Serving the Voices Blog

A behind the scenes view

Behind the Scenes

Photo Courtesy of Fire At Will Photography

A behind the scenes view
By: Lori George

I volunteered to work at a well-known Christian artist’s merchandise table two years ago. I had moved to California a mere four weeks prior and viewed volunteering at this event as a unique way for me to meet and network with others. The tour was a rather large one, each gig lasting up to a solid three hours with all the performers combined doing 10-20 minutes worth of material.

The artist I volunteered for not only had their spouse with them on tour, but also their children and their in-laws. After the show, the artist interacted with the long line of fans/supporters at their meet and greet table. Myself and a very small amount of others knew how exhausted this artist truly was. Despite the exhaustion the artist gave out a countless number of autographs, handshakes, hugs, and photos. Much later, after the artist was done for the night, a few more people came up to see the artist. One of them surprised me by making some negative remarks  about the artist not staying around long enough to meet with people.

Since that experience and my recent involvement with RYFO, I’ve found myself wondering why these fans were so negative towards this artist. Were they expecting the artist to stay around and meet people all night long? Through RYFO, I was introduced to the idea of being a Different Brand of Fan, one who takes a sincere and genuine interest in the artist as a human being, not just as an artist. A Rebranded Fan looks for ways to love and serve an artist, and cares very little about what they get out of the interaction. It’s all about being an authentic source of encouragement, and pointing the artist towards the love that Christ has for them. Interested in learning more about being a Rebranded Fan?

Watch and share this promo video: A Different Brand of Fan.

Voiceless

Voiceless

Voiceless
By: Rihanna Teixeira

Growing up, we all have big dreams. If you ask a classroom of kindergartners what they want to be when they grow up, you’ll hear answers ranging from astronauts, to doctors, to actors, and teachers. We are born with an internal desire to be and do something great. For me the stage was all I dreamed about.

At the age of six, I discovered my mom’s Amy Grant records (yes, records) and began playing them on repeat.  Songs like El Shaddai, Sing Your Praise to the Lord, and Father’s Eyes became my anthem and my family quickly caught on that I had an obsession.  Night after night, I would literally spend hours in my room with the music blasting, pretending that I was singing on a large stage, and everyone in the audience was there to see me.  Becoming a singer quickly became a focus in my life and at eight years old, my parents finally allowed me to pursue it.

I spent a lot of my time singing and performing at events and in choirs.  As I became a teenager, I was a force to be reckoned with.  I had no fear in calling and asking random event planners if I could sing at their event.  I offered up my talent to anyone who seemed interested.  It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I felt like my dreams were finally becoming a reality.  I was in Los Angeles for a singing competition and was approached by a man in a shiny suit who claimed that he could make all my dreams come true.  My mother and I drove to his office and from there he schmoozed us with a fancy dinner and conversation filled with names of Hollywood big-shots.  Before I knew it, I was recording my first demo at Paramount studios; the experience was surreal.

One thing led to another and I found myself on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia to record with a Grammy award-winning producer.  This time, I didn’t have my mother, or anyone for that matter, with me.  I still remember the fear that overtook me as I stepped off the plane and realized that I would be alone for the next few weeks in a city I knew nothing about.  It was during this trip that my voice began to disappear.  I remember trying to speak up during the writing sessions if I didn’t like an idea, and I would be quickly shut down. The producer would mock me saying, “I just wrote Mariah’s new album and it’s number one. Do you really think I don’t know what I’m doing?”  I ended up recording three songs with him, all of which I hated.

My voice was no longer my own.

Looking back, I realize that what I really needed was support.  A ministry like RYFO could have saved me from a lot of anxiety and fear that I was facing alone.  I needed someone to process with or just vent to.  RYFO’s Host Homes have an amazing opportunity to really speak life back into the areas of musicians lives that may be shut down.  I encourage you readers that aren’t part of RYFO’s ministry to consider becoming a host home.  In doing so, you could be the one who prevents a musician from losing their voice.

It’s too loud to hear from God!

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It’s too loud to hear from God!
By: Simeon Lohrmann

Have you ever struggled to hear God’s voice amidst the noise of life? If you’ve ever felt this way you are not alone. Our circumstances and even our surroundings can cause God’s voice to feel distant.
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Praying for Musicians?!

