Nashville is a weird place. I feel like most people either love it or hate it. But, our family doesn’t fall into either camp. There are things we love about it: our all-time favorite church is there, as well as Jeni’s Ice Cream and The Frothy Monkey (my favorite coffee shop), not to mention some of our dearest friends. But it’s also a big city. You can get lost in a big city… literally and figuratively.
Part of the reason we were in Nashville this week was for Sydney to meet with people in the Christian music world: writers, producers, and even people at record labels. This part of the story is her’s to tell, so I won’t share much. But, I will say this. Sydney has never aspired to be involved with CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). She can tell you stories about performing at shows and festivals where artists act one way on stage and the total opposite off stage. (Thankfully, all of the people the Lord has surrounded her with in Nashville are the real deal. It has been our fervent prayer and the Lord has provided that hedge of protection.) She can also tell you about the time she met with a music executive who listened to a song for Be The Change Collective. After listening to the song he told her, “That song will never get played on Christian radio.”
Her instantaneous reply: I don’t want it on Christian radio.
This is Sydney. She can come across as soft-spoken, or unsure of herself. But she really isn’t. Sydney listens before she speaks. She sizes up the room and can do it pretty fast… and she’s usually spot on. She is FIERCELY loyal and has no interest in wasting time, or energy, on disingenuous people. She will never tell you what you want to hear, just to get what she wants from a situation, or person. (And if you ever do it to her… yeah, good luck. She’ll forgive you, but winning back her trust will be pretty close to impossible. I’m pretty sure she gets that from Jamie.)
Just kidding… she DEFINITELY gets that from me.
Another thing about Sydney, she doesn’t really have a filter and she’s pretty direct. (It’s a good thing she has a genuinely good natured disposition.) Before we left on this adventure, she was interviewed by a radio station in London and the DJ asked: Why do you want to write music for the church?
Her response: Oh, I don’t want to write music for the church. I want to write music for people who’ve been hurt by the church.
Awkward silence followed. For a long time.
The DJ was waiting for her to say more. But Sydney didn’t. There was nothing more to say. Sydney LOVES the awkward silence and will sit in it FOREVER. It’s like a psychological game of Chicken. Eventually the DJ gave in saying, “Okay then, I guess we’ll go on to the next question.”
We left this visit to Nashville with a lot of questions. It’s a weird place to be as a parent when your child tells you they don’t feel called to go to college (knowing it’s not an excuse but a REAL burden placed on their heart) and then watching them NOT pursue opportunities that SEEM to make sense. But, I guess that’s the point… and it’s something the Lord has shown us over and over again on the road: What makes sense by the world’s standards isn’t necessarily the Lord’s plan. In fact, at this point, I think we would fiercely advocate for NOT doing something that makes sense to the world… as long as it doesn’t go against scripture.
Sydney is called to advocacy. Her heart beats for the least of these and she questions EVERYTHING antithetical to that position. Especially if the message is coming from inside the church. CCM isn’t necessarily known for that. (We found this article VERY interesting and a great conversation piece. We’ve DEFINITELY had some great conversations from it.) Sydney has been told on more than one occasion that speaking out on “controversial” subjects isn’t smart because it will cost her “followers.” I bet you can imagine her response to that one. But here’s the thing… we can’t really blame the Christian Music world for this. Like so many other things in our culture, in our Christian culture, CCM is consumer driven. If there’s a problem, then the first place we have to look is at ourselves.
And within the next few weeks we were going to take a very painful look in the mirror.