Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)
Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us. (Psalm 90:17)
The Spirit of the glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:14)
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-13)
don’t try so hard to try so hard
seek first His Kingdom
(all the rest will be added)
commit all the works of my hands to Him
the music i make echoes what is in my heart,
so focusing on the heart is key.
This makes a difference.
One I’m very excited about.
local art + culture: a look into one of my jobs and how it makes me think of music and other big stuff, too
I am a creative through and through. I feel 100%, and am constantly analyzing beyond face value. I play internal monologue in my head like a movie narration. Michael’s craft store is still one of my favorite places to go and the sound of ESPN makes me have a nail-on-chalkboard reaction.
I, Samantha, despite all of my fighting to be cool-normal, super successful-seeming, and generally well-loved and admired, am a grade A socially strained “bless-her-heart” artist. somewhere in there i hit great strides of normal, successful, and likeable because of God’s grace and humor. Overall, it’s kind of a perfect storm of awkward artist. And i like it.
I think it will be a while until I’m really comfortable in my own God-given skin but, by His grace, I am growing so content in who I am. Of course, the next step beyond that is realizing what that means for me, right here, where I am.
I work a few part-time jobs, one of which is helping a local designer to make and sell handbags. It’s a small shop in downtown Raleigh, two doors over from one of my favorite coffee shops (their Sumatra is wonderful) and right in the middle of a kind of Raleigh Renaissance. Holly, who grew up and went to school in Raleigh, began designing her own handbags out of vinyl 7 years ago and has since become a kind of local mogul. She hits a few key points which I believe make her art a sensation. It’s handmade in the store by a very small team of women. Here we have local products, handmade design, and a sense of community and pride. On any given day you may see Holly sewing in the store with her big lab ReyRey sleeping on the floor by her side. Holly is an artist, and in being such in the way of her shop, she is changing the community around her.
So what does that mean of local art in a community? I think it means a few important things.
Local Art begets Local Art
People like Holly give permission to others to make art, bet on it, and let others see and enjoy it. This also means letting people not enjoy it, but either way, it is out there. It is something that represents you and your surroundings, and it is art, no matter the tastes of the observers. Chances are, just the fact that you put it out there boldly will make people appreciate it.
Community Pride and Identity
Art is what makes people drawn to a community. It is the thing we identify our city with. What is there to do in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Atlanta or Raleigh? Or ANY city? I believe so much of that comes from the art and the artists in a place. Businessmen and women can do their work and enjoy the art around them, and be proud of it. Families can enjoy the art in a community. And artists can come together, encourage (or challenge) one another. We’re in the middle of that here, and I love it.
Changing a culturally bereft area into a culturally rich one
This is the outcome of art in a community. There is something starting in the Raleigh area that is giving me permission and motivation to write music here and connect with others doing their art, too. I like that I can go to the coffee shop and see local artists with their sketchbooks or writing lyrics, or working behind the counter. Raleigh is my home, and yes, I could live plenty of other places, but I’m here, now. What am I doing to improve my art here? Because it’s not insignificant.
playing by myself is a particular feat i have not mastered. it will take time, practice, preparation, effort, prayer, and most of all, failure.
i may have to fail many many more times. but raleigh, in this way, seems nestle-y, with friends, supporters, & truest loved ones. i can fail and fail and stink and mess up, and they stand beside. but even if they didn’t, would i still feel compelled to face this feat of playing alone?
at the heart, i just know a few things:
the Lord gave me song. i may not be the most eloquent speaker, conversationalist, or writer, but the medium of song allows instant access to the deeper things, the roaring river of my thoughts and heart. and sometimes it’s nice to share that with people. maybe they’ll be encouraged to hear. maybe i’ll never be musically great or tight. i could be, but do i want that? most? but people may still want to hear. maybe only always on a small level. i just know i’ll always do it between myself and God, and that will always be sacred, and He’s always close in that music.
I can’t be afraid if no one else ever hears. I can’t be afraid if they do.
because i care about it, i know the Lord cares about it and wants to reveal more things to me, to guide me. i want to sing loud. i want to play powerfully. in time, i know. what does it look like to be a good steward of this gift?
one of my favorite quotes is from nelson mandela. it’s my favorite not because i get it, and i live this way. but because i don’t. i find it to be so true, so convicting, and so challenging. i WANT to be this.
