This is not a eulogy

I’ve taken awhile to come back to my blog.

The past few weeks have been a landslide of thoughts, emotions, and experiences that spill out innumerable words of pain, joy, and pensiveness.

I’ve attempted to take these thoughts in stride, speculating how I can be honest, genuine, and deliberate with my work.

Let me be frank, this is not a eulogy.

“In remembrance of”

“In honor of”

Sounds stagnant, and overused.

When someone pours such joy and inspiration into your life, you can’t simply leave them with a eulogy, or a token of remembrance.

So this is not a eulogy.

We are the living. We are the ones responsible for carrying on the legacy, thoughts, and beliefs of those before us—if we chose to do so.

A collection of lives continue to shape and sharpen our actions and morals, and we get to decide how to use the wisdom that has been passed on to us.

A couple weeks ago I went to back-to-back funerals.

My grandma—a woman who has had perhaps the most profound influence on my life.

And my grandpa: a man who pushed me into doing my very best under all circumstances.

I could write countless pages on how their actions affected me deeply. However, I feel as if this wouldn’t do justice to their memory. I want to encourage and uplift, rather than dwell on what has already passed.

So I want to leave you with a simple thought…

Don’t take those around you for granted. Pour into others the legacy—of joy, persistence, or determination–that they have poured into you.

Pokemon is still relevant.

When I was little I gave away my favorite Pokemon card to a friend, because he had an inadequate deck. If you had/have a Pokemon deck (no shame), then you know how big of a deal it is to part with your cards. I vividly remembering watching some twisted episode of Arthur, or maybe the Magic School Bus, in which a main character gave away a treasured possession to a friend out of goodness. As a result of their goodness, they received all the joy and bliss in the world.

I did not feel the least bit satisfied after giving away this Pokemon card. In fact, my emotions were quite the opposite—anger, confusion, and betrayal. PBS had totally ripped me off. I was left with one less Pokemon card, and a plate full of regret.

I feel like we all have been dished the lie that giving is healthier for the giver than the receiver. But if you’re giving out of selfish means, is that any worse than giving out of obligation?

Shouldn’t we be giving out of the goodness of our hearts?

Giving isn’t pretty.

Giving makes you weak, vulnerable, and accumulates countless risks.

Giving leaves everything up to the receiver, for better or worse.

Giving is an act of letting go, without expecting anything in return.

So why have we reduced giving to an emotional high?

Or a societal obligation?

Giving, in the purest sense, is love.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

NAMM 2015

You knew it was coming, don’t deny it.

The longest, most obnoxious, most ridiculous, wonderful weekend of the year.

And the appropriate loud, boisterous social media posts to accompany it.

If you’ve checked my media, you probably realized I experienced beaches, celebrities, boutique pedals, and incredible instruments this weekend. But, in case you really do enjoy pretty pictures…

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Yep, that’s Laguna beach. Unfortunately, it was perfect. 80 degrees, cool refreshing water, and really big waves.

Prime beach conditions.

Sorry Midwest friends.

I have this theory, that NAMM gets 10x better every year—because, NAMM 2015 was amazing. Venturing out, I was reminiscing about how awesome last year’s show was. I had made several assumptions throughout the year, that nothing could possibly be better at NAMM 2014. Of course, I was proved blatantly wrong.

I mean, I knew I was off to a good start on Day 2, playing my dream guitar…

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Ugh. White Falcons are the only way to go, guys. Just looking at the picture makes me happy.

NAMM is such an incredible trade show to go to, and this year I had the privilege of receiving the NAMM Presidential Innovation Award, which funded my entire trip. Not only did I get to squeeze out every opportunity possible during the jam packed weekend of music and gear, but also do it fully funded by the NAMM foundation! Needless to say, I am so grateful.

Plus, did I mention I had a few awesome friends a long the way?

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Check out that hunk. Yep, that’s my hunk of a boyfriend. I get to embarrass him every once in awhile, right?