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Praying for Musicians
By: Cathy Hill

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul is writing to some people he has never met but longs to know and serve and share God’s gifts with in person. When our pastor preached on this recently I felt my RYFO antennae go up!

In Romans 1:8, Paul gives thanks to God for these people that he keeps hearing about…”people everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith”…(1:8 The Message). He says that every time he hears about them, he thanks God for them and he constantly prays for them. This is a great model for my RYFO heart.

So how might I implement Paul’s teaching?

Perhaps each time I hear a song, or when someone mentions an artist, I can thank God for giving these people their gifts and talents. If I know they are artists of faith, I can thank Him that they have chosen to use them to extend His kingdom. I can pray for their ministry of the Gospel through the power of music. I can also pray for the non-believer, that God would put people in their path that would point them towards Him. Whether on the radio, on shuffle on my iPod or streaming in the background, I have the opportunity to tell God how much I appreciate how these musicians use their gifts; whether it be to speak Gospel truth into my life, bring awareness to a cause, or simply do something they love to do. Each time I read a Facebook post or a tweet, I can pray for any needs or cares they have shared (travel concerns, family needs, joys, sorrows, life events…).

As I wrote this post, I heard a song by one band whose bass player recently had surgery to remove a tumor from his knee. Another song played  by dear band friends whose drummer recently quit, leaving them with a spot to fill before starting a major tour. Yet another tune was from a disbanded group (and my first-ever hosted band!). With each song I have an opportunity to thank God for these artists and pray for their needs, their careers, and their personal lives.

Thank you Father for the gift of music and the many ways it touches my life. Empower those whom You have called to use it to further Your kingdom, and open the eyes of those who don’t yet recognize You as the giver of all gifts and talents. May I be thankful for them and prayerful on their behalf. Amen!

Serving the Voices in 2014

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Serving the Voices in 2014
By: Simeon Lohrmann

Since RYFO began operations in 2009, we’ve always dreamed of being able to connect touring bands with our Host Home missionaries when they are most in need; while they’re on tour. Through a recent partnership with Bravery Transmedia we began working to make that dream a reality.

We are proud to report that with the success of our 2013 year-end fundraising efforts, we now have the funds we need to complete the project with Bravery. That means that in 2014 RYFO will be able to quickly connect our 400+ registered bands with our Host Homes through their mobile phones!

33 individual supporters helped us raise the funds we needed to make this critical improvement to our ministry a possibility. Miraculously 75% of the funds were received on the final day of the campaign! In total, we raised $5,457.50 through the #RYFOmobile fundraiser.

On behalf of the RYFO staff and our Board of Directors, I want to publicly say thank you to all those who supported this campaign. We greatly appreciate your investment in our efforts, and we are honored to be partnered in ministry with each of you.

Click Here to join RYFO’s monthly support team or to give a one-time gift in support of our ministry. All donations are tax-deductible.

Life and Lyrics

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Photo Courtesy of Fire At Will Photography

Life and Lyrics
By: Sydney Fontaine

I love music. I love the feeling of strings against my fingers. I love it when you can hear the audience lifting their voices, and see them stomping and clapping to the beat. I love when you can feel a buzz in the air from the music resonating with the people in the room. I love it when the message we bring to the stage impacts people. I love that music is such a diverse art form.

Music isn’t just a string of words to communicate a point. It pulls you into the emotions of the artist. You’re not only hearing their convictions and passions, but you’re experiencing the emotions they’re experiencing. You’re drawn into the picture that they’re painting. That’s a powerful tool, and the effect that it has on us can be life-altering.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned as an artist is that my words carry a limited amount of authority in the lives of those I interact with. What really matters to people is that your actions are in line with the convictions you sing and write about. This realization can be intimidating. It’s easy for me to string together eloquent words on how you can make a difference in the lives of those around you, but until I show you proof, none of it matters.

I pray that my life exemplifies surrender.

That’s why I travel around, casting off the familiar and comfortable and replacing it with a life that demonstrates what I believe. That’s why I play music. I believe God has a plan for our lives that’s bigger than what we could every imagine. I believe that He calls us to love others more than our reputation and personal comfort. I believe in giving it all up to Him every day.

