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Behind the Scenes at GMA Week April 18, 2009

Posted by markgeil in Music.

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m in Nashville for GMA Week. GMA is the Gospel Music Association, and they cover just about all types of Christian music. This is their annual week-long meeting, and it leads up to the Dove Awards, the Christian music equivalent to the Grammy Awards. This is my first time here, and for years I’ve wanted to read an account of what goes on this week. So, I’m planning to post what I’ve always wanted to read myself. Here’s the first dispatch. These will be pretty rough and unedited!


Drove into sleepy Nashville Saturday morning. At the first exit, shortly after sunrise , waiting to cross the street, was a man with a Starbucks cup, a cowboy hat, and an old guitar slung across his shoulder. I love it! Welcome to Nash-Vegas!

Most of downtown stoplights are on blink, still not awake. I just drove by a statue of Billy Graham.

There’s an All-State chorus at this hotel this weekend as well. Lots of kids are running around in matching polos. It’s interesting to see to goofy exuberance of these young singers amidst so many accomplished veterans.

I walked past Country Music Disk Jockey hall of fame to convention center for registration.

8:12 am. Just met Andrew Peterson, one of my musical heroes. Good start. I think I rescued him from some long-haired dude telling AP a little too much information about the nervous breakdown he had before he started his new musical career. Lots of new musical careers here. I like the energy.

 Lots of people with “The Look” – outfits carefully chosen to look like they weren’t carefully chosen.

Right now I’m in a room full of Indie artists. A fortunate few are going to play a single track for a panel of radio promoters for live feedback in a room full of their peers. That takes a lot of courage. Being a performing musician takes courage in the first place. You are placing yourself out there, for everyone to take and consume and judge.  The people in this room are palpably engaged in how to figure out this industry, but they’re also very in tune with their place in this world, and the absolute necessity to pursue this dream with the right motivation. The “fame drug” was mentioned, and it can affect every move these artists make, at every stage of the process.

I hear music from another room. That’s not that unusual. What is unusual is that I’m not sure if it’s being played from a CD as background music or if the artist is right there, performing, here in the middle of the day at a convention center.

Turns out it is the actual artist, Bluetree, performing the actual song, “God of This City.” I’m supposed to see them tonight at Rocketown. I’ve only been here four and a half hours, and I’m already just flying.



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