April 12-16, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to attend the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Expo in Hollywood, California to learn more about songwriting, publishing and how to promote my album and book, God from A to Z.
Wednesday evening we all picked up credential badges and attended a meet and greet networking opportunity.
Thursday through Saturday were jam packed with informational seminars, panels, and events from early morning until late at night. Some of the top songwriters, composers, producers and vendors in the business were there to share their knowledge and insight. Paul Williams (President of ASCAP and songwriter of "Rainy Days on Mondays," "We've Only Just Begun," "The Rainbow Connection" and many other songs) opened the ceremonies and discussed copyright reform and advances in the industry.
Film and TV composers like Geoff Zanelli (Pirates of the Caribbean), producers including Mark Hudson (producer/songwriter for Aerosmith, Cher, and Ringo Star), and songwriters Michael McDonald (of the Doobie Brothers), Desmond Child ("Livin' on a Prayer," "Just Like Jesse James," and "Livin' la Vida Loca"), Aloe Black ("Wake Me Up" and "Candyman"), Eric Bazilian (of The Hooters and wrote What if God were "One of Us"), Darrell Brown ("You'll Think of Me" ), Tom Higgenson ("Hey There Delilah" and "1234"), Ashley Gorley ("Heartbeat" and "You Should Be Here") and so many, many others, shared their knowledge and experiences in interactive panels and seminars. There were so many concurrent events and panels that I'll have to watch the videos to see it all. Some panels I attended are pictured here.
We took some time to see some Hollywood stars as we walked around the Chinese Theater and downtown Hollywood. The Lowes Hollywood Hotel was a great venue.
What a privilege it was to attend this year's ASCAP Expo and learn from such a talented lineup of professionals. I made new friends with many up and coming songwriters, producers, and artists from all over the world and the United States including: New Zealand, Argentina, Sweden, Belize, England, Oregon, Washington D.C., Wisconsin (Hey, Kris W., my expo buddy), Manhattan, Georgia, Florida, Kansas, California, and Minnesota. They, like me, were all eager to learn and grow. On the very last day after the Expo closed, I even met a singer/songwriter in the elevator from "a little town in Louisiana" she thought no one had ever heard of -- Shreveport. It is still a small world after all.
It was very interesting to see Stevie Wonder in person, hear his life stories and listen to him sing. Kris and I had seats in the 4th row center stage. Paul Williams presented the ASCAP Key of Life Award to Stevie Wonder for his lifetime achievements in the music industry.
As we left our hotel on Sunday to come home, we stopped by Mel's Dinner once more. They've been serving locals and celebrities great food for 70 years now. Replete from the good meal, I enjoyed rolling down my window to catch the cool California breeze as we drove from Hollywood down Sunset Boulevard to ride along the Pacific beaches to the LAX airport for our flight back home. Fun times!
Book Update and CD Release Date --
So many fantastic things have been happening since God from A to Z came out in mid November 2016. God from A to Z was so well received that my first shipment of books essentially sold out by Christmas, and I had to reorder. As is often the case, I had a few hiccups and delays, but my second shipment arrived just in time for a road trip to Ouachita Christian School (OCS) in Monroe, LA. A big thanks to Dee and Marilyn Bristow for your help with my shipping and receiving services!
Jennifer McMullen's album complement to my book also arrived at the end of March. A big thank you to Dwight House for designing the CD cover art and print layout. It is as beautiful as the music. The CD includes 26 songs and over 40 minutes of a cappella music reinforcing each key component of my book. Jennifer's talent as a singer, songwriter and arranger coupled with the skill of our wonderful sound engineer, Corey Bissell, made producing this record a beautiful thing that I believe will be heard by many generations for a long, long time.
I had the honor to present my book via a power point presentation at Ouachita Christian School (OCS) to about 250 students thanks to the coordination and support of Nhu Price. Thanks Nhu!
Students and their teachers for all of the kindergarten through the 4th grade classes met with me in one combined chapel meeting. I must say that these students are very smart, were great listeners and fully-engaged by participating in discussion topics as I read the book. Off for spring break, I was fortunate to have Jennifer McMullen accompany me to OCS. She assisted with the power point presentation and led the students in several of the songs from the album. At the end of my presentation, most students and their teachers were able to recount all twenty-six characteristics of God discussed in the book. I had an awesome time!
A big thank you to Angela Mosher, the OCS school librarian, for taking care of the book orders and to all of the other staff members that helped set up and prepare for me. The school library also purchased a book for their collection. Thanks OCS!
