Steve says, “On multiple occasions, we’ve been asked why we don’t celebrate Christmas even though we believe in Jesus, Yeshua. So to help clarify the subject, here’s a teaching that gives the foundation to our understanding. Though this can be a sensitive topic for many, we believe you’ll find the research and studies within to be truly eye-opening.”
As you know from reading my blog, I home educated my three children for 13 years. Jessica, the eldest, started her homeschool career as a 5th grader, Dallas started 3rd grade, and Nathan started kindergarten and all home schooled through high school graduation. Our three excelled in all manner and two had crazy excellent college academically, but more importantly, through struggle became stronger Christians and spiritual leaders. Dallas, with his challenges with Asperger’s is a huge help on the farm full time. (I am blessed more than i can ever deserve with 3 fabulous children.) On top of that, we made fast friends who were also home schooling families and we are still friends as families.
Just this week, an article was published about our dear friend and fellow home schooler, Avery Bright, concerning his time at Wheaton College and beyond. We remember him as the little boy in cowboy boots running around the churchyard playing tag and soccer, transplanting seedlings in the greenhouse, milking cows at home, or showing pigs in 4-H. But always with his violin practicing, practicing, practicing. From his performances as a middle and high schooler at a local church to raise money for the camps he needed to attend to improve his skills to purchasing his home made CD’s “Jersey Lightning” and “Avery Bright” and later a great Christmas album to boost his coffers to drive to the next amazing endeavor, to driving 12 hours to attend his wedding to his beautiful bride, we’ve always loved and supported Avery and his amazing journey. His brother and sister are no slackers either with their stunning accomplishments – all coming from our dear friends, Eric and Hope – good people who we can always count on for a heart to heart.
How 2010 alumnus Avery Bright’s Wheaton experience equipped him with the technical and creative skills he needed to thrive as a professional musician during COVID-19.
Since graduating from Wheaton a decade ago, Avery Bright ’10 has become a professional musician, composer, and producer, working with recording artists ranging from U2 to Michael W. Smith to Phil Wickham, Danny Gokey, Ben Rector, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Little Big Town, and OneRepublic. He’s also played on Star Wars movie scores, spent time in-studio with Dolly Parton, toured Europe, and has played in the pit for arena concerts for rock bands including The Who and Paramore.
When coronavirus began to spread in the U.S. in March 2020, the live music industry turned upside down. Tours, weddings, and live concerts dried up almost completely. Artists and performers had to adapt to remote work quickly–something Bright had been unknowingly preparing to do for years.
Bright has his own recording studio inside of his home outside Nashville, which has provided him with the flexibility to maintain remote work for hire during the global outbreak of COVID-19. Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, Bright worked with clients all over the world–from Colombia to Russia to the UK and Tasmania, Australia–and was able to grow that side of his business as the pandemic threatened the production of live music worldwide.
“I feel very fortunate about the way I’m set up to record remotely from my studio,” Bright said. “I had no idea that it would play well into a global pandemic. I love the connections it’s created for me with artists and producers around the world.”
As a professional musician, session musician, arranger, and composer, Bright divides his time between playing in major studio sessions around Nashville, composing original works on commission for licensing in videos, movies, and video games from his home recording studio called “The String Cell,” and writing and performing original songs and covers as individual artist “RØRE” and as part of duos “Allen & Bright” and “kïngpinguïn.”
Bright credits his Conservatory training, private lessons with Dr. Lee Joiner, and his participation as fiddle player in a student-led bluegrass band called “Tim Dennison and the Creepers” with fellow Wheaties Tim Dennison ’11, Dan Fager ’10, Scott Cunningham ’10, Caleb Lindgren ’10, and Lee McComb ’10 as major contributing factors to his adaptability, flexibility, and success in Music City today.
“I was always sort of the black sheep of the Conservatory because I was at Wheaton for the classical training, but I played in a bluegrass band as a fiddle player and liked to improvise,” Bright said. “My teacher, Dr. Joiner, was always supportive of this. He explored playing jazz and was open to ‘getting off the page,’ as it were. So I always felt comfortable at Wheaton exploring those spaces, and I learned the violin world was much bigger than the obvious path of playing professionally in a symphony or string quartet. Nobody ever told me to stop thinking creatively.”
