Is there a mental health epidemic in Entertainment?

 I am often asked this question, especially after events such as last weeks, with two significant public figures taking their lives...   “What are your thoughts on the increasing suicides in the entertainment industry”? Such a large question to try and hypothesize or encapsulate the possible inner workings and motivations of those in entertainment who end their lives, but here's my thoughts... I do not pretend to know the details of each individuals mental health status or attempt to place blame here or there. What I am familiar with is the unique pressures and often overwhelming demands of the entertainment industry lifestyle. The impact this can have on mental health or amplify pre-existing struggles with mental health. The complexities with managing a personal life or family life. The stigma associated with seeking help or fears of this negatively impacting your career. The desire to feel “normal” in a world that changes its societal “norms” every decade. The difficulty seeking refuge in hard times when everyday life becomes a public affair. (And this one doesn’t just apply to celebrities, most of us hold a platform on social media, placing our lives on display to the public or at least our communities.)  When there are patterns in a system, we are driven to find a common denominator. So what do I believe is the common contributor to the mental health epidemic in the entertainment industry? Insufficient resources dedicated to researching broken systems on all levels within the industry. Established entertainers are beginning to step out into the light addressing misconceptions (stigma) with mental health and bringing more awareness, but is it enough? There needs to be a collective agreement in the entertainment industry to better understand and address struggles related to mental health. Placing more value on individual wellness above "the show must go on". Can the show wait ten minutes because Joe the lighting guy just found out his wife has cancer and he's 2,000 miles away from her? Maybe not, but is there someone available for him to work through it all with after the show? Should the industry enforce more mental health days or make it common practice to seek council annually? Perhaps re-evaluating the supply and demand factors in the entertainment industry. In order to find these answers, we need greater recognition in the importance of mental health and individuals willing to continue advocating change in the industry.  So how important is mental health?...  Data shows 2.2 % of deaths per year due to the flu (around 57,062 people)(DHHS publication 2017-1232). So we have annual flue shots (many places offer free flu shots) and medical researchers dedicated to reducing these rates. People generally see the value in preventing getting the flu and seeking treatment if you do. Employers see the value. Parents see the value. Message is clear, don’t get the flu! Seek immediate treatment if you get the flu!   1.7% of deaths per year due to suicide, around 44,193 people per year... (DHHS publication 2017-1232)  I am hopeful that we are beginning to see the value in mental wellness and there is not always quick fix. However, it needs to start with “we have a problem”... not waiting for another tragic loss to make mental health a table topic again.   So ask yourself, "is it worth it" to reform how we look at mental health and factors contributing to this rise in depression and suicide? If the answer is yes, then lets start with a simple conversation. Reach out to someone today who you think may be struggling or open up to someone about your own struggles. Let's make it ok to talk about mental health!   Elizabeth Porter  Helpful articles for Recognizing Signs of Depression/Suicidal Risk:   https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior#1     http://www.yourlifecounts.org/learning-centre/know-signs-symptoms-prevent-suicide    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/symptoms-causes/syc-20378048

I am often asked this question, especially after events such as last weeks, with two significant public figures taking their lives...

 “What are your thoughts on the increasing suicides in the entertainment industry”? Such a large question to try and hypothesize or encapsulate the possible inner workings and motivations of those in entertainment who end their lives, but here's my thoughts... I do not pretend to know the details of each individuals mental health status or attempt to place blame here or there. What I am familiar with is the unique pressures and often overwhelming demands of the entertainment industry lifestyle. The impact this can have on mental health or amplify pre-existing struggles with mental health. The complexities with managing a personal life or family life. The stigma associated with seeking help or fears of this negatively impacting your career. The desire to feel “normal” in a world that changes its societal “norms” every decade. The difficulty seeking refuge in hard times when everyday life becomes a public affair. (And this one doesn’t just apply to celebrities, most of us hold a platform on social media, placing our lives on display to the public or at least our communities.)

When there are patterns in a system, we are driven to find a common denominator. So what do I believe is the common contributor to the mental health epidemic in the entertainment industry? Insufficient resources dedicated to researching broken systems on all levels within the industry. Established entertainers are beginning to step out into the light addressing misconceptions (stigma) with mental health and bringing more awareness, but is it enough? There needs to be a collective agreement in the entertainment industry to better understand and address struggles related to mental health. Placing more value on individual wellness above "the show must go on". Can the show wait ten minutes because Joe the lighting guy just found out his wife has cancer and he's 2,000 miles away from her? Maybe not, but is there someone available for him to work through it all with after the show? Should the industry enforce more mental health days or make it common practice to seek council annually? Perhaps re-evaluating the supply and demand factors in the entertainment industry. In order to find these answers, we need greater recognition in the importance of mental health and individuals willing to continue advocating change in the industry.

So how important is mental health?...

Data shows 2.2 % of deaths per year due to the flu (around 57,062 people)(DHHS publication 2017-1232). So we have annual flue shots (many places offer free flu shots) and medical researchers dedicated to reducing these rates. People generally see the value in preventing getting the flu and seeking treatment if you do. Employers see the value. Parents see the value. Message is clear, don’t get the flu! Seek immediate treatment if you get the flu! 

1.7% of deaths per year due to suicide, around 44,193 people per year... (DHHS publication 2017-1232)

I am hopeful that we are beginning to see the value in mental wellness and there is not always quick fix. However, it needs to start with “we have a problem”... not waiting for another tragic loss to make mental health a table topic again. 

So ask yourself, "is it worth it" to reform how we look at mental health and factors contributing to this rise in depression and suicide? If the answer is yes, then lets start with a simple conversation. Reach out to someone today who you think may be struggling or open up to someone about your own struggles. Let's make it ok to talk about mental health! 

Elizabeth Porter

Helpful articles for Recognizing Signs of Depression/Suicidal Risk:

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior#1 

http://www.yourlifecounts.org/learning-centre/know-signs-symptoms-prevent-suicide

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/suicide/symptoms-causes/syc-20378048

5 Tips to Staying Balanced and Healthy on Tour!

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Are you going on tour this spring/summer? We got you covered on how to take care of yourself out on the road while you go through all the obstacles that come with road life! The fact is, especially if you are the front man/woman, it is ever important to make sure that “your cup is filled” so that you may then help out others around you and be as productive as possible in leading the band through tour. With the following 5 tips, you can know that you are doing what it takes to make sure you that you are out on the road and promoting your music in the best way that you can.

Exercise

Now I am not talking about running a half marathon every single morning because that is not realistic (for most people on the road!). 

  • Something you can do first thing in the morning that is relatively easy is to take a walk and loosen up anything that might have been contorted while sleeping on that friend’s floor or the bus. You can even turn it in a “gratitude walk” as Tony Robbins coins, where you do a meditative exercise as you while only focusing on your breath and what you are grateful for. The point is that you get up and get your body moving, which is not only good for your body but for your mind as well.
  • Is someone in your camp into yoga? If so, there are a lot of different great youtube videos of simple routines that can get your body moving to release any tight muscles you may have!
  • Body weight exercises such as air squats, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, pull-ups, running, and jumping are great ways to keep your body moving while on the road!

Nutrition

This component is so incredibly helpful for bodily functions but for mental quality as well. So many people will not feel well and not take into account what they are putting into their bodies.

  • Find what fuels you in the morning and stick to it. Coffee only? Works for some. For me, it is a smoothie and coffee. I drink that religiously and that way I can save time and never have to think about what I will eat. This combo fuels me until 12:00 pm every single day. For others it may be toast or something smaller. The point is, learn what fuels you best and remove the Mickey D’s breakfast sandwiches, it’ll help you in the long run, guaranteed!
  • Get a cooler and put some good healthy stuff in there! Turkey, trail mix, and nuts in general, fruit, etc. You know what your band likes… and getting a cooler will definitely save money in the long run!

Hydrate

This is also another commonly overlooked component to healthy tour life. 

  • Water is essential to feeling your best and it can even flush out the toxins consumed while on the road!
  • Tea can be a great substitute to coffee and so try this out as well!
  • Monitor consumption during your shows to make sure that you feel the best you can feel.

Community

I have heard countless times that the people you surround yourself with on tour can have a huge impact on how successful the tour goes. I believe this to be true!

  • Choose the people you surround yourself with wisely. Reconsider the people that create unnecessary problems, require too much energy, aren’t as motivated as you and look for the people that do the opposite of those things! 
  • The old adage “We are the sum of the 3 people we spend most time with in our lives.”

