July 2, 2014
Take it down
What lies in view
All the victims
that have ensued
Burn it to the embers
What you once had stoked
Now in ashen aftermath
Your love affair
was but a joke.
This past weekend I had the privilege of playing at the Nashville Downtown Art Crawl in front of the Arts Company on 5th avenue. The foot traffic was great and so were the listeners who passed by, smiled, waved and clapped. I also added an accomplishment to my music resume as I learned how to set up all my own gear and PA for a gig. I have always wanted to be able to do that, so there you have it! Alec Vinsant played guitar on some songs and then played some of his original music which you can check out as well here.
Thank you to the Nashville Downtown Partnership, Crissy Cassety and Jack Malone for having us and for being such gracious hosts. We had a great evening playing for the crowd! It was great to see a plethora of Cory Basil’s work. I adore the endearing yet haunting appeal it had on me.
The next gig is set in Franklin, Tennessee at the PorchFest on June 21st at 4pm. Stay tuned for the exact location!
Have a lovely Thursday. Get out and enjoy this luxurious sunshine in Nashville!
Music is woven in me and I have yet to be able to separate from my love for it. This morning I recently read these two amazing blog posts that remind me that music doesn’t’ merely have a self-involved process. There is so much more to it being on this earth than that. Music Think Tank is a great blog for those in the music industry, and this article on Creativity in Constraint really hit home.
We are such musical beings…. Just like the birds and the chimps and even trees and flowers. There is so much music continually around us in earth and the sky. Sadly, we are often too plugged into our indie rock to really listen to the music of nature. But music is a healing thing from God. It’s awesome the way that a song can transport us or lift our spirits. God created that in us to do just that very thing. Music is part of worship and He knew that it would bring us closer to Him. Why is it that so many of us as musicians tend to think that we must shirk our God to pursue the thing He wanted us to be a part of? Why do so many of us cut Him off in pursuit of that?
This article discusses our limitations as creative people. If our limitations are what encourage our creativity such as creative fashion coming from poverty and resourcefulness arising from want….. perhaps there is a connection between spiritual limitations and creative limitations. Perhaps the boundaries God has given me are not something to be angered about. They are rather constraints that guide me and teach me how to excel in them. Is creativity going beyond the lines? Perhaps, but what if the most creative approaches to certain things were staying within some sort of parameters and finding ways to do that in more innovative ways? I hope to find ways to do this through my career.
As I listen to some of Neil Young’s greatest tunes, I know he had limitations in both his technical abilities as well as his voice. I can relate to that. I’m no picture of perfection. I get upset when I lack more abilities than I wish I had and to be disciplined to become better. I am someone trying to change the world for good with my art. I leave you with an image that tugs at the heart of every songwriter…. Thank you to this blog for sharing:
And as my wheels are turning, how could I ignore the healing power and therapy of music that have existed since long ago…. Through God. King saul utilized David’s musical gifts to ease his depression and whatever mental demon he was continually fighting. Music heals our pain in different ways. This girl’s blog is an amazing testament to the healing properties of music and is a great resource into the world of music therapy. I think this new field gives validity to the scientists of the world who don’t believe art and music are really something that can be effective in large ways. It is intriguing that science and art are closely tied and the health of our bodies and minds can be changed due to it. This is all just more evidence that points us to our Maker. God knows us and knows how to heal us, and He equipped us with the tools for this. Thanks mom for the realization.
Pensive on a Thursday am I,
I’m currently reading the first chapter of a great book called The boss of you… written by two brave women. And they challenged me to really think about the why behind what I want to pursue. So here’s the why behind it.
1. For those who love creativity. I’m creative. I believe we can be that and be different. We are people with conviction, faith, love and want to soak up the world around us. But we’ve been told to tell ourselves no, believing there wasn’t an arena for us as people of faith and artists. I’m here to tell you I will not believe that lie anymore and neither should you.
2. I believe in the future, in the artists, the musicians and those who have worked really hard at their craft, despite math and science brains saying what they have is more important to offer. Because if one is more important than the other, then why are the doctors buying tickets to our shows and unwind after a surgery by listening to some enchanting melody from our contribution to society? In a world of negativity and increasing ills, hope is needed through the arts. I believe that so much good and blessings can come from what music can offer. And I believe that I can contribute to that.
3. I want to be able to write songs and share them for a living and create a listening experience that is unparalleled and exciting. I want creative venues for shows that have so often been forced into a narrow idea of what a venue is.
4. I want to use my music to fuel goodwill and do good things in the world around me. I want to write songs that give people hope and stir them onto good works and to look to a greater home after they die. I want to bring people to an appreciation for life, God and a healthy hereafter.
