Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CMAFest Recap: From the View of A "First-Timer"

If you were in Nashville during the 2013 CMA Musical Festival, I hope you are slowly getting back in the swing of things while relishing in the events of last week. If you missed out on the fun & craziness, there is always next year!

Let me start off by saying that if you decide to head to Nashville next year and participate in some of the festivities of CMAFest week, you can pretty much make your CMAFest experience whatever you want it to be! I will also be one of the first to say that you don't necessarily need an LP Field ticket to be a part of this huge event - there are PLENTY of other happenings, especially if you head to downtown Nashville. Now, on to my 2013 recap!

While this will not be an extensive recap (there is SO MUCH going on in Nashville during CMAFest week it's hard to catch it all!) I will give a brief snippet of the few events that I did get to attend. Please bear with me as this entry may be slightly longer than most of my usual posts.

I started out my 2013 CMAFest experience on Wednesday night by taking in a performance by JD Shelburne at the Music City Bar & Grill. JD played some cover songs and some songs off of his current album. JD Shelburne always plays a rocking show and gives an outstanding performance!

My CMAFest experience continued on Thursday with the Lady Antebellum Fan Club Party held at the W.O. Smith Music School in Nashville. What an AMAZING first fan club party experience! The party started out with a catered dinner from Jack's Bar-B-Que (the BEST barbeque in Nashville!). I am huge fan of anything barbeque - and this dinner lived up to the title of BEST! Shortly after the dinner we all gathered in the auditorium for an intimate concert.


During this very informal concert Hillary, Charles, and Dave played a few songs off of the new album "Golden" before taking questions or song requests from the rest of us. Following their performance, we filed out of the auditorium row-by-row for the Meet & Greet (those with a VIP ticket going first, then the rest of us).

At this point I feel the need to point out that unlike a concert Meet & Greet where you pretty much walk up, say hi, get your photo taken, and head out to the rest of the concert - the fan club party Meet & Greet was slightly more relaxed. Every person at the fan club party got to meet Charles, Dave, and Hillary - and talk with them long enough to have a short conversation before having their photo taken (here I am below with the three of them).


As far as fan club parties go, I feel like this was a GREAT one! This was my second time meeting Charles, Dave, and Hillary. They are always very genuine and real with their fans and this time was no exception.

Most of you may be aware that this will be one of the last events Lady Antebellum will be participating in this summer as they take a break while awaiting the arrival of Chris & Hillary's little girl. To Chris & Hillary: praying for the safe arrival of your little girl! We can't wait to meet her!

My CMAFest experience continued on Friday with the Mark Wills Friends Party breakfast at the Country Music Hall of Fame. After a small breakfast of tea, coffee, muffins, pastries, and fruit, we got to enjoy an intimate theater performance followed  by a Meet & Greet. While I can't speak for everyone, I'm pretty sure a good time was had by all.


  

I followed up the fan club party by going through the Country Music Hall of Fame. This was at least my second time through the museum so I pretty much limited my visit to the two main attractions that week: the Patsy Cline exhibit and the Carrie Underwood Blown Away Tour exhibit. Check out some of the pictures below:

 
  


After exiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, I headed on up to the AT&T U-Verse Fan Fair X. Even if you didn't have an LP Field ticket you could take in Fan Fair by buying a pass for $10 a day.

Whether you have an arena ticket or not, Fan Fair is a MUST! Immediately upon arriving at Fan Fair you get a tote bag filled with some goodies. One of the items in your "goodie bag" is a must for all CMAFest attendees: the CMAFest Guide (or what I lovingly refer to as the everything-you-need-to-know book for CMAFest!). This small pocket guide is a handy tool with the times of different events, who's playing at the various stages around downtown and when, information about getting autographs, where to park, and more.

Once inside the doors of Fan Fair, you can stock up on country music albums & accessories from your favorite artists, take in some of the free (with your admission to Fan Fair) concerts at the Close Up stage, check out the Fan Fair History Wall, get autographs, and more! This particular year some of the featured events were Lady Antebellum's Ping Pong & Songs tournament and an opportunity to meet the Robertson family from Duck Dynasty. As I said, there is SO MUCH going on that it's hard for me to cover it all!

My final back-to-back concert Friday afternoon was in the basement of B.B. King's Blues Club in downtown Nashville where I got to see Meghan Linsey and James Otto. What an awesome performance! Kudos to the fans that joined me for this experience 'cause from what I could tell we packed the house! I also feel confident in saying that we were NOT disappointed! Both Meghan and James gave AMAZING performances! Whether or not you are familiar with Meghan Linsey (she used to be half of the duo Steel Magnolia), you should take note that she has a solo album coming out soon that you are definitely going to want to get!

