Dream Journal: Five-Part Harmony

I think it was raining for the entirety of the dream.

There was a conference going on at the local college campus. It was some kind of Christian conference called GPI, which I think stood for “Global Project Initiative.” The musical guest for the conference was David*Crowder Band, which just released a new album. I left campus to go home before the conference, and as I drove through a residential neighborhood, I saw the band rehearsing. They were spread out over several houses’ backyards, as if each band member had his own backyard. It was pouring rain, yet they stayed outside to rehearse. I didn’t think it was a good idea to be out in the rain with so much electrical equipment like amps and sound boards.

When I got to the house, several of my friends were hanging out in the driveway. My one friend and I jumped into the car to avoid the rain, but one of our other friends stayed outside and leaned against the door to keep us from getting out. “You can always go out this door,” I said to my friend, motioning to the door on my side.

We eventually got out of the car, and all of my friends were just standing around between two buildings. We were either waiting for something or just trying to kill time, because we didn’t seem to have anywhere else to be. Maybe there was music playing, or maybe someone just started singing spontaneously, but at that point we started improvising harmonies. Pretty much each person was singing a unique part so that we had at least a five-part harmony going on. I can’t remember if the song we were singing was something known from the radio or if we were making up the song on the spot.


Wishlist Update: #10 – Adele’s “21”

From the wishlist
 21 by Adele – why can’t all the popular singers have actual talent like Adele?

I have one of the best roommates in the world. We’ve been living together for almost 2 months, and it’s been wonderful. We get along really well and take the time to do things together. It’s a wonderful living situation, and I am so thankful for that. And one day this week, while she was vacationing in South Korea with her step-mom, there was a package from Amazon.com in the mailbox. I opened it to find a copy of Adele’s new album, “21,” secretly purchased for me by my new roommate. The note inside said she hopes I didn’t buy a copy for myself while she was away and had a good Easter holiday. It was completely unexpected and totally appreciated.

"21" by Adele

“Someone Like You” was the first track off of “21” that I heard. A friend posted a link on Twitter to a cover Lisa Lavie had done, and that led me to a video of Adele performing the song in her home. The video of Adele also featured her talking about the inspiration for the song and for the album.

When I was writing it, I was feeling pretty miserable and pretty lonely, which kind of contradicts “Rolling in the Deep,” where I was like, “I’m gonna be fine without you.”  This one was me kind of on my knees, really. That relationship that the entire record is about is really summed up in Someone Like You, has changed me in a really good way. It’s kind of really made me who I am at the moment, you know. And I’m sure there will be another relationship – well I hope so, anyway – that helps change me, define me as well. But I can imagine being about 40 and looking for him again, and turning up and he’s settled, and he’s got a beautiful wife and some beautiful kids, and he’s completely happy. And I’m still on my own. It’s kind of about that.

Is there anyone who can’t relate to that experience? Especially in this Facebook age when the wedding pictures are unavoidable. They find a place on your news feed even when the last thing you want to see is a picture of the happy couple walking through an arch of wedding guests and bubbles or photos of all your mutual friends at a reception you weren’t invited to attend.

When a friend found out I had the album, she told me, “That CD is SO GOOD but SO SAD! Listen with caution. And tissues.” Though I didn’t need the recommended tissues while listening to the album, Adele’s heartbreak could definitely be felt through the lyrics. She puts words to the emotions you feel when you’re sitting home alone, trying to figure out what to write in your journal. I was surprised to discover that she is only 22 years old (she turns 23 next week on May 5). Her songs and talent led me to believe she had to be a 35-year-old almost-bride who was left at the altar. She seems beyond her years. Then again, it’s the experiences I had at her age that allow me to connect emotionally to her music.

Out of the 11 songs on the album, there’s not a single track that disappoints. I wouldn’t expect anything less of Adele.

Wishlist Update: #36 – “Stairwells” Bundle

In early March, I decided to pre-order the deluxe edition of Kina Grannis‘ album “Stairwells,” which was released in early April. In addition to the original CD (remixed and remastered), the deluxe edition also included a second disc with 5 additional originals, studio versions of 3 cover songs, and music videos for 4 original songs (including the official “Valentine” music video directed by Ross Ching – see the video below). Kina’s online store offered several bundles or packages for ordering an autographed copy of “Stairwells.” The deluxe bundle included the autographed deluxe CD and new goldfish t-shirt, but I had my eye on the limited edition deluxe bundle. In addition to the deluxe CD and shirt, the bundle included the “kg” canvas tote bag, “All the Pieces” photobook with 27 of Kina’s twitpic photos, and a signed one-of-a-kind frame from the “Valentine” video.