5. Money will not be the goal, nor will fame. I will welcome the blessings and use them as I think God would have me do, but I do not want the goal other than supporting, saving and giving back. And my goal is to be able to have health insurance and feed myself and others in the future all because I work hard at honing my craft of songwriting and performing. I will be the Barnabas in a world of excuses and failings. I will encourage the people I meet every day.
6. I want to show people that someone who wants to do what’s right can be successful in a difficult industry by paving her own path. Someday I hope to help others find their way of making a difference around them.
7. I want to tour, make friends all around the world and have countless stories from a life well lived.
8. I will not be average…. I will live awesomely through the talents I have been given and through the God who gave each of them to me. And I will restore them to him, rusty and worn and say “thank you for these gifts- they are loved and worn and my hands are tired and my mind is ready to be at rest forevermore.”
Live the life you’ve imagined…
Let me know how you can relate!
Photo Courtesy: SDASM Archives photo stream
People carry sorrows
like chains around their feet
so carry your brother
when the water gets too deep
Wherever you end up
Just step on outside yourself
Let your word be a promise
Let your love be deep as a well
Into the forests
Out of the past
Running through the trials
Clutching the mast
The darkness may trail
the light of this tune
But someday I’ll make a promise
Beneath a summer moon
All words have two meanings
That get turned in the toss
I don’t understand it
But love suffers long
I’ve seen vice and virtue
From all to old
No matter the substance
It poisons the soul
Into the forests
Out of the past
Running through the trials
Clutching the mast
The darkness may trail
the light of this tune
But someday I’ll make a promise
Beneath a summer moon
Music wafts through us
Like spirits in this realm
Truth becomes us
Once it has been found
Hymns and thistles
Tied up with a bow
Wherever this road carries us
Few will come to know
“The self-indulgent man craves for all pleasant things… and is led by his appetite to choose these at the cost of everything else.”
― Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
Photo Courtesy: George Eastman house photostream
We are self-indulged. And we’ve never truly known poverty or hunger or bitter cold. Much as we’d like to deny it, there isn’t much we can’t have right at our fingertips at any given point and with the right amount of money. And if we are forced to “wait,” we become quite impatient and angered at the situation. Believing we are self-made men and women, we have slowly drifted into a mindset that we really have no need for God. Why depend on someone when we believe we can do it alone? We are self-sufficient and have no desire for anyone telling us what to do or how to live our lives. Sadly, this quote by Aristotle rings true in the world of musicians. Therefore- a picture of a self-sick society…
Life was good there. And in this prosperous society, there was a sect of people. They were called musicians and they lived in their own separate world, believing no one understood them. They were continually busy with distraction, every form of media on which to plug themselves and their talents. Their pursuits and fever for fame flooded the bulk of their thinking, acting and discussion in the community. While those in the worlds of ancient Greece and Rome worshipped physical idols, the musicians had no need for these. The idols were rampant in their hearts- held up daily as they bowed mentally to them both day and night. They could have been faulted had it been completely their doing. Rather, they were products of their society to some extent. They were put on stages, high above the crowds. Looking down on others always helped one to feel loftier than the others below. The observers would scream and chant praises. Others would grab at their legs, longing for one touch. And still others would emulate their style and strive to meet them backstage.
It was innately human, though. Like all beings, they had a need for association and to become a part of something bigger than themselves. In the music industry, they had found something to fill the void. God had made them with this need for acceptance and to connect with something grander in scale. But this desperate need for association had become misdirected somewhere and was funneled toward a people, performance and things. The musicians were sadly warped in their thinking. They knew that the world did not revolve around them, but somehow, they had been led to believe that it did by a self-sick society.
Moral to the story:
As musicians, we must work to not become saturated with ourselves. What is continually in our thoughts? That is what we are serving. We often say daily that we are “pursuing” something. Our truest pursuit should be toward the ultimate Creator and then whatever goals we work toward are merely just honing our skills and talents in this and that area. It would take an immense pressure off of ourselves if we let go of the thoughts that we had to prove ourselves to the world, become well-liked by everyone (which is a total joke) and that success in music was only measured in terms of dollars or facebook fans.
