Songs of Praise & Victory 3
I was raised in a small town in South Georgia by loving family. On Sundays, we always attended Sunday school and church. When I was 11 I joined the church. I attended a Christian high school that provided instruction in the Old and New Testaments. I had an early interest in music, playing guitar from age 11. I played popular music and later studied classical guitar and composition at the University of Georgia. Although I have always thought of myself as a Christian, my life as I have lived it, has not matched what I now understand that of a true Christian to be. In December of 2004, I was fortunate to hear a guitar concert by Christopher Parkening. I had admired his playing since I was in college. Chris was a friend of my guitar teacher, Jon Sutherland. Jon had even invited Chris to come to Athens to play and conduct a master class. After the December 2004 concert, Chris signed autographs and gave to all willing to receive a CD copy of his Christian Testimony. Chris talked about discovering the greatest purpose his music could serve, that of glorifying his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. After listening to this CD I became inspired to set to music one of my great-grandmother's inspirational poems from her book Songs of Praise and Victory. Her name was Cordelia Hawkins Gatewood. That Christmas, I promised a friend that I would write music for one of the poems. By May of 2005, I decided that I should get started if I expected to complete writing the song by the coming Christmas. I started working on The Lord Is My Shepherd in early May and to my surprise, had finished it by Mother's Day. I was so proud to be able to play it for my family. Facing the decision of choosing the next poem, I decided that instead of skipping from poem to poem, looking for the next one easiest, I would start at the beginning of the book. Each Saturday morning I have been inspired to composed another song, I have felt the power of God working through me. Now, each day, I thank God for the gift of music, the poems which He has given to me through my Great-grandmother, and the mission that He has revealed to me. I had spent a lifetime looking for the thing that I enjoyed and possessed a talent to do well. I found that by creating music, whose sole purpose it was to glorify God, is my mission. Though I had considered composing music for my Great-grandmother's poems when I was in college, I didn't receive the inspiration from God, for my motives were not to glorify God, but to satisfy my own selfish desires. Early on, I could see that if I could actually complete the book in my lifetime, I would have created a legacy that would surpass anything I could amass in terms of earthly wealth. It became my practice to begin working on a composition early each Saturday morning, usually about 5:00 a.m. By lunch, I would have the core work completed. I did all of the composition, original instruments, and vocals on a Mac G5 using GarageBand and a simple 48 key keyboard. By Christmas 2005, I had completed 30 songs and by August 2006, I had only five remaining of the eighty. Since I had originally thought that if God would allow me complete the book in my lifetime, I would so grateful and would have accomplished something that I never could have attempted had my purpose not been for the glory of God. While I believed that the original mission God gave me was sufficient, I now understand that God wants me to play the songs for the world to hear. The messages penned by my great-grandmother are so powerful and inspirational, they must be shared. I thank you for listening and hope that you will be touched in a special way by her words of praise and victory.