One of the more interesting times in my professional career was the period I worked on Music Row.
I didn’t work for a record label or a publishing company, two industry sectors with the highest profiles. Besides my time with an artist management company, I worked for sectors on the periphery of the musicindustry: artist merchandise and database marketing.
Unlike working for large organizations such as Vanderbilt University, HCA and LifePoint Hospitals, working on Music Row for me was like an entrepreneur’s club. I saw many little businesses with only three to ten employees scrambling to get introductions, claim a percentage on a song or a deal, or perhaps score the next big artist signing.
Sure, there were some memorable moments: an employee bowling party with Tim McGraw, a private jet trip to QVC with George Jones, a photo shoot with Waylon Jennings, a school event with Faith Hill. But day in and day out, the work was all about making a buck – and we were on our own to decide how best to do it.
So when I saw the film Pure Country 2 – The Gift, now in theaters in select U.S. cities, I thought the portrayal of the music industry was accurate, though perhaps a little over-the-top.
In this enjoyable, family-friendly film, Bobbie Thomas (Katrina Elam) receives at birth a very special gift: a huge singing voice. “With great gifts come great responsibilities,” says angel Gabriel (Michael McKean). “Three rules that must be followed: Never tell a lie, always be fair, and never break a promise.”
With the gift safely delivered, Bobbie grows up under the care of Aunt Ellie and learns to use her gift singing in church choirs. As a teen, Bobbie sings at rodeos and fairs with a small country band. When she gets frustrated with her small town life, she sets her sights on making it big as a country singer in Nashville.
She appears to be on her way to living out the words of the title tune: “Dream big, reach high, don’t ever be afraid to spread your wings and fly.”
Life in Music City, however, is not easy. In order to get a waitressing job, Bobbie tells a lie that she is not a singer. First rule broken. Bobbie starts singing with a band of other Japanese restaurant workers called The Rising Sons. When an oily Nashville manager takes an interest in Bobbie’s talents and promises her stardom if she’ll ditch the band, she goes against her instincts and agrees. Second rule broken.
Bobbie’s talent shines through and she becomes the brightest new star in country music. Hit singles, magazine covers and a tour with George Strait propel her to the top. Then on a TV talk show, she is surprised to meet her long-lost father. Though he is battling alcoholism, she takes him on tour and promises they will have a good life together.
In a short time, however, her father’s drinking gets him in trouble and starts to mess up her tour. She tells him to get away, that she never wants to see him again. The third and final rule has been broken.
With that, the angels take back the gift and she is stuck without a singing voice. Bobbie leaves Nashville and heads home where she must find a way to “sing from the heart.”
Katrina Elam, the real country artist who portrays Bobbie, said at a recent interview downtown that she identified with the character because she had somewhat similar experiences getting started in the industry. She took most pride in the character when Bobbie decides to use her gifts for good.
Christopher Cain, who directed this and the first Pure Country film starring George Strait, reiterated the theme. “The film shows that it is important to use your talents and gifts to build worthy things. Fame and wealth should not be your priorities.”
Though he didn’t know it at the time, Mr. Cain was summarizing one of the messages of the Catholic Business League (CBL), a networking and fellowship group in Middle Tennessee with more than 135 members.
“The CBL was formed to bring Catholic professionals together to support and fellowship with each other in our ever-increasing secular world,” says president Greg Mays. “The speakers at our monthly meetings increase our knowledge of the faith and Nashville’s Catholic community. We have also developed Jobs and Mentorship Ministries that allows members to give back to our diocese in many ways.”
The group meets on the second Thursday morning of every month in the Fleming Center at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. For more information, go to www.CatholicBusinessLeague.org.
“The monthly CBL Prayer Breakfast is not just another networking event,” says Mays. “There is true fellowship that goes on. You see relationships being formed, jobless individuals being ministered and community prayer being shared. I always walk out with a sense of pride and validation that I am not alone in seeking to bring God’s grace into our professional lives.”
If we use our gifts and our business relationships for more than personal gain, we’ll win much more than the rat race. We will improve and comfort the Body of Christ. For as Thomas Merton writes, “… reality is to be sought not in division but in unity, for we are members one of another.”