys and acoustic (on one song), flute, drums, and 2 additional vocals. I write charts for our flautist (Susan) and she is amazing. Our drummer, Steve, is someone that understands the art of playing drums in the context of worship as well as performance (you worship leaders know what I am saying...). We were doing "Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone" and I wrote a flute solo for the intro in 3/4 and then we switch to 4/4 when I start singing the song. We were going along since we know this song pretty well, and then Steve started this military snare thing that I was thinking about at the same time he started it! We got to the end and Susan started playing the melody of "Amazing Grace" in 4/4 at the end. It was the coolest moment. The evolution of musical creativity and worship. We all just kinda looked at each other and couldn't really talk. I'm sure the significance of the words of that song as well as the musical interpretation was why...but I had to share this because THIS IS WHY I LOVE what I do...Let me rehearse any day over performing.
I was listening to my huge stack of CD's that I so graciously received from Recreate last week and Mark Roach's record "Every Reason Why" REALLY stuck out to me. I think it is the beauty in the simple that he does such a great job of communicating through his songwriting. It is a difficult thing to say the simplest of thoughts and not make the listener feel like they have heard that same thought a million times. Even the chord structures and melodies are simple but very memorable without being repetitive and annoying. I love this record - get it!
My songwriting partner, Donna Stroud, and I wrote a song in response to 9/11 called "Fragile." It talks about how breakable this life is and how we have to treasure very moment. As I see all the news reports that have started up this week and the ABC special that is getting a lot of heat, I wonder if we as Americans have forgotten really what 9/11 was all about. I remember where I was when it happened and I remember knowing that life had changed as I knew it. I watched my 2-year old daughter walk through a metal detector barefoot at the airport last week and thought," She will never know a world before 9/11." I live in New York - everyday there are constant reminders of the aftermath of 9-11 - national guard with AK-47's at Penn Station; random searches of backpacks on the subway. What has this taught us? I know I value life everyday more than ever. I treasure the moments I share with my husband and my daughter. But most of all, I realize how much I am not in control and God is. He holds my future and has my days here on this earth in His hands (Psalm 139:16). So, as you see the media get all over the technical stuff about 9/11, take a moment and think - how did 9/11 REALLY effect you? Are you better or bitter about it? Did life become more precious? Have you forgotten?
You can listen to "Fragile" if you click on my sidebar link to my myspace account.