Who Am I to Speak of Anything? Who am I as far as being an expert? I’m nobody. I’m just another guy with a story. But I count Christ as my savior and I have some experience to pass on in the world of being an artist, songwriter and music publisher. Chances are very good that you’ve never heard of me.
Where am I going? Well, that’s a good one. I am going where my God leads me, but I understand the basic path that He has for me. At 12 years old and an altar boy, Fr. Frank Bognanno approached me after Mass one Sunday and asked me if I would like to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I remember thinking, ‘of course’. My life began down the path.
There’s no coincidence here at all with the next part of the story. I taught myself how to play guitar a short time after that. After picking up a book of chords and playing for three weeks, I played in church for the first time. The year was 1970. More than likely, I was in the handful of the first in the country to ever play guitar in the Catholic church. Except for a few years in the late ’80s, I’ve been playing in church ever since. I renewed my faith in the early ’90s in the ‘Protestant’ world.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it eventually came to me that becoming self-taught on the guitar so rapidly at the age of 12 and then playing in church was God’s design for me. Many retreat weekends and church activities filled my teenage years. On my 18th birthday, I was surprised and honored by being asked to join the band Followers of the Way (surf to one-way.org/jesusmusic and use the pull down menu to get to Followers of the Way if interested in the story). That was the beginning of my life as a full-time (and not-so-full-time) musician.
In 1995, I was sitting at home, playing guitar and praying. I was crying out to God, “why, why have you given me this playing talent but yet I can’t write any songs??” (All the songs that I’d written before never stuck, never were appealing and had faded away.) “Why God, why!?” “Because you haven’t been writing about me”, came the very clear answer. It was so clear that there was absolutely nothing else in my mind at the time of that thought. “B-but Lord, you know how terrible I am at writing lyrics?” And just then, my eyes darted toward the Book and He tells me, “You wont’ have any trouble with the music, and I’ve already taken care of the lyrics”.
Bam! Just like a lightning bolt. That’s never happened to me since, but I believe God makes it happen like that when it’s important.
I began writing songs. I didn’t realize that there was really a craft to it. I just didn’t think about it but began to spend some time in the word with the design of writing lyrics. Even though now I realize that all writers are better off at least learning the basics about the craft, I felt that I had come up with some decent lyrics. Maybe it’s a part of His blessing on my life. Bottom line is that it doesn’t matter because they were all penned for His glory.
The idea of the album called “Wisdom – Discovery of the Word” was born. Putting together 12 of the best songs, I booked time at a local studio (with a plan! See a blog linked here on Preparing for the Studio). Solid Walnut Music was born. After looking around on the internet, I found a Christian songwriting site and made some connections and began co-writing. I decided to learn more about music publishing, and began to issue single-song agreements. At the peak of this time in our ministry, I had recorded two solo CDs, produced four for other artists and helped to publish a book.
We sold CDs and the book. We gave away CDs to many different countries over the world in an effort to help radio stations spread the gospel. …so satisfying.
But that time in the ministry has passed. Gone, but certainly not forgotten. I still have product in storage to remind me of that!! Now is the time for a new chapter in the ministry. All through this time I have played and sang at church. “As long as I have breath”, is what I tell myself. Can’t you just see an old codger of 90 up there rockin’ out? I can…
In 2006 I was asked to help plant a new church. I was asked to be the worship leader. Yikes! What an emotional, physical, leadership and…(name your adjective) challenges. Not to mention that I’m such an introvert that this is way out of my comfort zone. But after consulting with the Father, he led me to say ‘yes’. After spending a few years of ‘church-in-a-box’ and setting up and tearing down every Sunday, we moved to a storefront in 2011. There has been so much learning and quite a bit of personal growth. This is where I am for this season in my life: Bridge Covenant Church which I helped to form with my good friend Pastor Kent Bertrand. I produce a podcast of his messages at the church website. Click on the Media tab.
So, I find myself continually fine-tuning and understanding the call that God has placed on my life. In 2008, I began putting my own recording studio in place so I could create demos for my songs. The plan for Solid Walnut Music going foward into 2012 is continue to lead worship as well as write worship, personal praise and choral songs. I will probably branch into writing ‘crossover’ songs, but I see that as secondary. I am taking a songwriting course (2011/2012) and plan to sharpen my skills. The goals are not so much for myself artistically, but so the songs that I’ve written, co-written or for those which I control the rights, are utilized by other artists. I still plan on playing at a high level to help promote the songs.
Thanks for checking out the blogs. I won’t spend a ton of energy writing blah, blah drivel, but hopefully info you can find useful.
Click the category links to the right to surf to the blogs. Oh, and if you’re a music manager and here to listen to some songs for your uses, please click the Song Catalog link.