Okay, I've started 2 different blogs in the past couple of weeks, and I have failed to finish them in one sitting. I WILL finish THIS blog in one sitting, so help me! Even with the tension headache I have right now. Papa John is fixing dinner tonight, and I don't want to hear any protests. :)
So, Gatlinburg Gathering 2008 was this past weekend...Labor Day weekend. This is the weekend that every Tom, Dick, & Harry, plus their cousins, and their cousins' friends descend upon Eastern TN for vacation and buying loads of air brushed craptasticalness. (I totally just made that word up, but I'm going to stick with it.) I was not in G'burg for the craptasticalness. No no...I was there to sing good ol' Gospel music. G'burg Gathering is a 3 day SoGospel festival comprised of some of the top acts in SoGospel like ME (ha ha), Karen Peck & New River, the Booth Brothers, The Hoppers, Kirk Talley, the Talley Trio, etc. There are concerts each evening, plus an "Up & Coming Artist Showcase" that takes place each afternoon, which was what yours truly was on.
BUT I was sick as a DOG. I had to get a steroid shot on Thursday prior to going b/c I felt this sickness coming on in a bad way. I'm so glad I did get the shot b/c the sinus infection could have been a lot worse. Singing when you're stopped up with snot is not good at all. So, I was in (legal) drug induced haze all weekend. Yippie! I stayed at my booth on Friday & Saturday afternoon for the showcases w/ Encounter & Sunday Edition, but when the Mainstage concerts started, I headed back to G'ma's house in Sevierville. (Side note: G'ma lives at a retirement village in S'ville, which is where we stay when we go visit her. Yes...an apartment in a retirement village. Hey...it's clean, it's free, and that's all that matters. :))
Now, with these showcases, one artist (soloist or group) is selected based upon audience response to sing on the mainstage that evening. I'll be honest with you...I didn't think my chances were that great, and here's why. I am a female soloist. (I know...duh...right?) It is difficult for me to go up against trios and quartets when they can do the different harmonies and all that fun stuff that audiences eat up. However, this year, I took a different approach with my set. It was the "I really don't care this year" approach. :) I did "Searchin'", "God's Got a Word for You", and "Preach the Word". "Searchin'" is the song that the Talley Trio made famous and I sing it at the Bridge all the time. "Preach the Word" was a recent single for Gold City, and I happen to just really love the song. So I figured, why not? Well, I think I'm going to take the "I don't really care this year" approach to everything else b/c IT WORKS!! I was chosen on Sunday afternoon to move on to mainstage that night!! YIPPIE!! Plus, Kirk Talley co-hosted the showcase, so we got to sing "Oh Lamb of Calvary" together.
So after that really cool thing, I was DRAINED. My energy level was about at zero, and I had to go belt out "Preach the Word" again in front of 3,000+ people. Folks, I'm here to tell you that none of what happened this weekend was b/c of anything I did. It was ALL God. It always IS all God. There was no way with me being as sick as I was that I should've done as well as I did, but God was like, "Here it is Tara. Let me show you what I can do."
So, 4 hours after being selected from the showcase to sing on the mainstage, it was time for me to belt it out again. I went up on stage, started singing, and my mouth went as dry as a desert. It was AWFUL (I wasn't awful...being dry mouth was awful), but only by God's strength did I belt out the song, and got a standing ovation!
As I turned to walk off stage, Kirk Talley came running up and grabbed me. He started dragging me back to the center to the stage and said, "We're doing the duet!" Then he hollared to the sound guy, "Hit the track!! Hit the track!!" And I'm like, "I need WATER!!" So, this made for a very entertaining interlude for the audience. The track started, I got my water, and off we went singing "Oh Lamb of Calvary" again. And we rocked it. It was GREAT! We both just have so much fun singing that together.
So after we finished, all the other artists came on stage for an "all skate" round of singing. But what was just so very cool is as every one of them came on the stage...The Booth Brothers, Karen Peck, Triumphant Quartet...they each looked at me and said, "Who are you?" "Where have you been hiding?" and "Holy cow, you were incredible!" Now please understand that I do not say this to stroke my ego or pat myself on the back. These are artists that I highly respect b/c they are at the top of our genre, so to have those kind of comments was just unreal. And as I stood there on stage with all of them and the Wilmington Celebration Choir, I just took it all in. I thanked God a thousand times over for this amazing event. It just finally felt like I had earned the respect that I had wanted. I'm not saying that everything I do is so that I can earn the good opinion and favor of other artists. That isn't it at all. But it feels good to earn the respect of those you respect highly and those that God places in your path to help further your career and ministry along. I hope that makes sense. And can I just give a special shout out to Kirk? The man is amazing and has done so much to help me. He's the biggest dork ever, but we love him for it. :)
And what was the best was having my family there to share in this entire experience. My parents, Kyle (my babykins!!), G'ma Scott, Aunt & Uncle Ron...they were all there. This thing is not at all about just me. My family has supported me from the start, and we are all in this together. So this was as much their victory as it was/is mine. :)