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
there are some people in my life, some close and others distant, which have given me permission to do what i like doing. these are the people, whether i live close to them or not, who i admire and study. i thought i’d give an exhaustive list. i knoooooow this might undermine my super-genius-i-think-up-everything-on-my-own-because-i’m-just-THAT-AWESOME -ness, and…. well good! but really, a healthy web of inspirations and supporters is integral to ANY creative out there.
- jess ray – raleigh – master of song structure and lyric, admirable woman in the business, scriptural song without musical compromise. also one of my dearest friends. the fact that i knew her when she had a middle-part and braces does not affect my musical admiration.
- campbell – charlotte – soaring melodies, dramaticism, and super satisfying live performance. also hilarious and debonair band members.
- brooke waggoner – nashville – champion in the songwriting arena. super enviable lyrics and melodies! also, general pretty things all over. i don’t know her but she is absolutely notable in my songwriting inspiration!
- alexis worthington – charlotte – proficiency in songwriting, fearless gigmeister. even though she’s in boone at the moment, it has not stopped her writing and playing out.
- shelly moore – charlotte/raleigh – creativity in multiple arenas, always pushing the lines of what she can do, poetic lyricism (noteworthy blog)
- andrew palamara – nashville – beautiful songwriter, very careful and meticulous lyrics, constant supporter of local musicians (noteworthy blog)
- kelsey kopecky – nashville – truly lets her own light shine, as mandela describes. unique songwriting, incorporates her music into her life and vice versa, homemade (noteworthy song, “making people wait”) ALSO she’s a-dor-able!!
- brooke fraser – newzealand – okaaaay, i don’t know her either. but i love the way she carries herself in her music. she is approachable and bold, confident and soft. i love the way she did her new album, the process, i mean. going away to the nc mountains, writing in solitude, conceptual art. i love it. most of all, she’s not afraid to admit her inspirations, hence, this post. (NOTEWORTHY BLOG!!!) also i love her.
there it is folks. more info to follow on EP progress (and nether-progress, and progress again, and it all being okay)
you know how in the Bible, the Lord tells Moses to speak to Pharaoh on behalf of his people and Moses says, “Lord, I’m not eloquent and they won’t listen. I’m slow of speech and tongue,”? And the Lord says, (and this is good stuff):
“Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
i know this is kind of a long shot, but sometimes in my heart i really feel that way. i write songs, and i love writing songs, and i love singing them. i know the Lord gave this to me. but sometimes i feel like i can’t control my heart speeding up and my voice getting quake-y when I share by myself. i pray against pride and fear of man and performance, but still my natural desire is to keep to myself. i do want to share and i feel like the Lord is urging me to share. faith is risk, and when we’re out there the Lord will teach us what to do. and then give us joy.
it just might take me a few times to get the hang of this!
a few weeks ago, my dear friend reagan wrote a compelling post on her “board of directors.” these are the people in her life that have a direct say into her life, into who she is, and who she becomes. they are the people, she eloquently describes, from whom you take bits and pieces of and weave into your identity. i haven’t shaken the thought of that since.
my friend andrew recently sent me this article, “How to Make a Living Playing Music” by Danny Barnes. solid, no nonsense direction and advice on just what he says he’s going to talk to you about. he, like reagan, emphasizes the importance of a “board of directors” in life, regardless of music, but especially with music. he talks about record deals, part-time jobs, and performance mentalities. if you are an artist, i deem this a MUST READ. the following is one of my favorite nuggets of wisdom:
“keep your art the main focus. it isn’t about you it’s about your art. do what’s good for your art and don’t draw attention to yourself as much as the art. if your main focus is on the art, waiting tables is no big deal because you are doing it to support your art. if your main focus is you, you are not going to like waiting tables. you will feel like you are way too good for that.”
read the article here, it’s not a waste of time. it’s actually most everything you wish people would tell you.
how many musicians have impressive resumés unrelated to music? i mean, think about it. we would never know, if music is all we knew of them.
just curious, as i’ve been facing the “real job” vs. “small jobs/starving artist” dilemma while creating my grown-up resumé.
and then i remember someone told me recently that sam beam of iron and wine was a professor of film before recording iron and wine’s music. ezra koenig, lead vocalist of vampire weekend, taught 8th grade english.
and i wonder, when they were making their resumé to become a whatever-unrelated-to-music, if they asked themselves if they really at the heart of it all wanted to be a musician instead? or can you do them both, at the same time or at different times during your life?