Thursday, November 22, 2012

For the Sender

Tonight I was reading Taylor Guitar's Wood and Steel Magazine, and I came across a touching article about a musician named Alex Woodard and a ground-breaking project called For the Sender.

This project really catches my attention because:
1) I think it's heartfelt, honest, sincere, powerful, moving - everything that art and expression should be.
2) It's brilliant from a community, social-networking perspective; it's art for the 21st century, where you have to develop a relationship with your audience.
3) Jon Foreman is involved. (You know who he is, right?)

I'll briefly summarize the story, but you can download the issue through the Taylor website - and you really should read it. (Also read the author page on the website.)

In 2008, Woodard going through a rough patch in his music career and personal life. He wondered if there might be an "expiration date" on his dreams of making it (something that looks every aspiring and professional artist in the face).

When his most recent CD was about to be released, Woodard promised to record a unique song for everyone who pre-ordered the album. He would write the songs on whatever they wanted it to be on. As a result, he wrote over 100 individual songs.

This experience exposed Woodard to some heartbreaking stories of tragedy, loss, and perseverance - the death of a policeman, father, and husband; suffering and relief after the earthquake in Haiti; the death of a woman's soulmate.

Woodard developed a relationship by mail with some of the people who really appreciated his songs. Then he started writing songs with other musicians based on the stories. He was in the San Diego area at the time, and one of the musicians he began to work with was Jon Foreman: frontman of Switchfoot and personal hero of mine.

Working like this with other musicians, writing songs and letting other people sing them - this was outside of Woodward's musical comfort zone. But it produced huge blessings - both creatively and personally.

This music-in-community gave rise to the book, album, and concert event that is For the Sender.

There's much more to say, but you really must check it out on your own.

Reading this article came at a great time for me.

Every night and morning, I think (or "worry") about my artistic career - and the expiration date. I'm a published author and an aspiring musician looking at a man who's been plying his guitar trade for a while and hit a rough spot. And then, after opening up his heart and singing for other people, found his music and life heading in a different - and more wonderful - direction than he could have imagined.

Additionally, I've been thinking a lot about music-in-community recently: producing great works that you could never do on your own power and creativity; creative important art (with personal and eternal value) with like-minded people.

It's exciting - so exciting that I had to blog about it before I could move on with my life.

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