Monthly Archives: September 2013

FROM AVERAGE TO AMAZING!!!

As a young boy in Sunday School, one of the most curious bible lessons that resonated with my little rebellious spirit was found in Matthew 7:13-14, where Jesus said (in my own paraphrase) “Travel on the narrower roads, where few travel and find real life. The ‘five lane’ highways are where you find the crowds and that path usually lead you toward destruction!”

I always liked lessons and phrases like that, because I generally never wanted to be counted in with the crowds anyway. Not that I was a loner, but because my perspective was that if a whole room of people were gravitating toward one opinion, vote or direction, I wanted to see, hear or navigate to the opposite view. Just Because…

Musicians are often faced with this dilemna, especially if they want to eat!

If a “sound,” “format,” or “genre” dictates that THIS is the Tempo, Feel and Structure you need to follow, then baby you better walk the line! I’m sure this is why I was totally unsuccessful in Cover Bands, held (and continue to hold) complete disdain for popular waves and fads and I loathe Smooth Jazz with every ounce of blood and oxygen in my body. It was painful to watch most of my heroes of jazz music dumb down their genius for Soccer Mom Airplay. I know the brief rewards were royalty checks in amounts I am still yet to see, but it’s just as painful to watch them try and scramble back to their core when this format was soon yanked from the prominence of terrestrial radio.

Average abounds. And It’s not just in the music business, but practically every industry boasts the illusions of granduer and spectacle to make Average appear far better than it is. Average is what is encouraged. It’s taught in the schools, from elementary to collegiate and more interestingly, in some of our neighborhood churches, which may not have read the aforementioned scripture!

Anyone can be Average. It takes little effort. If you have a remote control, you’re in. You watch from the sidelines, feeling all of the excitement of the game without particpating. Average is comfortable and conveinent. It’s also quite contagious. Entire families, whole people groups and many generations can live and die Average lives and leave lasting legacies of complacency. It’s a five lane highway and everyone is partying on it. It’s expected for you to join in…

Amazing is not necessarily your in your chops, fellow musicians. Amazing is in your choices. Amazing doesn’t begin with what you do. It starts with who you are – rather – who you think you are! Because if you Think you are amazing, it won’t be long until your heart agrees and your hands begin the work of implementation.

Amazing is deciding that it matters not where you come from, or your family heritage, economic status or physical limitations. Once You have discovered and decided Your Purpose, Priorities and Plan – Then, Brother, Sister – YOU’RE AMAZING and You Can’t Be Stopped!

This week, I have the great opportunity to share these thoughts with a High School Class of Amazing Students! My Goal is to increase each one’s awareness of their own Awesomeness!

Let The Games Begin!!

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Are You You??

In piggybacking off my last post on “B-ing VS Doing,” I want to unpack a few of the most important elements I had the pleasure of sharing with our group in Pittsburgh; not because I’m such a genius and delivered a slam dunk presentation, (…well, I sorta did!), but because I learned all of this from experience – The (VERY Hard Way!)

I’m sure you can relate that, as children, we are frequently told to Dream Big! IMAGINE!! that We Can be anything we want! Just Believe! Unfortunately, somewhere between 4th and 7th grade (if not sooner), those messages start changing and methods of shuttling us into society’s predetermined molds begin to emerge.  Suddenly, Education is no longer an imaginative learning Experience, but a-not-too subtle way of making us obey and parrot back pre-programmed answers without a proper option for further exploration. You may notice that I grew up in a Google-less world. However, now having two teen daughters in school, I know that the system hasn’t changed at all!

The gift of individualism isn’t freely handed out by authority figures, including our loving parents who can be among the first to reinforce the educational system’s mind numbing doctrine and the social order’s ‘One Size Fits All’ dogma. It’s no longer about a Dream – It’s a Job! Your Imagination is transformed into a stuck station where you eek out a living by the hairs of your… (go ahead, fill in the blank!) An Alarm Clock awakens you to yet another day of More of the Same, while The Real You, aching to Live, Breathe and Soar exists somewhere in the subconscious, silently admiring those who took the risk to break free. And wishing.

