Right after I graduated from college, I wanted to try and find employment as a working composer, arranger, and/or orchestrator. So I packed up my things and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. My first few years there, I struggled to make ends meet as I worked, on a freelance basis, at one of the largest publishing and recording companies in town. I was only paid $4 an hour, so I spent most of my waking hours making copies, editing choral and orchestral pieces, listening to test cassettes, typesetting music, and compiling sales reports. Despite the tedious drudgery and economic hardship of these first few years in Nashville, I used this time as an opportunity to learn everything I could about how the music business worked.
As time went on, people in the industry started to recognize my unique musical knowledge and abilities. It is unusual to find people in the music business who have a comprehensive academic knowledge of music. Most people either grow up in the business or have limited academic training. This extensive knowledge of music provided me with opportunities to work with talented and well-known music industry figures like Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Vince Gill, Point of Grace, Cece Winans, Larnelle Harris, Nickel Creek, The Katinas, Rachael Lampa, Greg Nelson, and many others.
In addition to working with these artists on national tours and recordings, I also spent a great deal of time arranging and orchestrating music for church print publications. This combination of experiences–in the recording studio, in live performance, and for print publication–formed the foundation of my knowledge of how the music industry works. These experiences also made me restless for opportunities to make music that focused more on the artistic and theological content of the music rather than its market potential. It was this desire to make music unto the Lord–in a more artistic, innovative, and profound way–that would eventually lead me away from the music industry in Nashville and on a distinctively different musical journey.