15 years ago today I was at Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital waiting…..

   Reflections on Love & Life…..Today is June 25, 2014. 15 years ago, I was sitting in a waiting room at Vanderbilt Children’s hospital praying for the life of my 3 1/2  year old daughter. Would she live? She was having open heart surgery to repair a hole in her heart. One she could not live with and one, had we ignored, that would require a heart and lung transplant later. Whew! I still remember the day I received that news. I was 8 months pregnant with my son and on bed rest. I felt the weight of that news like a ton of bricks on my chest. She had the surgery 8 months after I gave birth. So the season of a newborn and no sleep was also fraught with the wonderings of what would happen in the future. Although we had an amazing cardiologist and amazing surgeon, nothing prepares you for the what ifs.… nothing prepares you for the feeling of powerlessness and hoping that doctors do know what they are doing. Even putting your child in the hands of an amazing, renowned doctor does not take that away. The only thing that sustained me was  faith in the God who created us  in the first place. That’s easy to say in hindsight, mind you. It was not easy. It was a day by day, moment by moment, sometimes second by second journey for months. Surgery day…June 25,1999 was the longest day of my life thus far. It seemed those hours of waiting were suspended in time and I couldn’t rush them no matter how hard I tried. I wouldn’t want to relive that season but I am thankful for what I learned about God, my faith, my marriage,my family and frankly, myself. So this is one reason why I am passionate about family life! All the career goals vanish in these moments. Although my career is important…my family is priority. What are you living for today? Having goals is absolutely necessary in life but don’t let them crowd out what is truly important- your relationships. I am thankful everyday  that my daughter came through the surgery fine and has grown into a beautiful young woman, inside and out!

Join Me June 28, 2014 in Franklin,TN to relax and have some fun!!

  An evening of jazz standards, swing & warm bossa nova guitar……on June 28th,2014 / 7pm!   Franklin Brentwood Arts Performance Hall/ 210 Gothic Ct./Franklin, TN (cool springs-next to A-Game Sportsplex)

I’m so excited for this show! It has been 2 years since I did a concert in Franklin,TN and I’m thrilled to be back. My band for this show is AMAZING! Mark Sorrels, Larry Knight and Dave Dunseath have performed for a multitude of recording artists: Linda Ronstadt, Trace Adkins, Shelby Lynn just to name a few. These musicians are also great jazz players and all around great guys! They have a wide variety of musical experience and that adds to my styling of jazz very much. In the last few years I have been writing for the new CD and although it is still stylistically swing, bossa nova and blues….the lyric content is very much reflective of where I am coming from as a mid-life female, wife and mom living in the world today. I’m am really excited to do a few tunes from the new CD to whet your appetite.  Mostly, it will be an evening for you to kick back and relax for a while, whether you need a girl’s night out or date night with your sweetheart, it’ll be a fun show! We have 2 ticket tiers. We decided to add a VIP Pre-Concert wine,cheese,dessert reception before the show because sometimes you just want an event! VIP also includes photo ops  and preferred seating. Pre-Sale tickets $15 ($20 at door)/ $25 VIP.  For Tickets:: http://debbiecunninghamjazz.brownpapertickets.com

Surprising Fans on the road….

   

I love surprises…at least when I’m the one surprising! It is really fun to do something unexpected for someone that brings joy and happiness! It’s one of my favorite things in life. So when I got the chance to surprise a fan of mine who does so much for others, I just had to jump on the surprise wagon!!

