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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 63: JEWEL

Sometimes artists have the ability to sneak up on you with their music. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way that is unexpected and from left field. One minute in your life, you wouldn’t even consider listening to them, or in some cases, may not have even heard of them. And then in the next, you’re listening to their music, enjoying it, and realising that the style of music you are indeed hearing, is such that maybe, you need at that particular moment. For artists do come and go within the music industry- they often start off with a bang, release a solid debut album, and then maybe fizzle off into the ether, for one reason or another. Then there are artists that keep going and going, creating albums that impact the mind and challenge our very souls, year after year after year. There are artists we may not have heard of before, and then there are artists that we hear constantly on the radio. And both these artists- the overplayed and the unassuming, are valid and needed in society, they each provide a service and fill a void, creating music for people, in different situations, circumstances and purposes. And here in these blog posts that I’ve been undertaking for a year and a half, most of them are such where their music haven’t been at the forefront of my own mind until the time that I have discussed them…and then later, I realise that the artist and the music I have just listened to, shouldn’t have been as foreign and unknown as it was for me. I have since realised that because of my CCM bubble that I grew up in during my primary school years (and well into my teens and young adult (Y.A.) years), I missed out on some good quality music, music that God has used in people’s lives, just the same as CCM. And now in this year and a half, I’ve lifted the lid and realised this one very thing- that whether someone likes CCM or mainstream music, isn’t really the matter to God. He will use whatever He wants to, to connect people towards Himself. What does matter are people’s hearts, and sometimes in the unlikeliest of circumstances, it can be the unassuming artists that come along, and tug at our very hearts, and really challenge what it truly means to love God and love people well in this life.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 29: Mandy Harvey

There once was a man who walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. After the tightrope had been fixed in place, he started gathering a crowd to watch his daring and dangerous feat. “Come one! Come all!” he shouted into his bullhorn. “Watch me walk above Niagara Falls, balancing on nothing more than this little rope!”

As people started gathering, he passed around a sample of the rope so people could see how small it was. “One little slip, and I will tumble to my death in the waters below!” he shouted. “You never know when I might fall. The rope is getting wet from the misting water. A wind is coming up the gorge. I don’t want to die, but today could be the day!”

As the crowd swelled even more, he shouted to those who had gathered, “Who believes I can walk across the falls and back without falling to my death below?”

Most of the crowd shouted that they believed he could do it. Many of them cheered him on to try it. So he climbed up onto the rope, and balanced his way across Niagara Falls. When he reached the far side, he turned around and came back. He didn’t slip. He didn’t fall. In fact, he barely wobbled or wavered. So when he returned to the safety of the shore, he motioned with his hands for the cheering crowd to quiet down.

“That was too easy!” he yelled. “That wasn’t a challenge for me at all! Let’s make it more difficult! Who believes I can do again, but this time, while pushing a wheelbarrow? If my hands are on the wheelbarrow, I will not be able to use them to balance on the rope. Shall I give it a try? Do you believe I can do it?” He motioned to a nearby wheelbarrow, which he had brought for this very purpose.

The crowd cheered their approval, which caused the number of gathering people to swell even further. So with the help of two nearby men, he lifted a wheelbarrow up onto the rope, and then started pushing it across the Falls. He went more slowly this time, and even had a few wobbles, which caused the crowd to gasp and cry out with fear, but he made it to the other side and back without any great problem. The crowd went wild.

“That was too easy!” he yelled. “Who believes I can do it again, but this time, with another person inside the wheelbarrow?” The crowd roared their approval. “I would not only be risking my own life, but also the life of the person in the wheelbarrow,” the man shouted to the crowd. “With a show of hands, let me see how many of you believe I can do this!” Almost every person in the large crowd raised their hand. It was nearly unanimous.

“Wonderful! I am so glad to see that you have such faith in me! I think I will give it a shot!” the man yelled. “Now … among all of you who raised your hand, do I have a volunteer to get into the wheelbarrow?” Every hand in the large crowd went down. “What?” said the man. “You’ve seen me walk across Niagara Falls twice without any problems, once while pushing this wheelbarrow! And most of you believe I can do it with someone else in the wheelbarrow with me! But when I ask which of you wants to get into the wheelbarrow, none of you volunteer? Do you believe I can do it or not?”

