How Emptiness Sings

I made myself wait these past several months, and now we're ready to share the music we made last summer/fall before heading out to Costa Rica.  And now...I'm both eager and a little shy about actually shipping.  :) How Emptiness Sings is a 7-track EP, all new originals, recorded & produced by Zodlounge (Nashville, TN), cover art/photos/design by Shelly Eve (who, by the way, you might know as Shelly Moore - singer/songwriter).  I love it. :)

Making music is joy - made complete when others enter in, listen, and respond.  Once that interaction begins, the work seems out of the artist's hands, ownership transferred to the listener.

So...to that end, I invite you to interact with these new creatures of music & lyric.  We are adding one preview track every couple of days through the release, until all 7 are up - click the image below to listen.

Official release is March 15 (hopefully you'll be able to find it at iTunes, etc, right away) - and we are already taking orders for physical CDs here at the Store.

You have a million other places you could be right now! Thank for stopping here.  And...please respond freely...your stories bring the music to life.

Christa%20WellsQuantcast

In the Image of the MAKER...with Ann Voskamp!

*Friends!  Thanks for spreading the word about this little retreat.  We SOLD OUT in 4 DAYS!  Wow.  Please add your name to the waiting list if you missed it (you never know) - and stay tuned.  We are working on the possibility of adding another date for this retreat in the next few months.  Maybe we'll see you there? :)

Dear Friends!

I've been so excited to share this news with you...it's been in the works for months and we have finally landed on specifics enough to invite your participation.

If you have been around my Twitter feed much over the past year or two, you are aware of my great affection and admiration for Ann Voskamp, Canadian blogger/writer (although she would first list wife to Farmer and mother of six).  Ann writes vividly, poetically, and with profound depth about faith, life, and living gratefully.

Across the miles, Ann has become a dear friend to me.  The title track of my new EP: How Emptiness Sings originated with one of Ann's marvelous blog posts -- Soulcoustics: How to Hear God in the Dark.  This will be releasing in March, and we've hoped to join forces in some way, her speaking and me singing about the music that comes from the hollow places.

Together with Nicole Witt (another name you know by now), we began envisioning a weekend of women gathering to celebrate the Creator God and the ways we can image Him in artful living.  The gathering will be deliberately small (75 women).  During our overnight time together at Caraway Conference Center in Asheboro, NC, we'll listen in quiet, make music, pray, share meals and words of encouragement, and celebrate the countless ways God has borne His creative spirit into all of us "makers."  The date has been set!  June 10-11, 2011.

Join us?

You don't have to be one who calls herself an artist, or a seller of any product.  You may express beauty in the kitchen or an office or in your garden or a classroom...If the idea of reflecting His beauty in daily living connects with you in some way...you are welcome and invited.

Click the Green Button for more... Register for In the Image of the Maker Retreat in Sophia, United States  on Eventbrite

NOTE: Registration opens Valentines Day.  :) Because we need to provide the retreat center with numbers at the end of March, we are closing registration at that time, so don't wait!

To the young writer...

(Photographs in this post were a gift from my young reader/listener/writer friend Abby Ang.  Enjoy Abby's words here.)

*Adding here to my original post, based on an interaction with a lovely young lady I hope to one day meet.

She wrote: At each stage of this journey, it seems the more productive I am...the more I battle the lie that my contributions are worthless. But, I know that is not true...so I keep on keeping on...trusting that God will use me (and my work) in a way that will somehow bring him glory.

I wrote:  When I was your age, I tried not writing for a period of time, on the advice of an older songwriter.  He said, "If you're not sure if this is what you're meant to do, try  NOT doing it.  See if you can. "  :) Clearly, I couldn't stop for long!  And I hope you won't, either...always remember that though there may be many others in that place [songwriters], working toward a similar goal, there is only one you.  No one else has had your particular life experience and seen it all through your set of eyes.  You do have something to add, and if God has gifted you musically/lyrically, you have something to add to the world of art & music.

And a couple of relevant book titles I recommend:

Walking on Water (Madeleine L'Engle - just read it, it's a classic) Linchpin (Seth Godin - secular, inspires the artist to break the rules & be uncompromising) At the Crossroads (Charlie Peacock - deals with history of "Christian music" & examines what it means)

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I’ve recently received several letters from young songwriters. You have something to say, and music is the language you speak, but you are uncertain where to take the work. I understand exactly how you feel, so...

