I recently enlisted the help of an editor for my blog posts. Certainly, simple journal-like writing doesn’t demand the need for an editor—I’ve read some posts recently by my favorite authors who could’ve used at least a proofreader—but I want to become a better writer. And the best way to become better at something is not simply to practice but to receive feedback as well. I’m indebted to Laurie for the first of this three-part post concerning Jennifer Knapp. (Read Part 1.) I had a hard time writing it since my heart was heavy with emotion and my mind was cluttered with a lot I wanted to say.
Laurie wanted me to elaborate on my comment that Jennifer Knapp’s previous music was anointed. So I was forced to do a little research on something I’d been a little unclear on myself, though that never prevented me from bandying about the word anointed before. (Did I just use the word bandy? I forgot to mention I didn’t have time to submit this post for editing.) Here I’ll set up my explanation of the anointing and finish in Part 3 on Friday.
Killing Me Softly with His Song
I remember a few years ago playing at a funeral where I provided prelude and postlude music on piano as well as a couple vocal pieces, including “Abide with Me” and Chris Rice’s “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus),” which I definitely prefer over “Wind Beneath My Wings” or “My Way.” Someone who was probably a Christian—because people who’ve never read the Bible don’t use this word—thanked me afterward and declared my music to be anointed. I graciously received her comment, though I wasn’t certain what it meant.
Later I was working with a friend of mine and former protégé, Kathleen, who has been the worship leader at NorthPoint Church in Toledo since I left, and we discussed this idea of the anointing, as it pertains to worship music. I declared her music to be anointed as well. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I knew that when she would sing and play guitar, something supernatural would happen. I’ve had many people try to communicate the same about me. They mean more than just, “I love your singing.” I know this, because I meant to say more to Kathleen than just, “I love your singing.” (It certainly helps to have a nice Taylor too, which I jokingly ripped in “The End of the World As We Know It.”)
It used to happen a lot and I was always bothered when people would compare me to Michael W. Smith because I don’t care for his voice or music style. Although, I had the opportunity to see him live once, and there’s definitely something special about his singing—anointed?
Fat Guys on Keys
Several years ago I attended a Promise Keepers youth conference called “Passage,” targeted toward tweeners—not the young ones, but guys 16 to 20. They had an awesome house band that led worship before each speaker: very cool-looking, fit, young guys on electric guitars and the obligatory overweight guy on Hammond B3.
(It’s the occupational hazard of a keyboardist: because your instrument isn’t as aerobic as others, you tend to be fat. Elton John is pudgy. Billy Joel has ballooned. Oscar Peterson was a porker. Of course, there was Fats Domino. Although, Jerry Lee Lewis was trim; he was rather fiery.)
Some of these young musicians sported shaved heads, others wore dreadlocks. Their music was energetic and fun.
Then Michael W. Smith took the stage.
He was a special unannounced guest I considered a strange invite to a young guys’ conference. At that point almost ten years ago I thought he’d already lost his edge. But there he sat at a piano, very out of place among all the guitars, and was even joined by a violinist. How lame! (I don’t like the violin in Dave Matthews Band, though I like violin in other settings.) With Smith’s opening chords, however, you could definitely sense the presence of God, which was lacking when the young, hip band led.
(By the way, Michael W. Smith looked like he was pretty active, though his hair probably weighed five pounds.)
He isn’t my favorite artist, but I’m now honored when people compare me to him, because it’s my aim for people to sense God’s presence in my music. I can’t force this to happen. All I can do is practice my instrument, prepare my music, and pray for God’s leading. There are some other things involved too, and on Friday I’ll define this anointing and talk about some other artists who have impacted me.