But there were no takers, so the crowd did not see him push someone across Niagara Falls in a wheelbarrow that day.

Continue reading Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 29: Mandy Harvey

MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 62: SARAH MCLACHLAN

What are some of the fondest memories of your childhood? The moments in time, when you were younger, where all the things that mattered in that moment, was enjoying what was in front of you, where you didn’t care about anything except for the enjoyable moment that you were in? Everyone has times in their life, where they look back and think ‘yes, this was a time in my life where things were simpler. Where I didn’t worry or care about the responsibilities that I have now, or when I just enjoyed life and the simpler moments, just because’. I know there have been moments in my own life where that has happened. In a nutshell, it was when I was watching movies…Disney in particular. And while right now Disney has become a massive conglomerate- with its own television channel (Disney +), once upon a time, Disney and its movies shaped a generation of people growing up, like no other. For me I was born the late 1980s; and grew up in the 1990s. I can remember my parents saying that for every day during my formative years (let’s say I was around 3 – 4), I’d want to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, every day. Maybe that did happen like I may have wanted it back then, maybe my mum didn’t cave, and I only watched the movie once every few days. Nevertheless, Disney was a big part of my childhood growing up. Movies like The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Oliver and Company, The Fox and the Hound, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dumbo, Robin Hood, Tarzan, A Goofy Movie and The Sword in the Stone, have all been watched by myself and my family at various points during my primary school years, some movies maybe more than once. I am reminded even now much of a positive impact Disney and its movies has had on myself as I was growing up, but I guess through all of those aforementioned movies above, I guess the one category of Disney movies that have been my favourite, and will still be my favourite as the years continue to progress, would be movies under the umbrella of Disney/Pixar. A partnership between the Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios, movies started to flourish from 1995 onward. Starting off its catalogue with the highly successful (and now highly nostalgic) Toy Story (starring heavyweight actors like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen), the Disney-Pixar brand has continued to be a reckoning force even now in 2020. One such movie that stood out to me during the 1990s from Disney Pixar was in fact the 1999 movie Toy Story 2- a sequel to the 1995 classic movie Toy Story. Not that the storyline to the 1999 movie was memorable at all- in fact, in 2020, I can’t really recall what happened in the 1999 film, only the basic plot that Woody was stolen from a yard sale by a greedy toy collector, learning about his own origins as being a main character in a fictitious 1950s TV show, all the while, the other toys (Buzz, Rex, Hamm, Slinky etc.) try to rescue Woody from being sold to a Japanese museum. While the plot itself is a little convoluted for kids to even follow, what stood out for me, years later even in 2020, was the original song written for the movie.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 61: ADELE

‘…how I felt when I wrote 21, I wouldn’t want to feel again. It was horrible. I was miserable, I was lonely, I was sad, I was angry, I was bitter. I thought I was going to be single for the rest of my life. I thought I was never going to love again. It’s not worth it. Well, it was worth it, because, obviously, of what’s gone on. But I’m not willing to feel like that to write a song again. I’m not…If I wanted to just be famous, like be a celebrity, then I wouldn’t do music, because everything else I’ve been offered would probably make me more famous than I am just with my music. Commercials, being the face of brands, nail varnishes, shoes, bags, fashion lines, beauty ranges, hair products, being in movies, being the face of a car, designing watches, food ranges, buildings, airlines, book deals. I’ve been offered everything. And I don’t want to water myself down. I want to do one thing. I want to make something. I don’t want to be the face of anything…’