We had a lot of participation and great answers during our discussion questions! There are few schools where the students are so well-behaved and attentive to an hour long program. Thanks teachers! You are doing a great job with your students!
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Leaving OCS in Monroe, Jennifer and I headed north towards Little Rock to stay overnight at my sister's house before our scheduled meetings the next day at Harding University in Searcy, AR.
On the way, we found Leon's Catfish for a great seafood supper. Everything is made fresh there, and they claim to have the best catfish in all of Arkansas.
It hit the spot and is worth a return visit one day.
March 30, 2017
Jennifer and I met with Harding University Bookstore staff about carrying the book and CD. We were approved for shelf space for both. Check them out at the Harding University bookstore. If they are out of stock, ask them about when it will be back in stock or order here on my website.
The book and CD make great gifts for birthdays, special holidays and baby showers!
While at Harding, I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with Dr. J. Warren Casey, Dean of College of Arts & Humanities and Professor of Music. Dr. Casey's dad was an elder for the Crowder Blvd. Church of Christ in New Orleans where Ike and I attended LSUMC. Mr. Casey was a wonderful, godly man who had a tremendously positive and influential impact on us and so many others in New Orleans and Dallas. I know Dr. Casey was extremely busy the day we came and am so glad that he made time to meet with us. Thanks Dr. Casey! Come see us if you get to Shreveport.
Since Jennifer is an alumni of Harding University, we were able to see some of her college friends, including Anissa Harris and others who are now on staff at Harding. I had the unexpected opportunity to meet Dr. Bruce McLarty, President of Harding University. Dr. McLarty was the minister at the church Jennifer attended when she was at college. We also stopped by the Office of Alumni Affairs and shared the book and CD with Liz Culp Howell, Director and Assistant to the President for Alumni and Parent Relations. Her enthusiasm for the book was heart-warming. We appreciate her buying a copy of the book and CD for herself and her family.
OLD TIMES AND GOOD MEMORIES...
A huge and unexpected bonus of the trip for me was the opportunity to meet with Dave and Debbie Mathews at the Starbucks on campus for lunch. David Mathews was the pulpit minister at the University Church of Christ in Monroe, LA where I attended Northeast Louisiana University for my pre-physical therapy curriculum. He is a wonderful minister and also officiated my wedding ceremony. He and Debbie (She grew up at my childhood home church in Bossier City.) are an awesome, genuine, and godly couple that inspire and serve so many. No longer in pulpit ministry, they have been active in conducting grief recovery retreats and workshops around the United States through SparkofLife.org. I'm only sorry that I forgot to get a picture of us all together, but the time talking and catching up was so rich and such a blessing. Check out SparkofLife.org for more on what they do to help those grieving loss to live forward.
In this picture, Jen and I are in the administrative building preparing for our next appointment. This is a beautiful building.
Jennifer and I were also able to visit with her niece Ainsley between meetings. She is a current student at Harding and was gracious to take a photo with our book and CD at the Harding Bookstore once it was put on the shelves. Thanks Ainsley!
THE LAST HURRAH OF OUR 48 HOUR TRIP!
Driving away from Searcy, I received a return call from an old friend, Amy Stamatis. Her husband Ken and I went to C.E. Byrd High School together. After he married, Ken worked as the youth minister at North Church of Christ in Shreveport where we attended. Amy and I had our first children about the same time, and I coached the church ladies' softball team we played on together. We had fun times laughing and playing softball back in the day. It was good to catch up on how her family is doing now.
Going back through Little Rock, Jennifer and I met up with my sister, Shawnee, and her husband, Bruce, for supper. We had a good time, and I REALLY like Texas Roadhouse Rolls! Thanks for the B&B and hospitality Shawnee and Bruce!
A whirlwind trip with great meetings and memories, Jennifer and I arrived back home tired and happy with our trip very, very late on March 30th ready for the next adventures to come.
CD BABY -- OUR BABY!!!
April 5, 2017
On the 5th of April, the digital distribution of the album God from A to Z was released. The album and singles can now be digitally downloaded from CD Baby, Amazon MP3, Apple iTunes, GoogleMusic Store, Spotify, Shazam, SoundExchange, and GreatIndieMusic. Song samples of the tracks can be heard at Godfromatoz.com and at CDbaby.com. If you prefer a digital download instead of a physical CD, that option is now available. I also have album digital download cards for sale. Just email me at Godfromatoz@gmail.com if you prefer to purchase a download card. We are getting high tech now!