YOU Are My Friends on the Yellow Brick Road

For most of my career, I viewed myself as a musician—in the music business. In the past few years, I’ve changed my mind. Or at least made room for a broader perspective. As a songwriter, I don’t just write and perform music. I help give voice to what others might be feeling but find themselves unable (or afraid) to express it. There is an exchange that happens between artist and fan. It’s a beautiful thing. I no longer see myself as just a musician in the music business. I believe I’m in the people business.

My live music producer planted this seed years ago when he challenged my thinking about why musicians get nervous when performing. “The enemy of love is self-consciousness,” he said. What he was saying was resonating with me. 

If a person really analyzes why they get nervous (about anything they might do in front of people) it’s usually because you’re afraid of what others will think. Therefore, you are focused on how you feel and not on how the audience (or the other person) might be feeling.  

It’s taken years for this to take hold in my life, but it has happened! I feel the difference. I rarely get nervous anymore and if I do, I start thinking about YOU. I ask myself some questions about you. Things like: What frame of mind will you be in? What will you have just experienced at home? Will you have just received a life-changing phone call? What are you carrying in your soul these days? What are your current struggles?

It works every time. If I start to feel nervous, I change my mind. I stop thinking about me and I start thinking about you.

In fact, I started to find that if I talk to my audience one on one before a concert, I actually feel at complete peace when I get on stage because we’ve already connected on a personal level. It’s very satisfying.

As the Director of Worship at various churches for sixteen years, I started practicing this concept of one on one interaction before and after the services I directed. It was challenging at times because I had a lot of responsibility on the platform that I needed to focus on, but the more I took time to interact with people, the more my confidence (and ease) grew. Now, when someone tells me I’m an extrovert, I smile because I know a secret. I’m actually an introvert, but I’ve learned to love my audience in practical ways, which leads some people to think I’m an extrovert.

When a Portraits of White fan asked “What is the most rewarding part of doing Portraits of White,” it didn’t take me long to come up with an answer. Sure, I love practicing and I love the first note of the concert when you, the audience, are seated and we are ready for the train to leave the station. We’re off to see the wizard and we’ve locked arms. You are my friends on the yellow brick road for the next couple of hours. That’s definitely a special part of doing the show.

I also love the last note of the evening, because at this point, I know my dream has become reality and nothing has stopped it. I will make my way out to the lobby to greet as many of you as I can. I’ll soak in your smiles, tears, laughter and comments. I’ve prepared an evening of inspirational music and you’ve blessed me by coming. We’ve exchanged Christmas gifts and I feel happy. 

In this week’s video, I “sang” my answer to the fan question—to the tune of “My Favorite Things” by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II. 

“Lots of musicians and long rows of people
Spotlights and snowflakes
and moments of giggles
Lacy white dresses and eighty-eight keys
These are a few of my favorite things

Seeing your faces after it’s over
Reading your emails and handwritten letters
Knowing the joy all the music will bring
These are a few of my favorite things”

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