As I’ve had the pleasure of writing for RYFO, it’s spurred me into contemplating what defines the voices that RYFO works so hard to serve. Why do we put up with sleeping on floors and in vans, and driving through the night to get to shows that we may or may not break even at? Because we’ve been a given a platform to bear our hearts to people. We have their ear and we need to take it. For the sake of what we’re called to communicate, we must take that risk.

A lot of people I’ve talked to on the road seem to think this kind of radical obedience to a call is out of reach for them. Don’t fall into that way of thinking! You have just as much (if not more) capacity than I do to live with passion and conviction. Find a way to communicate the message you want your life to convey and go for it.

Music is my medium. What’s yours?

A Personal Connection

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Photo Courtesy of Fire At Will Photography

A Personal Connection
By: Lori George

It’s a rare occasion when one of your all-time favorite musicians reaches out to you and offers you helpful advice.  It’s even more of a rare occasion if they share a personal story about their lives that they’ve only shared with their family members and very close friends.  So personal in fact, that they never shared it during thousands of interviews with various press all over the world. They entrust you with their story, without your asking, hoping that you will only share it with others who might benefit from it.

That’s exactly what happened to me.

In the not-so-distant past, I found myself in the midst of some very unfortunate circumstances. Absolutely none of my relatives or friends had ever been through what I was attempting to navigate on a daily basis. There were no books, magazines, or websites that served as a “how to.” I humbled myself, and on a whim, I made the decision to open a line of communication with one of my all-time favorite musicians.  To my complete and utter disbelief this artist became genuinely interested in my life, and wanted to keep in touch so they could check in on me and offer me some pointers.  I gladly exchanged contact info with them and four days later I learned from this artist that when they were my age they too had been navigating the same situations I was navigating. This artist shared with me their personal heartache and their daily fears. One example they shared was how they’d survived living in an old abandoned building.  Since sleeping at night wasn’t an option, this person stayed awake throughout the night and read their Bible until day break. Later on those times served as the foundation upon which their catalogues of albums were built.

I never would have imagined this person went through so much. They seemed so incredibly together.  Not just their outer appearance, but their overall presence on stage, how they interacted with others, and during interviews on radio, television, and magazines. I never imagined the pain, anger, confusion, depression, anxiety and doubt they’d endured. In light of my experience I’ve found myself reflecting on the interactions between musicians and fans. I wonder what the music community would look like if musicians and fans started interacting on a more personal level. What kind of change would that introduce in their lives?

As a contributing writer for RYFO I’ve begun to realize that my interaction can and should be the norm rather than the exception. I invite you to learn, as I have, about becoming A Different Brand of Fan. With a new perspective and approach on being a music fan, you may end up making a personal connection with one of your favorite musicians.

The House Show Agency

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The following post comes to you from our friends at The House Show Agency (HSA). We recently partnered with HSA to further grow our Host Home program.

Hello! My name is Andrea Howat and I run The House Show Agency. I began booking house shows for Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken back in 2011 and have been booking house shows ever since. I now book house shows for multiple artists including Jenny & TylerAudrey AssadThe Brilliance, and more.

If you’re unfamiliar with a house show, it’s exactly what it sounds like: an artist comes and performs – usually acoustically – in your living room! Countless artists are incorporating house shows alongside traditional tour dates (clubs, colleges, churches etc). It’s a really cool way to connect with fans in an intimate, listening-room environment. And they’re super easy to host!

House shows provide an opportunity for musicians who are newer in their career to establish a fanbase but it’s also a way for more established artists to debut new music, fill in off-days on tour routes, and reconnect with fans in a unique way.It has become an increasing trend over the past few years and it shows no signs of slowing! We’re really humbled to get to work with some of the best independent singer-songwriters in music today.

We’ve booked shows from California to Florida, Texas to New York, and many places in between. And we’re continually looking for more host homes all over the country! If you would have any interest in learning more about being a house show host for one of our current or future artists – I’d love to connect with you to tell you more about it. Or if you have any friends who you think would be interested in hosting, please consider forwarding this email along to them! We’d be most grateful.

Hosting house shows is a great way to enjoy music, foster community, practice hospitality, and support independent artists. We have some exciting potential artist additions to our roster for 2014, and we’d love for you to be involved. We’re grateful to get to do what we do, and to partner with an incredible organization like RYFO. We hope you’ll come alongside us as we aim to grow the largest house show network in the country and build something new together.

