Joy to the World: Why we should be grateful for the music of the season [Encore Post]

Although Christmas repertoire can get repetitive, there's a deeper meaning behind the classic songs

“I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God”. – George Fredric Handel, spoken in tears as he finished composing the “Hallelujah” chorus of Messiah.

It’s not official until you hear it.

You may have been watching TV and the “Nutcracker” theme came on during a commercial. Or Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” popped up in your playlist.

When holiday music begins saturating the airwaves, we know the Christmas season is upon us.

Of course, for those of us in the creative arts, especially musicians, you have probably been hearing these songs in rehearsals for months.

Yes, it can get a little wearisome performing the same songs year after year. After all, how many arrangements can there be of “Holly Jolly Christmas”? (Answer: too many.)  However, we can never forget the reason why music is so relevant to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

While most of the world was unaware of the King of Kings being born in a stable, the heavens were rejoicing. The famous appearance of the angels to the shepherds was accompanied by a heavenly concert. That precedent has continued to this day. Any time Jesus is mentioned, there is a good chance someone is singing.

Of course, many famous Christmas songs are not about the birth of Jesus. Santa Claus, Rudolph, and Frosty get just as much attention as the Christ Child in December. We hear the constant debate over whether the Christmas season has been over-commercialized, and some question the holiday’s legitimacy as a religious celebration. That doesn’t negate the fact that without music, our celebrations would not be complete. Christmas is one of the only celebrations in which people from varied cultures embrace a shared repertoire of music. That’s not by accident. In a small way, our collective love of holiday music reinforces the greater purpose that this season represents – our common need as human beings to connect with God and with each other. This is the ideal that we as artists are privileged to present each time we perform the classic songs.

Let’s be honest. No matter what your feelings are about Christmas, we can agree that there is no other time that the Christian message is presented so clearly, with little to no pushback from the broader culture. You won’t hear the words “Christ the Savior” in your local Target at any other time of the year. You won’t be invited to sing about a holy infant at a public, non-church related concert in the middle of July.

It’s an opportunity every year to share a timeless message in a short period of time.

As we perform, we remind people, over and over again, that there’s a good reason to sing. And that it’s hard to hate someone that is singing the same song.

So let’s enjoy and embrace the opportunity to help people rejoice, reflect, and find peace through music in each holiday season, even if that means enduring a bit of repetition.   Most importantly, we should remember that every time we perform in honor of the Christmas season, we echo the sentiments of the angels on that first evening of His earthly existence:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

 

Question: What is your favorite Christmas song? What special meaning does it hold for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

[This encore post was originally published in Dec. 2015. It was updated and edited for re-publication.]

E-R-V: Three More Steps to Creative Success (Steps 2-4 of the 7 Service Steps)

Establishing priorities, respecting the business and visualizing goals are all essential to a rewarding creative career

What do the letters E-R-V stand for? (No, it’s not a new hybrid car.) In this informative episode of The God and Gigs Show, Allen and CriStyle continue their discussion of the “7 Service Steps”, a road-map to creative success for musicians and other artists. Previously in Episode 7, we explored Step 1, Staying Connected. As you might have guessed, E, R, and V are the next three letters in the anagram “SERVICE” and represent Steps 2, 3 and 4: Establish your Priorities, Respect the Business, and Visualize your Goals.

We touch on several important topics during this discussion, including why some potential artists stop short of embracing their gifts, the importance of maintaining a good reputation, and the differences between amateurs and professional artists.

Reminder – The 7 Service Steps are explained in detail in the book God and Gigs: Succeed as a Musician without Sacrificing your Faith, available at GodandGigsBook.com and all online booksellers.

Major Highlights

  • How visualizing goals leads to tangible rewards
  • How communication helps remove the chances of being taken advantage of in business
  • How establishing your priorities sets the tone for the rest of your career

Resource Links:

Our recommended resource on building your creative business – Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Read our review here!

Goal Setting – Read our “Setting Goals Series”

Featured Patrons:

Dwayne Bennett saintorbin.com/music/

Rochelle Lightfoot: rochellelightfoot.com

Host Links:

CriStyle Renae: CriStyleRenae.com / CriStyleRenae1 / Facebook: CriStyle Renae Music

Allen C. Paul: AllenCPaul.com / IG: AllenCPaul / Facebook: A.C. Paul, AllenPaulMusic

Theme Music:

Performed by Teja Veal, from “The Hopeless Romantic EP”

LEAVE A COMMENT

Name three creative goals that you wish to achieve in 2018! What steps do you need to take to make your goals a reality?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

You can also answer our question on Facebook or Twitter!

SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

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SUPPORT US ON PATREON

We enjoy producing this show, but need your help to keep it going! Join the God and Gigs family by supporting us on Patreon.