But seriously, it was so fun to venture into NAMM with the intention of playing every guitar, trying every possible pedal/rig we wanted, and enjoying some sweet music.

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Like seriously, my face explains it all.

Saturday night, I got to watch living legend Kenny Burrell play (the Kenny Burrell that was dubbed by Duke Elliot as his “favorite guitarist).

As a jazz guitarist, he’s been one of my biggest influences on playing and tone. Furthermore, he has this overall aura about him–genius, honest, and legendary–all packed into one person. It was breathtaking to watch him play, and at 83 years old he’s still got it!

So aside from seeing countless talented people perform, I also got to experience some really cool gear!

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Check out these in-ears from Ear Dubs! I spent all week walking around NAMM with these clever little guys in. They worked to protect my ears, especially in such a loud environment. Plus, they look better than fleshy colored ear plugs! Give ‘em a shoutout at getdubs.com or @weardubs

Also, did I mention I got to spend the week with Marshall?

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Yeah, we don’t really know how to picture. But I thought I would share for your enjoyment.

Have a blessed week!

White Chocolate Cinnamon Caramel Bark

Yes, it’s a real thing. White chocolate cinnamon caramel bark. I know the majority of my posts namedrop foods or tasty meals, but this one is a shameless plug. Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, who specializes in pecan pralines (YUM), has some ridiculously good sweets. It was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth during an escapade downtown, with all three of my roommates. Seriously, just look at all this gold:

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After our Friday night escapade, which sounds more exciting than it was, we spent a sunny Saturday afternoon enjoying Long Hunter State Park. It was a refreshing break from rehearsals, traffic, and concrete walls. Sometimes all you need is a little sun, water, and trees. As you can see, my roommate was thrilled.

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Did I mention that my roommate is adorable? There’s no denying it.

We scaled bridges, trekked the eight mile stretch of trail, and I attempted to climb a tree….

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At least the lake is epic.

This week I’ll be spending the majority of my time in Orange County, California at the NAMM show. That is, National Association of Music Merchants–one of the most exciting music shows of the year. I’m looking forward to concerts, gushing over new gear, trying out a few guitars, and garnering all the knowledge I can from the infamous artists, producers, engineers, and sellers that attend. It’s going to be a blast, plus, I’ll have a few friends there to keep me company.

More pictures and music to come!

Happy hump day, friends.

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“Plants are people too!”

That’s something my old roommate, Emily used as a mantra to cultivate her plants. Actually, it has nothing to do with my post; I just thought it would catch your attention.

To be fair, I do maintain a blossoming (see what I did there?) relationship with my plants: each has a name, and a designated spot in my apartment. However, I digress.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of opportunity and change. Sometimes I feel as if I’m on the other side of a glass at a zoo, watching each opportunity and talent flourish behind tinted windows. It’s incredible to live in such near proximity to a myriad of “legends”—purely inspirational.

In fact, this is an accurate depiction of my excitement:

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Yes, I had to get my tourist pictures in at some point.

We’ve done some amazing trips just in a few days–journeys to Sputnik Sound and the Grammy Offices, to name a couple notable ones. I want to garner as much knowledge from this experience, and do my best to communicate and utilize it among you all! Here’s a quick snap of the beautiful guitars at Sputnik Sound:

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I’ve never been in a studio with such beautiful vintage instruments, legendary staff, and gear—it was as if wisdom was reeking through the walls. Okay, that was a strange description….lets move on.

One of my favorite activities has been the scoping out the potential “hang out” spots. I wouldn’t consider myself a “local” yet; not that I’m waiting for an official initiation, I still feel as if I’m the typical “tourist”.

However, yesterday my roommates and I hunted down a quaint little Vietnamese Pho (noodle) joint that was phenomenal.

Fresh rice noodles, warm broth, and hot sauce is the perfect remedy for a winter night….

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Seriously “Pho”nomenal.

After settling down in the apartment, re-arranging the cabinets, cozying up in my PJ’s, and munching on leftovers, I already feel an overwhelming peace that the Lord has put me exactly where I need to be.

