This “being a singer” thing is pretty weird.
I rarely sing at weddings. I don’t gig at pubs. I’m not interested in X-Factor. But if I want to see a friend for coffee, I need to book weeks in advance because there’s no availability in my diary.
So what do I actually do on all those busy days?
The answer is a very mixed bag, so in the interest of interest, I’ve fabricated a day where I can demonstrate the beautiful, mad variety of my life as a missional singer. (For instance, my day today was actually spent writing this blog, crafting a detailed newsletter to my email friends, organising a trip to my favourite radio station, and chasing solicitors & a mortgage application. Like, OK the radio bit might be interesting to explore, but the rest? DULL.)
So, good morning, and welcome to my Fabricated Day.
Nathan wakes up for his real job. I’d love to be able to boast that I leap out of bed and take on the day right from this point – but truthfully, unless I have an early Costa shift, I embrace a blissful half hour of cosy chill-time before beginning my day.
Over breakfast with Nathan, I check emails and social media in case there are any new actions for me to follow up. In my Twitter inbox is an invitation to an event in London run by the independent Christian chart company who charted Journey On last year, AStepFwd. I’ve not met anyone on the team yet, and it would be a chance to network with loads of UK Christian music people. I start developing a plan to get to London for less than the cost of a £95 train ticket.
We head out the door on what I describe to those unfamiliar with my atypical life as “the school run”. It’s not the school run, it’s the husband run. (I pass by a school on my way to drop him off at work, it counts.)
Back home, my laptop is up, UCB radio is on and a coffee is in my hand. Responding to emails is next; Heart magazine has asked me to send them high res photos for the testimony feature they’re including in their next edition. It’s another awesome opportunity to share what God did for me with a new audience.
(At the same time, I research travel costs to London and back but everything seems either too expensive or logistically impossible.)
There’s also an email from the producer of One More Mountain – the song I’m currently working on – with an invoice attached. Yesterday he sent us the final version, with all the amendments and ideas we had asked for perfectly achieved. I thank David, pay the invoice from my ring-fenced music account, and add the expense to my accounting database. (I also listen to the track one more time – it’s fantastic. I schedule a gushing social media update for Sunday, about this being the moment I’ve been waiting for, what an excellent producer David Pickering-Pick is, and giving the launch date a quick plug. This is a big tick off the list, as it means I can be off the grid completely on Sunday.)
But more urgent than that is a press release I need to write for the song’s launch. The deadline for the local paper is tomorrow and I don’t want to cut it too fine. It should take about an hour, plus the time to write the email and attach some generic promo photos, but while I’m writing, a message comes through about a possible repeat performance at a church in Brecon.
It’s exciting timing, because the project I’ve been developing around One More Mountain is a collaboration which would mean something different for the church since my last visit. They love the sound of it, so I begin organising with my collab partner to get the ball rolling. (Suddenly a nagging ‘back-of-the-mind’ thought pings to the front – Matt and I really need to find time soon to practice for our upcoming events. We have a provisional date booked in, it’ll probably be fine.)
I have an hour left before I need to leave for the main event of today; I’m meeting Matt for a photoshoot at Cheddar Gorge! The photos will be used for our collaboration’s brand identity, promotional stuff like future press releases, and our joint website beyondthemountain.co.uk. (Another thought appears – I need to update both this and my own website with the Beyond The Mountain events that are getting booked in. There’s definitely not time today, I add it as an action on my Life List.)
I make another coffee, double check the route, then spend the last half hour in my singing room making a video for The Good News Paper – an evangelistic magazine that shares Christian news and testimonies, and earlier in the year they featured mine. Last week out of the blue, editor Chris asked if I would be willing to be in their promotional film and say a couple of lines – no problem! What a fun little task that supports their ministry and develops that relationship.
I realise I haven’t scheduled time for lunch, so grab some crisps (super bad habit, don’t do this) and make a right mess of them in the car on the way to Cheddar. It’s a longish drive I haven’t made before through heavy rain, but it’s beautiful. Nonetheless, when I arrive in the gravelly layby half a mile uphill from the caves, my shoulders are tight and I have to force myself to drop them.
Soon afterwards Matt Hurley arrives with his sister Clare, our photographer, and we set off in a promising direction in search of dramatic, rocky views. We find them, after 20 minutes of skidding through muddy woods. We all laugh about the random things songwriters/photographers find themselves doing at 2 o’clock on a Wednesday, and I get to know Clare Shapcott. She is hilarious, bubbly and in the moment. I love her.
