So I’m recording my second solo album. Why is this a deal? Because I never thought there would be a first solo album.
I recorded Broken to Bless for a couple of reasons.
First, there were a number of special songs during Music for the Soul’s seventeen years of ministry that, for a variety of reasons, just never made it on to any of our previous projects. I felt they could be a blessing to people but didn’t have the budget on hand for a full-scale production. And I knew a “singer” who would work cheap.
Secondly, I’m invited to share the ministry at a lot of live events, conferences, churches, retreats, and the like. When I do, I always make physical copies of all the resources we’ve created available.
As a necessity, since I can’t take our cast of performers with me, I usually do the singing at these events. Invariably someone would come up at every event and say, “Where’s your album?”
The proud father with his children, I would spread my arms and say “All of these are my albums.”
That was never good enough. “No. Which is the one of you singing?”
In my head I would always be thinking, “No, no, no. You don’t want that!” Instead I would launch into the explanation that because of our commitment to excellence we use world-class singers and musicians on every song as our way of honoring God.
(This is not malarkey. This has truly been my philosophy from the beginning. If you are going to say something is “from God” or “of God” then both content and execution have to be the best they can possibly be.)
The person would listen politely to this explanation and then insist, “But I want to hear you sing it.”
Just Tell the Story
When I told one of my music industry friends this he said, “People want to take the experience they’ve just had home with them. You are the one they heard sing, so your voice is the one they want.”
Still, I just couldn’t get comfortable with this.
I have always said of myself, “I can carry a tune if you give me a bag.” Seriously, I consider myself first and foremost a songwriter. I play and sing to facilitate my writing. I’ve had the privilege all my life of being surrounded my people of extraordinary talent. Accordingly, I’ve always felt the best way to get a good result when producing a recording is to know your strengths and find others who have different strengths and let them do what they do.
This is how I came up with one of the ideas that I consider to be one of the keys to success. “Find the most talented people you can and stand next to them!”
I was venting my frustration about this to a gentleman names Jeff Skillen who was serving on our board at the time. He said, “You are a storyteller. Don’t worry about the singing, just tell the story.”
Poof! Just like that I was comfortable with the whole idea. Since then, I pour my heart into singing the healing songs we share through Music for the Soul. Some people say they love my voice, others not so much. But if I concentrate on telling the story with sincerity I trust people can “hear” the heart.
Maybe you don’t think you’re a good singer. Maybe you think the shower is the only place you should ever give a concert. Guess what? You should sing anyway.
It turns out there a number of reasons that every one of us should sing, whether we are ever going to record an album or not.
First, it’s good for you.
Singing is an aerobic activity, which means it’s good for your heart and lungs. It also acts as a natural anti-depressant and stress-reliever. It creates more oxygen in the blood resulting in increased alertness and energy.
Among other benefits research shows that singing is a workout that strengthens the immune system, improves posture, helps with sleep, and exercises your facial muscles.
Beyond the health benefits there is simply the joy and pleasure that it can bring. Anyone who has sung in a choir or even around a campfire knows that singing creates connection and community.
And it is creative. And when we are being creative we are acting in the very image of God, our creator.
Lastly, I think it pleases God.
I remember a time several years ago when I was worshipping in a church in New Orleans. There was a man in the pew behind me who was clearly tone deaf. But that didn’t stop him. He was singing at the top of his lungs for all he was worth.
It was excruciating to me.
But even in that moment I thought, “God, loves this.” Why? Because this man’s face, in fact his entire body, was expressing deep joy. He was singing full-throated praises to God. The fact that he was out of tune and out of rhythm was irrelevant. God could hear his heart.
So, sometime in late October Music for the Soul will release Celebration Table, a new set of healing songs expressing God’s steadfast love for us, even in the midst of life’s most difficult circumstances. As I sing these songs I hope you hear my heart.
I know God will.
Some links to the benefits of singing: