September 3, 2015
When Aimee and I left Baton Rouge, LA for Memphis, TN on April 1, 2012 we were little more than a month away from meeting our baby girl Iley Harper who on the 4th of May introduced us to parenthood for the first time. We were staying at my in-laws then, so we actually became parents in Memphis before we became residents. Memphis was quite an unfamiliar place to become such unfamiliar people, and after only three years with Iley, and now a one-year old boy named Ezra, parenthood still feels new to me. 6 months after the birth of our first child, we moved into our first home together as a family, but not before finding our new home Church at Highpoint.
When Iley was born, I was working at a large format sign company. One day a work order landed on my desk to print a massive billboard banner that was nothing more than a black and white photo of favelas – those clusters of substandard apartments in the slum towns of Brazil. Across the picture was a graphic with the words “Love Works”. This spoke to me about the mission, the community, and the heart of Highpoint Church. It intrigued me. I saw in that one banner a community that could imagine some of the most desperate places of human depravity, and still see the hope and love of Christ – That unexpected LOVE that works where all expectations of love have failed. When I heard they were using it for a backdrop on the main auditorium stage, I selfishly wanted to see how my finished work would look. ;) Aimee and I had just talked about looking for churches anyway, and I thought why not let this be our first stop. It was our first, and our last. On my first Sunday visit, I texted Aimee who stayed back with our newborn “we are home”. Highpoint describes themselves as a “perfect place, for imperfect people”. In our time there, I came to know the truth at either end of that statement, that indeed Highpoint Church was and remains for me and my family, a perfect place. ;)
In our three years in Memphis, we barely had time to become true Memphians. We weren’t even good tourists. My Drivers License still says “Louisiana”. I didn’t get pulled over much, thankfully. :) I never had time to become a Grizzlies fan. (Geaux Pelicans!), I never visited Graceland, The Stax Museum, The Loraine Motel, and I never spent more than a day or two in the downtown or midtown parts of the city. The only Memphis we knew was Highpoint Church, but for a time it was all the Memphis we needed. We witnessed life change on a weekly basis at Highpoint, and we saw our lives changing as well. Our children benefited from one of the finest kids ministry programs I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve never seen such commitment and determination in the work of volunteers than that of the Highpoint Kids family. I will never forget Krystal and Amber and all the beautiful people who greeted us at our kids classes every Sunday.
I also got to enjoy being a volunteer on the praise team at Highpoint under the leadership of Josh Maze, who is just a pure ball of energy, joy, and enthusiasm. Josh is a true leader and friend, and I am very thankful to him for investing in me and for all the leaders on the creative team at Highpoint! (Love you Tyler, Joe, Carolyn, Andrew, David, Wes, Chad, Candace, Laramie, Joel, Bill, Byron and the whole lot of ya! You guys ROCK!)
What I know I will miss most about Highpoint Church is the teaching of our pastors, and the testimonial ministry of baptism, or “Going Public”. Andy Savage and Chris Conlee are firmly committed to teaching the Word of God and introducing the lost to the God of the Word. The compassion, honesty, and sincerity of their teaching is something that I know comes out of a profound love and respect for the Bible and the One who inspired it’s many authors. The responsibility they feel toward the staff and partners of the church is palpable and man do they ever deliver on their commitment. With integrity, transparency, honor, humility, and excellence every leader on staff at Highpoint, though ever so short of perfect, is certainly of the highest possible quality. I am grateful to them all.
In these last few years I have been blessed to have several men of faith from Highpoint come alongside me to encourage, instruct, and pray with me through difficult times. I cant thank any of them enough for their kindness to me and the benefits of their counsel that came to my family as a result. Not the least of these men of faith was our pastor Chris Conlee who from the moment that I met him never ceased to remind me of the divine potential within me, and to never settle for less than God’s best. Under Pastor Conlee’s teaching in April of 2013 I began what has been a journey of overcoming the voices of deceit. I am even now still learning to live a life of resistance to the lies of the enemy. After years of looting and plunder, I didn’t believe there was much left in me for the enemy to steal or destroy. I’ll never forget the restoration that began in me over those few weeks. I still listen to those sermons at hpmemphis.com often, and I’d encourage anyone feeling the opressive weight of past failures, loss, self-hatred, or lonliness to do the same.
One of the things that Pastor Chris prayed over me was for the Spirit to rekindle and fan a flame of passion and fervor within me to create music and write songs. If I’m not mistaken, and I’m not, Chris did this rather unexpectedly and quite publically in front of the entire church. Ha! :) Though it might not have been the way I would have chosen it, Pastor Conlee’s prayerful affections certainly bolstered my faith, my self-confidence as a child of God, and my hope in God’s promise to never give up on me. Not long after this, Chris called me up in front of the church yet again to let everyone know I was trying to make a record and pointed everyone toward my crowd funding campaign which was only about $800 away from its goal at the time. This was also quite unexpected and the gift I was given was overwhelming as I left with a diaper bag full of checks and cash that helped surpass my $5000 goal by nearly $3000 in the end. What do you say to something like that, besides “I love you and thank you”?! I kept saying that over and over again, until I think I started asking people to just stop. I truly felt undeserving of so much love, and I know of all the people in the building that day I may have very well been the least deserving of all, but that’s exactly how much Highpoint loves everyone in its family – unconditionally, and relentlessly. It’s just how they do life. I received that blessing and many others from my family at Highpoint as gratefully and as joyfully as I would give them all back today. I’ll share it again and forevermore: Where the expectations of love have failed, the unexpected, unconditional, life-saving, life-affirming, LOVE of God in Christ Jesus WORKS, for God IS Love and LOVE WORKS.
…Well that album is done! I completed work on it this past week here in Baton Rouge, LA (look for a new blog entry soon). Not long after our last Sunday and the announcment of our departure, I came down to Louisiana to make good on the commitment to get this record made. Short of editing, mixing, and mastering, which will take some time, my part is finished! I can’t wait to come back to Memphis to share it with everyone!
Aimee, Iley, Ezra, and I are now embarking on a new journey with a new faith family in Wilmington, NC. We leave the birthplace of our children and the only Memphis we know, Highpoint Church, to bring the only Love that we know to as many people as we can. As you remember us, Please pray for us, for Reach Community Church and for the people of Leland and Wilmington, NC.
We thank you, we love you, and will miss you! Our prayers are with you and the city of Memphis always.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace”
July 25, 2015
On April 5 I posted some sad news. Due to changes in management, we lost our chance to record at Sun Studio here in Memphis, TN. (sad face) We regrouped, went through a handful of plan B studio choices/dates, and eventually landed at Dockside Studios in Lafayette, LA. After some scheduling conflicts in July, we decided to shoot for the last weekend of August.
Unfortunately, these last few weeks have presented some unique challenges for our producer Jeff Powell that have made it very difficult to know for sure if he could remain committed to the project. Without being able to make headway fast enough considering the conditions and decisions that Jeff was faced with, and without knowing how that would affect our working relationship in the next few months, I’ve had to give Jeff leave of the project to let him concentrate on more pressing matters (sad face).
No studio. No producer. To compound the issue, I am now on a deadline. I’m happy to announce that I’ve accepted a worship leader position at a church in Wilmington, NC. We will be moving mid-September at the latest. Our plans were made before we lost Jeff, and our last scheduled dates for recording were set for the last weekend of August. Our heads are spinning. We have so much going on, so many things to do to get ready for a move, and so little time now to do it.
In the last hour, with the help of my friend John Tulley, I’ve come up with an new plan. We’re moving the project from Dockside Studios about 60 miles east to Baton Rouge, LA. We will be recording in a co-op music and arts space in Downtown Baton Rouge called The Legendary Noise Floor. Recording dates have basically remained the same, however this new option potentially gives us a lot more time to record, which is great.
Now that things are finally moving forward with greater speed, updates should be coming in a lot more frequently. I’m excited and I look forward to all of the good things ahead of us!
Thanks to everyone who stayed on me to keep them in the loop of what’s been going on. With all the frustration over planning and re-planning, it’s been great to know that folks are really eager to hear this record. I’m thankful for your continued support, and I can’t wait to finally make this happen!
July 25, 2015
I’m very happy to announce that “Be Kind”, a co-write between myself and singer/songwriter Brian Morykon recently covered by Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White for their first duet record “Hearts Like Ours”, has made it on the first ballot of the Dove Awards selections for “Worship Song of the Year”! This is the first time that any project I’ve been involved in has been considered for any sort of award. I couldn’t be more thrilled! The song first featured on Brian Morykon’s AMAZING debut record “The Smallest Seed”. Go check that out right now, right here!
I’m so happy for Brian and Joy Morykon, and I’m thankful to Mr. Ricky Skaggs, Mrs Sharon White, and the PR team at RS Entertainment for helping launch this song into the gospel music realm. Please go check out their phenomenal new record “Hearts Like Ours”, click here!
Voting is for GMA members only and the first ballot closes on August 4th. Final nominees will be announced on August 12th. We are sure to be among a list of many fantastic songs and songwriters, and I wish them all the best!
