amy courts: en route


Top Ten of TwentyEleven
December 31, 2011, 11:41 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

Because it’s what I do every year (or at very least, think about doing), I offer you this year’s Top Ten of 2011 year in review. It’s fun, right? So here you go.

10. We moved to Minnesota!
It’s a bit sad for me, because I do love and dearly miss Nashville. But moving made practical sense for our family, and in truth, I don’t *need* to be in Nashville for music anymore. It never really embraced me, and I’m not sure I embraced it, professionally speaking. I guess. Maybe I’m making that up. Either way, the move was BIG for all of us. No more gentle winters…except this one, of course. Because, as is perfectly predictable, THIS is the easiest winter in Minnesota’s memory. Anyway, it was still a big move. We’re now Minneapolisians, and loving it. And I’m sincerely looking forward to learning the musical terrain of the Cities and diving in, head first, to hopefully find my place here.

9. We bought a house!
Upon deciding to move to Minneapolis, and finding that rental properties were astronomically more expensive than buying, we took the plunge and bought our first house. It’s a quaint 19teen’s house with exposed beam ceilings, a built-in China hutch, its original wood floors, and as unique a floor plan as one could hope for from an early 20th century home with four bedrooms and a sun porch upstairs. It’s got a full basement AND attic just waiting to be finished and made into a media room and studio (respectively). And we got it for the bargain price of $70k from a woman who’d owned it since the 1960s and raised her whole family there. It was rife with old memories and ready for some new ones. So we pounced!

8. Um….

7. Uh….

Screw it.

8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and…

1. >>>WE HAD A BABY!!<<<
His name is Elijah David. He was born on May 6, 2011. And he, my friends, takes the cake.

Happy 2012, from my adorably perfect family (made thus by my incomprehensibly gorgeous 8 month old Elijah, and his charming 15 year old big brother Matthew, and only barely crippled by their silly parents, me and Paul) to yours. May it blow your mind.

———–
ps: in fairness, there were a couple more exciting bits about 2011: I wrote a few handfuls of amazing songs with brilliant songwriters Bethany Dick-Olds and Eddie Christy, and Bethany and I took our show on the road – along with Elijah – for two mini house show tours, in July and in September. Turns out my sweet boy is a road dog after all!



The 22 Lyrics Game
November 21, 2008, 9:53 am
Filed under: Music, Random | Tags: , , ,

I got this from a few friends on facebook and decided it’d be a fun, if random, way to waste 10 minutes. I’ll post the answers in a few days…Til then, guess away!

Here’s the set-up:
Step 1: Put your music player on shuffle.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 22 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing.
Step 3: Strike through the songs when someone guesses both artist and track correctly.
Step 4: For those reading this, looking the lyrics up on a search engine is CHEATING!
Step 5: If you like the game, post your own!

1. Where the road is dark and the seed is sowed
2. Oh refuge of my hardened heart
3. Oh my love, can’t you see
4. Yeah, I’m flat-busted, wild-eyed and free
5. All alone we go on day after day
6. Please don’t hate me mama
7. Complications, my claim to fame
8. My moon, my man’s a changeable land
9. It’s hard to say what you mean to me
10. Barakthi Lemakom Akher Kol Kah Maher
11. Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening
12. Certainly I wish it, know I wanna hold your digits
13. Summer stretching on the grass
14. Some sunny day, Baby, when everything seems ok Baby…
15. There’ll be girls across the nation that’ll eat this up
16. You gotta help me out
17. Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night
18. No regrets, coyote
19. If to distance lands I scatter
20. I will not make the same mistakes that you did
21. I’m sitting here alone within my room
22. I took my bucket down to the well

Have at it, folks!



The Randomness: A Generalized Update

I’ve got a cold, so this may be random. But hey, what can you do with a cloudy braid but write a blog about everything?

I just read a blog entitled “The Music Debate” about the place of “secular” music in the church. Interesting. It got me thinking about the calling card of so many mid-90’s bands: “We’re not a ‘christian’ band; we’re christians IN a band.” I remember MXPX going on about it – mostly cause they were being hounded by Christians who didn’t appreciate their not-all-about-God music. I guess I didn’t really have a problem with it. What I had a problem with were the people who said, “I’m a musician who happens to be a Christian.” Cause that’s backward, to me.

Here’s why: Whatever I am, and whatever I do, I am identified by and with Christ. His blood runs in my veins; His DNA is imprinted on my genes; His priorities are my priorities, His values are my values; His new law of love and service and self-sacrifice are written on my heart. God is growing Christ in me to make me who I really am. At my very core, by definition, I belong to Christ and am identified as His.