Anita Outlaw is a fan…but even more than that, she has become a dear friend over the years. Until now, we had actually never met face to face. She is the Great Aunt of Parker…the young boy with Leukemia behind the Flat Parker project. Do You remember Flat Parker? A few years ago, my family was privileged to be the Tennessee hosts! Besides taking pictures with him in Nashville and Franklin, I had him in the studio with me too. Flat Parker traveled to all 50 states in the U.S. during one full year. Each family that hosted him took him to special sites in their city and then posted them to Facebook for the family and the page followers to view. It was the brain child of Anita’s son,Tracey, who wanted to DO something to give Parker’s family a diversion during this difficult time fighting leukemia. Parker has had more than 18 spinal taps,besides chemo etc. You know the drill of these diseases…it’s difficult on everyone. Flat Parker is now on a World Tour! He has visited the OLYMPICS, The GREAT WALL OF CHINA and The HOBBIT HOUSES of NEW ZEALAND! To Learn more, see amazing photos and even donate to the foundation go to www.flatparker.com  The stories and the sights are amazing! Flat Parker’s journey also serves as encouragement to many families fighting this disease. One family, sharing their story -affecting and connecting so many. Our stories matter! 

Ok…now back to surprises! I was on a trip to Cincinnati with my son’s show choir for their annual competition trip. I knew Anita was visiting her son and I called him to set up the surprise. He brought her by the hotel we were staying in because as a chaperone, I could not leave. You should have seen the look on her face when she walked in and I was standing there! It was a delight to both of us! Anita, her husband and son were all there. They got to hear the show choir sing too…in the pool! These kids sing anywhere!We talked for a LONG time and have a lovely visit.  This family has worked tirelessly with the Flat Parker hosts around the country and now around the world. Tracey Outlaw runs many marathons in honor of Parker and encourages this family and others to run the race and to finish strong. They are a blessing to many and I am so glad that my family and I got to be a part of their story.

Photos from the Road…..Sing-it-or-Bring-it Event

                        

LAST WEEK…..I had the great pleasure of singing for a fun event for local politicians…called Sing It or Bring It! The event was a lighthearted kick off to early voting. Local competing politicians came together for a night of either singing a song or bringing someone to perform for them. I was the “Bring -It” for local County Commissioner candidate, Sherri Clark. In fact, she and Todd Kaestner were the candidates who organized the event. A fun, entertaining evening was had by all at the historic Puckett’s in Leiper’s Fork. So…on that note….let YOUR voice be heard in your next local election wherever you are …. get out and VOTE! 🙂

 

 

April showers & Spring flowers…..

The Biltmore Estate 201

Spring! It always comes after the bleak of winter. Maybe that’s why so many of us love spring. We are so excited to see  the beauty that comes from the cold, dreary gray of winter….at least we are here in TN! Have you been in a “winter” season lately? Life not turning out in the way you had hoped? Please be encouraged that after the winter there is always a spring. Keep hanging in there….working and waiting; tilling the soil and planting the seed. Eventually there will be a harvest if you are consistent to keep watering that work or dream of yours. Maybe even that relationship of yours? There will be a harvest in time 🙂

This picture was taken 2 years ago when we visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. I don’t believe I have ever seen more beautiful tulips! And so many!! Such a lovely display of springtime flowers. At my writing of this post- it’s Easter time! So here’s a little tip for all of you coloring Easter eggs...put 1 tsp of baking soda in the water when you boil the eggs and they will always peel easily! Sounds crazy but tried and true!

I hope you have a lovely Easter weekend……and Happy Spring!!

 

 

 

 

Failure just another turn in the road to success…..