Brian Morykon web: http://www.morykon.com
Ricky Skaggs web: http://www.rickyskaggs.com
April 5, 2015
As you all know, nearly two months ago I closed on a fundraising campaign to make my next album and fulfill my dream to record at the legendary Sun Studio here in Memphis, TN. For reasons both logistical and creative, I chose a specific group of people to work with. Without going into too much detail, the decision to record at Sun was greatly influenced by the working relationships I have with certain members of this group. Throughout my campaign, Sun Studio actually became the theme for this project but it wasn’t until I knew I had the funds to make the record that I could begin to move scheduling plans along with the studio and my producer. Unfortunately, the timing could not have been worse. Something unforeseen has occurred.
In the last six weeks, the likelihood of making my record at Sun diminished from recording the whole album, to a partial recording, to finally this week learning that the window of opportunity for me to record ANYTHING at Sun Studio is almost definitely closed. After speaking with my producer Jeff Powell, we feel we’ve done everything we can to keep the “Sun” from setting, but alas THIS record will not be made at Sun Studio.
I am obviously very saddened by this news, and sorry to all of you who trusted the aim and scope of this project to meet it’s mark in a very specific way. It was out of my hands. I think it would have been a special experience for all those involved. I remain hopeful that I will get the chance to record at Sun Studio someday soon, but for now it’s high time this project find it’s feet and we think we’ve got some pretty amazing places in mind for them to land. One possibility is Dockside Studios way down in my neck of the woods just outside of Lafayette, LA. One of the great advantages of recording at Dockside, other than its beautiful amenities and laid back atmosphere, is the proximity to all my South Louisiana bandmates who won’t have too far to travel. Of course, should we decide to keep production here in Memphis we could always set up at the wonderful Ardent Studios or a handful of other great spaces around town. These are just some of our options moving forward. Phone calls are being made, and a decision will come within the month.
I owe it to you to let you know what’s happened, and I’m sorry it’s taken so long for me to give you this update. I just wanted to be patient and make sure we gave every effort to fulfilling all our original goals. I think we have, and to be honest, I’m happy to just be moving forward, finally.
I can still promise you that this record will be every bit as good as it was always going to be, and I can’t wait to get started!
February 11, 2015
Its a cool clear 4 in the morning here in Memphis, TN. I haven’t been able to sleep, I’m so excited! Two hours ago, I watched the last few seconds spill out of the clock on my Indiegogo campaign. It’s done! With $8,365 in the bank, I am 167% funded and ready to make this record! It’s been an amazing 40 day journey. I am overwhelmed by the love and support you all have shown me. The campaign page right now says that there were only 77 funders, but that is not at all representative of the actual amount of folks who contributed. I wish I could name them all right here and thank you each individually. You just can’t know what this means to me, but I hope to express my appreciation soon when I join my bandmates at Sun Studio to crank out an AMAZING record!
The hard part for you is over. All I can ask you to do now is wait patiently while the difficult part for me is just beginning. In the next few months I will be fast at work putting this new budget to good use. I’ll first have to consult with my producer and musicians to arrange a set time for recording which is a lot harder than it sounds. Meantime, I’ll also be working on your contribution incentives so that everything will be ready in due time. The ball is rolling, and we’re about to move it to the edge of a very steep hill. Y’all ready?
There will be a lot more updates to follow in the very near future, I’m sure. Meantime, I’ve decided to keep the bootleg recordings from my private show in Baton Rouge last December up on my Bandcamp site. This live set features songs that will be on the next record, so enjoy it while you can, and share it with your friends and family! Click here!
February 9, 2015
It’s Sunday night, around 11:30PM. In just half an hour, I’ll only have one day left in this campaign! I need your help to finish strong. With only $105 until I’m 150% funded, I can’t pass on the opportunity to rally for one last goal before we wrap this whole thing up! If you haven’t been able to contribute until now or if you just want to pass the word along, please click HERE, or on the photo(s) below!
February 3, 2015
Occasionally we need a little more than we have in order to do the things we are built to do. I’m an artist who makes music. The culture of musical artists maintains that occasionally we make records. The industry of music maintains that making GREAT records will cost lots of money, and that if you’re not an artist in the industry you’re an artist on your own dime.
After 10 years in waiting to make only my second record, I’ve partnered with a group called Indiegogo which offers a platform for a service called crowd-funding. It’s a simple structure. For a small percentage on the dollar, it allows for folks with creative ideas to launch a fund-raising campaign to raise money via social networks and word-of-mouth. The individual sets a goal and is then given the option of a time-frame, in my case 40 days, to reach that goal before expiration. I started my crowd-funding journey on January 1st. I now have seven days before my campaign expires on Feb. 10.
