Posts filed under When I Think About Music---

Hope...

I was recently asked to do a video blog for my song "Hope." I gathered my thoughts about the writing of this song and set to work putting on my camera face. There are times when it is hard to put into words what the thoughts behind a song are, perhaps because they are too emotionally wound around my heart, but this song is a clear memory. Maybe it is clear because I wrote this song with a friend of mine, Jimmy Robeson, and at the point of writing this song we had already written many songs together and were comfortable in the writing process. We opened our bibles, dug through our hearts and were quick to agree about what we felt like we ourselves and the church were needing to say. We were so quick in fact that we had the entire song written and a demo recorded within just a couple of hours. It was like this song was pushing its way out, ready to be heard and passed around, so it could find its place vibrating through the throats of all those desperate to cling to its hope filled lyrics. In two weeks my album, "Current," with this song, "Hope," is being released, worldwide, by Integrity Music. You can mark your calendars for March 6th but until then you can listen to the track playing along with this video blog about it. Please share it with your friends. You will see the Facebook share button and the Twitter tweet button, please use both because the moment I recorded this song it became not for only me, but for all who's hearts are already beating

"We have hope! We have hope! Let our mourning Spread Your glory We have hope!"

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NfQfOeIKrM&w=560&h=315]


So It Begins...

Here I go. I've made a u-turn and am heading back into what may possibly be the hurt zone. Years ago I was in a band on the christian record label, Sparrow Records. We released bits of our hearts on a CD that they released to big media acclaim and even bigger radio and sales failure. I packed my bags and headed to California where I thought I would have to pursue "non-christian" music in order to have a career since my christian music was not connecting with the christian audience, but, a funny thing happened, the more I found myself recovering from the backlash of rejection, the more obviously christian and God centered my lyrics became. I wrote tons of songs that are so dark and depressing that even Edgar Allen Poe would tire of them, but, the songs I was most excited about writing were the songs about life, hope, joy, peace, comfort, resolution...the songs about my Savior. The Savior of mine who was active in this transition time of my life and still is. I tucked away the Poe-esque songs (well most of them, I still think there is a need for lament songs in our worship) and I started bringing out these new bits of my heart for others to hear. And you know what happened? Laughing and tomato throwing? No, connection. I saw understanding on the faces of those who were hearing my new songs. I heard their hearts of thankfulness for putting words to their stories. And so I turned my ship back around and headed back into the unknown waters of christian music. (You can read my blog about signing with Integrity Music here: "Yep, I’ve Signed With Integrity Music!") I am, with my friends at Integrity, pushing forward into the place that I once thought might crush me with the hope that there are those out there who will grab a hold of these new songs of mine and say, "Yes! This is for me! These are the songs of my heartbeat." Are you out there? I've heard whispers about you and I'm coming with a slew of songs we can sing, cry, and shout together.

The first step is a single, a song called, "We Should Run." I will be writing a blog about it later, but for now you can call your radio stations and request it as well as trotting right over to iTunes and downloading it right here:

"We Should Run"

You are the tree like branches who will help me get this song and my upcoming CD out there, so stretch out your long arms by re-tweeting, sharing and whispering to those around you while you join me singing

"We should run, we should be laughing We should look and see, He is lifted high! We should shout, we should be dancing We should call and find a Savior who's alive!"


Music To Run To #4

Here is my newest list of songs to run to. I can't help grinning as I think of those of you who will take these songs and add them to your playlists and then stumble upon them the next time you have that playlist on shuffle while you are running/or are working out/or cleaning the house/driving in your car/walking/or just listening to music for the pure joy of it. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the songs on this list and give me a few of your favorite songs on your running playlist. Enjoy!

1. Never Finished- Aaron Strumpel: Probably my favorite song on this list. When this one comes on it connects with my body and soul.

