May 28, 2002
Update 2017: I registered this domain name in August 2000 and launched the first version of the site as a musician working on a demo recording of Christian-themed songs. I’ve obviously departed from that original goal along the way, taking most of my music offline by 2004 and started focusing more on my tech career.
I still hold true to my beliefs, and will have a discussion with anyone who wants genuine conversation about my journey into faith in God, both the ups and downs.
I’m nothing terribly unique. I don’t do anything others haven’t already done. I don’t imagine I’ll impress many.
But I’m not here to be popular. Or famous.
My purpose is simple. I’ve been given a task. I’ve got a purpose to fulfill.
We were created by God with a single purpose: to seek after Him, to build a relationship with an all-loving Father in Heaven who desires our love and attention more than we could know. We’re here to seek Him. We’re here to worship Him.
That, in a nutshell, is who I am.
My background was ordinary by the way of “standard” living. Perhaps extraordinary in the fact that my family has always done well at everything - we’ve succeeded where others failed, we’ve beaten impossible odds, and my parents celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2002, a feat that many other couples cannot boast of. (they just celebrated 45 years in February 2017!)
Raised a Christian, I understood at an early age what it meant to follow God, to seek out that relationship, and to long to see Him face to face. As a teenager, that yearning was strengthened as I felt called and led into a ministry involving music. As a young adult, it’s even stronger as I focus in on Him by leading others in worship and using my music to provide a worshipful environment … effectively giving back what I was given so long ago … a place to meet with God.
Now, my heart cries out for more of Him, and my goal is easy to define: to bring others to this place.
As a young child, I was interested in the piano. Perhaps it was inspiration struck by a pastor who played so casually and full of energy yet in a way that ministered to others. Taking on a few different teachers and switching between the styles of classical, contemporary and jazz, I found myself in my teens developing a style all my own. As a singer, a tenor, inspired by other great contemporary Christian artists including Michael W. Smith, Michael English, and Chris Rice.
Throughout my teenage years and into the start of my adult life, my tastes vary and I have many musical interests. I’ve played all types and still settle in on my own style, a mix of contemporary pop/jazz/r&b, perhaps a touch of classical.
My first song ever written was begun when I was 16 years old, after a personal study of God’s promises and learning that with enough faith, a Christian can call out to God and seek, in Jesus’ name, to have their prayers answered. The song, titled “In My Name” was finished in 1997 and played live in front of a people at my church during a service.
The next song performed live would wait a few years, and “Through the RIver” was composed, written and ready to play in less than two weeks in the spring of 2000.
In person, I’m a generally quiet, shy individual. I’m classified as a “deep thinker”, one who enjoys having fun with friends and a casual place to be together. I enjoy my quiet time, where I can be alone with my thoughts and with God. I love the feel of the keys between my fingers as the talent God gave me pours out into chorus and verse. I also enjoy creative writing and became a published poet in 2001.
In the summer of 2000, a very distinct tug in my heart drew me to Southern California where I soon learned what a “desert experience” is all about. I learned the hardships that come with being 2000 miles from your family and friends, and the comfortable life once lived. It brought me closer to God. Time has passed, and God has blessed me with friendships I never had before, presented opportunities I’m not sure I could have ever had in Canada, strengthened other friendships back in Canada despite the distance, and brought wonderful people into my life to inspire and encourage me in my music.
My current goal is to finish enough songs to compile a CD.
In God’s timing…
Well, if it relates to music and singing, I can pretty much say I’ve “been there, done that.”
My mom got me singing in church when I was pretty young and have stuck with it all these years. It’s pretty amazing to look back and realize that you’ve been doing something like that for over 20 years and you’re only in your twenties. Well, another year and a half and then I’ll be 30. Egad…
Between singing and playing the trumpet, french horn and piano/keyboard, I’ve almost done it all:
- plays and holiday productions (Christmas, Easter, etc)
- talent shows (top male vocalist for Eastern Ontario and Quebec, 1995)
- weddings (lost count, at least 8 or 9)
- a funeral
- karaoke events
- “coffee house” events
- amateur recording with a stage band in high school
- professional recording with Janet Freisen
- live demo recording with a church band
- special music and worship leader, youth retreat in Oshawa, Ontario
- been part of a worship band at every church I’ve attended since I was 12
- led worship at a district youth rally in Kingston, Ontario
- impromptu worship experience at a youth talent show in Belleville, Ontario
- led worship at an adult retreat at Ottawa Vally Pentecostal Camp
- opening singer for another recording artist in Brockville, Ontario
- part of a small singing ensemble (6 people) for about a year
- coffee house bands
- concert bands
- stage bands
- multimedia production for a junior soccer team and other Internet presentations
I don’t know what’s left… (at the time, American Idol wasn’t a thing)
I started taking piano lessons as a young child and because I hated practicing, the lessons were off-and-on over a span of about 8 years. Finally reaching an equivalent level to grade 5 or 6 in Royal Conservatory studies, I quit taking lessons and concentrated on playing “by ear”. I was quickly learning to play songs well beyond my piano lesson training.
