Song Snapshots #35: Red Letter Day

Sometimes even the strongest songs take a few years to find a home.

After Kenna Turner West wrote “Red Letter Day,” it took three years of pitching before it was recorded. “I believed in the song,” she recalls, “so I was willing to get a lot of no’s until I found a yes.”

One day, Roger Talley called her to put it on hold for The Talleys, along with a song called “That’s Why I Believe.” The very next day, two other major artists called and asked to place the same two songs on hold! But, of course, the hold had already been granted to The Talleys, who ended up recording both songs. “It took years for ‘Red Letter Day’ to find the right artist and the right project,” she said, “which is why I always tell songwriters who are pitching their own material to never give up on a song. If you believe in it, keep sending it. Eventually, it’ll find its way to the place that it’s supposed to be. There are songs I’ve pitched for years and keep at it because I believe in what they say.”

Red Letter Day is a happy, upbeat song. “But if you knew where the song came from,” she shares, “you might see it differently.” One summer morning, she was on her way home from dropping off her then-nine year old son at Vacation Bible School. He had already undergone four eye surgeries, and the fifth was scheduled for the following day. Her heart was broken for him. “I just remember driving up the hill by our home with the sun’s glare on my windshield, saying to myself, ‘Come whatever, it can only get better,’ which became part of the chorus.”

“It’s crazy, but it’s on my hardest days that I write my favorite ‘happy’ songs because I am speaking hope to my own heart,” she adds. “Regardless of what is going on in my life, God’s still good, He’s still on the throne, and He’s still holding all things together by the power of His Word. That’s what ‘Red Letter Day’ reminds me.”

When she hears the song today, she still remembers that day. “When I hear ‘Red Letter Day,’ I remember how badly I needed the Lord to help get me through that day, so for me, it’s not just a ‘sunny’ song but a declaration of faith. I literally put both feet on the floor that morning, determined to walk that day out with joy, even though my heart was breaking. That’s where that song came from.”

Watch on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuVy0QZKDY8

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Friday News Roundup #223

Worth Knowing

  • The Old Paths announced that their current radio single, “Long Live the King,” written by Dianne Wilkinson and Chris Binion, is going to be a #1 hit on the Singing News charts.
  • The Collingsworth Family announced last Sunday (Mother’s Day) that Brooklyn Collingsworth Blair and her husband, Will, are expecting their first child in November.
  • Leslie Taylor Perkins of The Taylors gave birth to her first child—a son, Isaiah—on May 14. Leslie, her husband Aaron, and Isaiah will return to the road after several weeks of maternity leave.
  • Singing News announced the top five nominees for the 2014 Fan Awards.

Worth Watching

An early look at the Perrys with new lead singer Andrew Goldman:

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Song Snapshots #34: If She Could

“Some songs are written as stories for other people to tell, but some songs I write because the story is mine,” Kenna Turner West shares. “If She Could” falls into that second category.

Her grandmother battled Alzheimer’s for about ten years. It reached the point where it was too dangerous to leave her alone, so West’s mother moved her to Tennessee to live with her.

“Granny was very healthy; she just couldn’t remember,” West said. “It was so hard watching her fail and watching my mom struggle with losing her mom.”

“One day,” she adds, “my mom walked into my grandmother’s room to wake her up and Granny was sitting on the side of the bed. Granny’s name was Estelle, but Mom called her Stellar.”

“My mother said, ‘Good morning, Stellar.’ Granny said, ‘Good morning! I just feel like I know you.’ My mom said, ‘Well, yeah, I’m your baby.’”

“My grandmother began to just sob. She said, ‘What kind of mother doesn’t know her own child?’”

“My mom climbed into the bed with her, tucked my granny’s head into her shoulder, and rocked her until she quit crying, just like my grandmother had done for my mom so many times as a child. When Granny quit crying, she leaned back and looked at my mom with great clarity and said, ‘One day I’ll know you.’”

When Kenna Turner West wrote the song “If She Could,” she wasn’t even sure if she would share it with anyone. She was just writing about her grandmother: “She struggles to hold to things that are fading away / Stares out the window with hours with nothing to say.” The chorus says: “She can’t even remember if the old days were all that good / she’d tell you all about it if she could.”

Her grandmother’s phrase, “One day I’ll know you,” resonated particularly deeply. West thought about the passage in I Corinthians 13, where we shall “know as we are known.”

“That’s why I wrote the song,” she said. “To remind families like ours who are slowly losing their loved ones to Alzheimer’s the promises of God that are theirs in Christ.” At the end of the song, the lyric, ‘When I get to Heaven / I won’t be the same / And when I see you / I’ll know your name,’ was based on a real conversation that my grandmother had with my mom.”

“If She Could” was the story of Kenna’s grandmother, but it was the story of Sheri Easter’s grandmother, as well. Joyce Martin, Karen Peck Gooch, and Sheri Easter recorded a project together, Best of Friends. They included “If She Could” on that project; Jeff & Sheri Easter also later recorded it on a live DVD.