Alone Time

Saving the most important for last! It is essential to get some “you time” while on the road, even away from the people that you love and surround yourself with

  • Now certain people will thrive off of that extrovert energy more than others but even so, 5-15 minutes a day of just calming your mind and cutting out the “noise” will help you turn your tour into a successful marathon, guaranteed.
  • Stopping to breathe, clear your mind, and focus on something beyond the stresses of touring life is among the healthiest things you can do. 

In conclusion, let us know if the aforementioned 5 tips are helpful for you while you are on tour. Everyone is different and has their own ways of maintaining themselves so let us know what you do! It is just as important now than ever to take care of yourself first. This isn’t being selfish, this is considered the greatest way to keep progressing successfully.

Written by: Trace Loptien

 

Rob Carona's 3 Tips for Success in Music Business

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Rob Carona’s 3 Tips For Success in Music Business

This week, we were lucky enough to speak with Rob Carona, a singer-songwriter originally from California who now resides in Nashville, TN. Rob opened up to us about his three tips to success in the music industry. Before we get into those tips, let’s find out a little bit more about Carona and the history that brought him here today.

Rob was born and raised in San Diego, CA yet states that he has “roots deep in the heart of Louisiana.” He states that “music is life” and has always been his thing. Rob now has a family of 3 daughters and so he discusses with us the balance he has with music and family. Rob states that the success of his EP is what led him to move to Nashville to further work on his songwriting and music. Rob speaks with us about the struggle of having to sell his guitar at one point to pay for rent and his sacrifice of working a commission job when his true passion was with music. Rob followed up by stating, “family first, then music.” Thankfully, Rob stated he was able to buy his guitar back! Without further ado, here are Rob’s three tips to success if you are hoping to make a living as a musician.

1. Treat it like a business:

Firstly, Rob states that you have to treat music like a business if you want to really go for it. This means “setting up shows consistently, setting up co-writes, which [based on my experience] aren’t a thing back out west… it is more of a personal thing out there.” He explains that if you really want to make music a lifestyle, you have to make sacrifices and treat it with the same diligence that a business would have. This means learning to say no to certain obligations and “doing it even if you don’t want to.” For Rob, he also combines his touring and playing shows along with teaching songwriting to supplement income. Rob is a part of “Nashville Christian Songwriters” and has his own gig where he teaches music lessons as well. To finish this idea, Rob states that you must have dedication, which leads into the next point;

2. Remain unjaded; if you’re going to do it – do it for a specific reason:

Rob states that it is “easy to become jaded” in this industry and that sometimes you must “remember why you are doing it.” Rob told us that he has changed his idea of “success” since he began and tailored it to his life once he started a family. Now that he has a family, Rob tells us that his focus is on his family first and on teaching songwriting to others as a means of income instead of focusing solely on touring and playing shows. He goes on to say that there are a lot of setbacks and things that can and will go wrong and that you need to be able to stay above all of those things if you want to succeed. We talked about how it may take years for you to make even a little progress and that is why being in the music industry is really a psychologically demanding job and not for everyone.

3. Craft and define your own version of success:

Lastly, Rob is saying here that it is important to set your own definition of success because if not, “you can just keep going and end up unhappy and unsatisfied.” He states that “if you want to be rich and famous, great, just understand how much work that takes.” We at EHS liken this to the “Burner Theory”. If you have four burners [on a stove], which are turned up the most out of; Family, Friends, Health, Work? Furthermore, Rob states, “If you just want to make a living by doing what you love creatively, great, then go for that.” Rob states that it is incredibly important to constantly be setting up clear goals, because “if you don’t know why you are doing it or what you want, you can get lost.” 

“Play it S.M.A.R.T”!  One way that EHS thinks about setting up goals is with the SMART method. This includes breaking down and defining goals in a way that they are;

  • Specific: Simple, sensible, significant
  • Measurable: Meaningful, motivating
  • Achievable: Agreed, Attainable
  • Relevant: Reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based
  • Time Bound: Time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive

            We just want to take the opportunity to thank Rob for speaking with us and sharing some of his industry insights! We are excited for the release of Rob Carona's new single "Down To The River" coming out soon! This new single speaks to overcoming life struggles and is truly an inspirational song with lyrics most if not all can relate to! Thanks Rob for continuing to reach into others hearts with your music and using your art to inspire connectedness! Stay tuned to EHS and www.robcarona.com for more details!

 

 

A Few Tips on Reframing Resolutions

 The New Year is upon us! As a result, resolutions have been set in place all over the world. We know that there can be some stress that is centered around resolutions and that is why our team at EHS wanted to provide you with some ideas to help you set and maintain your resolutions in a healthy and beneficial way. Below are 3 new ways to think about your resolutions for 2018.   1)      Small, Not Big!   Think about the New Year as a time where we are not expected to make  huge  character changes, but instead introduce small changes that can carry out for the rest of the year. For instance, what is one trait about yourself that you can change? One habit? One goal? What would it be like to just focus on one of each of those, versus trying to change 10 things all at once? If we go too big all at once, it can lead to being overwhelmed. If your plate is already full in life, then take time to introduce something small and hopefully that will lead to excitement when you see results in that area of your life.   2)      The Process – Not The End Result.   So, for the next year we are going to focus on “x”. With this, remember that  how much  change occurs isn’t as important as recognizing that  we are changing  our behaviors, attitude, etc. in order to promote positivity and well-being in our lives. Imagine focusing on the feeling and the process of exercising more than the end result; how would that affect your mindset on what it is you are changing? Too often, people have the tendency to make huge To Do lists and turn everything into a job. When that happens, the excitement of going through the process is lost! Think about being a kid. We were not trying to grow, we just did and a lot was accomplished in the first 10-15 years of life. That brings us to our next point.   3)      “Nature does not rush, yet everything is accomplished.”   Another great way to ensure that we make continual progress is to be easy on ourselves! We do not have to accomplish  everything  in this next year. Another way to think about it is everything in your life up to this point is a  prequel  and your story begins  now . Now that you have made a conscious decision to better yourself, let this be the new chapter. And no matter what happens this year, think “Rome was not built in a day.” Let the introduction of a change into your life be a rewarding process versus another task on your to do list.                 In conclusion, resolutions can be daunting but we hope that the above ideas can you reframe the next year in a different way. Thank you for tuning into EHS and let us know about your resolutions if you get a chance, we would love to hear!  Warmly,  Trace Loptien, blog host for EHS

The New Year is upon us! As a result, resolutions have been set in place all over the world. We know that there can be some stress that is centered around resolutions and that is why our team at EHS wanted to provide you with some ideas to help you set and maintain your resolutions in a healthy and beneficial way. Below are 3 new ways to think about your resolutions for 2018.

1)    Small, Not Big!

Think about the New Year as a time where we are not expected to make huge character changes, but instead introduce small changes that can carry out for the rest of the year. For instance, what is one trait about yourself that you can change? One habit? One goal? What would it be like to just focus on one of each of those, versus trying to change 10 things all at once? If we go too big all at once, it can lead to being overwhelmed. If your plate is already full in life, then take time to introduce something small and hopefully that will lead to excitement when you see results in that area of your life.

2)    The Process – Not The End Result.

So, for the next year we are going to focus on “x”. With this, remember that how much change occurs isn’t as important as recognizing that we are changing our behaviors, attitude, etc. in order to promote positivity and well-being in our lives. Imagine focusing on the feeling and the process of exercising more than the end result; how would that affect your mindset on what it is you are changing? Too often, people have the tendency to make huge To Do lists and turn everything into a job. When that happens, the excitement of going through the process is lost! Think about being a kid. We were not trying to grow, we just did and a lot was accomplished in the first 10-15 years of life. That brings us to our next point.

3)    “Nature does not rush, yet everything is accomplished.”

Another great way to ensure that we make continual progress is to be easy on ourselves! We do not have to accomplish everything in this next year. Another way to think about it is everything in your life up to this point is a prequel and your story begins now. Now that you have made a conscious decision to better yourself, let this be the new chapter. And no matter what happens this year, think “Rome was not built in a day.” Let the introduction of a change into your life be a rewarding process versus another task on your to do list. 

            In conclusion, resolutions can be daunting but we hope that the above ideas can you reframe the next year in a different way. Thank you for tuning into EHS and let us know about your resolutions if you get a chance, we would love to hear!