A Pop-Up Holiday Sale on God and Gigs shirts!

For a VERY limited time during this Christmas season, we’re accepting orders for T-shirts featuring the God and Gigs logo. These shirts come in black, purple, blue, and red and look great. Share the message of God and Gigs and show off your style as a creative artist! Order by December 4th to get yours in time for Christmas!

Six Reasons Why Artists Can Be Grateful in Today’s World

Despite our current challenges, there's a lot for creatives to be thankful for.

It’s natural, but it’s not healthy.

As artists dealing with the rollercoaster ride of emotions that this lifestyle can bring, it’s understandable that we sometimes lose sight of the blessings of doing what we love. Stories of the difficulties of making money, finding work, reaching audiences, and maintaining our life balance can become a running soundtrack in our minds.  We continually face creative, social, financial and spiritual challenges, and if we’re not careful, those challenges can wear us down. That’s why it’s important to intentionally refocus on gratitude; we can’t survive as artists if we’re always looking at what’s wrong.

The fact is,  we have a lot to be grateful for. In many respects, we are privileged to be alive during the best time ever to work as creative professionals.

Sound far-fetched? Maybe not. Let’s unpack six reasons to be thankful as creatives during this time in history. They are:

  1. More Opportunities
  2. Greater Acceptance
  3. More Information
  4. Easy Access
  5. Total Independence
  6. Valued Individuality

1. More Opportunities

Despite all the talk about recessions, economic slowdowns, and changes to the creative marketplace, there are still myriad opportunities to create meaningful art and make a living doing so. The need for quality art has exploded as entertainment and media companies scramble to produce content for ever expanding and demanding audiences. Just look at the rising tide of series on Netflix and other streaming services. If you are a songwriter, filmmaker, actor or screenwriter, you’ve seen opportunities skyrocket before your eyes in the last decade. This means that there are more consumers than ever who are looking for artists who can deliver content that is fresh and new.  This doesn’t just apply to those who produce art for digital and streaming audiences, either. Many audiences, who are weary of the digital lifestyle,  are seeking artists and musicians who can create experiences for them in person in an authentic way.  Unlike other professions that can eventually be replaced by automation and the internet, the touch and feel of a live artist can’t never reproduced by a machine. As long as people desire to feel deeply, sing out loud, sense the human experience, and connect with others, there will be a need and a market for artists. We can be grateful that we work in a profession that is constantly offering us new, interesting avenues for work and fulfillment.

If you have trouble thinking of these avenues, and you are feeling discouraged, don’t let that feeling turn you off from exploring new possibilities. A grateful artist never looks at the cup of work as half empty. For every client, project, gig or opportunity that doesn’t work out, there is another waiting in the wings that will be perfect for you. You only need to keep searching and continue creating.

[For those musicians who are searching for new ideas of where to find opportunities for work, check out this listing of resources from David Cutler’s site The Savvy Musician, along with his book which we reviewed.]

2. Greater Acceptance

Maybe you’ve heard it before – “when are you going to get a real job?”  Or, maybe you haven’t. You may have noticed that being an artist is no longer seen by many as a fly-by-night pipe dream of a career. Books, articles, and corporate strategists are now bringing the artist mindset into the forefront. As the traditional 9-to-5 career becomes more and more rare, and the “side-hustle’ becomes normal for many people, the creative professions are less and less viewed as something outside the mainstream. Creativity, vision and insight are desired and celebrated more than ever by business leaders and cultural influencers,  and since we are already highly engaged in these types of activities, we reap the rewards as our work is valued and respected. No longer do you have to apologize for your decision to pursue your creative craft, whether as a growing passion or as a full-time career.  Be proud and thankful that the wider culture is beginning to better understand and accept your profession on equal terms.

 

3. More Information

In earlier times, artists and creatives who needed help and information had to seek it out through tedious research, moving to a new town, or seeking mentorships that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. However, now, again thanks to the internet age, every artist and creative has all the resources you could possibly need. If you want to write songs, work in mixed media, write a play, or design a building, you can find the information you need in a heartbeat through a Google search.  Social media allows us to instantly connect with other creatives who can help us find the answers we need. Remember, once again, that the internet isn’t the only source of information. Some of your greatest breakthroughs will happen when reach out to other artists on a personal level.   Groups all over the world give artists and creatives a space to connect, learn and grow, such as the local Con/Ex events sponsored by God and Gigs.  Be grateful for this wealth of information as you consider all the resources available to you.

