Thursday, October 21, 2010

my first wedding song

i just realized that my cousin Heather's wedding may have been the first time i sang in a wedding!  so in a way, i owe it to her and her awesome husband Burt for getting me started 14 years ago in the process of singing/writing for weddings...
congrats to them on their anniversary, and thanks for setting a trajectory for me! 
i can't really recall what song i sang, though... if anyone remembers, comment and let me know :-) 
what i do remember, though, is that the wedding was in a little country church, White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Willow Spring... most of my ancestors are buried out there, and i grew up going to 'homecoming' and family reunion events out there, so it's also appropriate that i started singing in weddings there...

Monday, October 11, 2010

the story of 'Here and Now'

i had the pleasure of sharing a cubicle space with Lisa (Dean) Williams while we were both graduate assistants for Student Life at Campbell University.  Our days in the cubicles were kept lively by the great people we worked with (Mrs. Debbie, TMN, Jennifer, George, Mrs. Mullins, etc), and i never complained about sitting back there when everyone was in... if i was by myself, though, that was one sad cubicle.  I'l never forget some of the ways we decorated each other's spaces (for birthdays, for fun)
I also had the pleasure of watching Josh Williams play football (he was the quarterback, of course) at WCA when we were in high school, and seeing him around the community as we both went to college.  
Little did I know that these two had known each other the whole time - i knew them separately, but the Duncan/Lillington/Fuquay area is pretty interconnected when you get right down to it, so i suppose i shouldn't have been at all surprised!
So not long after i'd written 'Awake' for Caleb and Adrienne, Lisa - who has always been a supporter of my songwriting - asked if i would write a song for their wedding as well.  I was very, very honored to write for Lisa, and i realized that this would be a very different kind of songwriting experience than writing for Caleb...
I met with Lisa and Josh, then emailed them a couple times, seeking to get into their heads about what their relationship had been like, what getting married meant to them, how they would describe each other, etc.  I also asked where the song would be in the service, where the wedding would be held, and what kind of musical style they might like. 
I was struck by something that Lisa said at one point... she told me that they had been friends for almost 10 years, and their friendship had always been consistent, even when they were dating other people and figuring things out the 'hard way.'  She felt as if they were best friends, but that the phrase 'best friends' wasn't the right way to put it, wasn't strong enough... so, i used those sentiments to begin the verses, with the chorus pointing out that Josh's faithfulness to their friendship was a very meaningful truth for Lisa:

Best friends
What an overused phrase
True love
What does that mean these days?
You could say
That I’d be jaded by now
But you have proved to me
That somehow

There’s love here
There’s love now
In the midst of two broken hearts
There’s real love here and now

For more than a decade
And more to come
You’re proving today
I choose to love you
All this time,
And no one’s touched my heart
Like you do

knowing Lisa like i did, and having a seat beside her every workday, i felt safer taking her perspective for this song, but i think that Josh could empathize with it as well.
Lisa pointed out in one conversation how they had both been in other relationships between dating in high school and then dating before marriage, and clearly all of those relationships had ended, some painfully, and she was thinking about the fact that though their hearts had been broken, even by each other, she knew that Josh loved her.  She also asked that i point out in the song that Christ is central to their marriage, for the non-Christians who might come to the wedding, so i tied that in during the bridge: 

And I pray that God will love you through me
I want to share in love that’s never-ending
Through faith in Christ, God’s only Son
Our hearts, our souls, our lives become one
The musical style i went with, again knowing Lisa like i did, was a kind of country-folky feel... i wanted something that would appeal to the fact that Lisa is a southern lady, and would be a different kind of song than 'Awake' had been.  since then, i've really gotten sucked into folksy songwriting, and i think that a lot of that began with 'Here and Now.'

i wrote this song many years ago, and have been working on getting it recorded for at least 3 years, so i am very grateful to have it done and for Lisa and Josh to finally have a version of my wedding gift that they can keep :-) 