Warmly,

Trace Loptien, blog host for EHS

Autism Sings- Noah Jack’s Journey with Autism and Music

            Many people are familiar with the Autism Speaks Organization, but with Chicago based singer, Noah Jack, Autism Sings! Noah was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder early in life and reports not being able to speak until he was five years old. He began working with a speech therapist and by elementary school, it was Noah’s singing that began to catch the attention of teachers and family. Noah started singing at various events and his passion has led him to Belmont University where he is currently studying music. Noah reports he hopes to use his music to inspire others, especially parents of children with autism. Noah credits so much of his journey through music and Autism to his family and friends, which is reflected in his recently released single “Neighborhood”. We are honored to have the opportunity to sit with Noah and share some of his story with you all.              Autism spectrum disorder, is best defined as a range of conditions characterized by difficulty with social skills, speech and nonverbal communication, repetitive behaviors, and unique strengths and differences. Noah states once he moved past the speech obstacles, he  struggled primarily with non-verbal cues and stress levels, but states his family and hometown were a major support growing up with autism. One of the ways, Noah explains, was they had an informal type of buddy system with him when he was younger. He is the youngest of 5 brothers and states between his family and the community, he never felt alone.           When we asked Noah about musical influences in his life, he told us his family is not musically talented, but he recalls his mother often playing music during car rides. Noah says he and his mother would sing along to the Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock song “Picture”. Noah speaks in a high regard to his mother’s support, referencing her as an “angel”. “My mom is thoughtful, loving, and positive”. It is evident in meeting with Noah, that his mother’s positivity and “bubbly” nature has not left Noah unaffected. Noah shares a contagious optimism with a world of possibilities as the centerpiece. We inquired about his positive outlook and Noah’s reply was simple and communicated with such sincerity. He said “you just have to smile, even if you’re faking it sometimes”. Noah reports he focuses on the positives, even when things don’t go the way he had hoped. Noah seems to have this same perspective with people. Every person Noah would tell us about in his life, he would start by listing the positive attributes he sees in them. Although positive, Noah doesn’t overlook obstacles, but rather focuses on solutions. For example, Noah admits he has a lot he wants to learn about music business, but he talks more about what he can do to obtain the information he needs than the current lack of knowledge. Same when he speaks about his autism. He doesn’t express desires for things to have been different, but is proud of his unique story and excited to share it with others through his music. Sometimes we get hung up in the emotional disparity of disadvantages. Perhaps instead of our desired shift in circumstances, what we really need is a little shift in perspective.         We cannot express the excitement we have in watching where Noah’s journey will take him next and the lives he will touch through his music. We appreciate Noah taking the time to sit with us and we want to support his goal of bringing awareness to Autism through music. Make sure to check out Noah’s newest single “Neighborhood” and we look forward to hearing more of his music along the way. We have included links for Noah’s music as well as Autism Speaks, where you can find more information on Autism and how you can help.    FACEBOOK  /  INSTAGRAM  /  SOUNDCLOUD    https://www.autismspeaks.org

           Many people are familiar with the Autism Speaks Organization, but with Chicago based singer, Noah Jack, Autism Sings! Noah was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder early in life and reports not being able to speak until he was five years old. He began working with a speech therapist and by elementary school, it was Noah’s singing that began to catch the attention of teachers and family. Noah started singing at various events and his passion has led him to Belmont University where he is currently studying music. Noah reports he hopes to use his music to inspire others, especially parents of children with autism. Noah credits so much of his journey through music and Autism to his family and friends, which is reflected in his recently released single “Neighborhood”. We are honored to have the opportunity to sit with Noah and share some of his story with you all.

 

          Autism spectrum disorder, is best defined as a range of conditions characterized by difficulty with social skills, speech and nonverbal communication, repetitive behaviors, and unique strengths and differences. Noah states once he moved past the speech obstacles, he  struggled primarily with non-verbal cues and stress levels, but states his family and hometown were a major support growing up with autism. One of the ways, Noah explains, was they had an informal type of buddy system with him when he was younger. He is the youngest of 5 brothers and states between his family and the community, he never felt alone.

 

      When we asked Noah about musical influences in his life, he told us his family is not musically talented, but he recalls his mother often playing music during car rides. Noah says he and his mother would sing along to the Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock song “Picture”. Noah speaks in a high regard to his mother’s support, referencing her as an “angel”. “My mom is thoughtful, loving, and positive”. It is evident in meeting with Noah, that his mother’s positivity and “bubbly” nature has not left Noah unaffected. Noah shares a contagious optimism with a world of possibilities as the centerpiece. We inquired about his positive outlook and Noah’s reply was simple and communicated with such sincerity. He said “you just have to smile, even if you’re faking it sometimes”. Noah reports he focuses on the positives, even when things don’t go the way he had hoped. Noah seems to have this same perspective with people. Every person Noah would tell us about in his life, he would start by listing the positive attributes he sees in them. Although positive, Noah doesn’t overlook obstacles, but rather focuses on solutions. For example, Noah admits he has a lot he wants to learn about music business, but he talks more about what he can do to obtain the information he needs than the current lack of knowledge. Same when he speaks about his autism. He doesn’t express desires for things to have been different, but is proud of his unique story and excited to share it with others through his music. Sometimes we get hung up in the emotional disparity of disadvantages. Perhaps instead of our desired shift in circumstances, what we really need is a little shift in perspective.

 

    We cannot express the excitement we have in watching where Noah’s journey will take him next and the lives he will touch through his music. We appreciate Noah taking the time to sit with us and we want to support his goal of bringing awareness to Autism through music. Make sure to check out Noah’s newest single “Neighborhood” and we look forward to hearing more of his music along the way. We have included links for Noah’s music as well as Autism Speaks, where you can find more information on Autism and how you can help.

FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM / SOUNDCLOUD

https://www.autismspeaks.org

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Adding to the Ordinary: Centricity Music's John Mays tells his father's story

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From 1950 to 1990, my Dad worked in the oil fields of West Texas. In those first 20 years or so, he rarely had a day off. Regardless of how hot, how cold, how windy or how sick he might’ve been, he got up at 4:30, grabbed a lunchpail that mom had packed the night before, got in his pickup and headed out. Day after day. This was his life.

John Mays’ dad stands next to his pickup truck, holding his lunch pail, on his way to work in the oil fields of West Texas.

This work fed our family and raised my sisters and me, but it left little time for much else. The oil field is a merciless taskmaster; but somehow Dad endured with a generosity of spirit and sense of humor that left a legacy.

I’m not really sure which came first – either Dad mentally came to the end of doing that thing one more day, or his body just gave out on him. Maybe it was some of both, but around the end of the 80s, he was done; and we had the great privilege of providing a place for both Dad and Mom as they lived out the rest of their lives with us here in Tennessee. Those were great days. My Dad loved them and we loved being able to watch him discover life after the oil patch.

One of those discoveries came as a surprise as we watched Dad begin to tinker around out in the shed. Who knew what he was messing around with until one day he sheepishly showed us the fruit of the creative seed that had been laying fallow in him for so long.

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I know. It doesn’t look like much, but for a man who had never made a thing with his hands his entire life, it was impressive. And you could put your weight down on it!

He began making benches all the time. Sometimes one or two a day. We had benches everywhere (and still do!). We gave them to neighbors and friends, people at work and church. Literally, these benches were the ultimate in simplicity – some two-by-fours and some nails. No paint, no sanding, no nothing. But for me, there was something beautiful about them as they represented something profound… my Dad’s ability to create.

He passed away in 2007 leaving a lot of love and a lot of benches behind. But that wasn’t the end of the story.

A few summers ago we were blessed with the experience of giving away our daughter Kelsey in marriage. For anyone who’s been part of planning a wedding, you can empathize with the year of work that proceeds the big day. Lucky for me, this planning lived mostly in a female world so I didn’t have to get too involved. So you might imagine my surprise when I learned that much of the focus of the wedding decorations would come from an unlikely place. Dad’s benches.

Kelsey worked with Dianne (my wife) and our friend Terri to begin to imagine what beautiful things could come from adding to these ordinary benches, and I was stunned to see the results.

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Here’s what I hope you start to see. Dad’s benches alone wouldn’t have been much as a decoration piece. And the flowers and vines could’ve been just another floral arrangement. But had Dad never had the courage to create and show that first piece of his “art”, the girls wouldn’t have had such a special foundation for theirs.

As Brenda Ueland wrote in the very special book “If You Want To Write” – “Everyone is talented, original and has something important to say.” Everyone. And the expression of your unique gifting is something important for you to not only discover, but to share with someone. Once that happens, you may be blown away with what someone else’s personal expression can add to yours, or what you can add to theirs. What someone’s lyric might bring to your melody. Someone’s seasoning to your recipe. Someone’s music for your dance. Someone’s frame to your decorating. Someone’s second step to your first.

“Everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say.”
–Brenda Ueland

Creating and expressing anything can, of course, at times be a very isolating and lonely journey, and for some of you, maybe that is how it will be. But for others, perhaps especially for those of you still wishing to, but yet to actually create, collaboration might be the key to the door, and might just produce something you could’ve never imagined on your own.