If I am being completely honest, this upcoming blog post would have to be the one, out of all the 60 (61st currently right now) I have undertaken, where I’ve been literally worried and scared to do. I know I shouldn’t really be worried, because this post is just one mere man’s opinion, but in all honesty, I just can’t help it. Maybe it’s because Adele is one of the most popular British icons in British music history, and she has one of the most emotive, poignant and prolific voices ever, and therefore whatever I say won’t ever be enough to say about one of the 21st century’s most impactful and articulate singer-songwriters this generation have ever seen. Or maybe it’s just nerves, and this blog post is simultaneously the one where I’m prepared to a point, but also neither prepared at all, all at the same time. Regardless, this blog post about Adele would have to be, like U2, the one where people would automatically slot into their list of influential artists- if people even had lists nowadays. Across every person’s musical preferences, enjoyable melodies, and genres that they gravitate towards over the years, one cannot deny the importance, influence and impact Adele has had across her 3 albums, on music history. This blog post quite possibly can be the shortest blog yet that I’ve ever written (what can be said that hasn’t been said already by publications and news articles online from songfacts, songmeanings and medium.com, to NPR, Rollingstone and video interview on the youtube site Skavlan), but also simultaneously one of the most heartfelt, emotive and poignant that has ever been written within my 1 and a half year musical journey from February 2019 till now. For we all know Adele’s vocals can pierce depths of our hearts that only certain people can go- for that is why her albums are such relatable for people, and her down-to-earth atmosphere she portrays in video interviews is certainly contagious and a joy to watch. We are reminded through Adele’s career that these people we call musicians (that we often place on a pedestal) are in fact humans like me and you. They have faults, they’re not some super-people that we often idolise and believe they can do no wrong. It is in these moments of vulnerability in interviews that we see the transparency of these artists, and we respect these people whose music we listen to, all the more.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 60: GOO GOO DOLLS

This upcoming band that I’m about to discuss was a band that I initially didn’t think I’d touch with a ten-foot pole, nor did I even have a good preconception on how this band actually was. You know when you sit down to write about something (or in the case of my blogs over the last year or so, someones), you come to the table with assumptions of what you’re about to write about, things you’ve believed over time, things you’ve heard from other people, and once you go through the musical journey yourself and listen to the artist in its entirety through all their songs and start to see the music that they really make, that what they create and stand for is so much different than what you were even led to believe? Maybe these sentences just aforementioned mean nothing to you, and now you’re just thinking that I am some over-analysing person who likes to over-think things. And that’s ok if you think that. But I’ve been on a journey of late, a good one. My eyes have been open to the wonderful music of artists gone by, from Josh Groban, Bryan Adams, Sara Bareilles and Lady A, to Lecrae, Hanson, John Mayer and Colbie Caillat, to name a few, and in each of these cases, I came into it with a certain idea in my head of what I thought that particular artist was going to be, and that wasn’t what it was…in a very, very good way. As I enter into my 60th blog of this series, discussing rock band Goo Goo Dolls, I came into it in a similar way- assuming that the band was only influential and impactful for their chart-topping hit ‘Iris’ and nothing else. Boy was I mistaken, in a way that I can say now that I was glad that I was.

Continue reading MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 60: GOO GOO DOLLS

Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 28: Lindsay Ell

There once was a man who walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. After the tightrope had been fixed in place, he started gathering a crowd to watch his daring and dangerous feat. “Come one! Come all!” he shouted into his bullhorn. “Watch me walk above Niagara Falls, balancing on nothing more than this little rope!”

As people started gathering, he passed around a sample of the rope so people could see how small it was. “One little slip, and I will tumble to my death in the waters below!” he shouted. “You never know when I might fall. The rope is getting wet from the misting water. A wind is coming up the gorge. I don’t want to die, but today could be the day!”

As the crowd swelled even more, he shouted to those who had gathered, “Who believes I can walk across the falls and back without falling to my death below?”

Most of the crowd shouted that they believed he could do it. Many of them cheered him on to try it. So he climbed up onto the rope, and balanced his way across Niagara Falls. When he reached the far side, he turned around and came back. He didn’t slip. He didn’t fall. In fact, he barely wobbled or wavered. So when he returned to the safety of the shore, he motioned with his hands for the cheering crowd to quiet down.

“That was too easy!” he yelled. “That wasn’t a challenge for me at all! Let’s make it more difficult! Who believes I can do again, but this time, while pushing a wheelbarrow? If my hands are on the wheelbarrow, I will not be able to use them to balance on the rope. Shall I give it a try? Do you believe I can do it?” He motioned to a nearby wheelbarrow, which he had brought for this very purpose.

The crowd cheered their approval, which caused the number of gathering people to swell even further. So with the help of two nearby men, he lifted a wheelbarrow up onto the rope, and then started pushing it across the Falls. He went more slowly this time, and even had a few wobbles, which caused the crowd to gasp and cry out with fear, but he made it to the other side and back without any great problem. The crowd went wild.

