Dalzell House Show

I’ll be opening for McDean, a singer-songwriter duo from Pensecola, FL, on Nov. 10 for a house show on Dalzell Street in Shreveport. These folks are 2 great friends of mine and 2 of the best musicians I know. It’s always an honor to play with them, and I’m so excited that YOU might get to hear their magic this time. Mark those calendars, folks.

(Free tickets, suggested $10 donation at door)

Music for Well+Fed Dinner

I had a blast playing tunes at Well+Fed Louisiana’s “End of Summer Dinner” recently! I’m so proud to be a part of the crew there. The meal was 4 courses of all gluten-free, vegan food & wine, and it was magical. There will be many more of these to come in the future, so make sure to grab a ticket next time if you missed this one.

Also, I’ve got a couple hours of music put together and am always looking for places to play it, so let me know if your event or venue needs some tunes!

Yoga + Music

Photos courtesy of Melissa Stephens (melissastephensphotography.com)

I thoroughly enjoyed playing live music for a class at Breathe Yoga Shreveport earlier this month! The connections between yoga practice and making music abound, and I experienced these tangibly during the class. Both yoga and music require:

  • awareness of one's body,
  • attention to the breath,
  • openness to the feeling and energy of the environment,
  • centering in the present moment,
  • allowing discomfort,
  • and receiving one's thoughts, emotions, and sensations without being controlled by them.

I've known the importance of these things for years, as it's nearly impossible to record or perform music and not bomb terribly without these abilities. Eventually I found yoga as a form of literal practice that strengthens the metaphorical muscles (and more precisely: the neural pathways) needed for this sort of attention.

Of course these skills are valuable in most areas of life, and not everyone learns or practices them via music. I'm grateful to get to put music and yoga together in this way in hopes that it may contribute to other folks' practice––whatever form it takes.

I so enjoyed this experience, and the response has been so positive that I have decided to record an album precisely for this purpose...

I'm working on a collection of ambient, instrumental songs intended for the accompaniment of yoga, prayer, & other meditative practices that will be released in the near future.

I hope it'll be valuable to many of you in your pursuits of health, meaning, & connection.

-sd.

"River (Acoustic)" Featured on Noisetrade's New & Notable!

Sarah Duet

River (Acoustic)

"The ever-emotive sound and deeply thoughtful lyrics we’ve come to expect of Sarah Duet’s music are as present as ever in her new single, “River (Acoustic),” which is available now exclusively through NoiseTrade. “River” was born of personal reflection on current events woven together with wisdom from many of the world’s great spiritual traditions on the essential sacredness of water. All tips will go to support the Standing Rock Sioux resistance efforts."

Genre: Singer/Songwriter : Acoustic


A song I recently wrote & recorded––“River (Acoustic)”––was chosen by Noisetrade.com as one of their New & Notable features! The song was promoted in one of their email campaigns Wednesday morning and the album will be featured on their homepage all week. I’m amazed that as of Wednesday afternoon, it was the 5th most downloaded album on the site! I’m really grateful that the song is making it into more ears than it ever would have otherwise.

You can grab it for free, but 100% of the proceeds from any tips I receive will go to support resistance efforts at Standing Rock. I'd love to send them as much as we can.

If you’re one of the many who have downloaded it already, thanks so much! I hope it’s meaningful for you in some way.

Not Okay: A Community-Wide Grief and Lament Service

I'm honored to be involved in this upcoming event. I'll be part of the music team with Caitlin Milam and others, and we're joining my good friends Katie James (live-painting), Val Robideaux and John Hawkins (speakers). This is how John describes what the evening will entail:

Most of us have really great lives.

But we still hurt.

No one’s exempt from suffering. There’s no pass when it comes to cancer. Or grief. Or rejection.

That’s why we’re so excited to announce an upcoming opportunity called Not Okay.

If you or someone you know is hurting, grieving, confused – even angry with God – you’re invited to Not Okay, a worship experience highlighting grief and lament, Thursday, March 12 on the campus of Centenary College.

Sponsored by the Office of the Chaplain and ClearView Church, the evening will be an opportunity to worship without fake smiles and easy answers, an invitation for those who are walking through a difficult season to trust God with their honest thoughts and emotions.

The practice of bringing one’s questions – and even accusations – to God is remarkably common in the Bible. It’s called lament, and it’s a needed form of worship today given our unfortunately common habit of stuffing it instead.

This is a rare and beautiful opportunity. Please don’t miss out.
— John Hawkins, Pastor of Clearview Church

I really hope you can make it. I'd love to experience this together. Add it to your calendar.

Playing Producer

I had the pleasure and privilege of helping my friend/collaborator Caitlin Milam record some of her original music last month! I've wanted to help produce her work for quite some time, and the opportunity finally arose. We made some simple acoustic recordings of 3 songs, designed some minimalistic packaging, and put it all together for a few lucky folks to receive for Christmas presents. You can listen to one of the tracks titled "King of Glory" in the player below!

Also, you can hear these songs live on January 24th in West Monroe. Details about the upcoming gig can be found here.

House show this Thursday!

I’ll be playing a house show this Thursday night at 7pm for a THRIVE event at the Yellow House!