A few things to remember…

1. You’re never too old to start. Mark Twain, William Butler Yeats, Alfred Hitchcock and Irving Berlin all produced their greatest work after turning Fifty. (Dad was 74 when he built his first bench!)
2. What the object of your creative impulse might be is not as important as your willingness to express it. The thing you create, your work, will get better over time, but the point is to start, then share. Like Dad, this is a part of how you will love the world around you.
3. That inner voice of resistance will always be there to criticize and condemn. Create anyway. “If the voice inside you says you can not paint, then by all means paint and the voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh

What could you bring in to the world this week that didn’t exist before you created it? What could you bring to something someone else has created? If you need some time to sit and think about it, I’ve got a great bench for you.

Jason Gray- "Entertaining the Critics"

 At EHS, we have heard many individuals talk about withstanding public and personal criticism in the the entertainment industry, including effects of comparison or other self-criticism. The question is, how do entertainers tame these inner voices, manage outside opinions, and maintain a healthy mindset while continuing to do their art and perform? How do entertainers entertain the critics in the music business?  This month we were excited to tap into the faith based genre of music and sit with Christian Music Artist, Jason Gray, to discuss his experience in the entertainment industry and the impact of criticism for him. Our meeting was courtesy of another insightful individual in the industry, John Mays, VP of A&R at Centricity Music, who organized and accompanied this interview. Jason Gray signed with Centricity in 2006 and has released seven albums since then with his most recent 2016 release, “Where the Light Gets In”. We later talk about his hit song “More Like Falling in Love” and the criticism he experienced for the song; but before we go into the depths of the criticism topic, let’s get a little background on Jason Gray and his music.  When listening to Jason’s music, there is an underlying theme of finding strength in the face of adversity.  Early in the interview, Jason pauses to introduce one of his first personal experiences with adversity, a speech handicap, which causes him to stutter. Jason was diagnosed with the speech disorder as a child and states he stutters when speaking, but for the most part it has not affected his singing. A obstacle that may cause individuals to shy away from singing in the spotlight has seemingly left Jason’s path unaltered. Jason reports his stuttering is noticeable during radio interviews and such, but he simply acknowledges it and continues through. He moves on to talk about growing up in a broken home and the part music played during this time. He tells us about difficult times in the aftermath of his parents divorce, spending nights in bars while his mother performed in various bands, and the transition when his mother gave up the bar scene for performing at church and church revivals. Jason explains how he used music during these trying times. “We read books to know we’re not alone. This was music for me”, Jason says. He reports being a bit of an introvert and shy due to his speech handicap and turning to music. Jason would later find his calling in Christian Music, turning difficult experiences into poetic songs of hope and encouragement.  Jason reports feeling his first whisper from God while listening to “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”, but recalls being drawn to soulful and spiritual music prior to finding a relationship with God. Jason was in his first year of college when he decided to pursue music and dropped out of school. A common risk we hear other entertainers or aspiring musicians struggling with.  Leaving what is perceived as the safe track of college or full-time employment to pursue a career in music. Welcome to Nashville, the land of big dreams with big risks! We often hear about entertainers choosing a path less traveled, taking a risk, making mistakes, challenging views or social norms through their art, and just as often, being greeted by criticism. Criticism that sometimes leads to internalized self doubt or self criticism. So, let’s first look at this. Why do people criticise?  Simplest answer. Fear.  Over and over again when we look at criticism, it seems to come down to fear. Now this is not to discredit other contributing emotions, but for the majority of cases, fear is playing a leading role in criticism. Some may say anger is their leading emotion, but many psychologist would argue that anger is a secondary emotion, generally driven by hurt or fear ( https://healthypsych.com/psychology-tools-what-is-anger-a-secondary-emotion/ ). For example, when an individual leaves college in pursuit of a risky career, they may face criticism from loved ones who are “fearful” of the outcome. When our views or social norms are challenged, this can trigger “fear of change” (in an ever changing world, we often cling to socially accepted norms). And of course when mistakes are made “fear” generally Airbnb’s a room in our mind for a while. So now, lets give you a mic, open up social media pages in your name, and turn a spotlight on. Your goal is to write music and go through your career without taking any risks, stepping outside of social norms, challenging others ideas, or making any mistakes. And go!… By the way, you are now some form of a public figure, so remember they’re watching… Do you really want to wear that pink shirt for your Instagram post?  When we asked Jason about the impact outside criticism has on him and his career, he said he “learned to give people permission to misunderstand me”. Jason explained he came to this conclusion after he received heavy criticism for his song “More Like Falling in Love” from “theological watchdogs who interpreted me as writing a God is my girlfriend song”. He states he initially exhausted himself in attempts to defend it. He remembers getting a three page letter from one person and another large church apparently dedicated an entire service to the disapproval of the song. Ironically, this would be one of Jason’s hit songs, making it difficult to hide it away in the repertoire of music. So how do you entertain the critics? Perhaps sometimes you just keep playing the song and giving others permission to misinterpret your art.  There are compounding factors to criticism in the music industry. Not only are musicians publicly displaying themselves and their art, but for many it ties into their livelihood. If enough people don’t love what you represent or the music you are creating, you risk the income needed to continue your career in music. Jason says he is lucky to have the support he does through Centricity to continue writing music on topics that are true to him. Jason recalls writing a song after his divorce on depression, feeling certain it was too raw and wouldn’t make the recording list during the song reviews. He states John (who is still present during this interview) said “well, that’s got to be on there!”. Jason continues to say he doesn’t feel a pressure to present himself in an optimistic light. He uses his music to reach out to others and speaks on depression, which he openly reports having struggled with. John Mays chimes in at this point to elaborate; stating some labels/management groups may feel a need to build fences around the artist to protect them from criticism, but he doesn’t feel the need to do this with Jason. So how transparent do we present ourselves in difficult times or on a personal level? Jason had a unique response to this, referencing back to his divorce. He referred to a friend of his, Walter Wangerin, who told him, if you share this part of your life while you’re in the trenches, you are asking your audience for something (support). If you wait until you come out the other side, you now have something to offer your audience. A lot of artists songs speak on a deep personal level, which can leave them vulnerable to outside critics. For Jason, it seems it’s not necessarily about how transparent you are with your audience, but rather the timing and motivation or purpose behind sharing. Are you in a place emotionally to receive any possible criticism and what are the intended outcomes?  Criticism has a sneaky way of becoming internalized and morphing into self-criticism, especially in the form of comparisons. And again, the stakes are high for many in the music industry since others critiques can directly impact your paycheck among other things. When self-criticism takes up residency in your mind for long enough, you risk compounding mental health issues (depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etc…). This can lead to displaced energy as you are trying to climb out of the negativity of your mind instead of putting your best self into your career. Of course this cycle, unless broken, can then lead to more self-criticism. We asked Jason about any encounters with self-criticism and comparisons. He shared his experiences with comparisons on tour (audience size others draw, merch they sell…) and how this would sometimes get internalized as “I’m not good enough” or “they don’t like me”. Jason humbally admits he would often take a defensive stance in his mind when other performers had better outcomes at a show, such as “they don’t get me”. Jason says he has learned to use these moments to reflect on what he could be doing better to connect with his audience, instead of getting lost in comparison. Comparisons and self criticism can come at all levels of success, but perhaps with recognizing and redirecting these thoughts, we can avoid entertaining the critics in our minds and refocus on entertaining the audience.    Jason is open with us and through his music, about his struggles with depression. He reports he can sometimes go into those dark places and “get crippled for a long time”. Jason states he has learned to think about his depression as “it’s one feeling in a parade of feelings and if I don’t hold hands with it, it will walk past”. He tells us slightly smiling, “I try to be conscious about which feelings I hold hands with”. Jason says he continues to do his work in protest of his inner darkness. He states his job is to love the audience and he keeps reaching out to others through his music despite negative thoughts or feelings.  So maybe that’s it… Entertaining the critics involves recognizing the outside criticism as others fears and allowing them to misinterpret you and your art. In addition to, identifying self deprecating thoughts and deciding which thoughts or feelings to hold hands with. With that said, how will you chose to entertain the critics in your life today? We greatly appreciate Jason Gray taking time out of his busy schedule to sit with us and John Mays for setting up this interview. I personally feel fortunate to have spent a morning with these two, hearing their insights and Jason’s journey. It is difficult to encapsulate the positive energy, kindness, and humor Jason exudes into a written piece. However, I will say these are two individuals who (perhaps unbeknownst to them) can send you off feeling better about the day to come. Now, if there were only a book to expand upon some of the experiences and insight Jason shared with us...   Interview and Article Written By: Elizabeth Porter, President of EHS   

At EHS, we have heard many individuals talk about withstanding public and personal criticism in the the entertainment industry, including effects of comparison or other self-criticism. The question is, how do entertainers tame these inner voices, manage outside opinions, and maintain a healthy mindset while continuing to do their art and perform? How do entertainers entertain the critics in the music business?

