“Art invites us to take the journey beyond price, beyond costs
into bearing witness to the world as it is and as it should be.
Art invites us to know beauty and to solicit it from even the most tragic of circumstances.
Art reminds us that we belong here. And if we serve, we last. . .
Its conversation with the public and among its various genres is critical
to the understanding of what it means to care deeply and to be human completely.” Toni Morrison
InSpero cares deeply about beauty and those who create it. Since March we've hosted a Lent Retreat at the peaceful and lovely Salem Farm, packed the house atLeaf & Petalfor a concert by David Wilcox and Andy Gullahorn, offered an intimate songwriter's workshop led by David and Andy at the gracious Wolnski Farm, and facilitated a deep conversation on our dreams for Birmingham at our Pastor Artist Dinner at theClubhouse on Highland.
Photos by Emily Kicklighter
Photos by Charity Ponter and Caroline Hurry
Who knew that a nursery (Leaf & Petal Cahaba Heights) could be the perfect location for an intimate concert? The audience of more than 100 was as diverse as the many plants filling the greenhouse and eclectic as all the trendy mismatched chairs and tables and decor. David and Andy held us spellbound with their music and chemistry. They are in production for a shared album and promised to do a repeat performance when they debut their new music. We'll keep you posted for the encore! One of the songs Andy sings, "If You Want to Love Someone" (lyrics by Jason Gray), reflects the evening:
”The heart will hide where it's been broken
but the fault lines still remain
like a map to lead you home when
you can enter through their pain
If you want to love someone
search their soul for where it's broken
find the cracks and pour your heart in
if you want to love someone...”
Photos by Corey Nolen
It was a privilege to soak in the wisdom of David Wilcox and Andy Gullahorn at the InSpero Songwriters Workshop in March. As a non-musician, I (Nancy) sat in the shadows, scribbling notes, surprised how their creative process resonated with me as a spiritual practice for any who struggled to understand and communicate their own heart truths. Here are a few of their thoughts:
Don’t think this writing is ever easy. It is a simple practice of showing up every day, sitting in the silence and discomfort of your own heart to know what you feel.
David asks himself, “Is there something I should know before it’s too late?” He tries to write it down before he forgets what it feels like. He uses what he calls the “warmer/cooler” game for every emotion he is trying to communicate in his lyrics and music to narrow it down to the “truest true.” David and Andy spoke of the discipline of not settling for being “clever” but to keep digging deep for ways to “sing the cries of everyone else.” Thank you, David and Andy, for being songwriters who give us music that help us stay alive and give us hope that we’re not alone.
Photos by Emily Kicklighter
One of our favorite and most fruitful connections every year is our pastor-artist dinner where we connect five pastors and five artists from the city to better understand each other and their shared hopes for Birmingham. This year's pastors included Bill Brunson, Vestavia Hills Methodist Church; Glenda Curry, All Saints Episcopal Church; Mike Jones, Harvest Community Church; Kam Pugh, Iron City Church; Matt Schneider, Cathedral Church of the Advent. This year's artists included Scott Barfoot, master stylist; Susan Gordon, potter; Gisela Kreglinger, writer, theologian; Wen Reagan, musician, worship leader, professor; Chiharu Roach, painter; Chelsey Whild, musician. Gina, Nancy and Bob McKenna also joined the conversation. The beautiful tablescaping by Gild and Garnish.
Join us at our fifth annual Magic City Storytellers on Thursday, June 6, 6-9 pm to hear from poets, musicians and writers who bear “witness to the world as it is and as it should be.” All at theClubhouse on Highland(thank you, Bob!) with a beautiful spread of wine, beer, charcuterie boards (thanksGild and Garnish, Christi, Elizabeth and Shelly!) and break-up cookies fromChurch Street Coffee and Books(thanks, Cal!) at intermission. We've sold out the past few years so get tickets now.Warning!As of this moment, we only have 15 tickets left at the $15 suggested donation level. (We do have about 20 “golden” tickets available at the $50 level which will get you reserved seating, a few special treats, and our undying gratitude to be able to keep this beautiful event accessible for all our Birmingham folks.) Link here for tickets!
Here is the amazing lineup of 2019 singer/songwriters, poets, and storytellers.
From L to R, top to bottom
Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins, poet. Tina Mozelle Braziel, poet. Will Stewart singer/songwriter
Chelsey Whild singer/songwriter Graham Cotten, fiction Gin Phillips fiction.
Link here to read more about each of these amazing Birmingham voices! Link here for tickets.
We are grateful to all in our creative community who, as Toni Morrison describes, bear "witness to the world as it is and as it should be." Our desire is that Magic City Storytellers and all our offerings are moments of "as it should be."
It was at Rivendell the hobbits think through the vocation they have been given, carefully working out the who and what and where of the odyssey that will be theirs. But integral to all that they were, and to all that they would need to be, was the table at Rivendell, a place for the best conversations and the best food and the best drink — simply said, a wonder of wonders." Steve Garber
The never-ending hope of Easter, Writer Andrew Shaughnessy shares reflections on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and why hope and beauty matter. "We hope because we know a day is coming when, to paraphrase Sam in The Lord of the Rings, “everything sad will come untrue,” when our Creator King will dry every tear and bind up the broken hearts and restore the sundered cities and turn the world upside down."