“That was too easy!” he yelled. “Who believes I can do it again, but this time, with another person inside the wheelbarrow?” The crowd roared their approval. “I would not only be risking my own life, but also the life of the person in the wheelbarrow,” the man shouted to the crowd. “With a show of hands, let me see how many of you believe I can do this!” Almost every person in the large crowd raised their hand. It was nearly unanimous.

“Wonderful! I am so glad to see that you have such faith in me! I think I will give it a shot!” the man yelled. “Now … among all of you who raised your hand, do I have a volunteer to get into the wheelbarrow?” Every hand in the large crowd went down. “What?” said the man. “You’ve seen me walk across Niagara Falls twice without any problems, once while pushing this wheelbarrow! And most of you believe I can do it with someone else in the wheelbarrow with me! But when I ask which of you wants to get into the wheelbarrow, none of you volunteer? Do you believe I can do it or not?”

But there were no takers, so the crowd did not see him push someone across Niagara Falls in a wheelbarrow that day.

Continue reading Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 28: Lindsay Ell

Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 27: Peter Hollens

I think I’ve said this many times throughout the time that this site has been online. But now I’ll say it again. All throughout my life, I’ve been sheltered. Jon too. Mainly because we were born 3 months premature and hence our parents wanted to keep us at home and make sure we were super healthy and not exposed to anything that could and would hinder our development in any way possible. We never went to pre-school, and Mum never worked at all for the 5 years that both Jon and I were at home before kindergarten. I know, it may seem like a pretty intense and drastic measure- but hey, that’s what Mum and Dad were feeling at the time, and I absolutely cannot fault them for raising me and Jon the way they did. I have so much thanks and gratitude towards them, and there’s so many things in my life that are great, all because Mum and Dad were present during the formative years of my life. I think that I’ve actually had a pretty great childhood- but then again I’m not comparing my childhood to anything, so perhaps I’m biased? Anyway, as I was saying- both Jon and I were sheltered, through no fault of our own… but this meant that Mum and Dad were a bit hesitant in letting us try new things. From my own recollection from what Mum and Dad have told me, Jon had to be ‘forced’ every type of food for the first time, otherwise all he’s be eating would be chicken drumsticks; while Mum and Dad have told me countless times that I mostly copied my brother because, well I don’t know, isn’t that what brothers do when they’re young? When Jon decided not to talk and just point and use non-verbal cues to grab our parents’ attention, I followed suit. When Jon chucked a tantrum, I followed suit. When Jon decided that he was scared while watching Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs for the 7th billionth time, well naturally I’d hid behind the couch with him at the sight of the witch giving Snow White the apple. Life indeed was simpler back then, yet I’m sure others could say that we missed out on a lot during that time. And yeah, on some level you all may be right. But I believe that in a roundabout way, missing on quite a few things while we were younger- namely music and movies- is actually a blessing in disguise. Because it may have led to this blog series being written… and this series is one of the most humbling, enjoyable, enriching, inspiring and compelling activities I’ve embarked on in recent memory.