4. Easier Access

Once upon a time, if you wanted to get your foot in the door of the arts and entertainment industry, you needed one thing – money. Whether it was a record company, a wealthy patron, or some other type of door-keeper, someone else held the keys to your ability to engage in the artistic community. Most simply did not have access to the tools and resources to make a big impact. Now? That time is no more. With hardly any money at all, you can leap into the fray of the creative industries and start to make your mark. The internet is the great equalizer in this case as well. With free tools, social media, cloud-based software, and other low-cost technologies, most artists can begin creating and sharing their art with no permission or blessing from a big company or publisher. It’s true that money is always helpful, but no longer is it the determining factor in whether you can thrive as an artist. Audiences, artistic fulfillment, and interesting work are at your fingertips. Be thankful for the fact that you can jump into your desire to share your art at any time, and don’t let any obstacle or person delay or deny that opportunity.

5. Total Independence

Few people really experience freedom in their lives, even if it is available to them. Artists, however, have the blessing of being able to form their own identity, code of conduct, and means of expression. You answer to no one but yourself and God, in the final scheme of things. This independence from the kind of ‘in-the-box’ thinking that many others are struggling to break out of is a wonderful thing. Celebrate your freedom as an artist by refusing to let the conventional way of things control you. Every once in a while, simply do something different because it is different. We thrive when we break away from the same way of looking at the world, and usually our best work comes when we are exercising our independence to its highest form.  Be grateful that you get to experience this kind of freedom simply by doing what you love.

 

6. Valued Individuality

A.A. Milne, author and creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, once stated, “The things that make me different are the things that make me.”  In a world where differences are often criticized and demeaned, this is perhaps the greatest thing to be grateful for. Artists by nature are always looking to express what is unique and special about them, and because you work in a time and place where those qualities are rare, you can rest assured that your individuality makes a difference in the world. No one person thinks like you, creates like you, or dreams like you. In fact, if there was a carbon-copy of you somewhere, there would be no need for either one of you. But there isn’t. Your individuality is valuable, both in your artistic life and in your personal life. By being authentic, you help make this world a better place. No matter how much people may insist that we are all the same, artists know that there is something special that simply can’t be replaced or replicated. Be grateful to God that he made sure there was only one you in the universe, and that your creativity is his gift to you as a means to express and celebrate your uniqueness.

Be Intentionally Thankful

After considering these six reasons, you should have a profound sense of gratefulness about your life and the creative spirit that you’ve adopted and enjoyed. Don’t let the worries and anxieties of your passion become a drain. Instead, remember that greatness starts with gratefulness. When you realize what you have, you’ll do even more with it, and find new ways to grow and evolve into the creative you were destined to be.

Question: What are you most grateful for? Which of these categories spoke to you most, and why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Four Essential Connections Every Artist Needs (1st of the 7 Service Steps)

Co-hosts Allen and CriStyle dig deep into the connections that keep us fulfilled and balanced

Have you ever felt disconnected as an artist? Whether you’ve felt distant from your faith, your family, or your artistic friends, a disconnected artist is a frustrated artist. In this episode of The God and Gigs Show, Allen and CriStyle take a break from interviewing other guests and discuss the first of the 7 Service Steps, outlined in the book that inspired this podcast – God and Gigs: Succeed as a Musician without Sacrificing your Faith.

The first Step, Stay Connected, is broken up into four parts in the opening chapters of the book:

  1. Church
  2. Spouse
  3. Children
  4. God

However, for purposes of keeping the conversation relevant to all of our listeners, we focus on slightly different categories:

  1. Church
  2. Family / Friends
  3. Spouse / Significant Others
  4. God

Major Highlights

  • Why church membership is a big decision that must fit our individual perspectives and needs
  • Why family relationships are a priority, even when they aren’t ideal
  • Why openness and authenticity are key to successful relationships
  • Why our actions say much more about our beliefs than what we say or create

Resource Links:

Order the God and Gigs Book!

GodandGigsBook.com

Previous Posts  / Book Excerpts on Staying Connected:

Church

Family

Spouse / Relationships

God

Featured Patrons:

Dwayne Bennett saintorbin.com/music/

Rochelle Lightfoot: rochellelightfoot.com

Host Links:

CriStyle Renae: CriStyleRenae.com / CriStyleRenae1 / Facebook: CriStyle Renae Music

Allen C. Paul: AllenCPaul.com / IG: AllenCPaul / Facebook: A.C. Paul, AllenPaulMusic

Theme Music:

Performed by Teja Veal, from “The Hopeless Romantic EP”

LEAVE A COMMENT

What connection do you consider most vital to your artistic career, and how does that connection help you? 

Comment here at the website!

SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to us via Apple Podcasts, Android or Stitcher, and leave us a comment / rating/ review on iTunes or Stitcher!

SUPPORT US ON PATREON

We enjoy producing this show, but need your help to keep it going! Join the God and Gigs family by supporting us on Patreon.