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Nashville, February 10th, 2019 - Yesterday, after my own set, I was watching Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr's set at All About Z Music house concert in Franklin, TN. Georgia was talking about the journey of dreams. How you set out with dreams and goals in mind and some come true and some don't.
This really hit home for me. I came to the States almost 9 years ago now, with dreams and goals in mind and started immediately working towards them. Along the way they became refined. I started realizing that I was a beacon, a light that some people look at as a "she's following her dreams, I can do it too". An inspiration, with how many obstacles (inner and outer) I have had to overcome to get there, most of which I'm not sure anyone but my closest actually knows. I have made a business out of "follow your dreams" by doing it myself.
But one of the things that Georgia said, that cracked me wide open was how the dreams can change. This was leading into a song with an "if my dreams had all come true, I wouldn't have met you"-theme. (Those aren't the actual lyrics, but that was the gist of it). This hit me deeply because after coming here, finding my way, refining my message and keep going for it - over time, my dreams change. I change. And lately, I've been doing the inner work of "who am I now?".
I know, deep existential work, right? Perfect for a Friday afternoon, light reading before TGIF happy hour! I guess that's why they call it a "mid-life crisis", although I think in my case, "crisis" is much too harsh of a word. More like "mid-life pondering". Because it's not hellfire, but a slow smoldering ember that is taking a while to sort through. However, the pondering I am doing is, in fact, ground shaking stuff. It's foundation level sh*t.
When I moved to the States to follow my dreams of becoming a country artist and songwriter, I was 31, raw from recent emotional wounds, and fresh outta India and a Yoga Instructor certification. I was anti-other-people's-rules and ferociously independent. And I didn't have a clue. I came to the game "late" and had to find my way like a teenager. Questions like: "Do I want to be a performer or a songwriter?" and "Should I move to Nashville?" were really big, existential, game-changing questions I had to answer.
My work right now is more subtle, but still begs the questions: "Who am I? What do I want?" I'm not a 31-year-old "child" anymore, I'm a grown woman. I'm not a novice anymore, I've paid my dues and become quite the expert in DIY musicianship. Maybe I'm also less naive, less pie in the sky. Maybe I want something real and tangible now, not some airy fairy marginally attainable dream.
I've also been trying to separate fact from fiction. The magically appearing overnight hits, the "someone will discover me"-mentality and realizing how alive and well these thoughts are, especially in a town like Nashville. Trying to figure out how much of this is true and how much is absolute bologna. And irritated that everyone seems to discount the music industry as this special, magical forest, different from other industries where the normal business rules don't apply while simultaneously getting turned down for grants because music is a "high-profit industry". Make up your minds people!
Although I'm nowhere near figuring out where I belong in all this, I will, as always, share from where I am at on my journey.
So what hasn't changed? Well, country music is still my jam, no doubt about that. Contemporary country music, even, with all of its politics. I'm still all about following dreams, because, why else do life? That's also fundamental to me.
But I am bringing my dreams back down to earth. When I dream about getting a CMA Award or a Grammy, I really dream about what that represents. Recognition? Achievement? Sure, but really, to me, it represents that a lot of people get to hear my music. That I've made an impact on the world with my words and music. And that when I play live in front of an audience they listen. And also that I get paid appropriately compared to my expenses for creating more music. No more starving artist syndrome. I'm too old for that.
There are about a trillion other (and easier) ways to achieve this than going for the Grammy. Some with fewer politics and more soul. Do I need to be a household name for this to be true? Do I need to be on the cover of magazines? TMZ following me everywhere? Nope. And some of that fame might make my ACTUAL dreams harder to achieve, not easier.
Peeling back the layers of my dreams reveals the true heart of them. And that's what I follow.