"Hi Tose, some bad news, unfortunately..."
That was the first line in the text I received from the photographer I had booked for Love Sung Live. Hey, stuff happens so normally i wouldn't mind really. Except this was coming the afternoon of the 20th of October- a little over 24 hours before the Love Sung Live- my self-hosted house concert at Icontowers. I was right in the middle of Wilkos purchasing scented candles- an item on the list the venue decorator asked me get. I honestly didn't know what to do. I felt panic rise from the back of my throat. Flashbacks of Love Walk EP launch last year and my regret of not getting a professional photographer started coming to the fore. But i remembered something I had read from Dean Graziosi's book '' Millionaire Success Habits'' where he shared a story of JJ Virgin and her son Grant who happened to be in a terrible, potentially fatal hit and run and how JJ could have focused on feeling bitter and getting even but instead made the unusual decision to focus all her energies on making sure her son not only pulled through but thrived. She didn't even press charges! Well what i was facing right that moment could not be anyway compared to that but I chose to do the same thing: focus on a solution. So on the phone I got while I continued with my shopping
This was just one of the many pressures I was under. Included in the mix was the fact that I had 13 mostly unknown songs to prepare for (I was still writing one of them) and had gotten busy helping out a friend with his live recording scheduled for just the weekend before and my local church's Women's Conference holding the weekend after. As Ose and I were the worship band coordinators we practically had to attend every rehearsal including the Thursday and Friday prior to Love Sung Live. This meant I never got a chance to rehearse fully with the 'band' (Well i wouldn't really call it that as It mainly consisted of Ose on keys and a guitarist friend of ours from church. We were keeping it stripped back).
In fact, I didn't get the chance to do much at all, especially plan and promote. Yes, I know: I couldn't have picked a worse time to hold the show. And as if that wasn't bad enough, I. Was. Broke. Granted, it wasn't a huge event but even tiny events take money, honey! 'But why didn't you start planning and promoting instead of leaving things to last minute?', you might be asking. Well, I didn't exactly leave everything to last minute but planning was at best lack lustre. Why? I was nervous. It was a live headlining show and I was trialling out new songs and I wasn't going to be leading people in worship in the sense that we know it (and I admit that has become my comfort zone). I was just going to sit and sing and tell stories. I was scared! And i'm not proud to say that when I am scared, I procrastinate. Still dealing with that one...
Nevertheless, I was determined to go ahead because of this vision to create a 'Love Oasis' - A space people could just come bask in God's presence and love and leave strengthened and encouraged. Also, I had promised my fund-raising backers that i would treat some of them to an evening of live music which is not something I do to often. Most people by this time know most of what I do is online-based, crazy as it sounds. So Love Sung Live had to be special. Had to be awesome. Period! This meant I had to heavily depend on well-meaning folks who love and support and what i do.
Luckily, I had picked out my outfit 2 weeks prior. I had been down this road enough times to know I didn't leave stuff like that till last minute. (Case in point: picking up my Love Walk EP launch outfit the morning of the show.) I kept it simple using mostly what I already had (leather pants and ankle-length boots) and shopped for just a top with the help of a dear friend. I am terrible to shop for by the way. I just can't seem to make my mind up. If you are like me, then know that it helps to go prepared i.e with a clear idea of what you want e.g black sequin top. If you are really really like me, you might end up with a yellow one but hey, it'll shave off a couple of hours from your search. (yes, hours. For just one top. Diabolical, I know!).
Did I mention my makeup artist and friend flew in from Scotland? This was a true case of everything working together for my good because you see, I didn't have a makeup artist until she confirmed she was coming. I was ready to do it myself. Certainly wouldn't have turned out as great. I felt so beautiful!