So really, my faith is not just another part of who I am. It is the filter through which every other identifying factor is sifted. My belief system is a product of my faith. My politics are a product of my faith. My songs are all tempered – or salted, as it were – by my faith. The way I relate to people is filtered by Him who lives at my center. Indeed, whether I’m singing about my husband, hurting because of a broken relationship, angry about work, or overjoyed by an opportunity, I am doing so as a Believer, just as I’m doing so as a ‘Courts.’ Just as my family DNA has an effect on everything I do and say, so does Christ’s. It’s who I am…not just what I’m about.

So, in the end, I’m not an artist who happens to be a Christian. I am a Christian who happens to be an artist, a wife, a friend, a sister, a dog owner, a writer, a thinker. Whatever I am is primarily identified by Christ in me.

It’s just an interesting thread to follow.

Here’s another thread to follow: I’m a little bit obsessed with ebay and craigslist right now. Since our desktop PC crashed and now lives, unplugged and utterly useless, in our closet, I have been scouring tax-free sales lists for sweet deals on iMacs. Indeed, when I decided to buy my first laptop two years ago, I bought an Apple iBook G3 which solidified my committment to Macs. Then, when its screen started acting funny, I bought my second mac, a PowerBook G4 which I’ve upgraded to the max (it runs on Leopard with a 1.5gHz processor – the best of its kind – and at 1.25gb, is maxed out Ram) and am currently typing on. I love it. It’s given me some trouble for sure – not two months after I bought it, I had to get a new hard drive and dc-in…but I blame that entirely on an evil ebay seller who neglected to tell me the facts about the machine. Still, it’s a dream.

And so, as I peruse the cybersales looking for an iMac desktop, I inevitably get sidetracked by the oh-so-cheap $85 350gb external hard drive, and the $400 Dell gaming pc which Paul would love, Love, LOVE but about which I’m understandably wary, since our now-dead PC was a dream machine when we bought it, but which failed to make it through one itty bitty viral attack. So while I like the “cheap” factor, I hate the “PC” factor.

The worst part about our PC dying is the fact that I cannot access our 10gb of iTunes music, and can’t transfer what’s currently on the iPod to my de-lovely powerbook. Why? Because my iPod is formatted for PC, not mac, and because apple is totally anal about people not sharing music. So I’ve spent the last few sick days importing all our CDs onto my powerbook. I’m currently importing Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Will.” Good music, for sure.

I think that’s all I’ve got for right now.

Except one more thing: I really can’t wait for next Wednesday when voting will be over, the campaigns done, and we won’t have to listen to any more drivel from either side. At this point, I don’t really care who wins; I just want to get on with life.

Can I get an AMEN!



NEW REVIEW AND INTERVIEW in Wrecked for the Ordinary

Voices in Culture: Amy Courts


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Amy Courts is one of those musicians whose songs you can put on repeat, and hours later still be enjoying the tunes like you were playing them for the first time. After doing just that, I found myself intrigued by the depth that ebbed just below the current of solid progressive rock. Amy’s voice swells with a ringing resonance, spreading out to the most delicate of edges—a perfect contrast of power and intricacy. Her sweetly ornamented stylings add a tinge of silver lining to the shadowy undercurrents of melancholy underneath.

If you get the chance to hear her in person, you will discover that Amy is fully present in her live show, revealing how much her craft comes straight from her heart. Her songs are a candid expression of life as it is and life as it could be—containing the type of honesty and lucidity that made me suspect she would be a perfect person to sit down with and just talk about life. So I did just that.

I discovered that Amy moved to Nashville after college on a whim, essentially having no semblance of a music career in place when she came. But her background in guitar and poetry fused together as she began to garner attention from the music community. Now just a few short years later, she has completed an EP as well as her debut full-length album and has been featured in such publications as Christianity Today and CCM Magazine, who referred to her as a female “Derek Webb.”

I would venture to say that the resemblance to Derek Webb is not merely musical. Amy, like Derek, is also deeply committed to world justice and front-line involvement with current affairs. She advocates for the improvement of conditions in Africa, even giving away her CD to those who join the African relief agency she partners with. But she also is involved at the local level, believing that relational interaction is so crucial to really understanding the scope of service and community. She volunteers for the Sudanese Center for Refugees in Nashville, hoping that this will eventually prepare her to go to Africa herself.

Read further for a glimpse of conversation with Amy.

WRECKED: Your CD “These Cold and Rusted Lungs” was released this past summer, and is already generating a lot of attention. What’s been most exciting to you?