Asking people for money is awkward, especially on a deadline. We all have some degree of an emotional connection to the money we make or the money we need. If you’ve been following me on any of my social networks, you know that I’ve been pretty relentlessly promoting my campaign. Out of desperation, I may have actually been a bit forward or pushy. For that, I sincerely apologize. I’ve learned unfortunate things about myself and my relationship with others concerning money in the past month, and I’m glad that I was finally entering into the last week of this process over the weekend.
On Sunday morning, however, at Highpoint Church where my family and I attend, my pastor gave a sermon on speaking with edifying words and how the tongue is either an instrument of death or life to those around us. Moved by the Spirit at the close of service that morning, my pastor Chris Conlee called me up in front of the church with him and proceeded to speak words of life into me by making a public acknowledgement of my campaign and not only encouraging me in it, but also encouraging our church family to lend their support to it. It was an overwhelming and at the same time a very uncomfortable experience. While definitely bolstering my confidence and faith and affirming Gods grace and providence over the project, it definitely wasn’t something I would have chosen for myself if someone were to ask me if I wanted it. I had to either except it for what it was, a blessing, or stand up there feeling like a big thief. It was hard to say much more than “wow” and “thank you”. I came home with my daughter’s diaper bag full of cash and checks totaling over $2300. When I told my wife, I think she stopped breathing for a few minutes. By that time I only needed $520 to reach my $5000 goal, which means I was overfunded that day by over $1800!
That’s, 141% FUNDED, with still 7 days left to go!
I am so grateful for my church family and ministers at Highpoint, a perfect place for imperfect people like me. A place that extends compassion without compromise. A place where love works. Thank you for blessing me! Click HERE to learn more about Highpoint Church in Memphis, TN. If you live in the Memphis area and are looking for a church, come visit us!!!
I want to thank ALL OF YOU who have contributed and supported me from day one! I love you all very much! We did it!!!
If you had planned on contributing, please don’t feel like you’ve missed your opportunity. My $5000 goal was based on a minimum expectation for cost, so having been overfunded is obviously a boon for me when projecting a final budget, especially when you consider other non-studio expenses I will have (e.g. Paying Indiegogo for hosting my campaign, your incentives, travel & accommodation cost for my musicians traveling from Louisisna). A little extra cash also provides us extended time in studio to record extra takes on songs, or to add more songs onto the record. All that said, as long as there is still an opportunity to contribute, or show your support by sharing my campaign, please do so, and THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Again, many thanks to all of you for your love and continued support. I can’t wait to make this record and to have the chance to share it with all of you!
January 30, 2015
With now only 11 DAYS REMAINING to fund my next record in 2015 at the legendary Sun Studio here in Memphis, TN, and with only $885 left to raise, here’s a quick message for those who are waiting to contribute at the last minute should my goal be met before expiration!
January 23, 2015
Hello everyone! I just wanted to share a campaign update with y’all. It’s been 20 days, and we’re halfway there! You all have managed to help my project reach its 50% mark right on time. I couldn’t be more pleased. Thank you so much!!! 24 people have made contributions totaling $2,250! That’s a contribution average of nearly 100 bucks. Amazing! Now it’s time to wrap this puppy up.
WE’VE GOT 19 DAYS TO RAISE AT LEAST $2,750 BEFORE THE END OF THE CAMPAIGN CLOSING DAY ON FEB 10!
We can do this! Help me get the word out on social networks, send an email to your brother, call your Mom! Let’s make a record!
January 2, 2015
Happy New Year!
On December 6th & 7th of 2014, I came down to Baton Rouge, LA to play a free private show for my hometown fans. I did it for three reasons:
1. To say thank you to the handful of artists and musicians who shared the stage with me for agreeing to help me make a record in 2015,
2. To let my hometown fans, friends, and family be the first to know that I am planning to make that record at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, TN and that a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo.com would be launching on Jan 1st, and …
3. To make a video for that campaign featuring footage of our rehearsal and performance
My campaign page launched yesterday and I couldn’t be more pleased. I wanted to share my campaign video/link here and say thanks to all the folks who made it possible. In the next 40 days I will need to raise at least $5000. Please take the time visit my campaign page and make a pledge to support my next record! I can’t do this without YOU!
TO VISIT MY CAMPAIGN PAGE CLICK HERE!
Special thanks to the following folks. Some of these names are hyperlinked. Do me a favor and check ’em out. Tell them I said hello! For your love and support, thank you:
Adam Walters w/ Contrast Films, Clay Parker, Ryan Harris, Ben Herrington, Paul Buller, Joel Paul Wilson, Melissa Wilson, Robert Kling, Jodi James, Micah Blouin, Rob Chidester, and last but certainly not least my beautiful wife Aimee Zachary