This month we were excited to tap into the faith based genre of music and sit with Christian Music Artist, Jason Gray, to discuss his experience in the entertainment industry and the impact of criticism for him. Our meeting was courtesy of another insightful individual in the industry, John Mays, VP of A&R at Centricity Music, who organized and accompanied this interview. Jason Gray signed with Centricity in 2006 and has released seven albums since then with his most recent 2016 release, “Where the Light Gets In”. We later talk about his hit song “More Like Falling in Love” and the criticism he experienced for the song; but before we go into the depths of the criticism topic, let’s get a little background on Jason Gray and his music.

When listening to Jason’s music, there is an underlying theme of finding strength in the face of adversity.  Early in the interview, Jason pauses to introduce one of his first personal experiences with adversity, a speech handicap, which causes him to stutter. Jason was diagnosed with the speech disorder as a child and states he stutters when speaking, but for the most part it has not affected his singing. A obstacle that may cause individuals to shy away from singing in the spotlight has seemingly left Jason’s path unaltered. Jason reports his stuttering is noticeable during radio interviews and such, but he simply acknowledges it and continues through. He moves on to talk about growing up in a broken home and the part music played during this time. He tells us about difficult times in the aftermath of his parents divorce, spending nights in bars while his mother performed in various bands, and the transition when his mother gave up the bar scene for performing at church and church revivals. Jason explains how he used music during these trying times. “We read books to know we’re not alone. This was music for me”, Jason says. He reports being a bit of an introvert and shy due to his speech handicap and turning to music. Jason would later find his calling in Christian Music, turning difficult experiences into poetic songs of hope and encouragement.

Jason reports feeling his first whisper from God while listening to “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”, but recalls being drawn to soulful and spiritual music prior to finding a relationship with God. Jason was in his first year of college when he decided to pursue music and dropped out of school. A common risk we hear other entertainers or aspiring musicians struggling with.

Leaving what is perceived as the safe track of college or full-time employment to pursue a career in music. Welcome to Nashville, the land of big dreams with big risks! We often hear about entertainers choosing a path less traveled, taking a risk, making mistakes, challenging views or social norms through their art, and just as often, being greeted by criticism. Criticism that sometimes leads to internalized self doubt or self criticism. So, let’s first look at this. Why do people criticise?

Simplest answer. Fear.

Over and over again when we look at criticism, it seems to come down to fear. Now this is not to discredit other contributing emotions, but for the majority of cases, fear is playing a leading role in criticism. Some may say anger is their leading emotion, but many psychologist would argue that anger is a secondary emotion, generally driven by hurt or fear (https://healthypsych.com/psychology-tools-what-is-anger-a-secondary-emotion/). For example, when an individual leaves college in pursuit of a risky career, they may face criticism from loved ones who are “fearful” of the outcome. When our views or social norms are challenged, this can trigger “fear of change” (in an ever changing world, we often cling to socially accepted norms). And of course when mistakes are made “fear” generally Airbnb’s a room in our mind for a while. So now, lets give you a mic, open up social media pages in your name, and turn a spotlight on. Your goal is to write music and go through your career without taking any risks, stepping outside of social norms, challenging others ideas, or making any mistakes. And go!… By the way, you are now some form of a public figure, so remember they’re watching… Do you really want to wear that pink shirt for your Instagram post?

When we asked Jason about the impact outside criticism has on him and his career, he said he “learned to give people permission to misunderstand me”. Jason explained he came to this conclusion after he received heavy criticism for his song “More Like Falling in Love” from “theological watchdogs who interpreted me as writing a God is my girlfriend song”. He states he initially exhausted himself in attempts to defend it. He remembers getting a three page letter from one person and another large church apparently dedicated an entire service to the disapproval of the song. Ironically, this would be one of Jason’s hit songs, making it difficult to hide it away in the repertoire of music. So how do you entertain the critics? Perhaps sometimes you just keep playing the song and giving others permission to misinterpret your art.

There are compounding factors to criticism in the music industry. Not only are musicians publicly displaying themselves and their art, but for many it ties into their livelihood. If enough people don’t love what you represent or the music you are creating, you risk the income needed to continue your career in music. Jason says he is lucky to have the support he does through Centricity to continue writing music on topics that are true to him. Jason recalls writing a song after his divorce on depression, feeling certain it was too raw and wouldn’t make the recording list during the song reviews. He states John (who is still present during this interview) said “well, that’s got to be on there!”. Jason continues to say he doesn’t feel a pressure to present himself in an optimistic light. He uses his music to reach out to others and speaks on depression, which he openly reports having struggled with. John Mays chimes in at this point to elaborate; stating some labels/management groups may feel a need to build fences around the artist to protect them from criticism, but he doesn’t feel the need to do this with Jason. So how transparent do we present ourselves in difficult times or on a personal level? Jason had a unique response to this, referencing back to his divorce. He referred to a friend of his, Walter Wangerin, who told him, if you share this part of your life while you’re in the trenches, you are asking your audience for something (support). If you wait until you come out the other side, you now have something to offer your audience. A lot of artists songs speak on a deep personal level, which can leave them vulnerable to outside critics. For Jason, it seems it’s not necessarily about how transparent you are with your audience, but rather the timing and motivation or purpose behind sharing. Are you in a place emotionally to receive any possible criticism and what are the intended outcomes?

Criticism has a sneaky way of becoming internalized and morphing into self-criticism, especially in the form of comparisons. And again, the stakes are high for many in the music industry since others critiques can directly impact your paycheck among other things. When self-criticism takes up residency in your mind for long enough, you risk compounding mental health issues (depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etc…). This can lead to displaced energy as you are trying to climb out of the negativity of your mind instead of putting your best self into your career. Of course this cycle, unless broken, can then lead to more self-criticism. We asked Jason about any encounters with self-criticism and comparisons. He shared his experiences with comparisons on tour (audience size others draw, merch they sell…) and how this would sometimes get internalized as “I’m not good enough” or “they don’t like me”. Jason humbally admits he would often take a defensive stance in his mind when other performers had better outcomes at a show, such as “they don’t get me”. Jason says he has learned to use these moments to reflect on what he could be doing better to connect with his audience, instead of getting lost in comparison. Comparisons and self criticism can come at all levels of success, but perhaps with recognizing and redirecting these thoughts, we can avoid entertaining the critics in our minds and refocus on entertaining the audience.  

Jason is open with us and through his music, about his struggles with depression. He reports he can sometimes go into those dark places and “get crippled for a long time”. Jason states he has learned to think about his depression as “it’s one feeling in a parade of feelings and if I don’t hold hands with it, it will walk past”. He tells us slightly smiling, “I try to be conscious about which feelings I hold hands with”. Jason says he continues to do his work in protest of his inner darkness. He states his job is to love the audience and he keeps reaching out to others through his music despite negative thoughts or feelings.

So maybe that’s it… Entertaining the critics involves recognizing the outside criticism as others fears and allowing them to misinterpret you and your art. In addition to, identifying self deprecating thoughts and deciding which thoughts or feelings to hold hands with. With that said, how will you chose to entertain the critics in your life today? We greatly appreciate Jason Gray taking time out of his busy schedule to sit with us and John Mays for setting up this interview. I personally feel fortunate to have spent a morning with these two, hearing their insights and Jason’s journey. It is difficult to encapsulate the positive energy, kindness, and humor Jason exudes into a written piece. However, I will say these are two individuals who (perhaps unbeknownst to them) can send you off feeling better about the day to come. Now, if there were only a book to expand upon some of the experiences and insight Jason shared with us...


