Composer Spotlight Q&A
What was the music of your youth?
As much as music was a big part of my growing up years, the actual “music of my youth” was very, very limited. I could’ve won the “Most Accomplished Musician Who Knows the Fewest Songs Award,” had it existed! Mostly I was allowed to listen to hymns and some classical music – and that was pretty much it! I knew a few hits from the early 90’s, but only because I worked in a teen clothing shop in the mall when I was 16. But I can still hum a few bars of Amy Grant’s “Baby, Baby” for you, if you bribe me!
What music do you listen to now?
If I need to relax and decompress, it’s always slow jazz or classical.
For Saturday morning cleaning, it’s the old standards.
When I’m driving back roads with the windows down and the sunroof open, well it’s country, of course!
If I’m going to a live concert, I’d prefer it to be the symphony or a great choir. A combination of the two would make for the perfect concert!
Tell us about your faith journey, and how it influences your musical choices.
I always encourage aspiring writers to write what they know – to write from their own unique lens. For me, most of my music comes from the spiritual journey on which God is taking me. I often tell people that if they want to know how God’s chisel is shaping me, to just look at some of the songs I’m writing. While not every song is God’s chisel, many of my songs are. This is a unique career: the most vulnerable pieces of me are on paper for everyone to touch, and handle, and critique.
Name three things about yourself that would surprise people.
Although I dislike clutter (it gives me anxiety), I do collect two things: 1) Stained glass windows, and 2) newspapers with major headlines. My grandfather started this newspaper collection, and I have added to his collection over the years. The paper that “got away” was an original Titanic headline.
I’ve always wanted to host a dinner party, but I can’t cook. And I’m a terrible hostess. This elusive dinner party has become a joke among my friends, as I bring up the possibility at least twice a year with no follow-through. So….anyone want to come and “co-host” (ie: cook) my dinner party with me?
I’m the rarest personality type in the world, according to the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. This makes me one in a million, I guess J.
Your new album “The Prayer Project” was recently released. Tell us about this project, and how it came to be. A little over a year ago, Mark Hayes, Joseph Martin and I did a concert in Delaware; and I closed out the concert by singing a little benediction prayer song that I wrote. When Joe heard the song, he asked if I would create a whole collection of original prayer songs for an album/book project. I love the subject of prayer, and it immediately got my creative wheels spinning. There is so much more to prayer than “ask, and you’ll receive,” and God took me on a deep spiritual journey as I immersed myself in this project.
As much as I was on board with the theme of prayer, I was also quite apprehensive about this project. I’ve always called myself the 5-note alto, and I knew I would be singing songs that would put me quite a bit out of my comfort zone. (Not to mention the fact that I’ve never even considered myself to be a vocalist in the first place.) And to make things even more scary, in order to fit my singer/songwriter style, I asked to sing and play at the same time on the recording – meaning that there would be no chance of digital pitch correcting. So, what you hear on the recording is what was in the room. No audio photoshopping!
Each song on the album is a specific prayer: a prayer for others, a prayer of surrender, a prayer of new beginnings, a prayer of brokenness, a prayer of restored fellowship, etc. When it came time to title the album, we had called it the prayer project for so long in our months of correspondence, that we decided to just add upper case letters and make it official. So that’s how The Prayer Project came about!
What projects are currently on your horizon?
The big project right now is a new Christmas cantata, set for a Summer 2017 release. I’m liking it so far, so everybody plan on buying it for your church, ok?! I also have a few commissioned anthems I’ve got on the schedule this Fall, as well as my normal list of anthems for Hal Leonard/Shawnee Press.
When are you most creative?
Definitely in the morning. Afternoon is best served doing laundry and errands! There’s NO creativity happening then. Evenings are somewhat creative, but the writing isn’t as clean. So, usually I protect my mornings when I’m in town.
What’s your sacred space?
I live by myself (not counting my beagle baby), so I don’t have to go anywhere special to be alone. But the ocean calls to me. I am mesmerized by it’s power, tranquility, and alive-ness (I don’t think that’s a word.). One day, I will have a cottage by the sea. Until then, I will just look at beach houses on Pinterest.
What do you do when you’re not composing?
Travel to music conferences J. Oh, you mean when I’m HOME and not composing!? I answer a LOT of emails. I tell people that my job is 1/3 writing music, 1/3 travel, and 1/3 responding to emails. In my free time, I love solving the world’s problems over coffee with friends, trying new restaurants in the area, reading, exploring my city, and even an occasional Netflix marathon. (There’s a new Prison Break season coming out, I’m told!)
What is your #1 tip for aspiring writers?