You. All of You and All You Were Meant to Be is ready to emerge. It’s the tingle you felt in third grade, where the possibility was Right Doggone There! You Saw, Felt, Smelled and Tasted the Flavor of Freedom and your classmates encouraged you to stay in the moment. Until the bell rang.

‘During my adolescence, I used to vibe hard to Steve Arrington‘s very funky “Nobody Can Be You, BUT YOU!” I sang that part loudly as I slung the mop back and forth down the halls of the Glenwood Salvation Army, where I worked as a summer camp counselor one year, well on my way to becoming what others felt I should be. I was smart, respectful, hard working, a good listener (Mom did a great job) and my manners served me well enough to accept the barely higher paying custodial position during the school year, humming and whistling as the music poured in through my headphones.

I was supposed to be the one creating the music, making some other mop slinger move to my groove!

And although I was in a great band at the time, my family, especially my grandfathers (may God Bless their souls), were more proud of the fact that I had a ‘real’ job, than that I was developing my chops on stage. I remember how proud Gramps was when I got a dime raise after just three months at my new delivery job. A Dime…

The day arrived where The Real Me couldn’t take it any longer! I finally gained the courage to kick off the cautiousness and dance in the danger zone, all the while fighting off the haunting spirits of my grandfathers who forbid me from their graves to risk it all. Who could blame them? In the era in which they lived, taking risks meant certain death or worse! Furthermore, I was married to an incredible woman, with three beautiful daughters, a mortgage and more to lose than I’d originally calculated.

Stepping out immediately taught me that I didn’t know who I was. I never had a chance to learn. But the temptation to step back in to the patterns of who I was became more fearful than finding out who I could become. Freedom demands responsibility…and discipline!

Who can really show you how to be you?

With the exception of The One who created you, there is no where else to turn.

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So like a toddler taking their first steps, you get up, fall, crawl a little, try again and with a smile as eager as it is unsure, you began to balance and find that if walking confidently enough leads to running, flying is going to be a blast!

Here’s to individuality.

Here’s to freedom.

Here’s to being YOU!

So Come Now, Share YOUR Story!!

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B’ing VS Doing!!!

A few Saturdays ago, I was in Pittsburgh where I was delighted to participate in Kevin Amos‘ annual “Each One Teach One Radio & Music Conference.”

Kevin is a dynamic radio personality on WRCT who plays Music that Matters! He has been wonderful to me personally and professionally. He often extends invitations to SounDoctrine to come on his show and when he began this conference several years ago, he welcomed me aboard as a panelist, although I was just a “newbie” then.

Having had the recurring opp to meet and dialogue with great minds like Jerome “Hawk” Freeman, DJ GoodnightJoanne Quinn-Smith (who has a great new marketing eBook available at Amazon), Soul Patrol’s Bob Davis and others is worth more than two platinum albums! I look forward to returning next year!

My topic was: “Winning Traits of the EntreMusician!”

But I twisted it up a little by discussing ‘The B’ ing vs The Doing.’  It’s very easy to just talk shop and bark about what a musician Could, Should and Must Do to have that slightly elusive Edge, but it’s ultimately WHO & WHY we are, that causes us to DO what we’ve chosen (or meant) to Do!

A Man or Woman of Integrity, Intuition & Initiative seems to gain a healthy advantage over the Irreverant, Indecisive person in the long run, even if the latter is a better musician or has more money backing them. A Man or Woman who practices honesty and sincerity as a lifestyle automatically watches it spill over into their crafts and eventually emerge as the most enduring artists.

Certainly, there are artistic exceptions to the ‘wholesome’ rule and it’s quite ironic, almost humorous, because those artists who are committed to practicing behaviors or lifestyles others may disagree with, are, in fact, indelible to their fanbase, because they are being – honest and sincere – and it shines through in their music.

To B or not to Jere B is never the question! I always am…

A few of the traits I espouse and live by include these I discussed from the podium:

B You

B Clear

B Teachable

B On A Team

B Intentional

B Courageous

B Healthy

I unpack a few of these in my next posts, but I would love to know what YOUR Winning Traits Are! and how You Live Them!

Post Them Here!

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