I’ve never taken any kind of formal vocal training, but I have been to professional seminars, and have a series of high-quality vocal workout tapes which I use from time to time. Many people who have heard me sing tell me I have a pretty unique “sound” and quality to my voice. I’m hoping someday somebody will explain what that means.
Combined with my own style of playing the keyboard, and being the unique individual that God has made me, I really enjoy using the talents that have grown over the years.
I’ve written a number of songs which include lyrics; only two have been performed live. “In My Name” was finished in February of 1997, and “Through The River” was finished in March of 2000.
I take my music very seriously. And I’m happy to say that after over a decade of getting up in front of people with a serious outlook on my ministry, I still get nervous but that’s where God shines. The majority of my singing has been shared in many different churches in the Eastern Ontario area as a “special guest singer.” I’ve been a part of open-air church services and a church-dedication service as well as many weddings.
By far, my favorite place to sing had been at the Eastern Ontario and Quebec Youth Convention Festival of Ministry in Kingston, Ontario. When I sang at the Convention in May 1995, I was awarded Top Male Soloist for Eastern Ontario and Quebec.
More About Worship
The most memorable worship experience I can recall is an impromptu worship experience that I led when I was a teenager. Heavily involved in music at my church at the time, I was a candidate for a male vocalist at a multi-provincial (that’s multi-state to you US folks) talent show put on by the local area churches. The “Talent Search” begins at a regional level and our youth group was involved in a few different sessions that night, from my soloing to our youth choir singing a group song.
While the pastoral team of the church and other members of the judging panel retreated to a back room to tally scores, the church’s youth group got up on the platform and started joking around, goofing off, and causing other youth groups visiting the church to become rowdy.
The youth began to sing different songs and were, in my opinion, clearly up on the platform to be seen. They had one gentleman who was maybe in his 30’s on the piano trying to keep up with the songs that the youth wanted to sing and he did very well but eventually got to a song he didn’t know how to play. And the youth were persistent.
At the urging of my own youth group in attendance that night, I was ‘volunteered’ to play the song the local church’s youth group wanted to sing. So I sat at the piano and played. Someone got me a microphone since I was a soloist that night and they knew I could sing, and away we went. I don’t even recall the song…
By the time that praise song was over, something in me transitioned into a more gentle time of worship, and with a single song the congregation was entering into one of the more powerful worship services I’ve ever been a part of. It was a truly “night and day” change - the youth on the platform took their seats, I think maybe one of them stayed to harmonize with me on a few songs, the rest of the youth in the congregation settled down, and God poured out His Spirit all over that place.
I don’t even remember how long it lasted. It might have been three songs, it might have been a dozen. I just remember having songs flow out of me that I could never remember playing without music. I remember playing transitions I had never practiced, and at one point, having the pastor back on the platform and together we transitioned back to the purpose of the night and to announce the winners from the Talent Search that evening.
I remember later being told that a ‘hush’ fell over the church when I transitioned to that slower, gentler time of worship with a song that was popular with the youth at the time called “Spirit Move”. And I remember the move of God that night like never before. And I remember thinking, “Yeah, this is what it’s all about…”
And I remember getting a special remark from the judging panel that night for leading such an incredible unscheduled time of worship for the evening. I believe in my heart that this event was just the beginning.
I won the male solo vocalist award that night. I was 15.
More About Talent Shows
Another year, another Talent Search. This one was at a different church in the region - every year was a different location. The ‘rules’ for the talent shows were mostly set up so that time was used efficiently - no talking before or after your song, just get up there and sing, and your song had to be Christian-oriented, and between 2 minutes and 5 minutes in length. Lots of rules.
I remember that year - it was the year following the worship experience in Belleville, and the year my dad started teaching me to drive a manual transmission car, so I would have been turning 16 that year. I remember that year hearing comments about worship and about ministry, and how something changed in me about my motivation. I decided, since the Talent Search was right around Easter, to sing an Easter-themed song, “He Holds the Keys” by Steve Green. And I knew the rules of the Talent Search - I practically had them memorized. And “He Holds the Keys” was over 5:30 long. I’d be disqualified because the song was too long. I didn’t care.