AMY: Well, I have to be honest: seeing the review post to CCM Magazine’s website calling me a “female Derek Webb” was the high point of a few months! He’s one of my absolute favorite writers and artists, with such an inspiring set of work that I was flattered and quite humbled to be compared favorably to him. Other than that, I think just seeing the process come together from start to finish – and seeing finances and songs and production and players blend to create such an awesome album that so closely reflects my heart and music – is terribly exciting. I loved making my EP, but this was a whole new level cause it was my heart and soul on the line. It’s relieving to be able to feel proud of it, and to know others are already getting something out of it.

WRECKED: You’re a big advocate for Mocha Club. For our readers who are unfamiliar with Mocha Club, can you explain what it is and the incentive you’re offering to encourage people to participate?

AMY: Mocha Club is an amazing African Aid orginazation with projects all over the African continent developing orphanages, universities, medical facilities, and rescue villages to bring people out of poverty and disease and equip them with the resources they need to rebuild themselves and their countries from the inside-out. But what set Mocha Club apart to me – given the hundreds of Aid organizations out there who’re serving Africa – is that they do all this with just $7 per month: the cost of two mochas. When I learned that $7 could provide 7 people with clean water for one year, and provides 2 Angolan farmers with seed and farming supplies for an entire crop season, and pays for life-saving Malaria and AIDS treatments for multiple people, I knew they were the organization I wanted to partner with. It brings the need – and the ability to make a MAJOR difference in peoples’ lives – to a child’s level and leaves no one with an excuse not to be part of the effort. We’re called by God to care for the orphan and the widow; Mocha Club makes it irresistably simple by asking for just $7 per month. And they do so much with that money.

WRECKED: If it weren’t for music, what would you be doing with your time?

AMY: You know, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gifts vs. talents. I’ve thought for a long time that my music was my gift, and without it I’d have nothing to do and be useless to the Kingdom. But it’s been encouraging to realize that my spiritual gifts – mercy, evangelism, and exhortation – can be exercised in so many ways, and right now they’re best exercised and most effective through song. But down the road, if I decide my time is over for music-in-the-public-eye (though I’m sure I’ll always be a musician in some capacity), I know my gifts will be effective elsewhere. And right now, my growing passion for Africa and specifically Uganda makes me believe we’ll end up living in Africa and serving the Kingdom there. At least, that’s where my dreams take me when I let go of the reigns…

WRECKED: What stories stand out in your mind from people you’ve come in contact with, that make the difficult challenges of music worth it to you?

AMY: I’ve had so many great experiences talking with people after concerts and hearing about how some song or songs really spoke what they were feeling or thinking. And it’s such a humbling realization to know that we’re not alone in our frustrations and hopes, but also that God would use me – me! – to reach others…that makes all the frustration and sleeplessness of touring, all the energy poured out in writing a song from the depths of who I am worth every drop of sweat.

WRECKED: What has music in general, and your music in particular, taught you about the nature of God?

AMY: That God is a relational Being. He has existed for eternity past as Three-in-One, the God-head persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and that’s how He created us to relate to each other, and it’s He relates with me now. Not on a slave/master level, or even on a Mentor/learner level. But on a Creator/Created level…and I think there’s so much more intimacy in that thought, because it implies He knows exactly who I am in and out, because He made me. He knows my flaws and strengths, every minute detail, and He longs to share the details of Himself with me. And so we relate. And, as with any relationship involving humans, we butt heads, there’s tension, frustration, joy and peace. But in the end, whatever it is we’re doing boils down to simply being in relationship. In writing and singing and listening to music, that’s the greatest Truth and greatest hope I’ve found: God’s not about me being perfect; He’s about me being His.

***

Amy Courts is an artist whose music gets into your head and whose conviction gets into your soul, fusing art and action into a powerful force of culture. To learn more, visit her official website or MySpace.



Unto the Least of These

In the midst of the current political climate as we all explore the foreign and economic issues that will inevitably (and have already, in so many ways, proven to) define a generation of a nation, it’s often difficult to pull out the lens and widen the perspective. To remember to look at things in terms of morality and individual responsibility, and bring the health and progress of our country – and our world – back to our own level, taking it into our own hands.

But then there are times we hear or read encouraging clips reminding us that ultimately, we have the power to change and rearrange the way things are. In fact, it is the calling for which we’ve been especially enabled.

Over the past couple days, I’ve stumbled across some incredibly engaging and empowering stories of people like you and me refusing to leave our world and its care – especially that of the least of these – in the hands of politicians, or really, anyone else. These people refuse to assume anyone else will do what must be done and choose to use their voices to empower the weak and provide for the orphan and widow.