Thursday, October 7, 2010


WeddingSongs is now on iTunes - tell your friends :-) 

even if you don't buy it on iTunes (if you are waiting for physical discs, or bought it off CDBaby), take a moment to leave a review, if you'd be so kind!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

the story of 'Awake'

i met Caleb during my freshman year of college - he was limping down the hall with some crutches.  turns out he was on the soccer team, and had broken his ankle in one of his first matches, and he was limping to a room right across the hall. 
thus began a friendship that has spanned 11 years - a friendship that is significant for both of us.  we have personalities that complement each other... he is structured, concrete, analytical - i am artsy, flaky, and emotionally intuitive. 
it has been a huge blessing to me to have someone who can be objective about me and my junk, because it puts things in perspective where i can begin to make changes - i hope that each of you reading this can claim a friendship that helps you grow as much as Caleb's friendship has helped me in our journey. 
I knew Adrienne separately from Caleb, and when they began dating it was a little like two circles of friendships colliding into a pretty interesting kaleidoscope.  She is the more artistically inclined of the two, even though she worked in the structured IRS environment after college!
i'm not really sure what prompted me, but at some point around the time Caleb asked me to be one of his Best Men, i suggested that i could/would write a song for their wedding, to which Caleb readily agreed.  by the time he agreed, i was already asking myself, "what did i just do...?"
in order to write 'Awake,' i had to get into Caleb's head.  as mentioned earlier, we are pretty different when it comes to thought process, personality, etc... which i later realized was to my advantage.  Caleb had no idea how to describe how he felt to Adrienne, and i was ALL about describing feelings - so i spent some time listening to him and reflecting on what he was saying about the thoughts/emotions he had about getting married to Adrienne. 
I’m standing here                                                                        
More awake than I’ve ever been
At least the shake in my hands tells me that much
You’ve just walked in
And I swear I’m in that dream again
The one where I'm standing here, the music plays, and you walk in

To Caleb, there was such a surreal vs. real tension going on - marriage was really happening, it was going to really affect his real life, and every day would be different from now on; and yet, it hadn't really sunk in all the way, it still seemed like some sort of dream while they were in the planning stages and during engagement.  

But you’re more beautiful
Than all that I’ve dreamed
Surpassing anything that I’ve ever seen
You’re more beautiful right now
Than ever before in my dreams

Caleb expressed to me that he was relying on God to teach him and show him how to deeply love Adrienne, and i thought that should be a key line in their song, so it made it into the second verse.  I also thought that the real, tangible ring on his finger would go a long way to reminding him of the real, tangible commitment he made, so i found a way to work that into the verse and bridge.   
On this day

As God’s presence stills my hands

I pray that He will show me how to love you
Every new day
With this ring still on my hands
I’ll wake with you and live this dream through

Truly Awake

With this ring

With this kiss
I will awake to find

i've had the chance to record this song 3 times - once as a demo, once on the Resistance, and now on WeddingSongs, and it's still not old to me.  like i mentioned before, it's the song i've played most off this record, because it resonates with so many people, especially men who may or may not be like Caleb when it comes to articulating how they feel :-)  if i've played this song in your wedding, leave a comment - and spread word that the song is available for download through CDBaby, and soon to be on iTunes.  

You’re more beautiful
Than all that I’ve dreamed
Surpassing anything that I’ve ever seen
You’re more beautiful right now
Than ever before in my dreams

Friday, September 24, 2010

a new story

i have to give credit where it is due - my friends Ashley and David @ Storyphotographers are responsible for planting the idea in my mind for using the word "story" to shape the wedding songs project you're about to explore, and you should definitely visit their site to see the way that they have captured and tell stories in their medium.
my tool is  s o n g w r i t i n g, and for each individual song i write, there is a greater context, a larger story.  but within each song, i try to tell a story, if only a small part of the grander narrative. 
the WeddingSongs album that has just released (soon to be available on iTunes, currently available for download on CDBaby) is a collection of songs/stories i've written over the past few years, but the song itself is only one small story - i will use this space to give a better picture of the larger story behind each song. 
check out the fellow storytellers page to see who has helped me along so far, and check the following stories to see a glimpse of the power and the mystery that is 'marriage'

i'll be posting the stories over the next few months, so check back for the first story next week - the story behind 'Awake,' the first track on the album!