Tuesday morning, I woke up with a bit of anxiety, as I had two rather daunting tasks ahead of me.
First, I was taking one of my original songs to a what is called a Song Critique. A Song Critique gives you the opportunity to meet with a representative from a major Christian music publishing company, play him your song on CD, and then listen to feedback from him as to the quality/marketability of the song. Eek! Skeert!
Second, I was particpating in the Vocal Competition, singing yet another original song, this time in front of a panel of judges from the Christian music industry and about 15 peers and fellow competitors. Double Eek! Triple skeert! I want my mommy!
Fortunately, both went well. My song was critiqued by the Vice-President of Publishing for Word Records (GULP!) and he had very nice things to say. His few criticisms were very fair and accurate, I felt. He also asked if he could keep the CD and the lyric sheet. Cool! He was cute, too! I know, not relevant, but I sorta wanted to kiss him. Anyway....
I had not planned on competing in the Vocal Competition. Not because I didn't feel worthy of competing, but because I felt it would be a distraction to me. My purpose in going to this convention was to LEARN and to soak in as much knowledge as possible, not to shoot for a grand prize. But I ultimately decided to do it because I thought the feedback from the judges would be constructive and valuable.
For the Vocal Competition, I sang a song called "We'll Sing On" that I had written about 9/11 in the week immediately following the 2001 tragedy. There were three judges and I tried to engage all of them during my performance, but they had their heads in their critique sheets and were writing furiously. Talk about nerve-wracking! What are they writing? "Nice voice, but seems like kind of a geek." Ha, ha. The performance went well, though, and I could not wait to get my feedback sheets from them. I would receive those, as well as the results of whether or not I advanced to the semi-finals, on Wednesday night. More on that later.
I spent the afternoon in more classes, the first of which was a class led by a guy named Tom Jackson, who is a Performance Coach who helps artists make the most of their live performances. He focuses on three key components: 1) Are you capturing and engaging your audience?, 2) Are you creating "moments" for your audience or just making music?, 3) Are you affecting and changing lives? Ya'll, this was FABULOUS knowledge and helped pull me out of denial about the fact that I am not a great live performer. Yeah, I can hit the notes and engage my audience to an extent, but I have A LOT more work to do in this area. Many of my colleagues acknowledged the same thing about themselves during the week. As the week went on, I ended up attending three more of Tom's classes. The guy's a genius.
I also attended a class that addressed the power of exposing your music to the world through the power of the Internet. Amazing. The web has changed music so much, ya'll. Much of the work that record companies had to do for you can now be done on your own via personal websites, blogs, MySpace, and online stores that sell work done by independent artists. Again, an incredibly valuable class and one that I plan to put to good use!
The day was capped off with an Artist Teaching Concert led by none other than the brilliant singer/songwriter Mark Schultz, who has been one of my favorite Christian artists for about 4 years now. The Artist Teaching Concerts are essentially very casual mini-concerts where the artist sits there and chats with the audience (see 2nd photo above), tells the stories behind his songs, offers advice about the biz, and sings a few of his biggest hits. I got to meet Mark afterwards (see 1st photo above), which was a big thrill. He was so sweet and he is a total punkin'! I thought for a long time I would marry him, but he got snagged up by a gorgeous doctor about a year ago. Now how in the heck am I supposed to compete with that? ;-)
That night's concert featured the great Sandi Patty, Mark Shultz again, David Phelps, the Crabb Family, and Tammy Trent.
(Funny Side-Note: After the concert, I walked back to the room with a gal I had met in the course of the week. The walk back to our cabin was mostly uphill, and since I was still adjusting to the Colorado altitude, my breath was starting to get a little ragged. I said something like, "Gosh, I guess I am still adjusting to the altitude change." And she said, "Really? I think I've gotten used to it by now." And since I was carrying my laptop on my back, I said, "Well, I guess carrying this laptop on my back doesn't help matters." Then, quickly realizing the ridiculousness of that statement, I said, "I guess it also doesn't help matters that I am 70 pounds overweight." HA! Ya'll, she was horrified. My close friends are used to me making little jabs at myself like this, but she was downright SHOCKED that I would say such a thing about myself. I honestly thought that she was gonna start genuflecting right then and there and pray over me for saying such a thing. I made a note to myself that not everyone appreciates a healthy dose of self-deprecation).