Interview and Article Written By: Elizabeth Porter, President of EHS

 

 Left to right: John Mays, Elizabeth Porter, Jason Gray

Left to right: John Mays, Elizabeth Porter, Jason Gray

EHS Spotlight- Fives Knives Anna M'Queen

 This week we are speaking with Anna M'Queen, front woman of Five Knives, to get her perspective on mental health in the industry. Five Knives is based out of Nashville and is known for their unique blend of electronica and rock n' roll. Make sure to check out their most recent video release " Savages ". We are excited to have the opportunity to talk with this local entertainer and grateful for Anna's support in bring such topics into the spotlight. With a different format this week, we decided to pose three main questions to Anna and have included her direct responses.    What particular aspects do you think contribute mental health struggles in the entertainment industry?    "I think the music industry in particular is an emotionally creative industry. Many aspects of our “crazy natured" artist minds are what bring out such relatable and touching lyrics and melodies to songs. Musicians have an outlet to use their thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams through performance and songwriting. From my perspective, great songs and performances usually stem from some sort of mental experience that was either created or made up in the mind or from a real life experience. I hate to say that creativity is linked to mental health issues, but I was able to embrace what I was going through by focusing that energy and turning it into art. I am not a psychologist, but my guess is that mental health issues are more apparent within the music industry simply because of the restless creative mind and/or life trauma and experiences from the past or present."     "From an artist’s daily lifestyle perspective, the highs and lows of touring, the ups and downs of record sales, and having to sometimes work odd jobs while off the road to stay a float definitely pose reason as to why the music industry struggles with mental health as well."    Do you have any advice for other artists and/or music industry professionals on overcoming anxiety and depression while maintaining a career in music?    "I experienced both anxiety and depression throughout my music career and my strong advice would be to refrain from substance abuse, find a support group or trusted individual to talk to when episodes strike, and to partake in daily exercise. Everything in moderation is key. The pressures of the industry to look, talk, and act a certain way can be taxing and can feel overwhelming. It is important to remember your roots and who you are as an individual and to not get confused or caught up in what someone else is trying to make you or thinks you should be."    What do you think needs to happen to overcome the stigma of talking openly about mental health issues, particularly in the industry?    "I hate that there is even a "stigma" about it. I have always been an open book to my friends, family and fans. I'm always willing share my story of overcoming mental obstacles, especially if it can encourage another individual. The key is that I have overcome my obstacles and can talk about them freely in a positive tone. I do however feel that the proper sound advice for someone currently struggling, would be to speak to a professional and to never be embarrassed or ashamed to do so. It's amazing what talking to a third party can accomplish. We all just need to rally together within the music industry without placing judgment on one another because let’s face it… whether it’s mental health issues or other personal issues, we all have our demons."

This week we are speaking with Anna M'Queen, front woman of Five Knives, to get her perspective on mental health in the industry. Five Knives is based out of Nashville and is known for their unique blend of electronica and rock n' roll. Make sure to check out their most recent video release "Savages". We are excited to have the opportunity to talk with this local entertainer and grateful for Anna's support in bring such topics into the spotlight. With a different format this week, we decided to pose three main questions to Anna and have included her direct responses. 

What particular aspects do you think contribute mental health struggles in the entertainment industry?

"I think the music industry in particular is an emotionally creative industry. Many aspects of our “crazy natured" artist minds are what bring out such relatable and touching lyrics and melodies to songs. Musicians have an outlet to use their thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams through performance and songwriting. From my perspective, great songs and performances usually stem from some sort of mental experience that was either created or made up in the mind or from a real life experience. I hate to say that creativity is linked to mental health issues, but I was able to embrace what I was going through by focusing that energy and turning it into art. I am not a psychologist, but my guess is that mental health issues are more apparent within the music industry simply because of the restless creative mind and/or life trauma and experiences from the past or present." 

"From an artist’s daily lifestyle perspective, the highs and lows of touring, the ups and downs of record sales, and having to sometimes work odd jobs while off the road to stay a float definitely pose reason as to why the music industry struggles with mental health as well."

Do you have any advice for other artists and/or music industry professionals on overcoming anxiety and depression while maintaining a career in music?

"I experienced both anxiety and depression throughout my music career and my strong advice would be to refrain from substance abuse, find a support group or trusted individual to talk to when episodes strike, and to partake in daily exercise. Everything in moderation is key. The pressures of the industry to look, talk, and act a certain way can be taxing and can feel overwhelming. It is important to remember your roots and who you are as an individual and to not get confused or caught up in what someone else is trying to make you or thinks you should be."

What do you think needs to happen to overcome the stigma of talking openly about mental health issues, particularly in the industry?

"I hate that there is even a "stigma" about it. I have always been an open book to my friends, family and fans. I'm always willing share my story of overcoming mental obstacles, especially if it can encourage another individual. The key is that I have overcome my obstacles and can talk about them freely in a positive tone. I do however feel that the proper sound advice for someone currently struggling, would be to speak to a professional and to never be embarrassed or ashamed to do so. It's amazing what talking to a third party can accomplish. We all just need to rally together within the music industry without placing judgment on one another because let’s face it… whether it’s mental health issues or other personal issues, we all have our demons."

Interview with Shinedown's Barry Kerch

Barry Kerch, drummer for Shinedown

           When it comes to knowing the pulse of a career in entertainment and as a touring musician, Barry Kerch has a few years of experience to say the least. This week EHS had the pleasure of talking with Shinedown’s drummer Barry Kerch on his personal journey through music. Barry shares with us his insights on maintaining a strong headspace, the importance of relationships in long term band success, managing stress, and views on mental health in the industry.             Having been with Shinedown from the beginning over 15 years ago, Barry has experienced the shifts in the music industry, especially with the impact of technology developments and social media. We asked Barry how he has kept a positive headspace throughout years of changes and if social media has any affect on this for him? Barry tells us self-care/exercise, good communication/relationships with the band, and avoiding negative commentary on social media, keeps things in check for him. He explains that he and other band members often hold each other accountable for keeping routine with exercise and feels he plays a better show when he makes time for it. Barry laughs as he states, “My 30’s caught up with me and I could no longer eat and drink whatever I wanted”. As for bandmate relationships, we can't help but turn to Shinedown’s video for “Enemies”, which plays off the idea of a band meeting gone bad. However, based on our discussion with Barry, we are rest assured there is no chair throwing amongst band members. Barry states they are supportive of one another and it feels more like family. Barry admits they have all experienced ups and downs, including lead singer, Brent Smith’s struggle with substance abuse and inspiring achievement of kicking his drug addiction. Barry reports he feels they became a better band after the making of their third album, Sound of Madness (also being around the time of Smith quitting drugs and band restructure). At EHS we hear a lot about the impact of social media on entertainers, including online feedback and the temptation of comparison. Barry replies to this with “We’re already stuck in our ways”, referring to his personal security in who he is and Shinedown as a band. Barry states “people say things on social media, they would never say in person”. He encourages others to embrace their music and avoid spending too much time reading comments on social media. He tells us in the end you are doing it for yourself and although the feedback can be encouraging, don’t get hung up in negative feedback. Barry state's social media can be positive for some artist as a way to put themselves out there and for fans to have greater connection with artist. However, the negative impact of criticism or online bullying can be detrimental.               We asked Barry if a career in music is what he expected and without hesitation, the response was “no, not at all”. Barry states a big surprise was learning the dynamics of the  partnership with record labels. Initially he was unaware of how much influence the labels had on the band and decision making. He talks about there being times you would advocate for certain songs or decisions and times you need to trust the label to call the shots. Barry doesn’t express any animosity when discussing this partnership structure, but rather seems to emphasize a need to be flexible and accepting of the labels ultimate decisions. Barry says a career in entertainment “is work, you have to treat it like a business”. He reports he would often practice 4 hours a day instead of hanging out with friends. His advice being to select days for practice and then slot out a night or two for friends. He stares it is important to find balance and structure time for music. Although it is hard work, Barry shares with us that he is living his dream to be able to do what he loves. When we asked the worst job he ever worked, Barry replied “cold calling people to ask if they wanted Sprint or AT&T”. It seems telemarketing will not be in Barry’s future endeavors!               When it comes to the overall stress of the industry, it appears Barry has adapted a sense of flexibility and humor to handle the various uncertainties. Barry tells us a story about a show Shinedown was headlining in Tampa. Like any musician's nightmare, the power went out and they couldn’t get enough generators working to run all the equipment. Instead of canceling the show, they got a couple of mic's running and played an acoustic show. He says he believes many of the fans thought it was done on purpose and they got a special acoustic show. It seems there is always an opportunity for things to go wrong and this is a prime example of being ready to adapt to the circumstances and diffuse stress. The time off touring when singer Smith decided to take needed personal time was stressful, but Barry reflects “it was important we paused for him to get help”. In an industry of little guaranteed security, the band members also have families at home to consider, adding another layer of potential stress. Barry takes a moment to talk about his daughter and how quickly she is growing up. Although there is the expected stress of being on the road, Barry states he does the best he can and makes use of FaceTime. When talking with Barry, you get the sense that stress and worry take the backseat in his life these days. Perhaps years on the road as an entertainer exposes you to more of life's curveballs, resulting to more instinctual stress management.               Mental health is often a difficult discussion in the entertainment world and we are grateful for Barry and others in the industry who are willing to broach this topic with us. When we asked what changes he would hope to see with mental health and the music industry, Barry stated “I would like to see people willing to talk about it, especially labels”. Barry reported the biggest holdbacks with this that he sees is “the fear of admitting defeat, putting things on hold (touring, music), and being dropped by a label”. Although there may not be any quick fix, it is discussions like this that help move things in that direction. Barry tells us there have been times fans share mental health struggles with him online and it is difficult knowing he cannot directly help them. On the other hand, he has also received messages crediting Shinedown’s music for helping them through tough times or even steered them away from suicide.  These experiences show both the positive power of music and the importance of mental health awareness. Many of Shinedown’s songs can be seen as relatable to issues of mental health, including substance use, bullying, and depression. Regardless of what inspired the song or what genre it is put into, the impact is there. The fact is, music and emotions share the same stage. Mental health shares a stage with emotions. Therefore, they’re all playing the same show. EHS believes in the power of music and works to continue bringing mental health topics to light in the entertainment world. For now, we are extremely grateful for entertainers like Barry Kerch for speaking with us and Shinedown’s overall transparency in sharing their experiences with such topics.

