This week I had the incredible privilege to be part of the Country Music Awards in Nashville, TN. I sang with the Nashville Urban Choir, led by Grammy Award winning artist/producer Shannon Sanders.  We had the honor of singing with Chris StapletonMaren MorrisMarty Stuart, and Mavis Staples.  

From the moment we started rehearsals Monday night, I knew we were part of something special.  From the warm welcome of Stapleton’s Producer/Musical Director Dave Cobb to the kindness of the crew, we choir members were appreciated.  Chris Stapleton himself took the time to shake hands with each one of us and thank us for participating.

Together we worked on creating an experience for our listeners featuring the songs “Friendship” from Stapleton’s last album and “I’ll Take You There”, which were both made famous by Pops Staples and the Staples Family Singers.  

At one point during rehearsal on Tuesday, I told one of my fellow singers, “You know, what we are doing is more than just a song.  We are making a statement.”

She looked at me in wonder.

“Yes,” I continued, “considering our current social climate, we are encouraging diversity and acceptance. We are building a bridge.”

Throughout rehearsals and the performance on Wednesday, I was struck time and again with the dedication, humility, and excellence of the crew and artists.

As Dewey said, we learn most by reflecting on our experiences.  Here’s what I’m thinking today:

  1. The arts are a powerful way to bring people together both through creating and performing.  This is social-emotional learning at its best.
  2. Collaborating with others on a common goal is project-based learning. We need more of this in education.
  3. Historically, faith-based organizations have been an incubator for the arts.

Therefore, since funding for the arts has decreased in our schools, let us come together, Faith Community, to fill in the gaps.  What arts opportunities can we provide, especially for young people?  Also, in what ways can we impact culture with a message of hope?  

It’s time for us to move out of our comfort zone and be Love in a big world.