Sorry it has been a while since I posted! February 8th was my EP release party. And it was AWESOME! It was the expression of many dreams coming true. Oh you want to see some pictures? Indeed! This is me… singing my #feistytunes!
Seven years ago I had a tiny idea spring into my head “I want to do more with music.” That evolved into the more practical step of “I want to go to music school.” So I went part time in my work with InterVarity ( big decision) and researched schools, and in the fall of 2009 I went to music school. Three quarters later my husband decided to leave his job, and it didn’t make financial sense for me to keep going to school in the midst of that transition so I stopped. I started a cover band and played our first gig the summer of 2010. I did that for about a year as I wrote my own songs and in the fall of 2011 I started a band that helped me arrange my original songs. Spring of 2012 I played my own songs in public for the first time. Spring of 2013 I launched a successful Kickstarter campaign. And February 2014 I had the Release Party for that EP.
The show was next level- we had background vocalists, choreography, and even dancers! Over 250 people came- more than I dreamed. My dream of writing my own songs and playing them for people had come true. My dream of recording had come true. My dream of seeing dancers choreograph something to one of my songs came true. Playing for an audience larger than my immediate circle of friends came true.
And here are lessons I learned along the way.
1) It mostly felt like hard work.
The word dream is misleading because it sounds like something that happens while you are sleeping. But the truth is that these dreams required making hard and practical decisions to pursue music in the midst of an economic downturn, hitting my late thirties, my husband changing jobs, and not knowing what I was doing. There was nothing dreamy about it. It required planning, sacrifice, feeling dumb, and risk.
2) Nobody Cared
As an artist you have to come to terms with the fact that nobody cares if you do your art. Nobody insisted that I make art. Nobody noticed when I wasn’t writing songs, or challenged me when my work schedule filled all my time and I stopped creating. Outside of the sphere of the super famous- nobody cares if you make art. Nobody cared except me and God. So the drive had to be internal and that can be hard to sustain.
3) A Surprising Number of People Cared
On the flip side, as I stepped out and took risks I was often touched by who came forward to encourage me. Pursuing music in this way happened after I was married. This wasn’t part of the deal when my husband married me, but he has been the source of unending encouragement and support. When I launched my Kickstarter, I felt so nervous that it would fail and I would look dumb. But it ended up being a deliriously encouraging experience. I couldn’t believe all the people that came forward to support my first time in the studio. I was so scared each time I asked someone to be in my band- but I have ended up working with an amazing group of musicians. Oh did you want to see the band? Cause we just got new band pictures taken. Here you go!
4) Unexpected Returns
Through my work as a campus minister I have the joy and privilege of getting to know many many students and investing in their spiritual development. But as I stepped out as an artist I found a whole new way to connect with my students, particularly my students with artistic leanings. Suddenly a student was designing my album art. A former intern, that I had mentored in Black Campus Ministries and worship leading, became my songwriting buddy and background vocalists. A former student choreographed a piece for one of my songs. My growth and needs as an artist opened up a whole new way to relate to my students and it was incredibly creative and reciprocal and I was able appreciate their gifts in a new way.
Album Art brought to you by Kayee Keek- Animation and Digital Arts major at USC and part of the InterVarsity group there.
5) The Generosity of My Christian Community
There are a million stories about Christian community and all its shortcomings. But this journey has been a chance to experience an amazing side of my Christian family. People at my church gave to my Kickstarter and played my CD for their friends. The most unexpected people would tell me they had downloaded the EP or that they were excited for my release party. When I asked for help people showed up to help me set up and tear down for the release party. As a Christian minister I am often in leadership and in the position of giving to others. This journey has made me needy- I have needed help, encouragement, support and I have been moved by all the people that have given that to me.
6) Sometimes pursuing dreams is full of alone time
There were plenty of mornings where I would be sitting at my desk, trying to write a song, and just feel like it was all pointless and dumb. But I kept showing up to that stupid desk and that stupid blank piece of paper. It wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t fun. It didn’t feel dreamy. But that’s what it took.
7) I needed to find ways to be inspired
Taking a class called the Artist Way helped me enormously. Reading books on creativity like Art and Fear. Visiting museums. I did better when I poured into my creative reservoirs.
8) I learned to ask for help and promote myself
I write a lot about this issue in other posts. But as a woman, it took a lot of growth to put myself and my music out there and encourage others to partake.
I share these reflections because the idea that you “get a break” and your dreams come true, or that it’s someone else’s responsibility to come along and make your dream come true, can make you miss all the opportunities that can actually move you forward. I think this is true in many fields, but particularly in the arts. There is a myth that downplays hard work and plays up getting discovered. I’m sure getting discovered would be awesome. It seems like it’s working out for Justin Bieber really well. ( Too snarky?) But there is a road paved with hard work and perseverance that is gratifying and powerful as well.
And now I know more and my dreams are continuing to evolve. I want to write new songs. Better songs. Record again. Keeping the dream alive.
And here the song that we performed to kick off the EP release party. Its our cover of 25 Miles by Edwin Starr. I’m so in love with it!