Following the concert, fans stood in line to get autographs and photos with both Meghan Linsey and James Otto. It was such a pleasure to meet both Meghan and James. They are both very friendly and down to earth. To James & Meghan - hope to see you both again in the future!


There is so much more that I could share, but as this was pretty much the extent of my CMAFest experience, I will close this entry by saying this: if you are a huge country music fan, it is my recommendation that you try to experience the events of CMAFest at least once. As I mentioned before, you can also make this experience whatever you want it to be. You can choose to try to go to as many events as you can during the week or pick and choose a few that you really have an interest in. Certainly if you are going on a budget, be sure to take in the free concerts at various venues in and around Nashville. That was kind of how I did it and all in all I had an absolute blast! I know CMAFest is already on my calendar for next year - maybe I'll see you there!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gearing Up for CMAFest!

In exactly two weeks, one of the biggest weeks of the year AND of the summer for all country music fans everywhere will be taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. Whether you're someone involved in the country music industry or just a HUGE country music fan, you know what this is about: the CMA Music Festival.

This year Platform to Change, like the rest of you who have planned this WAY in advance, will have a presence in Nashville during CMAFest week. This will be our first year out and about during CMAFest and we are quite literally geared up. Take a look:



There have been lots of changes in the past few months, not the least of which is the continuing growth of this ministry and the avid preparations for CMAFest week. What you see above is our new logo; be on the lookout for us in Nashville in two weeks!

While many of you will be spending most of your time at LP Field for the festival, we will be out and about in Nashville at some of the smaller venues. As we are following a bunch of you on our Twitter (thanks to those of you who follow us back!), we plan on trying to catch some of you as you are playing shows throughout the week at The Stage, 3rd  & Lindsley, and other hot spots down on Broadway or in and around Nashville.

Another big part of CMAFest week, as any good country music fan knows, are the fan club parties! Two definite fan club parties at which we will be in attendance this year are the Lady Antebellum Fan Club Party on Thursday, June 6th and the Mark Wills Friends Party on Friday, June 7th. We may or may not necessarily be decked out in our gear at those two events but we will DEFINITELY be promoting!

As of yet we haven't done many reader polls, but for this particular entry we would love to hear from some of you, whether you are an industry professional or fellow country music fan.

  • What is your favorite part of CMAFest?
  • What fan club parties are you attending?
  • What would you like to see at CMAFest next year?
  • And more specifically, WHO would you like to see performing at CMAFest next year?
If you are able to and haven't made plans already, we hope you will join the rest of us who are going during CMAFest week in Nashville this year! It promises to be one of the biggest weeks of the summer for the country music industry. Won't you join us? Hope to see you there!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Year...With New Opportunities!

Wow! What a year it has been! As I sit here thinking back on 2012, I can't believe how far we've come. What originally started out as a prayer, then an idea, then a blog, has grown into a full-fledged ministry. That is all in part to you, our readers and followers.

Just to give you an idea, here are some basic statistics:

  • Since our first post in October 2011, our blog has been viewed 732 times with 86 of those views being in the last month.
  • Our total posts on Twitter are 1,639 with 37 of those being re-tweeted.
  • We have grown to a total of 135 followers.

None of the above would have been possible without you, our followers and country music industry professionals. So let me send a HUGE shout out to all of you: THANK YOU for all of the ways you have prayed for and supported this ministry in 2012! It really matters, not just to me but to those in the country music industry who rely on those prayers, support, and encouragement.

As I look back on the past, I'm also VERY excited for what the future holds for us. Here are some things to look forward to:

  • Moving: We are working hard towards & hoping to transition from Kentucky to be based in Tennessee very soon. Please continue praying for my efforts to make this transition as it depends primarily on my being able to get a job in the middle Tennessee area.
  • CMAFest: Anyone involved in the country music industry knows what happens in the first week of June: CMAFest! I will be heading to Nashville for this fun week of concerts, fan parties, and other opportunities. Look for at least one or two of us to be out and about in Nashville that week - we would love to connect with you one-on-one while we're there!
  • CMA Awards: As summer moves into fall we will be making plans to attend the CMA Awards with some of the best and brightest in the country music industry this year!
Finally, as we close out 2012 and move into 2013, we would love to hear from you. What has been your highlight from this past year? What are you MOST looking forward to in 2013? More specifically, I would love to hear how Platform to Change has already made a difference in your life. Thanks for your continued support and prayers for this ministry! We wish you a very happy and healthy 2013! God bless!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The CMAs, Competition, and a Campaign

This blog entry has been building in me since last Thursday night, but it also feels duly appropriate that I'm writing this on the eve of what might very well be one of the biggest and most important presidential elections so far.