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 59: VANESSA AMOROSI

Think about life for a moment in all it’s ebbs and flows. It’s ups and downs, ins and outs, valleys and peaks. It’s not that hard to do now, when we see what’s happening with the world, with COVID-19 wreaking havoc around the world. We look at our lives and think and wonder. What are the constants in our lives when everything around us seems be less certain? And then hopefully we start to think, and we can then write them all down. Our friends and family. Check. Our relationship with God. Check. Our endless supply of DVD’s and movies, the streaming services of Stan, Foxtel, Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV and Disney +. Check. Well…then again, maybe streaming services isn’t as constant in our lives as we ourselves initially think. But you get the picture. And then last but not least, something in our lives that has been constant for forever, in ways that maybe we ourselves don’t even know it, is in fact music. Music, just like film and TV, has the power to delve deep into our souls, and minister to our very core of our humanity, hopefully bringing to light, issues that maybe we ourselves need to work on, while also highlighting our very relationships with our friends, family and God Himself, in the whole process of us enjoying a song and reflecting on its meaningful lyrics. For me, music has always been a staple in my life for as long as I can remember- I started listening to children’s music like The Donut Man and Psalty the Singing Songbook when I was younger, and as time went on, my musical tastes continued to expand. Artists like Delirious?, Carman, Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Newsboys, Tim Hughes and Rebecca St. James were all artists I thoroughly listened to throughout my primary and high school years, while my university days were impacted by a lot of CCM- artists like the ones aforementioned, alongside others- Third Day, Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Nichole Nordeman, Natalie Grant, Bebo Norman, Kerrie Roberts, Paul Baloche, Phil Wickham, Matthew West, Kari Jobe, Britt Nicole, BarlowGirl, Hawk Nelson, Sanctus Real, Building 429, David Crowder*Band, and Jason Gray (to name a few of the many, many artists we- my twin brother and I, branched out into). Now here I am in 2020, one year and a half into my blog series, and my musical tastes have continued to grow and expand even further. Yes, this blog series (which you can read more about here) has been daunting and at times, uncertain, but on a holistic level, has also been rewarding, as I felt the Lord’s presence and Him speaking to me through a lot of music that one wouldn’t necessarily call ‘Christian’. And that was my own conundrum that I was working through- and am still working through. I’ve concluded that mainstream music isn’t ‘bad’, as a lot of fundamentalist Christians believe. And maybe I believed that statement too, even though I didn’t grow up in such a fundamentalist environment.

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Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 26: Thomas Rhett

The other day I was reflecting. As you do when the world has gone to pieces because of COVID-19 and other things, and you have extra time on your hands. I think I was sitting. Or maybe I was standing? Anyhoo, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that as I was reflecting on the year that was and is- and boy haven’t we all have had it rough, and don’t we all wish that 2020 would be ‘over’! – it slowly dawned on me that I’ve actually written 25 blogs out of 50, for artists who I deem as just coming to be influential now (for their respective genres and for their vastly different audiences), or maybe about other artists who may not be influential yet but will be within 5-10 years. I know that that is a mouthful to remember, because one’s definition of influence differs from person to person, and who you reckon is influential is who I reckon is not, and vice versa; yet nevertheless I have reached the half way point on my musical journey that I never thought that I would ever embark on in my wildest dreams. And the results so far… well they’re interesting. I stepped into this journey not knowing which artists would speak to me and what wisdom would be imparted to me- a similar thought process to Jon when he embarked on his much grander musical journey; yet at this half way point, much like Jon at his half way point, the questions I asked myself remained, and the answers to them not so clear cut… which in some ways is a good thing as it means that God is still speaking. I mean, have I learned anything about the music industry at large at this point, or about specific genres that I hadn’t known about before, or was God speaking to me in a profound way through an artist who I previously thought was superficial or shallow? Or was I even underwhelmed by a certain artist for whatever reason? And most of all, did I feel good about my choices of artists to include on this list at the end of the day, considering there’s other talented and up and coming artists who missed the cut on this arbitrary list?

Continue reading Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 26: Thomas Rhett

MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS OF ALL TIME – WEEK 58: JOHN MAYER

There are sometimes during the weeks where I sit and ponder and wonder. What really, really constitutes a great song or artist? Is it the message of the melody, the lyrics, what is being said, that would make the song stand the test of time in the end? Is it the musical composition, and the various layers of guitars, drums, keyboards and the like, that evoke different emotions, considering who is listening to it? Is it the general perception of the artist that determines whether a song or even an album by that artist, is successful, impactful or even decade-defying or not? Does an artist make a song, or can a song make an artist? These are the questions that have been haunting fans of music, and critics of it, for quite some time, and as we sit and think about all this, in 2020; I don’t think we’ve ever come to a clear conclusion sooner, if at all. For artists, songs, and albums are people’s preferences, and what one person can deem in their own lives as influential, the other can avoid with a ten-foot-pole. That’s just life, and there’s millions of genres available for people to listen to, to their hearts content. Music is very, very subjective, and so for me to tackle this year-long (and then some), project, about the top 100 Influential Artists (in my very own subjective opinion)- and then to top it off, 40 artists that are deemed the ‘classics’…you see what I mean right? People can call this ‘music experiment’ mere folly. And yet for me upon reflection- since I started embarking on this vastly daunting (yet equally exciting and rewarding) venture, I’ve been realising that such an exercise as this, as led me to appreciate music in all its facets all the more.

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