I’m writing to you from my little cottage in Augusta on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. Been waking up at 4:30 a.m. lately to work the opening shift at Starbucks, so I’m a little sleep deprived (but certainly well-caffeinated). Nick Drake’s calming “Bryter Layter” is on the record player, keeping me company.
This season already seems like it’s racing by faster than I can keep up with. You feel me on that? Right now I’m juggling my time between booking a tour, scheduling rehearsals, planning a music video shoot, and writing for an upcoming recording session - all amidst working part-time at the coffee shop and trying to maintain some level of social life. Definitely testing my limits! I’m beginning to see a correlation with the weekly yoga class I’ve been attending: life is a continual balance between effort and ease. In order to find that balance, we must strive to be fully present in this passing moment, fully content with the season we are experiencing.
Last month I had the opportunity to visit schools around Florida and share my music with chorus students. Each day for two weeks I performed for 6-7 classes (talk about needing to be fully present!). I talked with the students about how we can use the arts of performing and songwriting to both strengthen our communities and communicate ideas that matter. To me, music is as much personal as it is communal - it reaches within us individually while also drawing us all together. Quoting an artist whose book I’ve been reading, ”Good art can mediate deeply engaged dialogue that wrestles with the core issues of humanity” (Makoto Fujimura, Refractions: a journey of faith, art and culture). The students I met are already exhibiting this idea at a young age, and I’m thrilled to see where their journeys will take them.
Another incredible experience last month was performing at the 3rd Annual Clean Water Music Fest in Jacksonville, FL. My friends Shawn Fisher and Jordyn Jackson (aka Flagship Romance) have been hosting this event since 2012, raising awareness and funds for the organization Charity:Water. This year, the festival raised over $52,000! What a beautiful picture of what happens when people gather together to support a cause. Each of us has a sphere of influence (family, friends, classmates, social media followers, etc.), and each of us has a unique voice. I’m inspired by folks like Shawn and Jordyn who choose to use theirs for a purpose beyond themselves.
My music has always been a personal attempt to communicate hope, beauty and truth. To me, this whole thing is about us trying to live life well and learning how to love one another. I’m so grateful that you’re in on this conversation with me, and I hope these things I’ve expressed are an encouragement to you. Know that you’re not alone on your journey - I believe in you and the dreams you carry. Wherever we find ourselves in this season, let us together continue to seek a balance between effort and ease, and let us strive to be fully present in this moment.
Killer set last night by @colonyhouseband at The Earl. If you haven’t heard their record yet, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy! It’ll expand your mind and make you smile. #wheniwasyounger
"Better than 1000 useless words is 1 word that gives peace." @spaceyogastudio (at Space Yoga Studio)
Jacksonville photographer Dustin Wooten snapped some awesome shots at Clean Water Music Fest. Check out the full photo set and event recap here:
Clean Water Music Fest 3 (by Dustin Wooten)