Moody skies threaten more rain, but it stays dry throughout the shoot, praise God! While Matt has some solo shots taken, I check in on emails etc. At the top of the hill, there is just enough signal to receive the news from our estate agent that our most recent attempt to buy a house has fallen through. I swipe it away, and enjoy the moment instead; taking in the incredible views and getting photos of Clare and Matt in action. They’ll make for a very engaging Instagram post later.
With every angle explored and pose struck, we head back to the cars, carefully choosing our footing. After a loo/coffee/social media break and brief tactical discussion about releasing the song and how to grow awareness, we head back home – Matt and Clare to Bristol, and me to Malvern. The rain returns during the drive, and I praise God for His perfect timing.
Nathan has beaten me home and has started cooking tea; we weren’t sure how long the shoot would take so he arranged transport home with a colleague. It’s got to be a quick turnaround this evening as I’m meeting a potential music video star in Tenbury Wells at 8pm, but I steal 10 minutes to message a friend about staying on their sofa in Bedford so I can make the London event. He is more than obliging, so I quickly confirm with the chart company via Twitter and add an action to the Life List to sort out the final leg of transport I’ll need.
After our favourite evening ritual of dinner and an episode of whatever Prime show we’re watching, I can’t wait to leave. This is the meeting I’ve been looking forward to for weeks!
After a minor Google Maps adventure, I arrive around dusk at a rustic log-cabin-esque house hugging a roaring river. I am beckoned by the welcoming voice of Saffie, the 20-something friend of a friend I have only spoken to online until now. She appears from a neat decking laced with colourful lanterns and candles, and with a warm smile offers me a cup of tea before we meet the real VIP.
Tea in hand, we share stories of our mutual friend as we round the corner of the cottage to meet Eric. We’re headed for a garden shed (but when I say garden, we are in a woods by a river) which seems dormant at first, but once Saffie opens the door I half-hear muffled squeaks and squawks coming from inside it. Saffie leans in for a moment, chatting soothingly to whatever is making the noise, and when she turns around she has a tiny, gorgeous owl cheeping gently on her fist. He is no bigger than a guinea pig, and very round. He’s ridiculously cute.
Saffie explains that he may be a little shy at first, but that I’m welcome to hold him and that he shouldn’t bite. I don’t hear her, I’m in love with an owl. She transfers him carefully from her hand to mine, and says she’s popping back indoors to get some food so we can tempt him to fly. Eric and I get to know each other while she is gone, apparently he loves strokes and as he gets more relaxed he goes fluffier and quiet. My heart.
This is social media gold of course, so I grab a quick video before Saffie returns and we try to persuade Eric to fly. Eric is quite a lazy owl, and unless very hungry, would prefer to chill on a post and watch his human than fly to her. (Saffie explains that Eric is imprinted to her, as she hand-reared him since he was 4 days old. As a result, he doesn’t really know what other owls are, and isn’t bothered by people or dogs.)
I ask a few practical questions about owls and music videos, and essentially risk assess the scenario so we can plan to keep Eric as safe and happy as possible. Saffie seems to reflect Eric’s level of chill about the whole thing, so I feel reassured that this plan may not be entirely insane after all.
I arrive home, leap onto the sofa next to Nathan and launch into Eric, Cheddar and the press release I feel so relieved is done. I apologise for the pothole I hit on the way to Tenbury Wells (he’s fine with it), and double check who needs the car tomorrow. (I am working at Costa 2-7:30pm, so I’ll need to do the school run again.)
Climbing the stairs to bed, my mind is poring over the events of today and what I want to get done tomorrow before my shift. In the morning I’ll post the photos from Cheddar and follow up with the Brecon church. If I have time I might be able to send the song to the radio stations, and arrange a practice with Matt for Beyond The Mountain. One exciting day ends, making way for another. 🙂
So what do you think? Surprised? Expecting more singing?
Most of those activities were all to promote the song Matt and I are launching on 24th May, and its purpose to encourage travel-weary Christians that their God can still move mountains. Follow the Beyond The Mountain page on Facebook, and you’ll be able to hear it as soon as it’s revealed to the world.
We hope it inspires you. <3