A few months ago, I was co-chaperoning a Youth Lock-In at my church. While some may dread this sort of all-night gig, I actually love it. In the course of the night, I get to really hang out with the youth, talk to each of them one-on-one, and really catch up with what's going on with their lives. I never leave a Youth Lock-In without having had some pretty precious conversations.
At the last Lock-In, I sat for a while with my friend Phillip, an incredibly bright 16-year old whose mother Cindy is a dear friend of mine. We chatted for a while, and I got a good little update on his life. Then he asked, "So, how is your music going?" I was touched by his question, as I found it pretty thoughtful that this teenage boy would even remember that I was working on my music. "It's going great," I said. And just as I was about to give him more detail, Phillip said, "So, what is your vision for yourself as an artist?"
Oh my gosh! From the mouths of babes! My vision for myself as an artist?
"I...I don't know," I panicked to myself.
"Well, Phillip, ya know...I...I actually need to figure that out. I've done a ton of writing these last 18 months, and I am ready to put it out there." But...my vision for myself as an artist? Phillip had really given me something to think about. And it was long overdue.
Now don't get me wrong. I didn't upheave my life, move out of my home, and leave my high-five-figure salary at Dell to pursue my creative endeavors without some sort of vision in mind. I knew that I wanted to live a creative life, and I knew that I wanted to make music that moved and ministered to people. But I also knew that part of the risk in leaving Dell was in not knowing precisely what lay ahead, in not having an exact plan. I wanted to try many different things, be open to unexpected opportunities, expose myself to lots of learning, let things evolve, and watch and wait for God's direction.
But after 18 months at this, I decided it was time to start implementing some definitive goals, to establish my artistic vision and purpose, and most importantly, to determine how I was going to bring that vision to fruition. And so began many weeks of prayer, thought, and reflection, which have culminated in my finally having some real clarity about the direction of my music career. I will, of course, continue to remain open to opportunities that may lead me slightly off the path and in different directions. After all, the God I serve is a God of surprises, and because of this, my real life has often exceeded my dreams.
So, here we go! This is how I envision my career progressing. I'll start first with WHAT the vision is, and then HOW I plan to get there (all with God's help and provision, of course!).
- In the immediate future (the next 1-3 years), I would like to perform live at churches, retreats, and other faith-related gatherings, in the hope that this will take me all across the country. I envision that my ministry will focus primarily on pre-adolescent girls, adolescent girls, and grown women, with a particular emphasis on body-image issues, insecurity, and surviving the sex- and beauty-obsessed popular culture and its objectification of women. I want to help women fully realize their true worth as wonderfully made, tremendously loved children of God! (I'm still working on a name for this ministry. Open to suggestions. Brang `em!).
- I would love to be a reguarly gig'ing Austin artist as well. Performing on a consistent basis in the Live Music Capital of The World would be a dream come true. For gigs such as these, I will perform what I call my "Life Music". (See first item below under "The HOW").
- I want to become an Artist on behalf of World Vision. World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice, and responding quickly when disaster strikes. As one of WV's artists, I would make presentations to my audiences about their work, and encourage them to become child sponsors. I will need to be gig'ing regularly in order to be eligible to do this.
- I will record as an independent artist with a backing band.
- For the long-term future, I would like to get a publishing deal as a songwriter. I will be consistently working toward that.
- I will continue to write songs in two genres: The first is Christian Music, which has at its center my personal faith in Jesus Christ and my walk with Him as my Lord and Savior. The second is "Life Music", which is a term I coined as an alternative to the term "Secular Music". Life Music, while not explicitly Christian in nature, is positive, clean, fun, edifying, encouraging, and life-affirming. These are songs that you should hear and recognize your own life in.
- I will once again attend the Gospel Music Association Festival and Competition, which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee July 29th-August 2nd. When I first attended this festival in 2007, I was new to all of this - very green, and mostly concerned with attending its many classes and educating myself about the business. This time, I will be going to compete, and will do so in both the Performing and Songwriting categories. I will also come prepared with a demo, photos, and a promotional package.
- I have identified a number of Open Mikes around town, and will begin playing these SOON. Most of these are at coffeehouses, clubs, and restaurants, but some churches have started hosting open mikes as well. The main benefit of doing these is to gain live performance experience, and to gain the exposure that will hopefully lead to some regular, paying gigs.
- I will be putting a band together for the purposes of recording and performing as an independent artist.
So there have it! You read it here first! Whaddya think? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
In the meantime, thank you for your support and prayers as I continue to pursue this dream!