I thought I’d jot some thoughts here to speak to you, and any others who also wonder.

It’s strange to suddenly find oneself in a sort of “older sister” role.  Odd to find that in the midst of all your own uncertainties and your own quest to understand how to really create something good, the “little sisters/brothers” knock on your door hoping you have the secrets.

And honestly, I can talk about words and writing all night, but business…not my favorite topic.

Strategy hasn’t played a part in any opportunities I’ve had before now.  And while I'm trying to be smart about things, I don’t tend to do things the way you’re supposed to do them in the “industry.”

So here, dear young writer, are my only words for you tonight:

What’s it all about for you? You have to find that answer…who are you writing for, and why?

Do you need to make a living from your writing?

If you do, you can do some googling and get tips on where to begin.  They’ll tell you, rightly, to first really make sure you’ve got what it takes, skill-wise.  It’s not an easy thing to get your songs cut by established artists, so your songs are going to have to be not good, but GREAT (and that’s defined by the market/genre you’re writing for).  And you’ll find tips on what to do and what not to do…don’t send in unsolicited material, don’t pay anyone to “publish” your stuff, don’t write 5-minute songs for pitch, start co-writing, etc….But lots of people write about that side of things, so I will not.

But, if you don’t have to make your living from your writing, then why bind yourself to that set of rules? You have all the freedom in the world to create something new.

Why not

stretch yourself, and your listeners…

Pay attention & deconstruct the music you love

find out what makes it work,

Be honest in your writing

write fearlessly,

use fresh, strong language…

Refuse to write what has already been written.

Take enough time to write each song the way it needs to be written,

(like a mother should heed the differences between her kids)

and rewrite,

but call it “finished” when it is.

(Gentle side note:  There is no divine inspiration behind any song in the way there was with Scripture, so let’s not say anymore that God gave us this or that song…it’s too often an excuse to not consider revising.:))

Be brave and put it out there...if singing isn't your strong suit, find someone else to deliver the music so that it can really be heard for what it is meant to be.  Start where you are...don't try to play it for industry people before you play it for "real people" in your own community, besides Mom and Dad.

Get old-fashioned in your thinking.  Consider the traveling musicians pre-record label.  Bring a song as you would bring a gift to small gatherings.  Post a song for free online and let people respond.

Write what is TRUE, and learn to WRITE IT WELL, and there will be people who want to listen.

And when they listen, and they get it, those are the people to listen to.  They’ll tell you what rings.

Not everything has to be heavy or serious.  We need to dance and laugh out loud as much as we need to cry.

Maybe the worst mistake we make is to define “success” by the numbers of people who know our name or our work.  Of course, we want witnesses to the work.  Of course, it feels good to be understood and validated.

But if we believe our work is made legitimate by being popular, we have bought a LIE.  I was no less valuable as a teenager because I was invisible and unpopular, but I believed that.

It’s a false story.  When we swallow it and live in that context, we have jumped tracks.

Real art has OFTEN been unpopular and Jesus Christ is not popular and we are not here to be popular but to be human. The gospel wasn’t pretty but it’s beautiful.  Because it’s true.

That’s the story we need to live and breathe and WRITE.

These are the things I have to constantly remind myself.  Because I like to be liked.

I know this isn’t what you’re looking for.  You’re afraid there won’t be a place for you in the world of art, that you'll live and die and no one will care about your songs. You want someone to give you 3 steps, or 7 tips.  But honestly.  I have no idea what work you were put on the planet to accomplish…I just think that the career path is not the point, and money is not the point, and fame is definitely not the point.  But creating something really good and pleasing to the Creator is.

Google those other articles and do those smart things.  But let those things support the art, and not the other way around.

I hope we cross paths one day, and that my soul is awakened by some bit of music you deliver into the world.  :)

With love and hope!

christa

more from the studio: Tom calls tracks to life (& snippets of 2 new tunes)

A minute or two of some car convo on the songwriting process, followed by some in-the-studio eavesdropping. The two songs you'll hear portions of on this clip are: The Best Thing (inspired by this post) and Kingdom Coming (on our response as Christ-followers to physical & spiritual poverty around us...I'll be writing more about that in the weeks to come).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBA9yj153Bg

Masterpiece Project 2010: Frame the Clouds

I want to tell you about Masterpiece Project 2010.

