Nothing’s Final - Heartbreak & Joy Continued

   Personally, I write a lot of Christmas gospel songs. They can be a particularly hard sell. A few years back, the owner of a group asked me to send him every Christmas song I had as he planned to do a Christmas project.  When I spoke to him months later at the National Quartet Convention, he told me he had shelved the project because of the enormous cost (in excess of $12,000 at that time) of doing a project the group could realistically hope to sell for only a short season of the year.

   Another factor I’ve had interfere with the recording of songs is health problems. An artist in a group or a solo artist may become ill and this can impact scheduled projects. Even the health of a loved one who does not sing with the group can come to bear on the finances available to the group. I have had both situations happen with my songs. I’ve even been in a situation where a soloist who had asked to perform a couple of my songs went home to be with the Lord before this was accomplished.

    It is disappointing to any song writer when a commitment to record a song comes to nothing--whatever the reason. I’ve learned the meaning of the adage “Nothing’s final until it’s vinyl.” Song selection can change even as artists go into studios. A song a group is very excited about can be cut by a producer or record label in favor of another. Not all groups have the autonomy to select every song on a project.
   Not everyone I deal with is in a position to record songs. Some merely want to sing my songs. Some have purchased tracks that are available. In other cases, when I realized the artist really couldn’t afford even the price of a track, I have donated tracks or lead sheets (if the group sang accompanied by live instruments) and considered it a chance to help them with their ministry and to further spread the gospel by having the songs heard.
   Being a recovering control freak, I find having others sing my songs with no expectation of recording a little challenging. The challenge comes from knowing people are singing my songs and I may never get to hear them. I have to console myself with the thought it is the spreading of the gospel that is important--not the thrilling of my ego at hearing someone perform one of my songs.
   On this topic, I have had both extremes when I have had the opportunity to hear artists perform my songs. For example, one group sang a song I had given them called, “No Bones About It”—not the song by the same name recorded by The Kingdom Heirs, but a song I had written a few years before that. They did a lovely job and it greatly encouraged me as a song writer. The group was to later record the song but the opportunity arose for them to found a church and they haven’t recorded since.
    On another occasion, a local artist heard my husband and I sing one of my songs, “Morning Prayer.” This artist, who had been singing for many years, liked the song and asked for a copy so they could perform it. I happily gave them a lead sheet and demo. A few weeks later the person performed the song in a church service we were attending. They absolutely murdered the song—something I had never heard them do to any song before. I don’t know if this person was nervous because they were doing my song while I was in attendance or if they hadn’t bothered to learn the song properly. It was an excruciating experience for both me and the soloist. They apologized for the performance afterward.

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