One of my many ongoing projects, the Be the Change series highlights fascinating who people I meet during my travels. These are folks who are doing the hard work of changing the world for the better by living our their passions and sharing their gifts. Subjects are chosen by me with no committee or proposal process, so if you know of a person or project that you think is doing something that is making the world a more just, compassionate and peaceful place feel free to let me know.
Forty-something father of two young boys, married to a former prosecutor and current substitute elementary school teacher, pastor of a wonderful loving PC(USA) congregation in Mount Airy, NC (a.k.a. Mayberry), gigging musician & singer/songwriter, music leader for the 2012 Montreat Collegiate Conference, teacher of Old & New Testaments at the local community college, runner/swimmer, blogger, child of God.
Typically an independent singer/songwriter releases an album after an intentional period of planning and preparation, with the ultimate goal being a “product.” “Let Go” had a much different focus. It came out of a three-month sabbatical my church and I took in the summer of 2010, funded by a grant from the Lily Foundation. In the spirit of the sabbatical I resisted the whole “product” emphasis and instead chose to engage music in ways I hadn’t had a chance to in years. Even the studio time I entered into after the sabbatical, funded in full by the sabbatical grant, was more about continuing the songwriting process and less about putting out an album.
We recorded last fall and this spring, all the while making sure we didn’t cut any corners. I got to work on one song with the guy who produced R.E.M’s first two albums. I also recorded with some Nashville string session players who are the “go-to” guys for people like Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Jars of Clay. It was pretty amazing.
When all was said and done, I was pleased enough with the tunes to want to share them. But I didn’t want to go the typical route of CDs and selling a “product,” so I chose to give the album away as an mp3 download. I did this mostly as a gift for the members of the church I serve, in thanks and gratitude for our eight years together. But I’m making it available to anyone who’d like it. Since I didn’t have to spend any of my own money to make this album, I don’t think others should have to spend their money to get to listen to it.
I just hope they’ll still be listening to it! The album is a collection of songs about relationships – good and bad ones, broken ones and relationships being healed and transformed. There’s a line in the last song, “The Dance,” that repeats, “Everyone’s a part of us.” I remember a high school English teacher of mine saying this when we were analyzing some characters in one of the books we were reading, and it really stuck with me. So my hope is that the songs will stick around for awhile since the common thread that runs through them is something we all can relate to.
I gig a few times a month either as a solo acoustic artist or with the band I play in (Mediocre Bad Guys); and I still lead music for a number of presbytery retreats and youth conferences – including the upcoming 2010 Montreat Collegiate Conference in January. So I hope I’ll always play an active part in the overall music ministry of the denomination.
Since I’m not making a dime off the album, people can support it simply by listening to it, finding their own story in the songs, and sharing them with others. Folks can head over to let-go.stevelindsley.com and download the album. From there it’s very easy to share the link on Facebook or Twitter. Ultimately the success of “Let Go” won’t be determined by how much money I make off it (obviously!) but how many people get to listen to it and then let others know about it.
Recently I’ve become a fan of Heifer International and the very simple way this organization enables average folk to help people and communities on the other side of the world. A great “pay-it-forward” concept too: when an international family gets a calf from Heifer, they promise to pass along the first-born female to another family. That idea of empowering people to care for themselves rather than simply giving handouts has always been attractive to me.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t get a shout-out to my fellow musician and friend Bryan Field McFarland, currently serving as Hunger Enabler for Salem Presbytery. Recently Bryan released a CD of mission-minded music titled, “Until All Are Fed,” where 20% of the profits go toward the Presbyterian Hunger Program. He’s also taking the show on the road, asking churches to sponsor a fundraising dinner & concert where he works with musicians in the church to perform the songs with him. [More about Until All Are Fed]