THRIVE, a college/young adult group that meets on Thursdays at the YH, is wrapping up a teaching series on Doubt, and instead of the usual weekly line up of worship tunes and study, THRIVE & the YH crew are collaborating to put on this house show. I’m honored to be the artist for the night and am excited to bring my friend Caitlin Milam along with me (who always makes the songs sound about 6x’s better than they would have otherwise).

Looking forward to a night of songs, stories, conversation, coffee, free food, and some space for reflection...

Hope you can join us!

(Add it to your iCal or gCal with one click here.)

The Mercy Tapes (EP)...available now!

I released a new EP this week! You can download "The Mercy Tapes" by using the buttons below:

Album art, Watercolor by Britney Winn Lee

Album art, Watercolor by Britney Winn Lee

In compiling a larger group of songs, I realized a pattern forming in this small handful that carry themes of mercy & making. So I got to thinking about how the songs might fit together and then got to work. What you hear in this project is the product of that process.

In Hebrew, the word for mercy is actually the same word as womb with different vowel points. In light of that, I’ve heard mercy defined as “womb-like mother love” or the willingness and capacity to give oneself over entirely for the sake of another. I’ve found that any encounter with mercy seems to be generative of some creative act–either it making something of the stuff of our experience or moving us to make in response to it (or more often some combination of the two). This connection in mercy’s etymology to the word womb seems to characterize that nurturing, creative aspect of it that I’ve intuited. And that’s exciting to me.

An acoustic performance of "Have Mercy," track #2 on The Mercy Tapes... (Video by Luke Lee)

So these songs explore what mercy makes of us, what it makes of time, and how it can restore what we have made of things when we haven't done the best job. And they are something(s) I've made in response to encounters with great mercy.

As for the title, "The Mercy Tapes"... it is a riff off an author whose work I read gratefully. Dr. Brene Brown talks about the "shame tapes" that play in our heads that say things like "You'll never be good enough," or on an occasion in which we might start to believe we could be, "Who do you think you are?!" I'm well acquainted with these tapes, as it seems many of us are. The shame that speaks these lies isolates us. Shame erodes our humanity & sense of worth; it breaks us apart when we're meant to do this together. Another way I've heard mercy defined is a "generous connectedness to the other." My hope is that rather than those all-too-familiar, all-too-divisive shame tapes we might have different words on repeat in our minds–words that remind us who we are and that we belong to each other and that move us to connect generously. Maybe those words would more appropriately be called "mercy tapes.” I don’t claim that the words found in these songs would function as those tapes for all of us, but they are words that I have pieced together in my journey from shame to mercy, from hidden to known, and from alone to together. And I hope they can be valuable to you in yours.

So, “may mercy make much of us as only mercy can"...time and time again,

-sd.

P.s. Lyrics and credits can be viewed below. (A PDF download of these files is included with your Noisetrade download...)

Influences: Sandra McCracken & Jordan Brooke Hamlin

I appreciate when other artists give us glimpses into the influences that undergird the work they're making, so I've decided to periodically offer you those glimpses of the things that comprise my creative process. Hope it's interesting or helpful to you in some way!

I can't deny the immense influence Sandra McCracken has had on my music and my development as an artist––and as a person for that matter. For almost 10 years now, I've followed her career closely and have gleaned wisdom, solace, challenge, and courage at each turn. I'm indebted and surely grateful to Sandra for all she's shared with us. Now in her mid-late 30s, Sandra is only making better and better work, and that is such a sign of hope to me as I go forward into the next decade of art-making and sharing. In fact, I thought just the other day that I have no idea how she'll top her last record, "Desire Like Dynamite," but the momentum would suggest that she will, and I can't wait to hear whatever form the next record takes.

Sandra is a calm, gentle presence (I've had the slightly-intimidating privilege of meeting her) with a subtle strength and energy that seems to pulse under the surface and come forth so clearly in the depth and richness of her songs. I appreciate the honesty and innovation that she's been brave enough to bring to the table. It's a gift to all of us who get to receive it. If you haven't heard Sandra's work, or if you have and are ready for more, check out the video above! I found it recently on Vimeo, and it's a high-quality, 25-minute concert documentary complete with live song performances and brief interviews in between.

Jordan Brooke Hamlin backs Sandra in the video. Jordan has also been a huge influence of mine, as she not only produces records and plays auxiliary instruments/vocals with numerous artists, but also does visual art & graphic design for album covers and other projects. Charting her growth as a successful multimedia artist has been quite empowering to me. I'd love to meet her and pick her brain someday.

In addition to the music, Sandra does some writing for the Art House America blog. Check out her latest piece here. Sandra's artist bio on the blog reads as follows:

Sandra McCracken is a singer, songwriter, and producer from Nashville, TN. Over the course of eight critically acclaimed studio albums, Sandra has developed a body of work that encompasses hook-driven melodic pop, No Depression-style Americana, contemporary recastings of classic hymns, and even children’s music as part of the Nashville alt-folk super-group Rain For Roots. Her music has been featured on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy; her 2013 solo record, Desire Like Dynamite, charted as one of Billboard’s Top 50 Heatseekers; and she is currently at work on a new album for 2014.
— Art House America Blog

Sandra is also a part of A Rocha international's work in Nashville––a community seeking to integrate faith, creation care and hospitality.

Thanks for reading! (And hopefully for listening/watching the video;)

sd.