Spreading seeds of hope AND FAITH in a negative/fearful world
“1st in a 3-part series written by In-A-Chord singer/songwriter, Paul Huff”
When Cindy Ballaro, my singing partner, and I decided to record our second CD, and subsequently embarked on a crowd-funding journey to make that happen, we both decided it was time to re-examine our “why,” as in why we’re doing this music thing together anyway.
“Do you remember our purpose, I mean other than just singing and recording together?” I asked Cindy a few months ago.
“Of course, I remember. It’s what we’re both passionate about – trying to bring hope to a world rife with fear and negativity.”
“And trying to get people to understand that faith is the real key to living a meaningful and joy-filled life,” I added
“Exactly, it’s no coincidence that our first CD was entitled, ‘Along the Road of Faith’ and this new one we’re calling, ‘Livin’ on the Faith Frequency.’”
“Let go back a little ways and see if we can recall our process. We were talking about fear and I remember telling you how Neale Donald Walsch defined fear with an acronym– False Evidence Appearing Real.”
Cindy looked at me indignantly, “It was me that shared that with you, Paul.”
“Well, whatever and whoever...”
“Then, whatever! But, there is so much truth in that acronym. On one level we know it’s as silly to fear the future as it is to be afraid of our shadows, yet we do fear it just the same.”
“Paul, I thought we were going to talk about our purpose and here you are once again off on another non-related tangent,” Cindy interrupted me.
‘The point is, Cindy, that regardless of whether it is real or imagined, we reside in a world that is full of fear and negativity, and trying to do our part to alleviate that is a huge part of what we’re trying to accomplish with our music.
“Well, of course, and one of the things I am most passionate about is our belief that hope is the antithesis of fear”
“Right, and the other word that keeps coming up in our music is faith. Cindy, how do you see faith and hope working together?”
“Well, Paul, I have explained this to you on numerous...”
“...Maybe once more for this blog, please. Pretty please!!
Cindy took a deep breath, “Hope is believing there might be a better future. Faith is believing with a sense of certainty that there will be a better future. Now, Paul, I want you to go and write that down and repeat it several times a day until it is seared into your consciousness.”
“Seared into my brain, huh?”
“You know what I mean, Paul. By the way, you and I do joke around quite a bit, but I want everyone to know that we are 100% serious about making an impact in the world through our positive music.”
“And I see this as an opportunity for our friends, family and fans to be a part of, not just another crowd-funding campaign, but to be a part of our movement to bring hope to a world full of fear and negativity.” I added.
Want to be a part of it? Go here…..
Me, CINDY and the CLINK
Recently, Cindy and I had the unique opportunity to perform in a prison down in South Carolina. It was the first such opportunity for either of us, although Cindy is not entirely convinced that I haven’t spent a least a day or ten in The Greybar Hotel at some point in my somewhat colorful life. I have probably shared a few too many of the shenanigans I was involved during my teenage years. Plus, I may have dropped the names of some of my friends back then – Snakeyes Synder, Boogerman McFarland and Nasty Booboo, just to name a few. I’m just saying I understand her concern.
At any rate, as we entered the prison grounds, I could tell Cindy was a little nervous: “Look Paul, under no circumstances are you to mention during the show that I am single.”
“What, I’m supposed to say we’re married?” I asked.
“Good Lord and in the name of everything that is holy, no! I would never let you say that. Never! Just don’t say anything either way.”
“I’m not sure I understand, Cindy.”
“Paul, this is an all-male facility and I don’t want to give them any ideas. Now, just keep walking.”
Let me backtrack for a moment. Before we could even get approved to sing in this facility, there was a mountain of paperwork to be filled out, with questions like, “Have you ever been in jail?” “Do you know anyone who is incarcerated here?” I noticed that Cindy looked right at me when I read those questions, presumably to see if I was going divulge any sordid secrets through my body language or voice inclination.
I can’t remember how many security points we had to go through before getting to the prison’s auditorium but Cindy peppered me with questions the whole trip. “What do you expect, Paul?”
“Well, you know a lot of these prisoners think they got a bad beef.”
“Are they going to be sick?”
“You said some of them had bad beef.”