Bright’s music theory courses at the Conservatory were also integral in preparing him for his career.
“My Conservatory training helped prepare me for some of the technical requirements to execute on studio work like playing in tune and sight reading. I also learned the importance of being flexible,” Bright said. “Those are must-haves for a recording musician. I also learned how to work with different types of people, how to write my own music, and how to think beyond what’s on the page. Wheaton was amazing preparation for that.”
Bright noted that his participation as a fiddle player with Tim Dennison and the Creepers was a highlight of his Wheaton experience.
“There’s no way any of us will ever play in a band that had that much fun,” Bright said. “We all knew it, too: ‘This is as good as it gets.’”
Bright pointed out that, while the transition to working in the COVID-19 pandemic has been very difficult for people and musicians who are completely live-music based–touring musicians with bands, or road crews for big tours, for example–he noted that a lot of artists have pivoted to remote recording and production of livestream concerts, where artists are able to connect with their fan bases and play live online.
“At this time, the silver lining to not being able to play live is you have a golden opportunity to be creative,” Bright said. “People are making EPs from home, writing new songs, doing co-writes on Zoom or Skype, and are finding ways to make it work.”
Bright also pointed out that some larger recording studios are opening back up for business, but at an expense.
“Since March, I’ve played a couple of large recording sessions with 12 players on the floor in the recording room—we were all six feet apart, everyone was in a mask for the whole session. It was all done according to safety regulations, but it’s more expensive and difficult that way now because of the regulations and takes longer,” Bright said. “You also can’t have as many people as you normally would in the studio. All of that takes work, time, and money.”
Looking to the future, Bright is building out a new studio space above his garage that is larger than his current studio space and will enable him to record ensembles rather than solely overdubs by himself.
“It’s a custom-designed, sound-isolated ‘floating’ room, big enough for four-to-six string players at a time, which will speed up my workflow and productivity a lot,” Bright said. “I’ll also be able to hire more of my friends and colleagues and attract bigger budget projects while providing an incredibly high quality of sound.”
Looking forward to his expanded home studio space is one way Bright is encouraging himself and others around him to “look for the silver lining” in the midst of a global pandemic.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
No reading of the ‘Christmas’ story is complete without John 1, yet these verses pose a sizable challenge to Christian theology if we stop and really take a look at them.
Have you ever considered the implication of these verses? Jesus, or by His Hebrew name, Yeshua, was with God in the beginning and was (is) God. Easy, right? Not so fast, my friend!
What are the implications of the Messiah being present from the beginning?
Yesterday, we began a short series considering some verses from the ‘Christmas’ story that challenge the traditional theological narrative of Christendom. As I implied yesterday, these verses should pique our interest in a search for truth. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care what men say, I want to see what Scripture says….
Thy Kingdom Come
When someone talks about the Millennial Kingdom or the future eternal Kingdom, what comes to mind? Whose Kingdom is it? Who rules over it? Who was it promised to? Who actually gets it? Etc…. At the end of the Book of Revelation, what does the Kingdom look like and who is in it?
Scripture gives a very unified story that often does not match the narrative I was taught growing up. At least, the focus I heard in church was quite different than what Scripture says.
This is the time of year when most of Christendom is focused on the advent of the Messiah of Israel, commonly called Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ. In churches and in homes Scriptures from the Old and New Testament will be read that detail the coming of the Long Expected One. Most of us have heard these verses so many times that they almost flow off of our tongues as they are being read to us… We know the flow and the rhythm to the point that they offer incredible comfort. A halcyon warmth embraces us and we float on the river of sweet memories and blessed promises. But, do we really pay attention?
Have you ever noticed that there are some verses in these beloved Scriptures that really really challenge the historical understanding of the story and at times confront even major tenets in the theological narrative…
So, you are not a puppet or a parrot? Then I assume you are willing to wrestle with a few challenging questions….
Have you ever wondered why or how pagans, Wiccans, Buddhists, Hindus and virtually everyone else in the world can celebrate Christmas even though they have/desire no relation with the Messiah?
Have you ever stopped to wonder why the ancient Greeks and Romans were celebrating a day of festivities complete with tree, ornaments, gifts and parties in late December more than 300 years before the Messiah was born?
Have you ever heard, or dared to look up the word ‘Saturnalia?’