First, the CMAs. Let me offer my own personal congratulations to all of the winners of the night. If you weren't able to watch the 46th Annual CMA Awards last week, these were the big winners for each category:

Music Video of the Year: Red Solo Cup by Toby Keith
Musical Event of the Year: Feel Like a Rockstar - Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw
Song of the Year: Over You by Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton
Album of the Year: Chief by Eric Church
Single of the Year: Pontoon by Little Big Town
Vocal Duo of the Year: Thompson Square
Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town
New Artist of the Year: Hunter Hayes
Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Entertainer of the Year: Blake Shelton

The second thing I want to talk about is competition. Here I will bring up a new little known show called "Nashville" that I must say, as far as shows go, so far I REALLY like what I've seen. However, there is one thing that concerns me. I've heard it said before that art imitates life. In this particular instance I desperately hope that isn't true. Let me explain: one aspect that seems to be portrayed by "Nashville" about the country music industry is that it is cutthroat, competitive, and that you can fall from success about as quickly as you can rise to it. While that may be true it deeply saddens me. Especially for artists whose music is their very lives, the songs they write tell stories based on where they came from and convey very REAL things. Not only that but it is my true belief that whether they are simply fun songs or songs with a deeper meaning, every single one matters in the ways it shapes and affects the lives of those people listening to them. Even though I myself am not in the industry, I would imagine that as a songwriter or musician you are all in the same boat - you are trying to make it, trying to succeed the best way you know how, doing what you love! What can be more important than that? However, I know the reality of the situation: anyone watching the CMAs can see that. It IS a competitive business and in order for one person to succeed, especially at awards shows like the CMAs, it means a whole bunch of others aren't going to win. But here is the point I'm trying to get across: regardless of who wins and who loses, we should all be encouraging each other to succeed, not trying to bring each other down. The only way I know how to properly bring this point across completely is with the following: "Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose." Phillippians 2:1-2

While the verse above was being addressed to Christian believers, I believe it can also be applied to real life. I understand how competitive the nature of the country music industry can be. But when another artist, not you, succeeds you CAN have the grace and ability to cheer them on and celebrate their success - all the while hoping for your own similar success one day. Let's cheer each other on, not cut each other down.

Next, I want to address the end of this presidential campaign and the beginning of a new 4-year era. I meant what I said earlier when I said this may very well be one of the biggest and most important presidential elections so far. This portion of this blog is not going to be about telling you who to vote for - that's everybody's own personal decision. What it IS going to be about is this: regardless of who you vote for tomorrow (or who you have already voted for if you participated in early voting) I sincerely hope that you have/will do the following: (1) listen to your heart (2) make sure that who you are voting for matches up with your personal beliefs (3) let your decision be one that you and you alone make (4) Know that your vote DOES matter - everyone of voting age should exercise their right to help choose the officials for the most important roles in the country.

A final word on that: if you haven't yet voted and want to make an informed decision, a great sight that is totally impartial and simply tells you where each of the candidates stand on the issues is http://www.ontheissues.org It will help you align your own personal beliefs with the right person for whom YOU need to cast your vote.

My prayer is that the country music industry would be united and that after this election we as a country would be united. Whoever wins, each persons' success matters. YOU matter. Keep pursuing your dreams and encouraging others to do the same!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Men of Integrity...Stand up!

In response to the latest indiscretions of several male country artists hitting the news, let this be a desperate and urgent plea for the men of our generation to return to and maintain lives of integrity. What does it mean to be a man of integrity, a man of honor? A man living a life of integrity and honor is a man of sound moral character, honesty, high respect, and great worth.

Let me ask you several key questions. I'm mostly addressing this to the men right now, but this can be applied to all of us: are you someone people can trust? Is your word as "good as gold?" Or does your morality change and your beliefs shift with whichever way the wind blows?

Whether you are in the country music industry, the entertainment industry, politics, or another profession where you are constantly in the public eye, you are called to be an example to others. Even if you don't FEEL called to be an example, you ARE being one with every decision and every action you take, whether you realize it or not. Are you going to be a positive example or a negative one?

Many people, men especially, may be under the impression that maintaining a life of moral integrity means taking all of the fun out of life. Far from it! You can live an extraordinary life and still be a man of integrity and honor. Integrity is not about the ordinary or mundane. It IS, however, about self-control. Let me speak to two aspects of this, both in the negative and the positive.

I'm fully aware that there is a trend of comments about or actual indiscretions via the Twitter social network in the form of "drunken tweets." This may be a "hot" topic for some. Don't get me wrong, I myself enjoy a glass of wine now and then. But our society, and the country music industry especially, is full of examples of what happens when drinking gets out of control. There IS power in moderation. You CAN have fun and still maintain your integrity. Living a life of integrity comes from making choices that will never put you in a compromising situation or cause you to do something that you may later regret.