“I said, ‘Got a bad beef. They think they were falsely convicted.”
“How’d you know that term.”
“I can’t remember. Hey, do you think the inmates will be in their peels,” I asked Cindy
“I certainly hope not.”
“Their peels! I don’t want to see those inmates naked.”
“Peels, that’s prison talk for those orange jumpsuit uniforms they sometimes wear.”
Cindy looked at me like she’d just made a discovery about me, “So, Mr. Paul Huff, how do you know so much about prison slang? I mean seriously!!”
Before I could answer, we were suddenly in the auditorium. Several prisoners (in their peels)were already there, each of them seemingly eager to help us set up, or do whatever we needed for them to do. Honestly, Cindy and I were both taken aback by how, shall I say “normal folk”, these prisoners seemed to be.
Eventually, we started to sing, of course. We sang for an hour or so, and each song was received in a manner more appreciative than any Cindy and I have ever experienced. Loud applause, lots of “amening” and quite a few tears seemed to accompany each song. They would stand, they would clap their hands or snap their fingers to the beat of the music, they would hold their hands over their heart, and they would smile. Oh, how they would smile. When we sang “Amazing Grace”, and they sang along, it seemed like a sacred energy just washed over the entire auditorium. When I looked over at Cindy, she was trying to hold back her tears. When I looked out at our audience of several hundred male prisoners, I didn’t see criminals or bad people; rather, I saw hope and change and goodness in progress. Of course I’ve always been an optimist, and some of those men will no doubt commit crimes again. Yet, many of them seemed to have found something bigger than all that. I had the feeling that many of them had given up their own will and had subjected their thoughts, ideas and deeds to the will of a higher power. That felt good. Really good!
Later, on the ride home, Cindy and I talked about that experience: Cindy said, “I loved everything about it, Paul. I would come back down here and perform again in a heartbeat.”
“Yeah, me, too. What was your favorite part?”
“Probably seeing those men in their peels.”
“Their peels, huh?”
“You know those orange-colored jumpsuits they were wearing. And you know what, Paul, I bet a lot of them did get a bad beef. And...”
Just who did write "livin' on the faith frequency?"
About a month ago, my singing partner, Cindy Ballaro, and I were learning a new song I’d written called, “Livin’ on the Faith Frequency.” Honestly, handing our compliments is not one of Cindy’s stronger points, but she is generally complimentary of my songwriting. I knew she really liked this new song, but I wondered what about this song particularly that drew her in. I was ill-prepared for her answer.
“I really like this new song, Paul,” Cindy said.
I started to answer, “Well, I ‘m really glad...”
“You wanna know why I like it?”
‘Well, what’s left?”
“Why I really like the song, Paul, is because it was me who basically wrote it?”
“You wrote it?”
“Basically, you did not write it.”
Cindy stared incredulously at me. “Are you denying that everything in that song you learned from me?”
“Yes, I am denying that everything in that song...”
Cindy let out a very audible sigh and it interrupted my thought. “Paul, don’t you remember last year when we were putting together that full church service?”
‘Well, yes, but...”
“We called it “Choosing the Path of Joy.”
“Well, I might...”
“And we talked about how faith is one of the critical tenants to choosing the Path of Joy.
“Well, I kind of do, but…”
“And, I told you that I’d lived a lot of my life on the faith frequency. Do you remember that, Paul?”
“It might be coming back to...”
“Would it be helpful for me to remind you of what the faith frequency is?”
“I know what it is, Cindy, I wrote a song about...”
“I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “God is always talking, you’re just not tuned in.”
“It’s a lot like a radio station, Paul. You have to dial into the right frequency to hear it. Living on the faith frequency is like being connected to God’s radio station where you can have that unwavering belief that God is going to take care of it, whatever it is. So you go in confidence, knowing – knowing that it’s going to be okay.”
“Well, yes, it’s like I say in the song...”
“You say? No, Paul, I say!”
“You’re not going to let this go, are you?”
“You know me, stubborn as a stone.”
“How about I just tell people how I came up with the song?”
“Mentioning my name, of course.”
“I’m glad we had this little chat. Now, I’d like to get back to practicing the song.”
“Cause there are a few words I’d like to change.”