          When it comes to knowing the pulse of a career in entertainment and as a touring musician, Barry Kerch has a few years of experience to say the least. This week EHS had the pleasure of talking with Shinedown’s drummer Barry Kerch on his personal journey through music. Barry shares with us his insights on maintaining a strong headspace, the importance of relationships in long term band success, managing stress, and views on mental health in the industry.

           Having been with Shinedown from the beginning over 15 years ago, Barry has experienced the shifts in the music industry, especially with the impact of technology developments and social media. We asked Barry how he has kept a positive headspace throughout years of changes and if social media has any affect on this for him? Barry tells us self-care/exercise, good communication/relationships with the band, and avoiding negative commentary on social media, keeps things in check for him. He explains that he and other band members often hold each other accountable for keeping routine with exercise and feels he plays a better show when he makes time for it. Barry laughs as he states, “My 30’s caught up with me and I could no longer eat and drink whatever I wanted”. As for bandmate relationships, we can't help but turn to Shinedown’s video for “Enemies”, which plays off the idea of a band meeting gone bad. However, based on our discussion with Barry, we are rest assured there is no chair throwing amongst band members. Barry states they are supportive of one another and it feels more like family. Barry admits they have all experienced ups and downs, including lead singer, Brent Smith’s struggle with substance abuse and inspiring achievement of kicking his drug addiction. Barry reports he feels they became a better band after the making of their third album, Sound of Madness (also being around the time of Smith quitting drugs and band restructure). At EHS we hear a lot about the impact of social media on entertainers, including online feedback and the temptation of comparison. Barry replies to this with “We’re already stuck in our ways”, referring to his personal security in who he is and Shinedown as a band. Barry states “people say things on social media, they would never say in person”. He encourages others to embrace their music and avoid spending too much time reading comments on social media. He tells us in the end you are doing it for yourself and although the feedback can be encouraging, don’t get hung up in negative feedback. Barry state's social media can be positive for some artist as a way to put themselves out there and for fans to have greater connection with artist. However, the negative impact of criticism or online bullying can be detrimental.

             We asked Barry if a career in music is what he expected and without hesitation, the response was “no, not at all”. Barry states a big surprise was learning the dynamics of the  partnership with record labels. Initially he was unaware of how much influence the labels had on the band and decision making. He talks about there being times you would advocate for certain songs or decisions and times you need to trust the label to call the shots. Barry doesn’t express any animosity when discussing this partnership structure, but rather seems to emphasize a need to be flexible and accepting of the labels ultimate decisions. Barry says a career in entertainment “is work, you have to treat it like a business”. He reports he would often practice 4 hours a day instead of hanging out with friends. His advice being to select days for practice and then slot out a night or two for friends. He stares it is important to find balance and structure time for music. Although it is hard work, Barry shares with us that he is living his dream to be able to do what he loves. When we asked the worst job he ever worked, Barry replied “cold calling people to ask if they wanted Sprint or AT&T”. It seems telemarketing will not be in Barry’s future endeavors!

             When it comes to the overall stress of the industry, it appears Barry has adapted a sense of flexibility and humor to handle the various uncertainties. Barry tells us a story about a show Shinedown was headlining in Tampa. Like any musician's nightmare, the power went out and they couldn’t get enough generators working to run all the equipment. Instead of canceling the show, they got a couple of mic's running and played an acoustic show. He says he believes many of the fans thought it was done on purpose and they got a special acoustic show. It seems there is always an opportunity for things to go wrong and this is a prime example of being ready to adapt to the circumstances and diffuse stress. The time off touring when singer Smith decided to take needed personal time was stressful, but Barry reflects “it was important we paused for him to get help”. In an industry of little guaranteed security, the band members also have families at home to consider, adding another layer of potential stress. Barry takes a moment to talk about his daughter and how quickly she is growing up. Although there is the expected stress of being on the road, Barry states he does the best he can and makes use of FaceTime. When talking with Barry, you get the sense that stress and worry take the backseat in his life these days. Perhaps years on the road as an entertainer exposes you to more of life's curveballs, resulting to more instinctual stress management.

             Mental health is often a difficult discussion in the entertainment world and we are grateful for Barry and others in the industry who are willing to broach this topic with us. When we asked what changes he would hope to see with mental health and the music industry, Barry stated “I would like to see people willing to talk about it, especially labels”. Barry reported the biggest holdbacks with this that he sees is “the fear of admitting defeat, putting things on hold (touring, music), and being dropped by a label”. Although there may not be any quick fix, it is discussions like this that help move things in that direction. Barry tells us there have been times fans share mental health struggles with him online and it is difficult knowing he cannot directly help them. On the other hand, he has also received messages crediting Shinedown’s music for helping them through tough times or even steered them away from suicide.  These experiences show both the positive power of music and the importance of mental health awareness. Many of Shinedown’s songs can be seen as relatable to issues of mental health, including substance use, bullying, and depression. Regardless of what inspired the song or what genre it is put into, the impact is there. The fact is, music and emotions share the same stage. Mental health shares a stage with emotions. Therefore, they’re all playing the same show. EHS believes in the power of music and works to continue bringing mental health topics to light in the entertainment world. For now, we are extremely grateful for entertainers like Barry Kerch for speaking with us and Shinedown’s overall transparency in sharing their experiences with such topics.

EHS Spotlight Stories- Elizabeth Eckert

          EHS will be sitting down with individuals in entertainment to discuss a wide range of topics as they relate to personal experiences in this industry. We hope these stories will help continue to open the gates in discussions of mental health and what that looks like in the entertainment industry. We believe there is great value in recognizing mental health’s impact on each path and inspiration to be found in the up’s and down’s of other’s journeys.

        This week we talked with Nashville’s Elizabeth Eckert to discuss some of her personal perspectives on life as an artist. Elizabeth is a songwriter, singer, and pianist currently signed with Right Recordings in the United Kingdom. She will be traveling to the UK for her second tour this coming June and will soon be releasing her newest single “Church Bells”. Elizabeth admitted her career in music is not what she initially expected with the biggest shift occurring her junior year in college.

        Elizabeth began playing piano at the age of three years old and dreamed of becoming a classical pianist. She explains both her parents were musicians and she found herself naturally building her identity around being a pianist. She excelled in piano and found herself in college continuing to reach for her dreams as a classical pianist. It was in her junior year of college that she would face one of her greatest obstacles. She began to experience pain in her wrist and soon discovered she was having complications from a prior childhood injury, severely limiting her ability to play and causing tendinitis symptoms. With the medical recommendation being surgery, Elizabeth states she then realized “I was not going to be able to do what I had worked so hard for”. After completing surgery, Elizabeth reports she spent the next couple years lying her prior dreams to rest and “reinventing myself as a musician”. She continued teaching piano, starting doing some singing and songwriting, and moved to Nashville to begin teaching piano through the Blair School at Vanderbilt. She found she could still play the piano in a less demanding form of singer/songwriter. Elizabeth reports others began to refer to her as a singer, an identity she had not considered before. She spoke to the importance of being “flexible in your music career”. Elizabeth admitted being flexible can be difficult when you have ideas of how you want your career to go, but opportunities can come in different forms and you have to be open to receive them.

