Wednesday, April 20, 2011
30 Seconds (That Changed My LIfe)
Since I was a college student I've had this one dream that, to this day, has yet to come true. I have always wanted to be nominated for a Dove Award. That may seem silly to some, but to me it's recognition that you're a serious contributor to the Christian music industry. Your songs mean something. Your talent is appreciated. It's one of the highest awards for any Christian music artist. I have never even been considered, of course. But there was one moment--30 seconds--that almost led me down that path. Almost. Right after I graduated college--and somewhat on a whim--I entered a vocal competition in Dallas, Texas. I soon found out that I'd be competing against 186 singers...and I was number 183 to perform. I knew the judges would be tired. And here I was, singing to a track of a song called Crucified that I wrote with some friends in college. Shortly before I went on, I asked one of the other competitors if anyone had "blown away the judges yet." She said, "Not really." I got up, I sang my song. The crowd applauded. The judges applauded. It was an extremely positive response. When I sat back down in the room, the girl I had spoken to previously handed me a note on a piece of torn, red paper. "I think you're the one who just blew everyone away!" (I still have that note to this day.) To my surprise, I won the competition. And the first place prize was to go to Nashville, record a project, open for Morgan Cryar (one of my all-time favorite artists--and who my oldest son is named after) and...wait for it...pitch your project to the president of Star Song records. This was my chance! I went to Nashville. I recorded my first solo project, called Shock the World. It was pop. It was, at moments, a bit corny. There are some songs on there that I'm still proud of though. Probably wasn't my best effort but with the amount of studio time I had been given, (we recorded the entire album in 3 days) it was ok. I opened for Morgan Cryar, singing a handful of my songs and received a strong response. "I'm on my way!" I thought. When I arrived at the office of Star Song records, I sat in the lobby next to a young couple. He had spikey "nashville hair" and she had big, blonde hair! They were dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. He was wearing a denim jacket. I spent every last dollar I had to buy a cheap suit at the Nashville mall. I was feeling a little out of place. They told me they were a married couple and they were there to sign their recording contract for their first album. They called themselves Two Hearts. It was exciting to meet other artists who were just about to launch their careers. They had done it. They were getting their chance. I was hoping that, by that afternoon, I'd be in the same boat. They comforted me, wished me luck and then went into another room to look at their paperwork. When the president of Star Song came out of his office to meet me, my producer introduced me as "the next Michael W. Smith." The president asked me, "Are you the next Michael W. Smith?" I said, "No sir. I'm the first Tim Glenn!" I was brimming with confidence. I knew this meeting could change my entire career path. I went into the office with the president. Sat down in front of his desk. He sat in his leather chair behind the desk. We made a little bit of chit-chat. I was obviously nervous as he popped my cassette into his tape player. (Yes, we were still using cassettes back then.) "Well then, 'first Tim Glenn', let's see what you've got." The first song--Take Me Away--came on. My foot was tapping. Probably as much out of nervousness as enjoying the beat. 30 seconds. That's all he listened. He stopped the tape. Popped it out. What is he thinking? Was it so good that he didn't need to hear any more? Was it so bad he didn't need to hear any more?" It was the latter. "I'm sorry, Tim. This just isn't what we're looking for right now. Good luck to you though." That was it. No contract. No suggestions. No second chance. Nothing. I walked out of that office, deflated. I took my shot. And I missed. I walked past Two Hearts, sitting in another room poring over paperwork. They looked at me with the obvious question on their faces. I just shook my head no as I walked by. My producer walked me out to the car, where I fought back tears the entire ride back to the house where I was staying. I often have wondered what my life would've been like had that 30 seconds gone differently. Don't get me wrong, I love the way God has blessed me with a family and a career. And I still get to make music, lead worship, etc. But that 30 seconds was a path changer. It led me to pursue a different career...a different life. Tonight, the Dove Awards will be held in Nashville. And at some point, an artist will hear his or her name announced among the list of nominees. Oh, how I wish I knew what that felt like!