Yesterday, I read Relevant magazine’s review of the Art*Music*Justice tour with Sara Groves, Drek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Brandon Heath, and Charlie Peacock. And while the article certainly highlighted the sickening ability of the artists to weave melodies and lyrics in such a beautiful way, the focus of the article was on emphasizing the purpose of these artists whose mission is to use song, video, and prose to engage and empower listeners, driving them to action on behalf of worldwide victims of injustice. And as an artist and singer-songwriter, I have to say how righteously jealous I am of these artist’s ability to tell a story of injustice and hope in song. It is such a struggle for me to get out of my own head and thoughts and write about issues more important than me, especially because I feel so inexperienced in the writing. But they inspire me…to go, see, experience, and bring it back as fuel for the engine that will drive us to the end of poverty, sex trafficing, genocide, and all worldwide injustice.

And it all leads me to one inevitable conclusion. If we, who even in the midst of economic crisis, are still among one of the wealthiest nations on earth, then certainly we have the means to act on behalf of those Christ loves. No longer is it simply an opportunity, or even an obligation or responsibility (though I do believe, given the commands of Christ and the sheer volume of Scripture’s references to making the care of orphan and widow our primary concern, as they are His dearest).

Instead, it is our greatest honor.

That we humans who so often find thousands of reasons to avoid others and focus on ourselves have been not only commissioned with the care of the victims and impoverished, but entrusted with their care tells us that not only does God want this from us and for them, but that He believes we can do it because He – the Almighty God of the univerise – has equipped us to accomplish it.

Besides the fact that our God is so passionate for the fatherless and the widow that He has embedded in each of us a similar passion (that only needs to be uncovered), it is the greatest hope to realize He has chosen and specifically equipped we who love Him and love what and who He loves to accomplish His will among the least of these.

My heart bursts with fiery passion that you would know the deep riches of the love of Christ, and to pour this same love on those He so desperately loves and longs to see us serve. There is no such great hope, nothing so exciting or empowering among politicians, no matter who we each believe ought to be the next President of the United States.

Ultimately, beloved ones, we are the ones with the tools to change the world. We have been entrusted with the care of the victim, with stewardship of the Created earth, with the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual development of our children, and most importantly, with the love of Christ going into the world. We are His ambassadors whose fight is for justice and peace around the world.

This is our charge; this is our responsibility; this is our honor.

Let us not sit idly by waiting for someone else to do what is only ours to do!

GET INVOLVED THROUGH ANY OF THESE (AND SO MANY MORE) ORGANIZATIONS:

ONE-TIME INVOLVEMENT
(Give a one-time gift to any of these organizations and watch it go for miles):

Freedom’s Promise (rescuing victims of sex trafficing and restoring hope through freedom)
Blood:Water Mission (digging wells and providing medicine to meet the two greatest needs of Africans today: clean water and clean blood)
Charity:Water (100% of donations taken in are applied to clean water projects throughout Africa)
ONE (Eliminating poverty worldwide)
Food for the Hungry (FHI provides the basic physical needs of children worldwide while developing programs for education, spiritual development, and international advocacy.)

MONTHLY INVOLVEMENT
(Make a monthly committment to supporting individual children and village projects with as little as $7
per month)

Mocha Club (This organization, with which I’m an artist sponsor, takes $7 per month – the cost of two mochas – and funds the development of orphanages, rescue villages, universities, medical facilities, and more throughout the continent of Africa. Bonus: If you join my team supporting the Child Mothers Village of Hope in Gulu, Uganda, you get FREE downloads of BOTH my CDs!)
Compassion International (Through Compassion, we can sponsor children from almost everywhere in the world, and with just $32 per month provide for their education, medical care, clothing, food, and future hope.)
World Vision (Similar to Compassion, one person with about $30 per month can become a child’s sponsor and watch their growth and development over the course of their youth.)

USE YOUR HANDS (Donate Your Time)
(Call your local organization headquarters and get involved on the ground either in your own hometown or around the globe through any of these organizations.)

Habitat for Humanity
(HH not only builds houses for lower-income families, but offers financial and lifestyle coaching for all its receipients while giving everyday people an almost weekly opportunity to serve our neighbors.)
Youth for Christ (Contact your local branch and find out how you can serve the youth in your community by either coaching a group or hosting a party, etc.)
Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, etc. (Locate your nearest store and ask the manager how you can volunteer.)
Mercy Ships (Join a Mercy Ships crew for a minimum of one year and be part of saving lives through providing FREE major medical operations and basic health care for the impoverished in Africa and the region.)
American Peace Corps (Similar to Mercy Ships, you can join for a year and travel the globe meeting basic needs of people in thousands of impoverished or developing areas.)
Contact Your Local Homeless Shelter, Domestic Violence Shelter, or Teen Shelter and find out how you can help, whether by volunteering your time (or gathering a group to serve), or gathering goods for their use.