Our theme this year was “Frame the Clouds,” and you’ll just have to believe me when I say I did not have anything to do with that. But I was humbled, so grateful that the concept resonates with others.

The staff at Masterpiece are not all of a kind.  We are songwriters, musicians, graphic designers, painters, poets, photographers, calligraphers, pastors, dancers, and counselors.

We are all passionate about our art forms and passionate about the work of God’s kingdom.

In particular, we are passionate about encouraging young artists to be fearless in their faith and in their work.

We all feel inadequate in one way or another.

We wonder what’s next in our own lives.

Above all we believe there is a big, big beautiful true story happening and that it is our responsibility to participate in the telling of it.  By making art.  And by living in love with God’s art.

The students at Masterpiece are not all of a kind.  They are songwriters, musicians, painters, poets, photographers, calligraphers, dancers, novelists, cartoonists, designers.  Public-schooled, private-schooled, home-schooled.  Funny, dramatic, shy, mysterious, hardworking, uncertain, open.

They feel inadequate and wonder what’s next.

But above all they suspect they have something in common with other storytellers, past and present, across the globe and in the next cabin.  Some small part of them, at least, believes they have been given a uniquely powerful way of representing God’s True story.

In one little week in the rural midwest, we are together and changed.

We, together, have listened, walked and talked, written, collaged, and played, danced, cooked, and cleaned.  We've sung prayers, read the Word, and represented a Creed.

We tried to frame the clouds.

And yes, we even built a giant iPod.

*The following was copied (with permission) from a Facebook "Note" posted by one of our campers:

"When we were released by the kitchen staff the people who were helping and I were sitting around a table and someone asked if I had any of my drawings with me and I did. I showed them the one I was working on and I ran back to my cabin and grabbed my three boxes of my drawings and brought them over to the gathering area. I opened them up and gave them up for viewing. This is something I do not do often, generally I am not comfortable with groups of people looking through my art for whatever reason, but I knew it could be appreciated. Now there was a little crowd of about eight or nine people chattering and oooing over my art. Now this was unique being that I have drawn them and made up my mind whether or not I like them or not. There was stuff from a couple of years ago to present and some of those pieces are somewhat embarrassing to me but much to my surprise people were pointing out things in my art that I never saw and were explaining how much they enjoyed them. Compliment after compliment kept coming about drawings that I had nearly forgotten about. It was an encouraging moment and something I remember clearly. In that moment I knew that I was in the company of friends..."

In case you missed it before...April 17th, Wheaton, IL

Join us at Wheaton Bible Church on April 17 to find out about Masterpiece Project, a uniquely intimate setting for young artists to explore issues of art and faith and build mentoring and peer relationships. (And have fun, of course!)


masterpiece promo from David Vosburg on Vimeo.

  Masterpiece Invitation

Masterpiece is incredibly close to my heart. 

I was once a very lonely teenager, despite being in the middle of a large and loving family. Although I didn't yet identify myself as being an "artist," I didn't identify with other established groups at school, either. I didn't play a sport and was pretty shy--didn't volunteer for student council or anything like that. And I had no idea why my music-making should ever really matter beyond my own pleasure. 

If the intimate environment of this week-long summer camp had been available to me then...a place where I could be mentored by adult artists of faith, where I could get to know other young people who were wired towards the arts, and where I could find encouragement as I practiced the various art forms...I cannot begin to tell you what that would have meant to me. 

But if you come to be with us on April 17, some of our students can tell you firsthand. If you are in the Chicago area, please come. I'll be there, along with internationally renowned calligrapher Timothy Bottsand author/art historian Daniel Siedell (God in the Gallery).  

CLICK HERE to read my blog post on Masterpiece Project 2009: Flow.

CLICK HERE to read my blog post on Masterpiece Project 2008: Genesis Eternal.
 

You're invited...

 Masterpiece Invitation

Masterpiece is incredibly close to my heart. 