Feel free to email andrea@housesehowagency.com for more info. Read our FAQ’s on our website. Or connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/houseshowagency.

You Aren’t Good Enough

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You Aren’t Good Enough
By: Rihanna Teixeira

Rejection. It just might be one of the most emotionally catastrophic life experiences we all face.  As children, our peers reject us when they won’t let us sit with them at the lunch table. We go home and cry into the arms of our parents as they do their best to patch us back up.  As teenagers, rejection rears its ugly head when our crush goes with someone else to the school dance or when we don’t get chosen for the team we spent years dreaming of being on.  Unfortunately, even adults can’t outrun the occasional rejection.  We don’t get the job we interviewed for or the promotion we’ve spent years working towards. Rejection hurts. Badly.

Now, imagine facing rejection anywhere from 1-4 times a week for years on end. Imagine working 80 plus hours a week with zero to little pay and having to live off ramen and dollar menu items. Imagine having to hear that you’re not good enough and that you’re wasting your life away from friends and even family members. If you imagined all those things, you might just have a taste of what it feels like to be a musician.

Chasing your dreams is hard. So much so, that the majority of Americans stop pursuing their dreams and settle for a typical office job by the age of 23. The daily grind of actually actively pursuing a dream takes an emotional toll on a person, particularly for artists.  Musicians spend hours of their time creating music. They sacrifice sleep, time with family, and nights out with friends just to give life to a song that they carry within them. They sing at open mic nights to an audience of maybe 10, while dreaming of singing at a stadium. They get denied by agents and managers who tell them that their songs aren’t good enough. Their appearance isn’t marketable. Their voice needs more work. They are faced daily with the chance that all this work may quite possibly lead to nothing. Yet, they keep going. They sleep and travel in that stereotypical “band-van” that might not make it to their next destination. They give their all at every singing event despite the terrible sound system or audience turn out.  They pour their hearts out into every song knowing that the general public will have the opportunity to tell them that they aren’t good enough.

One of the many reasons I love RYFO is because it was started by two guys who experienced what it was like to chase a dream. They realized that musicians don’t have to walk this path alone, if they can help it. They understood the power of offering an aspiring band a hot meal and a warm bed to sleep in even if it’s just for one night. They decided that a “fan” can be so much more than just a consumer. A fan can actually stand beside them and actually give back.

So, the next time you go to see your favorite local band play or if you meet an aspiring musician, encourage them. Tell them why you love their music. If you can, offer to buy them dinner. Offer them a place to stay. Tell them that you believe in them. Tell them that they are good enough.

Home for the Holidays

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Home for the Holidays
By: Sydney Fontaine

I was taken aback the other day, when upon entering a local store, I saw that everything was decked out in Christmas decorations. It is after Halloween, but I’m somehow never quite ready for the Holiday Season to come. There is never enough time between the end of Summer and when everyone breaks out the Christmas music for me to prepare for it.

This is always a strange time of year for me personally, as well as for other travelers.  The lifestyle of a touring musician doesn’t really cater to traditions, or cozy holidays in familiar surroundings. Most years it’s difficult enough to pinpoint where home is, let alone figure out if you’re going to be there for the holidays or not. This is a challenge my family and I face each year, as we find a new normal to fit the season in life we find ourselves in.  We were created for community, and our desire is to be with people, to celebrate and live alongside them. This time of year brings much emphasis to this aspect of life that is often times missing on the road, or whatever city you settle in for the winter. When you feel the sense of anticipation growing each day, your thoughts begin to spin in the direction of your family. Maybe it’s blood relatives that you long to be with, who you haven’t seen in 6 months. Or maybe it’s the other ‘family’ that you’ve met on the road, and shared those trials with that you can only become familiar with by experience.  Where ever your heart may be, it’s not always possible to be there physically. The pain of separation is very real.

But, as He does, God always seems to remedy the heartaches that come with distance. Even in loneliness, this time of year is in place to recognize and celebrate the hope we have in Christ. To remember the incredible humility with which He came to save us. I pray that although we feel far off, and detached from the warmth of home and the cheerful voices that used to surround us often, that we would allow this hope to be our fuel. That it  would produce in us perseverance to continue to be a voice, and a light with every note we sing.  That we would be empowered to continue to lead people to a place where they too recognize the reason they are breathing. This is the greatest joy for me, in music and in life.