We’ve all felt like a failure from time to time. I mean life does not always work out the way we thought it would. I have to remind myself in those moments that failure is part of the plan to a better journey. What? Yeah…I just said that. Failure hurts. it feels so frustrating doesn’t it? It feels like a waste of time,effort and frequently resources that were slim to begin with. Interestingly, failure is frequently just a turn in the road to find a better way. A few years ago, I was approached by a management company to help grow my career as an independent artist. I was so excited! Finally, I was going to have someone helping me. Wearing all the hats in any business can be overwhelming. This was such a good thing…or so I thought! After 8 months, things were not working out so well. The booking agent this company had hired was promising tours but not actually booking dates for me and he was building his own company on the side. (can you say conflict of interest?) The photographer hired delivered less than stellar photos and the website designer locked me out of my current web site and never built one for me. Lots of headaches. Then….there was a big announcement that my management company was working with a group to put me on a national tour. These were industry vets who had worked with all the major labels in town. Finally something! So exciting! The big day for the national tour meeting arrived. My husband and I went into the meeting room with the tour company and the spokesperson for the management company said, ” Okay, before we get started, we need to announce that we are no longer going to manage any artists.”  I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. What? I thought we were meeting to discuss a national tour roll out? Then they basically introduced us to each other and said we could work out details of working together for a national tour amongst ourselves. The tour company was just as surprised as I was. We exchanged pleasantries as we all stood reeling from the info-bomb that was dropped into our laps. We moved on to a professional conversation about what a tour might look like and they would email me a calendar roll -out and the fee schedule. Then we left. What a disappointment. I felt like such a failure.  Why hadn’t I seen this coming?  There was lots of frustration but I had been trying to be gracious because they were a start up, independent company just like me. As a solo independent artist, I knew I was not going to be able to afford the fees associated with a National tour company. I quickly had to regroup and had the task of getting back my intellectual property  as well as some other legal matters. What a nightmare.

And yet….

It was in the following weeks and months that I realized how much strength I truly had. I had acquired a lot  of knowledge over the years as an Independent Recording Artist and wearing all the hats! I then hired someone to re-build my artist website and I was up and running again. It wasn’t easy and it took some time. But things that are worthwhile never see to come easily.  I managed to rebuild the momentum I  lost in that year with the management company, write songs for a new album and all while maintaining my roles as wife and mom too. It is through the struggle a butterfly has in leaving the cocoon that it gains strength in its wings to fly. I wrote a song about that. It’s called Fly. You can listen to it here. Now I understand even more fully that lesson. Is there an area of your life or business that you are struggling with or feeling like a failure right now?  What would happen if you viewed it as a turn in your road to success instead of a failure? What have you learned? Comment below. I’d love to encourage you in your journey to Fly……

100 leading Moms in business – would you vote for me?

  The news this week……is I’m in the running to be named one of start up nation’s 100 leading moms in business!

This is a great opportunity for me and I would so appreciate your vote. (no account set ups just click a button) You can vote once a day until April 30th to help me stay in the running. As most of you know, I started my entertainment business after I turned 40…after years of laying down my dream in order to be a stay at home mom. When I turned 40, however,  I just knew if I didn’t follow my heart I would regret it at the end of my life. You can read the mini version and vote at the link below. Thanks for helping me by voting and also sharing the link! It truly helps me in my business, by granting me exposure and publicity that is difficult to receive as an independent artist.

Vote for Debbie here!

My Spotlight Feature on Allies

This week….I’ve been enjoying a little time with my kids! Daughter is home from college on her break and my son was just in his high school’s musical-Anything Goes. We had a few snow/ice days off school so movies, games ,hot chocolate and cookie baking were added to the schedule! It’s just nice to have them home. I LOVE being a mom!

I was recently interviewed by Gail Adkins from Allies in Biz.

It is a very cool all female entrepreneurial group here in Middle TN. You can check out the interview here and then for those of you ladies who are entrepreneurs,browse around their site! I am a member and it’s an awesome group of women supporting & encouraging each other in their varied businesses. Even if you are not in TN they are forming an online group, so check them out!

Think Spring!!

Photos from the road- Chocolate & Shopping show!

   Last weekend I spent Saturday performing at the Chocolate & Shopping Show….I thought I’d post some pics for you to enjoy. Even Forest Gump stopped by for a visit!!  I think we all had a good time and yes those ladies are wearing MY CHOCOLATE shirt! SO fun…..

  

 

 

 

 

  SO thankful to ALL who stopped by my booth and said hello. I appreciate all your love & support!

XO Debbie

5 Minute Chocolate Fondue & the Chocolate song…

Just in time for Valentine’s day….This week’s reflection of Love & Life features  my song :  Chocolate is a girl’s best friend. I decided to teach you how to make a yummy dessert in less than 5 minutes…for that sweetheart or sweet tooth of yours!  ENJOY!

 

 

 

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