I was once a very lonely teenager, despite being in the middle of a large and loving family. Although I didn't yet identify myself as being an "artist," I didn't identify with other established groups at school, either. I didn't play a sport and was pretty shy--didn't volunteer for student council or anything like that. And I had no idea why my music-making should ever really matter beyond my own pleasure. 

If the intimate environment of this week-long summer camp had been available to me then...a place where I could be mentored by adult artists of faith, where I could get to know other young people who were wired towards the arts, and where I could find encouragement as I practiced the various art forms...I cannot begin to tell you what that would have meant to me. 

But if you come to be with us on April 17, some of our students can tell you firsthand. If you are in the Chicago area, please come. I'll be there, along with internationally renowned calligrapher Timothy Bottsand author/art historian Daniel Siedell (God in the Gallery).  

If you aren't able to join us, please watch the video promo I posted last week, and tell a young artist in your life about this tremendous opportunity.

 

More of what matters...

Yesterday I shared a brand-spanking new song with our church body, Christ Our Hope.  It's called "Everything Moves But You"--I had written about the elusive quality of our dreams and all the things we want more of.  Later in the afternoon, I drove to Durham and had the extreme pleasure of making music with Wade Baynham and Dale Baker for the Emmaus Way worship service.  We sang about love.  

And we sang about the deep Love of Jesus.  

By day's end, I was exhausted and...exhilarated.  It is an enormous privilege to be given opportunities to collaborate and create and share artistically.

About 16 months ago, I was walking on a beach in Jupiter, Florida, thinking about the music I was preparing to share with a precious body of Jesus-followers there.  

I walked alone by the waves and prayed.  And somewhere inside that 20 minutes, I felt a distinct compulsion (for lack of a better word) to record the songs I'd been writing during the previous months. I'd been considering the possibility, but only tentatively.  I was reluctant to ask that kind of sacrifice from my family without any plan or an outside group backing the project.

So.

I addressed God directly, and said, "Well, you're gonna have to tell Toby."  :)

The next afternoon, in the Ft. Lauderdale airport, Toby brought up the idea and said something to the effect of: Yes.  You have to do this.

I had no idea what I would do with the project when it was finished.  (I had done next to nothing with the Rogers/Wells Project in 2006.)  I'd been very comfortably songwriting and not performing (except on occasion) for quite some time.  But I had a sense of God assuring me that I really didn't need to know what was next; I just needed to do this thing.  

That is what "trust" means, afterall?

Well, that was 16 months ago.  The past year since we finished recording "Frame the Clouds" has been an adventure, and I've been forced out of most of my comfort zones, which is, of course, a great way to grow as a human being. ha-- It has stretched me and delighted me, and I believe this is true:


I'm being given more of what matters and must work to cut away that which doesn't.  


More...


More knowledge of my own strengths and weaknesses.  

    More clarity on where I belong, where my songs resonate.

    Newfound comfort in my own skin...with my voice as a singer and writer.

More willingness to risk failure.  More willingness to risk "success."  

    Greater interest in other people and their stories...More gratitude for my family and friends. 

More excitement about music itself and its God-given capacity to provoke change.

    More peace with my own unconventional relationship with the music business.  

    More pleasure in working as an independent artist.

More Awe of God.

    Heightened awareness of inequities on earth and of my own undeserved abundance.



 

And Less...


I'm sorting, as I'm sure you are, constantly through my inner "mess."  Cutting out the damaged...and the damaging.  Following the questions and uncertainties.  Realizing bad habits, mixed motives, spiritual idols.  Waste.

Isn't that great??

It's important work, this sorting business, and to know I'm not the only one at it really brings me some kind of joy.  

I imagine us sitting on an old front porch after dark.  Warm summer air, stars hung high, and we're shucking corn and singing about our weariness, crying and laughing over the the days behind and the prospect of tomorrow.  Isn't that something?

More community.  More Truth.  More Christ.  

The only thing we can pursue that will. not. move.  

You know someone who needs this camp...

Masterpiece Project...two camp sessions offered in summer 2010...a uniquely intimate setting for young artists to explore issues of art and faith and build mentoring and peer relationships. Last year's theme: Flow. This year: Frame the Clouds. (hmmm, where have we heard that before?) Check it out!

masterpiece promo from David Vosburg on Vimeo.