No wonder musicians have such a warped view of themselves. We commoners treat them as gods. But what if we treated musicians and the actual process of making a living at music as less-dreamy and as something that required hard work just like an architect or a teacher or a dolphin trainer. If we put jobs on respectable, even playing fields and believed that everyone should use their talents to better the world at large, we might not see the arts as being so lofty. If we viewed it as a normal career path that one might pursue- and not some lottery, one-in-a-million chance to make you a big star- then society might begin to view musicians in a healthier light. My feeling is that as musicians, our business models should begin to include more service and a change of heart toward fans and a respectful kindness toward all we come in contact with. I’m not sure how start this change on a larger level, but I welcome ideas in the comment section below. Feel free to leave comments and thoughts!
Enjoy your Tuesday!
Photo Credit: New York Public Library photostream
They tell you good things take time. I can see the beauty in waiting for the right time in my life.
I began writing songs at the close of my college career in my one-bedroom apartment in east Texas. I still remember my first open mic, shaking hands and the honest statement before I sat down saying “I am not a professional.” But I began to write and play and create in a way I never had before. Shortly after college, I moved to Austin, the live music capitol of the world. At 23, I wanted a music career. And at 24 and 25 and 26 and so on. I wanted to find the person who would help me launch my career. I wanted to go, move, meet everyone I could. Someone once told me “I had the fever.” It was funny, but it was true. I observed an industry guy at South by Southwest one year with my business card, wanting to drop it into his briefcase at his side, hoping it would be discovered and appreciated later. But I now wonder whether my fever rested in the actual love of music or the pursuit of fame and fortune. I confess at times, I really became stary-eyed for the hopes and dreams and pursuit of being something wonderful to the world. In those early twenties, I had an innate desire to prove myself to a world that I believed did not understand me, family included.
Since that time, I have grown to realize some things about myself and the industry as a whole that have shaped me. I’m not totally jaded and walking away, but that’s probably because I haven’t gone deep into the recesses of the music industry abyss. I always thought dancing on the sidelines would hold me back. And in a way it did. I was never willing to sacrifice my faith, my dignity, my conviction or my vision for what others were willing to sell it for. I respected myself, my conviction and my art. And I wanted my music to sell itself. And I knew that those who sacrifice more and faster would get farther down that career road faster than myself. But I still refused to follow the path of least resistance.
Throughout my stint in Austin, I began to meet various musicians, booking managers and mentors in the field. Flaky musicians, waiting for producers who never showed at coffeeshops and disappointing recording experiences were all the continual existence of my world. The music industry and its people began to manifest themselves as saturated with addiction and selfishness. I saw people who had fallen into difficult times. I also saw good families falling at the feet of the music god while neglecting the spiritual welfare of their children. My heart hurt when I lost friends or felt rejected. Most importantly, God began to open my eyes to an existence that began to look empty and fruitless. But in my heart, I felt pulled by a passion that I could not deny. I knew I had this gift of writing songs, connecting to people and inspiring others on a daily basis. I will always remember my continued grappling with my talents while questioning who I was supposed to be in God’s kingdom. I also remember struggling with why others were living my dreams and the near tears I held back once when leaving a show for wanting it so badly. In my heart, I longed to be doing what I loved and what I knew I was good at.
Somewhere around 26 or 27, I arrived at a monumental conclusion. If I was ever to make a career of this music thing, I would not be able to follow the same path the others had followed. I didn’t feel comfortable playing in certain atmospheres, so I was picky about where my performances occurred. I was highly selective about band members, because I knew that people you spend copious amounts of time with will undoubtedly affect and change you. I never wanted a manager who didn’t understand my vision and direction. I also began to realize that trying to get recognized by a record label might not be my best course of action unless it was an an ideal label that respected its artists. Rather, I decided to become an independent artist. I would self-produce an EP and create my own “cabinet” or network of trusted designers, printers, booking people, photographers, artists and videographers. I would be able to control what I created and the image I would ultimately project into the world. This would force me to become creative in both revenue generation as well as promotion. I realized after a conversation with a band manager that I would be viewed as either a pioneer or a purist who was holding onto the way she believed about certain things. Though challenges were undeniable, I still felt compelled to try. I had grit, and I knew with some hard work, something could be achieved.
I have often felt that even if I did fail at this, I would still be happier than never having tried. With a father who started his own business and a grandfather who was a gifted salesman, I felt like it was in my blood to pursue an entrepreneurial path. Now thinking about business plans for my music, I am challenging myself to see things as truly beneficial or not. I have both 3-5 year goals as well as short-term goals. My current goal is to complete my first EP by the end of August and have it mixed, mastered, packaged and ready for all of you by mid-September. I am blessed to have Michael Estok and Vibe Dial Studios for this. After the release of the EP, my next goal is to play 4-6 shows in various cities in Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia to begin this train down the track. All aboard.
