Down mu­sic Lane

Lo­cal record­ing artist named ECMA ad­ju­di­ca­tor

The Compass - - ORTHTE - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

Thirty-one-year-old Blair Lane of Bay Roberts sits in a record­ing stu­dio in Nashville, Ten­nessee. He’s there to record his sin­gle, a mod­ern ar­range­ment of the Christ­mas carol, The First Noel.

He sur­veys the mu­si­cians lined up to play on his record­ing. They’re Nashville’s best; the cream of the crop. For ex­am­ple, there’s Mark Hill, ,who has toured with coun­try mu­sic artists Reba McEn­tire and Keith Ur­ban.

The vis­it­ing vo­cal­ist ex­claims to him­self, “An artist from New­found­land sit­ting down with these guys.” He al­most has to pinch him­self to see if he’s dream­ing. The fact is, he isn’t dream­ing; he’s liv­ing a dream that rel­a­tively few mu­si­cians ever re­al­ize.

Lane’s 9-to-5 job is over­see­ing the fam­ily busi­ness of four re­tire­ment homes on the is­land, stretch­ing from Vic­to­ria to Port Saun­ders. But his av­o­ca­tion is mu­sic. He’s taken the oc­ca­sional break from it, but when he re­turns to his first love, he knows he has suc­cess­fully re­fo­cused.

His pas­sion for mu­sic is bring­ing him recog­ni­tion on sev­eral fronts, broad­en­ing his mu­si­cal hori­zons and plac­ing his name be­fore a grow­ing and ap­pre­cia­tive au­di­ence.

Lane’s song, Only One, the ti­tle track of his first al­bum, won the In­ter­na­tional Song­writ­ing Com­pe­ti­tion 2009, plac­ing No. 10 in the gospel cat­e­gory out of 15,000 en­tries.

The con­test pro­vides both as­pir­ing and es­tab­lished song­writ­ers with a pro­fes­sional arena in which to have their songs heard. Michael W. Smith, one of the best-known con­tem­po­rary Chris­tian singers and song­writ­ers, was an ad­ju­di­ca­tor in the gospel cat­e­gory.

Ear­lier that year, the same song placed 31 in the Gospel Mu­sic As­so­ci­a­tion Canada song­writ­ing com­pe­ti­tion.

Record­ing the song in Nashville in 2009 was, Lane re­calls, “very in­tim­i­dat­ing.” Still, he says, “it was an ex­pe­ri­ence I wouldn’t ever take back. You were the client, and they were there to work for you.”

Last year, af­ter Lane played on the main stage at YC2010, the largest re­li­gious youth con­fer­ence in At­lantic Canada, the Mu­sic In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion of New­found­land and Labrador (MUSICNL) nom­i­nated his CD, Only One, gospel al­bum of the year.

MUSICNL then placed Lane’s name be­fore the East Coast Mu­sic As­so­ci­a­tion (ECMA), as a pos­si­ble ad­ju­di­ca­tor in the gospel cat­e­gory for all of At­lantic Canada. He ac­cepted the ap­point­ment for 2010, re­gard­ing it as per­haps one of the great­est sin­gle hon­ours that have been be­stowed upon him to date. The re­sults of the ad­ju­di­cat­ing will be an­nounced at ECMA Week in Char­lot­te­town, Prince Ed­ward Is­land, April 13-17, 2011.

On one level, it pro­vided price­less recog­ni­tion for Lane the artist, get­ting his name be­fore the pub­lic. On an­other level, be­ing asked to as­sess the per­for­mance of gospel artists left him with a keen ap­pre­ci­a­tion for many mu­si­cal styles, rang­ing from the tra­di­tional to the con­tem­po­rary.

As the son of for­mer pas­tors, Lane has moved of­ten and heard a wide va­ri­ety of mu­si­cal tal­ent. As an EMCA ad­ju­di­ca­tor, he was able to “ lis­ten to other peo­ple’s stuff in the same genre, other new artists that are com­ing on­stream, and see what they‘re putting out.”

As one whose Chris­tian faith is front and cen­tre, Lane’s es­pe­cially pleased that gospel mu­sic “is be­com­ing much more re­ceived and rec­og­nized as a genre.”

While serv­ing as ad­ju­di­ca­tor, Lane was also in­vited to per­form at MUSICNL’s con­fer­ence and awards show at Rocky Har­bour in Oc­to­ber 2010. He doesn’t take for granted the chance to per­form his songs be­fore other artists.

Lane feels his own mu­sic is be­ing re­ceived well, es­pe­cially since the re­lease of his record. A reg­u­lar wor­ship leader at Bethel Pen­te­costal Church, Bay Roberts, he also gets the op­por­tu­nity to per­form at other func­tions from time-to-time.

His Christ­mas sin­gle, The First Noel, has re­ceived air­play on Down­town on the Coast on Coast 101.1 FM and the re­li­gious ra­dio sta­tion, VOAR, in St. John’s. As well, it got men­tioned in CBC’s in­ter­nal news­let­ter, Mu­sic Mat­ters, which is dis­trib­uted to pro­gram­mers across the coun­try.

As a lo­cal artist who, Lane says, “no­body knows,” he’s al­ready moved 1,000 copies of his first al­bum, and has placed a re­peat or­der.

Lane has gone far mu­si­cally with no vo­cal train­ing and limited gui­tar train­ing. Now, to boost what he re­gards as “a con­fi­dence lack­ing in my voice,” he’s tak­ing voice lessons. A ver­sa­tile acous­tic gui­tar player, he’s also ex­pand­ing his reper­toire by learn­ing how to play elec­tric gui­tar.

There’s no stop­ping Blair Lane. He’s al­ready laid down other song tracks, which will even­tu­ally be re­leased as ei­ther sin­gles or part of a sec­ond al­bum. He’s writ­ten be­tween 15 and 20 songs.

Mean­while, he has no in­ten­tion of quit­ting his day job and go­ing into mu­sic full-time.

“ Mu­sic is part of who I am, so whether I ever do get the op­por­tu­nity, I hope it will al­ways be part of who I am, be­cause it’s some­thing I en­joy im­mensely.”

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