Down music Lane
Local recording artist named ECMA adjudicator
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.”