As for hair, well, I absconded from seeing the Loctician that week because i had to divert the funds to something else. What's a girl to do? Curl it up and spray on some glitter that's what! Loved the end result too :)
Via Mama Eventbrite. Only tricky part was my deciding to create a paid live streaming ticket category. Since we were going to sell through Eventbrite (considered Concert Window but that would have involved the extra step of customer signing up to watch and I didn't want that). So decided to set it up on almighty Facebook. This meant I had to add people manually to a closed group. This was no problem but I reckon as the show grows in audience, this would be difficult to keep up, unless there was someone managing the page...which can be arranged I guess. Had a couple of friends help out at the door too in case we had walk-ins
VENUE SET UP AND DECOR.
I didn't even think I needed to get someone to handle this until I realised how very not to so good I am with that sort of thing. It was interesting to see the sort of ideas my dear friend came up with especially for the food and drinks table. in keeping with my 'relaxed atmosphere' theme we had scented candles which I absolutely loved. Next, I wanted bean bags. Sounded good in theory so borrowed a few from another dear friend. Do you how much space those things take?? I'll have to find another way of creating that atmosphere without them going:) especially if I plan to keep using IconTowers.
I made a decision to include this though I knew it might make things a little tricky. Remember my lack of funds challenge? So I couldn't just give it to someone to take care of- I gave it to several people! Small chops, nothing fancy. I am blessed with some awesome friends and a great church family so made requests and got some folks to handle things one item each. Really turned out well, I must say!
We had been to the venue several times so it wasn't new but we still needed to get there early enough to set up the place. We at this point is Ose and I. Our beautiful venue decorator was next and then guitarist, violist (she had a special appearance) and MC for the evening. All friends giving a friend a hand.
Cameras, Lighting, Sound and other techy stuff- Totally lost when it comes to these so let's just say, we were extremely fortunate to have a venue like Icontowers! From the crew to Pastor Fred barking out orders to make sure the live stream went on without a hitch. It is a visual production studio and they sure know what they are doing. The only let down was the sound as we were unable to get an engineer to come out and handle that side of things. Ose and few friends had tried to set this up. But tweaking is impossible when you get on stage unless of course the mixer is just right beside which it wasn't. it sounded amazing in the room. But can hear the faults in the recording. Hey, it wasn't the end of the world. We still had an amazing time! As for photography, I'm glad to say after much calling around I was very fortunate to get a replacement for a great price- and he takes great pictures too, as displayed in headlining picture of this blog post :)
The entire set from start to finish was about 1 hour 30 mins. I literally just sat and sang and told stories...and cried. (God help me with this crying thing!). Almost ruined one song as I cannot cry and sing and the same time. But folks didn't seem to mind the emotion so I guess it worked! :)
I'm glad to say I did finish writing that song (another simple reason i love my morning walks so much) called 'Road To Gold' aaannd it seemed to go down really well! Which is always a great thing! My voice held it's own and I believe God was glorified. I did hear LOADS of bum notes listening back later but no one seemed to notice in the room and/or didn't care. To be honest, neither did I!
FINAL NOTE AND THOUGHTS
I can describe my experience hosting Love Sung Live as a woman in active labour. It may not have come through in all i've said above but so many times I felt like cancelling. I even promised myself I wouldn't do a thing like this again. But then I had the 'baby' and voila! All the pressure and strain is forgotten and I want do it again and again! And I will. Hopefully, with more resources at my disposal. Here are a few lessons I picked up along the way:
1. Prepare to be stretched especially when you are trying something new or treading a path less travelled. It's all part of the beautiful tapestry of your journey
2. A vision still in your head is still in dream phase. It takes courage to achieve anything and we all have some of that inside
3. Do not underestimate the power of delegation and team work. You and your talented self can't do it all.
4. Good friends and a good church family are worth more than gold!
5. Try and relax. God's got this and He's got you! Communication and constant 'checking-in' with Him will help, I promise
6. Pray together as a team if you can. No actually, prioritise and make it happen! When all's said and done, God's presence- or as scripture says, the anointing- is what makes the difference.
Love Sung Live is a show specially designed to be held as a house concert. Would you like host your very own Love Sung Live right in your home? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or just leave me a comment below