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.”
AND OTHER STUFF CINDY LIKES TO TALK ABOUT
Cindy and I were at my digs practicing our music a couple of weeks ago when, out-of-the-blue, Cindy asked me if I realized we had an anniversary coming up? The possibility that you might have forgotten something like that strikes fear in the hearts of the toughest of men, and the sweat on my forehead was giving me away - of that, I was sure. Although Cindy and I aren’t involved romantically, two previous marriages must have been sufficient fodder to trigger my psyche.
“Are you alright, Paul, you look like you’ve just been held at gunpoint?” Cindy asked me.
I was thinking, “I’d rather be held at gunpoint than to face this oversight.” Instead, I said, “No, no, I was just thinking about our, uh...”
“Anniversary? Oh, that’s sweet. Just think, in March, we will have been singing together for three years.”
“Singing together? Singing together! Oh, yeah, yeah, wow! It’s hard to believe it been almost three years.” I could feel the blood returning to my cheeks, “And so many doors keep opening up for us, right?”
Cindy, ignoring me, was looking down at a notebook where she’d been scribbling, “You know, it’s good to look back and reflect on specifically what we’ve been able to accomplish, don’t you think?”
“I’ve been keeping up with our accomplishments since we’ve been together. Do you have any idea how many engagements we’ve played in less than three years?”
“I would guess about...”
“Over 300! Can you believe it, Paul, can you believe it?’
“I think that’s...”
“Over 300! And we’ve performed for thousands of people. Aren’t you even remotely interested in our accomplishments, Paul?”
‘Sure, I am, but I...”
“We’ve won competitions, been awarded a grant and done entire church services. We’ve...”
“I was going to say...”
“Recorded our first CD together. You know, Paul, we have a lot to thank Spirit for.”
“Well, I agree.”
“But how are you going to thank Spirit when you can’t remember not even one of our accomplishments? Sometimes I worry about you in that way, you know?”
“Well, my memory is bad.”
“How bad can it be?”
“How bad can what be?”
“Your memory, Paul, your memory! Gracious, do you know how hard it is to work with you sometimes?”
“You might’ve mentioned it a time or...”
Cindy got up abruptly and headed toward the door, “I need to go, Your head’s obviously not in the game today. Go write a blog or something.”
Alas, the business of In-A-Chord does somehow manage to get done, despite my personal shortcomings :). We indeed do have a lot to thank Spirit for. And in all sincerity, none of our accomplishments would have been possible without the support of our fantastic fans. We love you guys and gals and promise you more heart, harmony and humor is coming.
WHAT DOES CHRISTMAS MEAN TO YOU?
What is the first thing you think of when you think of Christmas? Is it opening gifts on Christmas day? Taking your children to see Santa? Making gingerbread houses with your kids? Waiting in seemingly endless lines to cross everyone off your Christmas gift list?
Cindy and I were recently traveling to an engagement when I posed the question to her..
Cindy’s face lit up and she didn’t hesitate to answer. “I absolutely love to buy special gifts for the people I care about. It’s not about marking names off a list, it’s finding the perfect gift for the perfect person. Of course, I don’t just do that at Christmas, I do it throughout the year. Honestly, I get giddy when I find something that I just know the recipient is going to love, and I’m always looking.
When she paused, I thought she was through, and was starting to share my own answer when Cindy continued, “I love everything about Christmas. I love the lights, the parties, the movies, Christmas trees, ornaments, decorations, hot chocolate, the music, the hustle bustle, mistletoe, snowmen, the Christmas story, the...”
Frustrated that I wasn’t going to get to answer the question myself before we arrived at our destination, I cut Cindy off in mid-sentence, “You forgot to mention eggnog, caroling, stockings and Santa.”
“You didn’t let me finish,” she offered.
“Are you at all interested in my answer?”
“Go right ahead.”
“Well, you’ve listed just about everything, Cindy, but I usually think about three things:
1. The music, first and foremost.
2. The looks on children’s faces
3. The birth of Jesus.
You know, I don’t care whether Jesus was born in December, whether he was born of a virgin or whether he was born in a stable. The fact that He did live and did express and teach love in His own special way blows me away almost daily. The deep belief that He lives in my heart, well, Christmas just reminds me even more of His extraordinary life, and the friendship that I enjoy with Him.”
Cindy smiled, “I really liked hearing that, Paul.”
