Nashville, I’m Back…

Just like clockwork, April always brings…

1. The great un-thawing of Minnesota. (Well, except for last year when it actually decided to SNOW! Guess who wasn’t happy about that? Yep, you guessed it, yours truly.

2. Some sort of allergy/cold combo where I can’t breathe properly through my newly acquired Rudolph nose, usually before, after or during GM Week in Nashville (and thank goodness, it arrived right on schedule a week before my trip).

3. My annual trek to Music City for the aforementioned festivities. Much fruit tea and black bean salad is consumed with friends, music interviews are conducted, and I get my fix of hearing people say they’re “fixing to go to the grocery.”

4. And yes, there’s even some much-needed showers for those May flowers, too. But preferably not during my trip.

Since I’m in the midst of packing for Nashville, I found myself getting a little nostalgic. More specifically, it got me thinking about my very first GM Week (for the uninitiated, that’s Gospel Music Week, a few days of interviews, meet and greets, showcases and the Dove Awards, which serve as the industry’s big grand finale that honors the best artists of the genre).

When I did the math (never my specialty, but at least this was fairly basic) to figure out exactly how long it’s been since that landmark trip of my college days, I must admit I was in shock. It’s actually been 13 years!

13!

My, my, my, I feel old (and I’m guessing my pal Amy Bickel, who accompanied me for all the fun, probably feels the same). Incidentally, that trip to Nashville also marked my first-ever flight, which is hilarious considering how I’ve been making up for my lack of frequent flier miles ever since.

In addition to my first tour of the friendly skies, the Nashville trip also marked my first byline that I’d traveled a considerable distance for. Around the time my junior year had rolled around, I decided that I had to write about GM Week and the Doves for our campus paper, The Northern Light.

Only trouble is, I wasn’t a “real” journalist, only a college one, but I wasn’t about to let that deter me. For whatever reason (youthful determination, or sheer stupidity, take your pick) I just knew the Gospel Music Association would just have to say “yes” to Amy and I covering the event, and I’m sure glad (thanks Tricia Whitehead) they overlooked our lack of credentials.

While interviewing a slew of my favorite artists at the time, namely Jars of Clay who’d just released their second CD, Much Afraid, I discovered my passion for writing about music. In fact, I was pretty sure that’s what I wanted to do in my post-college life. And when people started asking what I had planned for my future (like they so often do, whether you like it or not) I told them I was packing up my trusty Buick Century (a huge “grandma” car that I don’t miss in the least) and moving to Nashville. After all, the place, not to mention the music, had made quite an impression on me—even if I’d only been there once.

Then after working a slew of odd jobs (and “odd” is really the only way to describe these gigs with so little in common) once I moved to town, I actually ended up working for the very magazine I’d been subscribing to since I was 14, CCM Magazine. I liked working there so much, in fact, that I stayed for five and a half years before becoming a full-time freelance writer/author.

Now all these years later, (and four since my hubby and I officially left Nashville for the Great White North), I’m still covering GM Week. And while it’s probably not with the same youthful exuberance of my college years, (I mean who can compete with that?), it’s always fun to reconnect with everyone I’ve met along the way.

And just like my first trip to NashVegas, I will still always be in awe of just how much butter the cooks slap on top of the delicious pancakes at Pancake Pantry. If you haven’t witnessed it for yourself, let’s just say that Paula Deen would be proud—very proud indeed.

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