Photo credit: Chris Hannibal's Instagram - taken from one of his previous magic shows at Petra's Bar in Charlotte, NC. 

I’m proud to say I played my first gig in almost a year, just a few weeks ago. 

At 34 weeks pregnant, mind you. (Did I mention I was proud?)

Chris Hannibal, an amazing magician, artist, storyteller and entrepreneur in the Charlotte area, invited me to open up for him during a show he held at Petra’s Bar in Plaza Midwood. I played a four-song set, in a small intimate setting, where people actually listen and pay attention to the artists that are featured there. It was pretty awesome.

Chris gave me a warm introduction and set me up for high expectations from the audience. He noted that part of the reason he does his magic shows is to feature local talent and increase visibility for artists that he believes need to be seen and heard. I must say, hearing that felt really good. The Charlotte music scene needs more people like him who are passionate about helping out the locals.

Anyway, I learned a few things from this performance that I thought I’d share:

1. It’s really hard to sing when you’re carrying 40 extra pounds of weight right on top of your diaphragm.

2. Petra’s is somewhat of a gay bar. I didn’t know that going in, and I really had no reaction other than “Hm. Good to know.”

3. My music apparently suited the audience well, and I was able to walk out of there that night knowing that God had used me for something good. Pretty cool.

Those last two sort of go hand in hand. When I finished my set, a woman walked up to the table in front of me where my mom was sitting and sat down. (I announced to everyone during my set that my mom was cheering me on that night at the table in front.) According to her, the conversation that ensued went something like this:

Woman: I love your daughter’s lyrics! What church does she go to?

Mom: We both go to a church in the University area called Mercy Baptist.

Woman: Is it judgmental?

Mom: Well, God is the one true judge. We don’t really have the authority to judge anyone.

Woman: Well, the reason I ask is because I’m gay and this is a gay bar.

Mom: Well, I don’t know that you’d like what our pastor has to say about homosexuality, but we have another pastor – Dr. Mac – he knows the Bible in 4 different languages and has studied it for over 40 years. He teaches classes on Tuesday and Wednesday nights at our sister churches.

Woman: What’s the address? I want to go.

I don’t know if the woman ever went or is still planning to go, but hearing that conversation relayed to me was very enlightening, especially the part where she asked what church I go to. I don’t consider myself an overtly “Christian” artist, but I do realize my songs have some Christian undertones. Some lyrical examples, for your reference:

“They called you the black sheep, but I know your shepherd too, and he takes care of you.”

“They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions, but your will is stronger than the nature we were born into.”

“Standing in between the apple and the evergreen, you know I didn’t mean to fall so hard. He opened up my eyes, but somehow I still lost my sight, and all that I can see are scars.”

Knowing my lyrical tendencies, and my desire to inspire the outcasts of society in a positive way, it didn’t surprise me that this woman was diggin’ my music. I totally believe that’s what Jesus’ mission was. That’s why he hung out with prostitutes instead of religious leaders. If he were here (in the flesh) today, I think he’d be at Petra’s bar and not in some stuffy church building.

Homosexuality is a hot topic, especially in Christian circles. It tends to make a lot of us uncomfortable. I immediately wondered what my pastor would do if a lesbian walked into our church and was open about her lifestyle. I’m honestly not sure what I believe about the topic. I’m straight so I can’t really say I understand or have been in their shoes. For that reason, I try not to have much of an opinion. I know the Bible speaks very strongly against it, but I also know that it speaks very strongly against a lot of things – adultery, murder, prostitution, fornication, theft, lying… the list goes on. Yet Jesus came here and hung out with misfits who engaged in all of those things. Misfits like me. I believe he has called me to the same task and music is my vessel.

Today, and every day I’m thankful that God gives me a gift that can be used to bless others. I might not be getting paid millions to sing on stage in front of hundreds of thousands of people, but if my tunes can be used to speak to even one person’s heart, and to let them know they’re loved, then I can confidently say I’m doing my life’s work.

That feels good.