“But I’ve remembered some other things I really like about Christmas, and...”
“We’re here at our our gig, Cindy”
“But what about the chance to feel like a kid again, spending time with family, milk and cookies..”
I could barely hear her now, though. . I had exited the van and had begun to load our equipment.
Merry Christmas, y’all...
SENIOR GAMES AND SILVER ARTS
Back in January, my singing partner Cindy Ballaro asked me if I’d ever heard of the Senior Games or the Silver Arts competition. Sadly, I could not recall having heard about either one of them. Not to be deterred, Cindy enthusiastically told me it was a big deal for hundreds of thousands of seniors nationwide, and that she had entered us in the local “Silver Arts competition” under the category of small group-singers.
The night of the local competition, I had no idea what to expect, including the number of categories of competition, number of and skill level of entries, or how many people would show up to watch the competition. I was in for a huge shock! Not only did it appear to be an extremely well-organized affair, the number of people there to simply view the competition filled up the entire auditorium. Back stage, there were more competitors than I could count, everything from singers to dancers to musicians to, yes, even a group of senior cheerleaders. They were all dressed in colorful costumes, causing me to look at my mostly drab all-black shirt and jeans, and silently wonder if I might be eliminated on fashion alone.
The costuming was simply amazing to me, but not as much as the level of talent that was on display. Act after act preceded me and Cindy, each seemingly getting a louder round of applause than the previous. I began to wonder if Cindy and I could even compete with these talented individuals, but here we were, about to get called to perform. As we anxiously awaited our turn, Cindy reminded me several times that we only had three minutes to perform; if we went longer than that, we would be disqualified. Finally, we were up.
Only seconds from singing our first note, I reminded myself that Cindy and I sing together a lot and that we had sung this particular song many, many times. After we started, the next several minutes seemed like a blur to me. Once backstage, I could hardly even remember singing, yet the other competitors were singing our praises, encouraging us and wishing us well in the voting. After all the acts were completed, all of us sat together backstage while the judges made their final decisions. I was informed that there would be a Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal winner in each category, and an overall Best-in-Show (who would represent Charlotte-Mecklenburg County in the State competition later in the year.)
Finally, they called all of us out onto the stage. In category after category, the medals were awarded. When the small group singers Gold Medal was announced, Cindy let out one of her patented contagious laughs, cluing me in that we had, in fact, won it in our category. Then came the Best-of-Show announcement, and to our surprise they called out “In-A-Chord!” As excited as we were, things were about to get even better as we started to prepare for the State competition.
Late September Cindy and I drove to Raleigh for the NC Statewide Silver Arts competition. On the drive there, we practiced our song several times and wondered aloud what the competition would be like at the State level. We had already been advised that there would be no ‘Best-in-Show’ at this competition there isn’t a national level for Silver Arts yet. So we set our sights on willing the Gold Medal in our category…but that wasn’t going to be easy.
My initial take on the State competition was that everything in Raleigh was just bigger and better. Real live dignitaries attended, some of whom would judge the competition. Groups warmed up backstage as we watched in amazement at how talented these seniors were. The costuming in Raleigh was even more colorful and elaborate than it had been locally, leaving me again to scan my pitiful (but so far lucky) black on black.
Cindy and I do sing together quite a bit, and we are usually pretty confident when we perform, but we needed to alter the beginning of song we were singing to fit the 3 minute time limit, and that was causing us some anxiety as we took the stage. Each of us started singing…and TOTALLY forgot about the edit we had made, realizing it mid-way through the intro. Cindy told me later that once she realized it she decided to speed us up so that we wouldn’t go over 3 minutes. At the end of the song, we honestly thought we were going to be disqualified for going over. As they were calling out the medalists, Cindy and I had NO idea what would happen…would we be disqualified?? When we were informed that we had won the Gold Medal in our category, we both let out a sigh of relief, followed by BIG smiles (and a little disbelief!).
What had started out as a venture into the unknown several months earlier in Charlotte was now like achieving a dream that you never really had. I remember telling Cindy that I wished I had known about this years ago. It was fun and we made some great friends. If you’re reading this, you can no longer claim you don’t know about Senior Games and the Silver Arts competition. We highly encourage you to get involved and just have fun. After all, getting involved and having fun are two of the key ingredients to a long life. Here’s wishing that yours’ is long in quality and quantity.