I want to create something meaningful and relatable. I believe in my vision of a career of writing, playing and singing music while involving great people along the way. But I guess the larger theme of what I’d like to do is to change the musician stereotype of self-centeredness. Throughout my endeavors, I want to incorporate the aspect of service into my character and my business model. By spreading revenue to positive organizations as well as helping with benefit shows and selecting service venues to play, I believe this will help keep me grounded and give back to communities small and large. I believe in the need for more musicians to perpetuate a healthy perspective by viewing our gifts as something we’ve been given. And they are gifts we are forever indebted to share with the world for good. May we never forget that God bestowed us with gifts to enjoy for ourselves and for others.
So now, here I am at 28. Five years after I began writing my first songs. I hope at this point, I have a better head on my shoulders than once was there and a little more savvy in the way things work. I know I have much to learn and will always be learning. But here’s to future goals, projects and endeavors. Let’s all work to have the best attitude and be both thankful and effective with the gifts we’ve been given J
Photo Credit: Library of Congress photostream
So, they tell you if you can procure 1000 true blue fans as a musician that you will be able to make a little living for yourself. Perhaps it would help to not focus on fans (people who adore you or your music) but rather try to meet and develop real relationships with people who believe in more of a mission than just a face or sound. There are concepts larger than ourselves and maybe it’s time we focused on that instead of ourselves as musicians. I haven’t obtained this selfless sense as a musician, but it would be a good goal to stay grounded as we grow as artists. Though, I’m not exactly sure what my fans turned friends would look like, I do know some characteristics I imagine they would possess and characters they would be.
All of that being said, I should like to announce that I am currently in the studio working on my first EP. My goal for the end of 2013 and all of 2014 is to begin sharing music, stories and a vision larger than myself with others through shows, service and relationships. I have some great people who are eager to help, so if you’d like to hear the EP once it is out and possibly book a house show, please feel free to drop me a line in the contact form below.
And if you feel like hearing some demos as a pre-cursor to the EP, feel free to visit www.facebook.com/leahemusic
Thanks for being supportive and keep living creatively and thankfully! ~lme
Photo Courtesy of The Flickr Commons of the Library of Virginia
Humanity loves pleasure. It is innate in our being. But at some point along our history as a culture- in America especially- we have become seekers of pleasure. This is a terrible problem. We are feverishly running toward something to numb us from pain. We want to fill our lives and our schedules with things that make US happy. We constantly think about the fun we will have at this and that or try to fill every evening with some enjoyable activity. How often to we think “today, how may I serve the world?” “how might I use a talent I have to bring someone to God or to make the world a better place?”
Pleasure seekers are sadly slaves to their own negative spirits. They feel a need for something and strive to fill it with busy-ess and parties and people and drinking and gluttony. They live for the weekend, because nothing good can come from working during the day. The pleasure seekers push out anything that is uncomfortable or that may cause them to grow and learn in the process.
Letting pleasure drive us will ultimately undo us. If all we ever do is follow what makes us happy, we will be led down various paths and follow various characters who look interesting at the time. But with no focus and no direction toward developing a gift or reaching an ultimate goal will only lead us to chase ourselves and desires.
So I challenge you to sit outside yourself and look objectively at your heart. Do you desire pleasure constantly? Are you afraid of hurting or experiencing real emotions? Do you constantly fill yourself with yourself? Is the whole of your mental capacity existing of thoughts about what you would like to do and how you will get farther in your pursuits? If it is, then it might be time to seriously evaluate your direction in life. If you aren’t directed in a spiritual way, the realization that you can’t take it with you may eventually completely unravel you.
Photo Courtesy: State Library of Queensland
Tomorrow is the first day of tracking for the EP with Michael Estok and his adorable wife. We’ll record in his renovated East Nashville basement to create something really natural and cool for all you great people who so kindly support me. Thank you for what you are doing to encourage me.
And I’ve been thinking about what will come after the completion of this project, after an EP release party with an enchanting location, and after I have a product in hand? My challenge will be to figure out an unconventional way of touring and performing in venues I love around the country. An even bigger challenge will be to creatively generate revenue and build a group of people I can inspire and connect with on a continual basis. I would appreciate any prayers from anyone regarding wisdom in decision-making.
But, I want you to be a part of what I’m doing, because honestly, we cannot really do anything in our lives alone. We all need each other. I would love to hear your very own ideas, advice on any of your recording experiences, what you would like out of an EP and if there things that you would be interested in merch-wise? Music is for me, but it’s meant to be shared!
Stay tuned for new music and future show dates 🙂 And keep doing good things and looking up 🙂