2. Fastly Gone- Aaron Strumpel. Yes, Aaron has two songs on this list. They are just that good (at least I think so, my husband thinks they are a bit weird but hey, I really like weird :)

3. Calgary- Bon Iver. Come on, this song is a no brainer.

4. Princess of China- Coldplay. I am sick sick sick of finding Rihanna on other people's songs BUT Arggghhhhh is this song a great song to run to. Boom, boom boom. The darn bass is what gets me.

5. Not In Love- Crystal Castles (featuring Robert Smith): This is the second time this song has appeared on my Music To Run To list but I'm a sucker for just about anything with Robert Smith's name on it and this song will have me sprinting up a boulder strewn mountain.

6. No Light, No Light- Florence + The Machine: This song is a catchy, hooky, four on the floor, harpy, many vocaled wonderful madness. Try to run slowly when she hits the chorus, just try.

7. Blood Pressure- Mute Math: Really? Are you surprised to find a Mute Math song on here?

8. Lisztomania (Alex Metric Remix)- Phoenix: Phoenix has had music on my running playlist since years ago when my husband snuck their song "Run, Run, Run" on my running list for a half-marathon I was in. Now here they are on the list again for a remix. It's so good that I have to make myself focus so that I don't trip.

9. Cruel- St. Vincent: Now I will give it to my husband, St. Vincent is weird but this is classic great/weird. This song is only for the great/weird lovers (Mom, don't buy this one).

10. Chicago- Canon Blue: 1:15 into the song and he still hasn't started singing yet??? Yep. Horns, drums, bass, strings and weird keys thing? Yep. Enjoy

Now grab your shoes, IPod, and running clothes and head outside. You can tell me your thoughts when you get back.


The Hopes And Fears...

A few weeks back I was sitting with a friend talking about a line out of the Christmas song "O Little Town Of Bethlehem." The line is found in the first verse of the song

O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

What a beautiful and odd lyric.

The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

I have done quite a bit of research on this lyric to try to discover the original meaning that the author intended but try as I might, there is no interview with the author explaining it's meaning. This is probably due to the fact that it was written by the rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in 1868 and was only really intended for his Sunday school Christmas service. The rector, Phillip Brooks, gave his lyrics, the week before the Sunday service, to his organist and asked him to write the music for the song. According to the organist, he had difficulty writing it and wasn't able to come up with what would be the music until the night before the service. Sheesh! Now that is pushing it, but, sometimes it is in the crunch time, when you are not triple thinking yourself that you, as a songwriter, can come up with your best ideas. In the case of the organist, I think this is also true.

Just think of that melody on that line

The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

Ahhh. It is perfect.

So what does that line mean?

I have a few songs that I've written over the years that I don't like to explain the meaning to. In the beginning I never intended to hide the meaning of these songs but ended up keeping them to myself after people would come to me and excitedly describe to me what the song or songs meant to them. It reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote I read once in his book "The Four Loves"

"In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets."

Songs are like this. Each different listener brings out a different meaning or facet or view of the song. They shed light from a different perspective and reveal something new that is wrapped in the words and melody making that revelation, through the lens of their lives, a great beauty for the rest of us to behold.

I think this lyric has been one of those with a kaleidascope of meaning as revealed by thousands of listeners and singers throughout the years. Listeners who have tucked these words right into their hearts and then breathed out it's personal meaning to them with each aching heartbeat.

So tell me, what light do you have to shine on this lyric?

What revelation do you have?

Please do us a favor and let us see this lyric through the your light and perspective so that we can know it more than we ever have before.

Comment below and tell me, what are those hopes and fears met in Jesus that night 2000 years ago?


The No-Longer-Lonely's...

20 hours.

That's the amount of travel time that I spent getting to and from a place where I spoke and sang on Friday night.

9.5 hours to get there and 10.5 hours getting home, all for 1 hour of singing/speaking.

I am now sitting on the flight home typing this blog as the last few of those hours go by. Outside the window I see clouds and the setting sun, even though when today's travel began the sun was just barely starting it's ascent into the sky.