I got to the church and I filled out my paperwork, paid my registration fee (covered the cost of the trophies and prizes, etc.) and handed it in with my cassette queued up and ready. The registration person was also a panel judge and asked me why I was submitting my registration knowing that I’d be disqualified for having a song that was over five minutes in length. My answer was short and simple: “I’m here to sing, not to win. This is a ministry opportunity and I’m gonna use it.”
So I got up and sang when it was my turn. And what a freeing experience it was as I got up to sing knowing that the judges weren’t scoring me on style or the complexity of the song or how the song was delivered. They just got to sit back and enjoy five and a half minutes of singing from a young man’s heart that was freed from the bonds of what that evening was supposed to be about. This was a ministry opportunity. My ministry opportunity. And I wasn’t going to let it go to waste.
Without any surprise, I didn’t win that night. I was commended, however, as a runner-up to the guy that did win. And I got my $5 registration fee back.
Something obviously changed on the judging panel that year. Apparently news spread, and the following year, the “Talent Search” was renamed to “Festival of Ministry” where youth were encouraged to get together and minister to one another. Yes, there were still regional ‘selections’ (not ‘winners’) to sing at the finals a month later, but the emphasis was clearly on being there to minister, and not as much of a talent show. And that made me feel pretty good.
The following year, I won as the male vocalist again as well as the evening’s “overall” winner which felt pretty good. God was clearly blessing my ministry. I started travelling to other churches in the area and singing for different events.
That winter, I started to hear rumors from my own youth group from other youth groups that many of the aspiring singers were not going to enter that following year. They all assumed I’d be singing yet again, and why would they bother getting up to sing if I was there.
I knew how they felt - I felt the exact same thing for two years - I got up and sang at my first two talent shows knowing full well that an older guy named Blair was singing and he was good. I mean, “write home, tell your mama” good. And I remember that third year thinking, “Why bother? Blair’s gonna be there…” But I entered anyway; that was the year that I was turning 15, and the regionals were in Belleville. And a funny thing ended up happening that year…
But I decided not to enter that year. Boy did I have questions coming at me from everyone - why wasn’t I entering, what was wrong with me, why am I not using my gifts and talents? My answer was simple: I wasn’t going to hold anyone else back from using their talents. If that meant I sat out for a year so other people would enter and experience what a ministry opportunity was all about, then so be it.
Enter, 1993. I was going to be 18, I was a senior in high school gearing up for college, and darn it I missed being at the Festivals. So I entered. And that year really surprised me. Without any real ‘stage presence’ - I stood in one spot and sang with my eyes shut. Audience connection was something the judges usually looked out for, but I didn’t care. I won the regional male solo vocalist prize again.
And the next year.
The discouraging thing was that I never won at the final Youth Convention - there was some guy from Toronto named Jerome Ransome who was an AMAZING soloist. Everyone, including me, was a fan of his singing. Jerome kept winning the male solo vocalist award every year I made it to the finals. And I remember in ‘93 and ‘94 being a little disappointed that Jerome was winning every year. But it worked out for Jerome - he started doing recordings and a recent look on the ‘net shows that he was listed as a Canadian Christian Artist and had music being played on the radio. Way to go, Jerome!
1995 came. They changed the rules… The cut-off age was now 20 years old (it used to be 25) - you had to be 20 or younger before the regionals or you wouldn’t qualify. Turns out my birthday was always RIGHT before the finals, and I mean within days of the finals. That meant that while I was 20 at the regionals, I’d be 21 at the finals in 1995.
I didn’t know Jerome wasn’t going to be in the finals until after I sang “In Christ Alone” at the regionals that year (and won). And then I had to sing it again in front of 2000+ other peers at the Convention.
… and I won the male solo vocalist award that year for the “Eastern Ontario/Quebec” area. It was a blast. Getting up in front of that many peers who have heard you sing so many years in a row, what a rush! I really miss that.
In the spring of 1998, I entered another talent show/ministry opportunity, where the final prize was studio time at a recording studio. I figured I had a sure hit with “In Christ Alone” which has been my ‘testimony’ song over the years, but didn’t win at the regionals - they were only selecting one male soloist, one female soloist, one group, etc., to go on to the finals. At the finals, however, they had multiple entries from other regions which I felt was a little unfair, but oh well.
So it was in 1998 that I decided not to put as much emphasis on a solo career as a worship leader title, and started composing.