        We asked Elizabeth how her personal values have shaped her music career and her response was being authentic and honest in her music. She said she writes songs that speak the truth in her world. Her newest song “Church Bells” speaks to her recent marriage this past year. She reports there had been some who told her to avoid releasing such songs since they “make her seem unavailable”. We at EHS have heard similar statements before about the impact of image on marketing yourself as a musician. Is that the path to success? Putting on a mask and selling yourself as something you’re not. How does this promote a healthy self image and mental wellness for our artists? We were happy to hear the support Elizabeth received from her record label in releasing this song, but we know this is an obstacle many other artist face. How important is transparency and authenticity in music or to the wellbeing of the artist?

       When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Elizabeth reports she finds balance in spending time writing songs for herself late at night and finding time outside of music doing activities such as sailing and strength training. She admits she started strength training to keep herself in shape for her stage presence, but reports it has become so much more, especially in maintaining a healthy mindset.

       We appreciate the time Elizabeth took to share her story with us and can’t wait to see where her music career will go next. Check out her new single “Church Bells” released today! 

https://goo.gl/KcIHaz

www.Facebook.com/EEckertMusic

Blog Written By: Elizabeth Porter

 

7 Keys to Holding Hope in the Entertainment Industry

“Do the best you can with yourself and hope for the best.” - Loretta Lynn

Welcome to Nashville, the place where dreams come true for aspiring musicians, singers, and songwriters. Ambitious musicians and songwriters move to Nashville every day with hopes and dreams of seeing what music city can do for them. Many learn the path to success is very different from what they envisioned and then the real test begins. How do we hold onto hope when our path in music doesn’t go as planned? How do we manage the potential disappointments while maintaining a positive mental state of mind? How do we continue to grow in our music career without burning out or becoming jaded? There is no doubt that pressures and demands in the entertainment industry can leave your head spinning. Sometimes maintaining hope can become the biggest struggle. While the topic of holding hope can be a difficult subject to condense into one article, we will focus on seven key elements in sustaining hope. 
 

Set SMART Goals

SMART goals are as follows; Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented/Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound goals. It is important to decipher what your goals are versus expectations with your music career. Unmet expectations can quickly lead to resentment and feelings of hopelessness. Therefore, it is more productive to set SMART goals. This requires you to be specific in the goals you set and make sure they are measurable. If you aim to “make it" in the entertainment or songwriting world, then be specific when defining this. What would “making it" look like for you and how would you measure success? Make sure goals are action-oriented and realistic. If you have big dreams and ambitions in the entertainment world, remember it doesn’t happen over night. List the short term actions you need to start taking to move towards your goal and make sure they are realistic. Perhaps setting a number of co-writing sessions per week, finding a seasoned musician to mentor you and meeting monthly, or set aside time to work on your music each day. These goals are specific, measurable, action focused, and generally realistic. Make sure your goals focus on things you can do. Setting a goal to get a record deal by the end of the year is great, but you have limited control of the outcome. However, working on steps that may set you up to start exploring record deals in the next year, focuses on actions you can take now. Lastly, make sure your goals are time-bound and set a deadline for achieving each goal. 
 

Reframe Obstacles

Holding onto hope when things are hard can seem impossible, especially when you have invested so much into your music career. How do you make lemonade when life seems to be dishing out lemons? Difficult times can leave us feeling out of control and powerless. This can cause fear and even anger. The reality is there are many aspects of life that we are not in control of, but we can control how we respond to these events. Do you look at obstacles in your career as disappointments or failures? It is ok to be disappointed when things don’t pan out the way you had hoped, but dubbing it a failure diminishes hope and confidence in those goals. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles both overcame adversity of losing their sight and continued on to make history in music. Obstacles and disappointments can only debilitate us if we allow our minds to settle in that space. Reframing obstacles and self-talk takes practice and attentiveness, but a positive mindset is imperative to maintaining hope, productivity, and resiliency. 
 

Acknowledge Strengths

Everyone has certain skill-strengths as well as weaknesses, but focusing on your strengths will elevate hope and confidence. Acknowledge areas of improvement and either work within your limitations or outsource these tasks. For example, if your a songwriter, but not great with any particular instrument, you may continue working on learning an instrument while using a guitarist to play shows while you sing your songs. Identify what your strengths are and look at ways you can highlight these skills in working towards your musical goals. Confidence is key in maintaining hope and reaching your goals, so be mindful of your skills and remind yourself of your strengths. Monitor your "self-talk" or inner monologues, which I often refer to as the “tape” you play in your mind. This is similar to a sports commentator at a game, announcing each success and failure you make during a game. Changing our immediate and deconstructive thoughts is like reprograming a computer and takes work. Negative self-talk can cause you to repeatedly question yourself to the point of self-doubt, uncertainty, and hopelessness. Clinical levels of depression and anxiety have been found to be deeply rooted in deconstructive self-talk. Acknowledge your strengths, remind yourself daily, and set affirmations if you feel you need to tackle any self-doubts. 
 

Cultivate a Supportive Environment

When developing hope, it is advantageous to cultivate supportive relationships and surround yourself with a strong community. The music industry is forever changing and the pressures can feel overwhelming at times. You don’t have to do it all alone. Spend time with those who encourage and are invested in you. Be that supportive individual to others as well, but make sure you are not draining yourself to maintain the relationship. I have seen numerous people fall off task with their goals because they are preoccupied with tending to a maladaptive relationship with someone. Ultimately, when you surround yourself with people who believe in you, this will help promote feelings of hope. 
 

Find a Cause

Finding a way to give back and volunteer has great benefits for mental wellbeing and sustaining hope. Volunteering not only connects you to your community, but gives a sense of achievement and purpose. It is an opportunity for you to share your skills or learn new skills and build your self-esteem and confidence. It can help us step away from our personal stressors and obtain a fresh perspective. There are countless volunteer opportunities, but sometimes it’s as simple as giving a free music lesson. It is easy to get wrapped up in our projects or routine, but the positive effects of volunteering are often immediate when we can disconnect from our own worries to help others. I cannot list all of the programs and charities supported by those in the music industry, but rest assured that they are numerous and readily accessible.  And remember that instilling hope for others helps promote personal hope as well. 
 

Celebrate Victories

A major contributing component to our level of hope is the actual achievement of our goals. These accomplishments give us validation, which instills hope and empowers us to move forward. This is why setting smaller attainable goals and celebrating each success is essential in bringing more hope into your life and specifically your music career. Anyone can look at their life and find areas where they feel they are falling short (as a musician, employee, friend, significant other, son/daughter…). Yes, acknowledge shortcomings and areas of improvement, but dwelling on this will not serve you well. 
 

Trust and Faith

Trust and faith are the cornerstones of hope. Trust is based on evidence, while faith is based on hope or belief in what we do not know or cannot see. Trust in yourself as a musician/songwriter and your ability to grow in your career. Maintain the faith that if you continue to develop in your career, then things will work out the way they are supposed to (and in the timeframe they are supposed to). This does not mean things will necessarily work out the way you want them to. Many stories of success in the music industry had unconventional paths. Before his break in music, Gene Simmons was an elementary school teacher and even spent some time working for women’s fashion magazines. Not really the steps towards music success that many would envision. Dierks Bentley spent time cleaning out house boat toilets prior to his full-time music career. Life is often surprising and we need to be flexible with accepting the journey as well as the destination. We never know what each chapter may be preparing us for or how it is shaping us, so embrace the moments. When we lose trust and faith, hope begins to diminish and fear takes the front seat. Many say music is all they have, and all they need to succeed. However, if you begin to lose hope and move into panic mode, this will likely become counteractive. 
 

A Final Thought

Holding hope in the music industry is imperative to motivation, resiliency, happiness, and growth. Thousands of musical souls embark on this journey with the hopes of “making it” in the entertainment world, but we all know it is generally a long hard road. When you feel you have fallen too far off your path, reach out to those around you for support, take steps to instill hope again, or seek professional counseling. Remember this when you are in the beginning stage of setting your goals and defining what success means to you.  Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his entire lifetime, even though he painted over 900 pieces of art that are celebrated worldwide. Would you define this as success? Why did he keep painting if his art wasn’t selling? If music is in your heart, then try and look beyond the external validation and find the passion and drive within. 
 

This blog post was contributed by Elizabeth Porter, LPC-MHSP. 
 

President of Entertainment Health Services (EHS), providing Counseling for Creatives in the Nashville area.


References: 

http://www.cracked.com/article_19424_the-6-strangest-previous-careers-fa...

http://www.wideopencountry.com/weird-jobs-country-stars-famous/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201309/make-you...

http://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/benefits-of-volunteering

http://www.wikihow.com/Have-Hope

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2011/04/how-we-lose-ho...

http://www.relatably.com/q/loretta-lynn-quotes

http://www.vangoghgallery.com/painting/