I sit and think. Why do I do what I do? Why would I travel so much knowing that there is a high likelihood of men with broad shoulders sitting next to me on planes, forcing me to lean like the Tower of Pisa for an entire flight or women at airline check in counters, who don't like the look of me and the guitar on my back, who give me a hard time about carrying my guitar onto the plane or people leaving me in the cold waiting for them to pick me up while my luggage surrounds my feet, or many breakfasts, lunches and dinners that will consist of only the peanuts or crackers or cookies the plane supplies?

Because, each time I do, I come off of the stage and speak to the people that were sprinkled throughout the audience who connected with what I sang.

Brokeness Joy Grief Love Excitement Happiness Relief Exhaustion Hope Longing Praise

All of these things I wrap carefully into songs. Weaving them bit by bit with melody and lyric, hoping for that moment where, what I have learned, what I know, what I question, and what I search for meets the same in someone else and the two of us can share our stories and see that we are not alone.

Once again, this happened on Friday night and once again I left knowing that this is what I am supposed to do.

So, now, as I look out the window, the sun now hidden until morning, I see the un-countable dots of light that are street lamps and signs illuminating cities where people finish their days. I think of how many are celebrating or smiling or surrounded or hopeful or giving or laughing or satisfied or at peace. Then, I think of how many of them are feeling isolated or lonely or hopeless or un-championed or unnoticed or unwanted or unheard or unvoiced. Maybe there are those out there for whom my words are their words. Maybe their story is my story.

I travel looking for these people. Then, I step onto the stage and I hand over my words, hoping that they are present in the audience so I can say, "Here, these are for you. I think we share a bit of the same story."

So, if you are there, out in the crowd of faces at my next show please say hello. Let me know that you are one of the No-Longer-Lonely's. We could stick together, all of us, and make quite a rag-tag group.


Uh...Christian Radio=No Females...

Today my husband and I had a long drive in a state that has a far reaching christian radio station. For about an hour and 15 minutes we listened to song after song after song and I quickly started noticing a pattern. There are VERY few female voices on christian radio. I heard 15 songs straight and only heard 2 sung by women (one was Christy Nockels and the other a female led band called Addison Road). I started trying to figure out why that was.

Just a week and a half ago I had a sobering conversation with the leading radio promoter in Christian radio and discovered the nearly impossibly statistics for gaining Christian radio airplay. There are only 2 or 3 available spaces per MONTH for new music. There are 25 radio promoters pitching about 3 songs each per week. That means every week there are about 75 songs trying to squeeze into the 1 possible slot radio stations have available. This also means that while thousands of songs are being released each year, if you are listening to christian radio, you are only hearing 36 of them, many of them being multiple songs by the same artists. For instance, last year TobyMac had two different songs hit #1 at two different times in the year.

Since 2004 there have been 74 #1 singles (songs that stayed at the #1 slot for at least 1 week and some more than 1 week). Of those 74 singles only 6 were from females, Joy Williams (once), Nichole Nordeman (once), Francesca Battistelli (twice), Mandisa (once), and Laura Story (once). Meanwhile Mercy Me, Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, Third Day, Matthew West, Toby Mac and Chris Tomlin each had anywhere between 4-10 #1 singles each; comprising over 40 of those top 74 singles.

I know, I know, this is a lot of numbers. Here is what I am getting at...there are NOT enough female singers/musicians being represented on Christian radio. I don't believe this is because there isn't enough talent but for some reason their songs are just not making it on the radio. Two female led songs in an hour and a half of radio airplay is just not enough. So what can be done?

First, to the lady musician/singer/songwriters:

#1 Be great at your craft. Stop leaning so heavily on your beautiful vocals and start writing equally beautiful songs. Get out and sing your songs in front of people who will give you honest feedback (most of the time the most honest feedback comes from strangers, you know the ones who sit at a table right in front of you talking louder than you are singing, or the ones who sit in rapt attention because you have brought something to them that they need; great music).