Of course, maybe I was just “Pho”cusing on the noodles.

The Last Taste of Summer

It’s nearly 75 degrees outside. And sunny. I’ve been dancing around singing…

….”SUNNY WITH A HIGH OF SEVENTY FIVE SINCE YOU TOOK MY HEAVY HEART AND MADE IT LIGHT!”

Which is most appropriate, because Relient K is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of Mhm, AKA the most fantastic item of my Middle School CD collection. I have this wary feeling that today is summer’s last hurrah; one last taste before the cold weather settles in.

Here’s a flashback from the band’s summer days, a beautiful outdoor concert at MUGS Coffee & Tea

It was a beautiful outdoor concert the band and I had the opportunity to play towards the end of summer. The warm, pleasant summer night was a great time to enjoy local music, and locally sourced coffee. We love MUGS!
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Yesterday I had the opportunity to perform my senior recital–something I’ve worked towards for the past year. I focused on a specific era, 1920’s, and presented a concert imitating the style, image, and perceptions of the jazz age. I studied the lovely voices of Marion Harris, Ethel Waters, and Gertrude Lawrence. Here’s a picture of the wonderful jazz trio that accompanied me on Sunday…

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L to R : David Naffie, Isaac Vining, Caleb Scott

So many people came to support me at the recital, and for that I’m forever grateful. It was incredible to see friends who have been alongside me for years, and especially enjoy time with my awesome family. Here’s a picture of my brother and I, post-concert.

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I am so thankful for all the encouragement and training I’ve gotten under my voice professor, Dr. Sowers. He’s been such an inspiration and truly an awesome influence in my life. Here’s another picture of the band in action in York…

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This weekend was awesome. I’ve said “awesome” at least five times in this post(my inner English geek is cringing), so you know it’s real.

Also, to top of the weekend, T-Swift’s 1989 is out. I’m fangirling all over it.

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Just look at it. You can already tell it’s tasty.

Hope you guys have a fantastic week. Love you all.

Falling Into A New Rhythm

A few weeks ago I got to listen to my music on the big screen-literally! Independent filmmakers Jeri and Perry Reichanadter invited me to share some music at the debut of Titans of PS-271, a faith-based movie geared toward a vibrant, young audience. Here’s a picture of Jeri, Perry, and I on the red carpet at the premiere.

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Also, we FINALLY got to hang up a sign at my merch table, check it.

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At the premiere I got to jam with a good friend Connor Whiteside.

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Honestly, we’re just a couple of hams…

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I highly encourage you to get in touch with Jerry and Peri, and buy their movie! It’s quite a charming film.

So, while we’re on the big news train, I am so excited to announce that I’ll be releasing some new music! This compilation was recorded over a year ago at Gaither Studios in Alexandria. Here’s a little glimpse of the album art that’s been surfing around…

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Awesome, right? It not only features the photography of my talented cousin Doug, but also his design. Speaking of movies, the swan reminds me of The Swan Princess, by far the best movie ever to grace the screen.

In a few weeks the band and I will be venturing to the Annual Shoes4theShoeless father/daughter dance fundraiser. We are so excited to hang out at this precious event again! The band definitely missed dressing up and playing some OneDirection, or at least I did. Make sure to double check my event page for more concerts, I would love to see you in person!

Personally, my musical journey has taken leaps and bounds lately. I recently got news that next semester I’ll be a part of the Contemporary Music Center’s spring program in Nashville. Not only will I have one foot in the music industry, but I’ll learn the ropes at touring, songwriting, etc. Also, this weekend is my senior recital–what?! College is almost over!

It’s a humbling experience to watch this ministry move forward, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future. So far, I’m enjoying the ride. I have some really exciting news to release as well, really BIG news at that–but it won’t be shared for a bit. Just keep your minds prepared, while I keep you waiting in the wings!

I would like to leave you with a lovely picture of Hannah Stanford and I, dressed up to sing Renegade (Styx) at 80’s encore this past weekend. Yes, those are leather pants.
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