I tried to place my order, but every time I clicked “submit” I was faced with an error message. I tried a different bundle, a different credit card, and a different address, but I still got an error. Kina told me on Twitter that other people were having similar issues and soon put me in touch with Marcus, the co-founder and CTO at Moontoast, the company powering her store. After a few days of email correspondence, I was on the phone with Ben (VP of Engineering) and other Moontoast staff trying to figure out the technical issues. I walked them through my ordering process, and they tracked the error messages on their servers as I tried to place an order during our conversation. After several attempts at ordering and figuring out the errors, we ended our call with no specific solution set up. A few days later I followed up with Ben to see if all the bugs and kinks had been worked out. He let me know that they were able to figure out the problem, thanks to the time we spent on the phone. “The time you spent with us was very helpful,” Ben said. “And for that, your Kina Grannis order is on us.” Continue reading “Wishlist Update: #36 – “Stairwells” Bundle”

Wishlist Update: #37 – A Night with Kina Grannis

I think I first discovered Kina Grannis about a year ago when I stumbled upon her cover of Regina Spektor’s “The Call.” While she posts a number of covers on her YouTube channel, often with a kind of quirky creativity or surprisingly beautiful acoustic arrangement, I like her original songs best. Her lyrics carry a sense of honesty that connects with the life experiences of her listeners, especially those who find themselves in or out of love. Recently she released a deluxe version of her album “Stairwells,” which includes 18 original songs and 3 covers on 2 discs. She also embarked on her “World in Front of Me” tour throughout North America, stopping at Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live on April 16th.

I originally planned to attend the Philly concert by myself or with any friends who were interested in coming along. While my friends weren’t available to join me, my parents decided to come and bought tickets for the show. The morning of the show, I saw a post from Kina on Facebook and Twitter announcing she would be doing a pre-show appearance at FYE on South Broad Street in Philly. I took the train into the city, and my parents decided to drive down and meet me at the concert venue that evening. When I arrived (after a brief walk through the rain), “Stairwells” was being played throughout the store as a few Kina fans gathered near the small stage setup. Unfortunately, Kina was stuck in traffic (she was driving down from Boston, where she had a concert the night before) and would be unable to perform. Though she would be 30 minutes late, she would still do an autograph signing.

Anyone who has watched some of Kina’s videos would agree that she is possibly the most adorable human being on the planet. I mean, she rivals even the cutest kittens on YouTube. She is even more adorable in person, despite delayed travel and rain. When she entered the store, she greeted the fans with a shuffle and a wave before being taken to the back by store managers. What was once the stage area was now the signing table where those who purchased “Stairwells” at the store could get it autographed. Kina appeared to have some friends in line, whom she greeted with excited hugs and conversation about pictures on Facebook.

Wish granted! Kina and I are pretty much twins :)

When everyone in line had met Kina, those who pre-ordered the album and didn’t purchase a copy at the store were allowed to meet and greet her, too. I was able to fulfill one of the wishes on my list: a picture with Kina Grannis, wearing matching side braids. After a quick hug, I spent the rest of my brief time with Kina thanking her for her participation in Project 4 Awesome, a day when the YouTube community promotes various charities. Kina chose to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, because her mother was diagnosed with polycythemia vera, a rare blood disorder, about 10 years ago. My mother was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008; on April 21, five days after Kina’s concert, she celebrates the 3-year anniversary of her remission. I tweeted my thanks to Kina after she posted her P4A video, but being able to thank her in person was something special. To look her in the eyes, which were welling up with tears, and tell her how much I appreciated it. To hear her say, “That makes me so happy” and “Congratulations” for my mom. After that, I could have missed the concert and still thought it was a great day. I stuck around with some of Kina’s street team while Kina waited for her car to come around the block. I was able to get a second picture with her (the first was a bit out of focus) and told her it was a “YouTube weekend” for me. “I was just with Wes, Ted, and Phil last night!” I said. “Oh, they’re such great guys.” Yes, indeed they are.

My parents eating dinner at separate tables. Awkward!