#2 Record your music well. Whether you are signed to a record label or you are independent and find yourself funding your cd recording yourself in your friends basement, make a cd that draws the listener in and makes them want to listen over and over, hearing new creative things with each listen.

#3 Get your music out there. This happens through shows, social media(youtube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), marketing, a webpage or blog, radio, ITunes, and just old fashioned word of mouth. Perhaps you don't have any idea how to make a webpage where people can stream your music or see where you are playing, then make a Facebook page (I know you are on Facebook anyway). You can also hit up Wordpress.com or one of the many other blogsites and build one (they have pre-made sites that you can stick your info/songs/pictures into that is so easy you have no excuse...if it is still too hard then find just about any 13 year old kid with a computer and have them do it for you). Submit your music to ITunes. Use Noisetrade.com to give away your music in trade for email addresses to keep in contact with your fans.

Next, to the non-female musicians/listeners:

Your job is even easier, you are in charge of finding those great female musicians out there and spreading the word to your friends, rallying them to buy the females music and further promote to their friends. Call your Christian radio stations and request their music (I admit that this probably won't do anything but I would love for the stations to be hearing that there are lots of people wanting what they are not providing).

So, I realize that I am a female musician and I am writing this blog. I am not using this blog to get you to go buy my cd and get it on Christian radio. I am also not using this blog to act like I know it all. These are just my observations and heck, who am I? I'm a girl who makes Christian music that doesn't get played on Christian radio, so this blog conversation is pointed at myself as well as any other lady musician out there.

I want to leave you with some female singer, songwriter, musicians who you can rally behind. Women who are extremely talented and are working extremely hard despite not having a radio presence. Some of my current favorites are:

Kim Walker Smith- You can find her singing with the band/worship team Jesus Culture. Her version of the song "How He Loves" has gotten almost 6 million views on youtube. Did you catch that? 6 Million views! That is huge and shows what a powerful worship leader/singer/musician she is and yet I don't believe there is any major Christian radio station playing her music. You can get a hold of her music by buying a Jesus Culture CD on ITunes. There are 3 that I know of and personally own, each with standout Kim Walker Smith tracks.

Vicky Beeching- I admit I am a little close to the latest CD by Vicky (It was recorded by my husband at our studio in San Diego and I co-wrote a few of the songs on the album with her) BUT I am close to this CD because I wanted to be close. Vicky has a unique calling and gifting by intertwining singing and songwriting with teaching. She challenges the music community to write through a theological lens and to speak of a Savior who is real and not full of fluff. Go buy her latest CD called Eternity Invades and support this great British female artist.

Kye Kye- now here is a band who is female led and has all the wrappings of art and cool and depth and spirituality and theology. The band is led by Olga, the ethereal voiced sister to two of the other band members and wife to the drummer. This band is not for the fainthearted. They do not make music for the complacent. Theirs is for someone who wants to be invested and drawn in to a real, pumping relationship with a Creative Creator. Grab their CD titled Young Love, find where they are playing nearby and grab all your friends and go see them. You can thank me later.

Brooke Fraser- Brooke is a no brainer. After having lent her astonishingly beautiful lyrics and vocals to Hillsong United for years she has finally just released her own solo CD in the US last year titled Flags. She has written songs you sing probably ever month in your church service, her most popular being, Hosanna. I have seen her perform live once and I have to say that out of all the male or female singers I have seen in my entire life, she is by far one of the top most flawless live singers I have ever seen. Support this Lady.

Audrey Assad- I am new to the Audrey bandwagon but friends, including Brenton Brown and his band, have continued whispering praise over her talent and honesty, and it finally rubbed off. I have listened and joined the fan club. Now I just have to make it a point to see her live, you should join me.

