Friday, April 25, 2008

I spent the last week in Nashville at Gospel Music Week, which always concludes with the Dove Awards ceremony on the final night. I told my manager, Dennis Disney (no, not that Disney – I don’t think – hmm) that I’d come up if he thought he could make it worth the time, energy and dollars to get there.

I flew into Nashville on Sunday morning and hit the ground (I always hate using those words anywhere near the word “flying”) around 9:00 AM. My first stop was to go out to see the kids – that alone made the trip worthwhile.

On Sunday afternoon, I was a part of a panel of artist and industry types. We sat at our respective tables and were put on the clock. A group of young and older aspiring artists and songwriters would gather around and ask questions. Everything from, “How do I do this?” to “Where can I go to use the gifts I have?”

Another question that came up a couple of times from some of the younger attendees – “Who are you?” When I answered their question, some of them still didn’t know. Someone asked if that bothered me, given all the years I’ve put into this, my response was, “No, actually it’s kind of funny and it definitely keeps things in perspective.”

But it is nice when people know, I have to admit.

I was introduced to Mark Hall from Casting Crowns. Mark was very nice and said some nice things. He told me I was his “car singer.” Huh? He told me that when he was growing up, he would ride around in his car and sing along with me. He said Steven Curtis Chapman sang the stuff he sang in church. I asked him why. He told me in every song of mine, I’d throw in a couple of lines or notes as if to say, “So, you thing you can hang with me big boy? Try this!” And then I’d be out of his range.

I laughed but later thought, “Hmm, so that’s why Chapman sold so many more records than me?”

At this point in my career, I wish I’d recorded some of those songs a little bit lower myself. They tried to warn me.

I spent most of the week doing media for the new record. Lots of radio interviews and some television.

The most intriguing TV thing was for a network from Kenya. It set me to thinking about the world outside my world – and I’m still thinking, praying and hoping something comes of the contacts I made. I’ve got some ideas that actually have nothing to do with me. A breakthrough.

I sang at an art gallery on Tuesday night in a small showcase of artists. One of the girls that was on the list to perform was the daughter of Chuck Girard, one of the real pioneers. She's a great singer and one of the best songwriters I heard all week. You should check out Alisa Childers (spelling might be off).

On one trip through the maze at the convention center, I saw this guy from far off and watched the buzz around him. A dead ringer for the president! And a really nice guy. He said he’d been a fan for a long time and gave me one of his DVDs.

At the airport, before boarding my flight home on Thursday, I was browsing the magazine rack, looking for the latest bike or golf mag – something easy for the flight, something I could fall asleep reading, and I saw a magazine title I’d never seen. I love Nashville for lots of reasons, so what I’m going to say is no indictment on my beloved southern culture, but you might only be able to buy this magazine in the south. “Garden & Gun.” There was a picture of a great looking black lab perched on some expensive looking iron patio furniture – it could have been the cover of some highbrow publication, but, no, it was “Garden & Gun.” I didn’t want to spoil the many layers of weirdness I was enjoying in the playground of my head by opening it and actually seeing what was inside.

I might ask Santa for a subscription to “Garden & Gun” for Christmas! It would be a great coffee table conversation piece, eh?

Chuckling to myself as I left the airport bookstore with my copy of USA Today and Golf Digest with Tiger Woods on the cover, I heard this announcement over the airport sound system. “Would the person leaving the Elvis painting at security please return to claim it?”

Love ya, Nashville. Entertaining as always.



Sarah said...

Hey there. This is Sarah from Garden & Gun and I wanted to thank you for the mention. Our current issue is our official first anniversary issue, with our hometown of Charleston as the portrait city. There are also wonderful pieces on the best Southern barrier islands, the conservation initiative in the Lowcountry, and how to cook a whole hog! Can we get a link on your site?
Blog us at
Thank you!

Sarah said...

Would you like me to send you a copy?

Blog us at
Thank you!

Ann said...

By the way, THANK YOU for the way you recorded your music! I'm a strange alto who loves to sing but can't sing many of the songs out there in the original key. I can sing yours! :-) And, since you're one of my favorite artists, I guess that's a good thing.