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The Garms Family signs off

Editor’s note: With this site’s final post coming soon, I asked if The Garms Family would like to write a final post. ~Daniel

What does one say in a final post?

Perhaps “thank you” a couple times.  Maybe some reflections on the “good old days”… and even, maybe, a few words about the future.  Yet, as simple as that formula sounds, to write a post that concludes a fond period in our family’s life is simply difficult.

But, we’ll try our best anyway. 🙂

Little did we know how much our lives would change the day Taylor stumbled upon SouthernGospelBlog.com.  It was a fairly normal day in 2010 shortly after some fairly abnormal happenings.  In summary, Caleb had just sung “I’m Feeling Fine” with Legacy Five and the video was uploaded to YouTube, Dad had just lost his job as a small aircraft mechanic, and we had been suddenly thrown from singing part-time into full-time ministry, in an industry we hardly knew anything about.

After checking email that morning, Taylor went to our recently created YouTube channel to see how the “I’m Feeling Fine” video was doing, and was shocked to see a sharp increase in views. This spike immediately piqued her curiosity. Heading to Google, she began searching random queries to pinpoint the source of the increase.  After multiple failed searches, she struck gold with the phrase “seven year old boy sings with Legacy Five”.  At the top of the results page was a post — featuring the video — on a site called SouthernGospelBlog.com.

Since the day she clicked on that link, SouthernGospelBlog.com, now Southern Gospel Journal, has been our family’s favorite website.  (Well, with the possible exception of StaleyCoach.com. 🙂 )

As fans in a northern land thirsty (yes, even in the land of 10,000 lakes!) for quartet music and that “Southern sound”, we eagerly pored over each commentary and news article.  We became acquainted with the names and faces of groups that constituted this genre called “Southern Gospel”.  The lively discussions in the comments often found their way into our mealtime conversations, and the names of fellow commenters came to be as familiar to us as our next-door neighbors (or more so!).

As a fledgling full-time music ministry, the insights about the industry gave us perspective as we grew.  For example, the online debate about live music versus soundtracks was highly discussed in our family — and that’s naming just one point of helpful analyses from this site!  We caught glimpses into the industry through comments and interviews, and paid attention to the perceptive critiques Daniel and many others offered.  And of course, Daniel’s incredible appreciation for the history of Southern Gospel helped us understand where this genre came from and who exactly George Younce was! (Don’t ask… 🙂 )

We were honored when Daniel invited us to join the contributor team of the Journal, and greatly enjoyed the assignments he gave us (the ones we actually finished, that is).  From interviewing Michael Booth with a toy microphone to pulling the 1,500 pennies prank on Scott Fowler, to dancing with Ernie Haase and actually interviewing Daniel himself, we have so many special memories.  One of our family’s favorite posts was the “What To Do When You Can’t Attend NQC” — we still laugh each time we watch it.  It was a challenge to pull everything together for the posts we did.  We marvel that Daniel could consistently come up with over 3,000 posts while eight people struggled to produce only 32!

Daniel, we cannot thank you enough for making this spot on the web such a blessing for our family and thousands of others to visit.  We appreciate the hard work and many hours you have invested in making this a quality, God-honoring website.  The things we have learned through you and Southern Gospel Journal are invaluable to our family (especially how to spell “y’all” properly — we’re glad you set us straight).  We also thank you for inviting us to join you on this journey; we wouldn’t trade the fun adventures we’ve had for anything!  We’re only sorry that we did not help you out by contributing more often.  You have become such a dear friend, and we are excited to see what God has in store for you!

To our fellow readers and commenters: Thank you for reading our posts and watching our videos.  We hope they have brought a smile to your day or introduced you to some wonderful groups and music.  And, thank you for your comments and interaction with our family as well — there were days even before breakfast our family surrounded the computer to see what y’all had said.  (And times we stayed up far too late with you as well!) 🙂

Friends, let us continue to be faithful, not to just one particular group, or even to this genre, but let us be faithful to Christ.  We are all unworthy servants (Luke 17:10), whether we hold a microphone in our hands, sit in the pew, or simply read this site.  Praise God for His marvelous salvation, and let’s keep proclaiming the Good News!

Oh, and, Daniel, we’ll miss Southern Gospel Journal.  A lot.  But we are convinced this is the right step for you to take, in response to where God is leading you at this time.  So long, SouthernGospelBlog.com (er, Southern Gospel Journal — we never did quite get used to the “Journal” 🙂 ).

By the way, one of these days we might make it NQC.  That is, if Caleb’s wheelbarrow doesn’t run out of gas.  🙂  Until then, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” (2nd Corinthians 13:14)

Blessings and Joy in the Journey!

TGF

(The Garms Family)

David & Kris, Ben, Taylor, Leesha, Sam, Jayme, and Caleb

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