Lisa Gungor- One half of the duo led band Gungor (the other half is her husband). This band has been making waves for the past couple of years with only two CDs under their belt, the first being 2010's Beautiful Things (the title track was nominated for a Grammy) and then this months Ghosts Upon The Earth with their super creative worship driven music. The tracks on the record that she leads tend to be my favorites of the bands and I look forward to hearing her more and more. She sings with passion and belief in what she is saying.

Please leave a comment here on the blog, below with any other female singers that people should know about so that we can group together and support them. Perhaps you are that female musician, leave us a link to your website or blog or a place where we can sample your music. Then after you've left a comment with your favorites, go and check out the other music that is being posted. (Side Note: It will do no good for anyone but me if you comment on my Facebook page or Twitter because the readers of this blog will be only reading the comments on this blog...so comment here...please :))

I look forward to hearing of some great female led music from you!

Alrighty...Go!


After The Inhale (Story Behind The Song "Calling, Calling")

I've been thinking a lot about breathing and the function of our lungs. The process is started by the contraction of the diaphragm, just below the lungs, causing air to flow into and fill the lungs. The air that is drawn in is sifted through, separating what is needed (oxygen) and what is not needed (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, helium, etc.), and then the part of the lungs called the alveoli grabs a hold of that oxygen and hands it off to the bloodstream, where the much needed source of life is pushed from fingertips to toe tips. After the sifting has occurred, the diaphragm relaxes and the remaining gases are forced back out of our lungs, rejoining the air around us. This process is repeated approximately 22000 to 24000 times per day, almost always unnoticed. We breathe in, we breathe out. Inhale, exhale. And then again,

and again.

The way that people who don't know Christ perceive Him, through people who claim to know Him, is similar. The things we say and do make up the "air" around them and at some point they inhale, usually unnoticed, these words and actions and their brain and heart goes to work sifting through what has been said and done, deciding if there is any life within them.

This thought is heavy.

I know many people both close to me and acquaintances, even someone unmet who happened to walk by the amphitheater where I am singing or someone at the table next to me in a restaurant, who do not know or choose to believe in this Savior, Creator, God at whose feet I have placed my life. This God who's Spirit fills me with any life worth having. This God who has promised to, someday, make all things right. This God whose very existence explains the unexplainable, fills in the voids, gives purpose, and displays the only example of perfect love this world has ever seen.

Romans 1:19-20 says,

"For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification]...."

With just these two verses I feel the weight of responsibility. I am part of His handiwork. I am one of the things He has made, therefore, He should be seen through me.

Have I relinquished my grip on the things that would distort or poison His life that is housed within me? Have I continued to cling to things that would drive His Spirit away like two repelling magnets making clear Galatians 5:17

"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another...."

Have I been surrounding myself with unbreathable, lifeless air that is being inhaled and coughed back out by those around me?

I can know if I find myself living in a way that Galatians 5:19-21 describes:

"repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community."

I want to make sure that this is not the air that envelopes me, but instead I desire to express life through my actions and words and songs and deeds and Galatians 5:22-23 describes what this looks like:

"affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity...a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."

I want people to see real Love.

I want people to inhale life.

These are the thoughts that swirled within my head and heart until finally latching themselves to a melody, forming a song. A song that I could sing to remind myself that everything I say or do could be being inhaled by someone who does not know Christ and set their brains and heart to work, sifting, sifting, looking for anything worth holding on to, anything that would bring them life.

I am posting the lyrics to my new song "Calling, Calling" below and if you would like to listen you can find it by clicking the title below:

Calling, Calling

When the road is long And the mountain steep Let my mouth find words Any word that I could speak To find myself calling after you

If my words had a meaning If my life pulled away Then I would find the mountains move move move If I spoke with assurance If my heart joined my head Then I could tell you how to breathe breathe breathe Cause

Light is brighter Air more fragrant Hope is here in my hand Life will be without end

Changer, chameleon I will be red and then I’m green Let my heart find strength Any strength so I will keep And find myself waiting on you