Idol Chatter

The Gospel Music Association’s annual GMA Week is the time every year when industry professionals, media representatives, and aspiring and established artists from every genre descend on downtown Nashville to network, showcase their talent, celebrate the industry, and basically run each other ragged for five days straight.
This year’s event was no different, and in the interests of fair disclosure I confess that I ducked out a day early, succumbing to GMA exhaustion. I missed the Dove Awards but had four full days of interviews, checked out some new artists, and caught up with some old favorites. Here are just a few of the week’s highlights.

The best way to kick off GMA Week is the Sunday night McCain Guitar Pull, hosted by publicist Lynn McCain. In the tradition of old time gospel get-togethers, artists sit in chairs and for two hours play songs, tell stories, and lead worship, while the media folks lounge on the floor and sing along.
This year featured Christian music veterans Dallas Holm, Don Francisco, Steve and Tim Archer, and Petra’s John Schlitt, as well as up-and-comers Paul Alan, Erin Schneider, and Chris Sorenson. There was even a visit from George Bush impersonator John Morgan. It’s an intimate way to set the stage for what is otherwise a very chaotic week.
With almost 30 interviews on my schedule it’s impossible to recap every one. But I enjoyed catching up with old friends, like Cliff and Josh from Two Empty Chairs, and their new touring mate, actor Jason McLeod, who you’ll remember from the movie, “Facing the Giants.” 2EC and Jason are on the road together, doing Disciple Now weekends.
I hung out with Dan Biro and Jason Dunn from Hawk Nelson and that’s always a treat, because the conversation can cover everything from dating to lawn care.
That’s what I love about GMA, where the best conversations are not about music. I talked about Creation and the origins of the universe with The Afters, and 23-pound cats with The Wrecking’s Darren Elder. I chatted with Todd Agnew about his recent marriage and with Evensong Rising’s Chris Sorenson about their band’s exclusive partnership with Bread for the World (only one other band has had that with this organization and it was U2).
If I had to redo an interview, I think I’d like to hang out with the legendary Bellamy Brothers again. Our interview time came at the tail end of the week, when the frenzy of GMA had taken its toll on me, mentally. I’d like to ask them more about their cattle ranch in Florida.
But it’s impossible to fit everything into your GMA schedule or to ask every question you planned on when you do get the chance to actually sit down with an artist. It’s exhausting, but also exciting to see how God uses the gift of music to share the gospel and encourage people around the world.
–written by Joanne Brokaw

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