A subway ride and a longer-than-it-should-have-been, rain-soaked walk later, I had arrived at World Cafe Live. My parents were waiting downstairs by the entrance, and I went upstairs to get my ticket from will call and take a place in line to get into the room. I passed the street teamers I met at FYE, who were dry thanks to their car ride to the venue. Because my parents bought their tickets later than I did, we were seated at 3 separate tables. My mom was joined by a group of friends who happened to know the group of friends at my dad’s table. My mom was surprised by the number of Asians at the concert (including the girls at my parents’ tables), and my dad told me after the show, “I heard the one girl saying, ‘Everyone is going to think we’re at the concert with our dad!'” Of course, I was actually the one at the concert with my dad… Continue reading “Wishlist Update: #37 – A Night with Kina Grannis”

Wishlist Update: #35 – Chris Cendana


I’ll be honest. Until I saw this tweet from AJ Rafael, I hadn’t heard of Chris Cendaña or his music. I didn’t even realize the two of them would be performing at my alma mater, which is 15 minutes away from my apartment. But then I checked out Chris’ YouTube channel, heard his voice, and thought, “No, he needs to get back onto the lineup.” I wasn’t about to miss out on experiencing that talent in person. I started emailing my multicultural contacts at Messiah College to see if I could change anything. While I didn’t have any influence on the final decision, I was happy to see Chris eventually return to the evening lineup at the Asian Students Association’s API (Asian/Pacific Islander) Night.

For those of you unfamiliar with Chris, he is a Filipino singer/songwriter currently living in Pittsburgh, PA. He started playing music at a young age, beginning with the piano and going on to include percussion, guitar, and turntables. On his YouTube channel, he explains, “I started playing guitar when I was in college at Marshall University around 20 years old, and started singing about a year later when my sister Janelle (who was on scholarship for show choir) was diagnosed with an aggressive case of Multiple Sclerosis.” His online bio goes into a bit more detail:

During Christmas vacation at the age of 20, Chris found his mother’s classical guitar stowed away in a closet. He took it back to college with him and learned to play it by ear.  His friends (who were seasoned musical veterans) told Chris his natural talent with music gave him an edge over many artists.  They urged him to play in public.  Unfortunately, Chris didn’t see a future in this. He decided to compromise this dream and play drums at his church. […]

He ventured onto YouTube, a public video sharing website, as an outlet for his music.  He started by posting videos of his favorite originals and covers.  It didn’t take long to starting making waves on the World Wide Web. On Feb. 29, 2008, his video “Velvet Fingertips” was featured on YouTube’s home page.

The first Chris Cendana song I ever heard (I think):

It is thanks to his videos on YouTube that I developed a love for his music. His soulful voice and musicality come together to turn ordinary covers into renditions as original as his own songs. His covers of “Landslide” and “At Last” have a place on my playlist of favorites and test the limits of YouTube’s replay button. His original songs demonstrate his talent as a versatile musician and producer with a range of styles that transport you to both a dimly lit, bluesy night club and a bustling acoustic coffeehouse. He is a talented lyricist whose words connect with the emotions and experiences of his listeners. One track may break your heart while the next can make you fall in love (sorry, ladies – he’s married!).

me and Chris
With Chris Cendana at Messiah College

In the months following his performance at Messiah College, I watched for new videos on his YouTube channel. While he released some originals and covers, Chris’ online presence was fading. Once again, he had to compromise his dream of music, because his 24/7 on-call job made performing and recording incredibly difficult. In the past couple weeks, Chris began his comeback to music by posting his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and performing on BlogTV for online viewers (even at 2 am, Chris sounds great).

His comeback grows even stronger with news that Chris now has a manager so he can pursue music full-time! He announced on Facebook, “After much discussion over the last few weeks, I’m happy to announce that I am now under the management of Andre Carter of JAMS Avenue Music Group with the goal of transistioning to music FULL-TIME!” Fans everywhere are so excited for Chris and this opportunity to spend more time doing what he loves. A street team is forming to support Chris and get him more exposure (send an email to andre (at) jamsavenue (dot) com for more details). There is no word when Chris will be able to quit his on-call job and devote his time to being a musician, but we all look forward to the day when he goes full-time. For now, I’ll half-cross this off my wishlist!

Support Chris Cendana
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/chris.cendana
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chriscendana
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/ccendana

Bring Chris Cendana to your city!

“Velvet Fingertips” (Original Song by Chris Cendaña)

“Landslide” (Cover by Chris Cendaña)