There is also another trend that has hit our generation. Rather, it has become more prevalent with the coming generation but I DO believe it at least began with or before mine. It's no secret to anyone watching awards shows, television, movies, or even just going to the mall to shop that "skin is in" and that the world encourages us to bare everything we have to those around us. At this point, I'm going to directly address the women reading this blog. When it comes to supporting and encouraging the men around us to be men of integrity, we NEED to maintain a certain level of modesty when it comes to our clothes. You can still dress in an attractive manner (and look absolutely gorgeous, I might add) without providing an eyeful to the men around you that might cause them to stumble and lose their footing. The absolute BEST way we can encourage the men in our lives to stay on solid ground is with the way we dress and the situations we engage in. Also, to the single women: your consideration of not allowing yourself to be alone and in a vulnerable situation with the married men in your lives can speak VOLUMES of respect to the women to whom those men are married.

A final word: please know that this particular entry is not meant as a judgment of anyone. This is simply a call and encouragement to the men of our generation to stand up and become men of integrity! The most fulfilling and rewarding life is one that is lived without regrets and WITH honor, trust, honesty, and faithfulness. Know that I am praying for you as you maintain a stand. And if you don't currently have a relationship with the one who lived the ultimate life of integrity and honor, Jesus, please ask me. I would love to share that with you. Stand strong, remain firm, and live without regret!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

We Will Not Go Quietly

First off let my start this entry by saying that I make no apologies for the fact that today's blog will have a vastly more urgent message of faith than some of my entries in the past. That being said: whether you agree with the following view or not, I truly believe that there are unseen spiritual forces at work in this world. I have watched over the past months as one country music artist after another after another has been forced to take a temporary vocal rest. What is happening??? My response to this is two-fold.

First, to those who have been on vocal rest and to those who are currently on vocal rest, know that I have prayed and AM currently praying for your quick healing so you can get back to doing what you love. Secondly, in reference to what I feel is truly a spiritual attack against people whether they are Christians or not, and especially the most recent attack since it IS against an artist who is very public about her faith, I say this: we will NOT go quietly into the night. Our music and message will continue to carry across the internet, the airwaves, through interviews, etc. so that it can be heard by those who most need to hear it. We WILL continue to make a difference in this world with our words.

To those who have endured and are continuing to endure such "persecution" here is my encouragement to you: "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the Heavenly places." Ephesians 6:10-12

Be strong and courageous! Know that I am praying for you. Keep pursuing your dreams by sharing your music and your message. What you are doing really DOES matter or else the unseen evil forces of this world would not be trying so diligently to keep you from doing it! Each day is a new opportunity for us to make a difference. So let's band together and determine as a group to not go quietly from this world and to make our best effort to see lives changed. God bless!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A New Vision and Purpose

As I am writing this, I realize that this is the first blog entry since the @Platform2Change Twitter feed officially went live on July 11, 2012. As a result of that decision, through much prayer, thought, and reading back through some of the older blog entries Platform to Change (specifically this blog) is about to shift to the original purpose for which it was intended.

Yesterday someone very close to me and dear to my heart asked a key question about the name of my ministry: "Why [call it] Platform to Change?" There are two distinct reasons behind the name, the first being my mission and the second being my vision for this ministry:

(1) With the number of people that listen to music in this generation, I believe those in the music industry, especially those in the country music industry, have a unique "Platform to Change" the world - with the words, style, and tone of their music.

(2) By praying for, encouraging, and partnering with those in the country music industry, this is my unique "Platform to Change" the world. If I can make a difference in the life of just ONE country music artist, I will have begun to fully live out my vision and purpose for ministry.

With that being said, the context of this blog is about to change. From this point forward the purpose of this blog, in connection with this ministry's mission and vision, will be solely to: (a) encourage those in the country music industry, (2) share prayer needs for those in the industry (only as allowed & shared publicly via Twitter or other venues, out of respect for the privacy of those concerned) (3) allow those who would partner with me in this ministry to pray & share their own encouragements to those in the industry.

Whether you are a country music industry professional or someone who simply shares my vision & mission for this ministry, welcome! It is my belief that God has great things in store for Platform to Change! I can't wait to begin the new chapter of this journey with you! Which is why, without further ado, I am sharing two of the most recent prayer needs that have come to my attention today. Thanks for praying!

(1) Toby Keith recently had gall bladder surgery this week. Please pray for his continued recovery. Feel free to offer him an encouraging word at his Twitter account @TobyKeithMusic

(2) Leann Rimes has emergency dental surgery yesterday (July 30th). Please pray for her recovery. Her Twitter is @LeannRimes.