Singer/songwriters Kenny Loggins, Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman recently formed the new band Blue Sky Riders, and were profiled by Huff/Post50 in February. They are finishing their first album and will be chronicling their experiences as a band in this blog.
A few years ago, my sister Cheryl told me about this cool new thing called Facebook. She told me I should start my own page. I begrudgingly did and while I didn't want to have a new place to check in on, I quickly found out it was a pretty neat place for catching up on what's going on in my friends' lives. I also found it was a great social marketing tool for my business. I'm not very computer savvy, so I'm slowly learning how to create content for people who log on to check out my music.
It seemed like a nice, fun little addiction to have in my life but I never experienced the full magnitude of it until one night, when I was sitting in a hotel room in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Two days before, I had taken an emergency flight back to Texas because the doctor said my father wasn't going to make it. He passed away a couple of hours after I arrived. I feel so lucky that I was able to say goodbye to him. The funeral was two days later and by two o'clock, I was on a flight back to Canada to finish the run of shows I was doing at a casino up there. It was after midnight and while my whole family was mourning together back in Texas, I was alone in my hotel room 1,600 miles away wondering what to do with all this sadness.
So I logged on to my page.
I typed something about my father, whom I had a loving but difficult relationship with. I got a little personal with it but I couldn't help it. I needed to talk and I needed connection and with the whole world asleep at that moment, I thought maybe if there was just one person out there who would respond, I wouldn't feel so alone.
Within a minute, I got my first response. Thirty seconds later, another. By the next morning, I had hundreds of people telling me to hang in there; it will get better. I cried like you wouldn't believe and was so grateful to be able to grieve with all these people; some friends, most of them strangers. I was finally able to fall asleep.
When Blue Sky Riders is on stage, we perform a song that we wrote called "Little Victories." It's about how when times get so emotionally tough that it feels like it's impossible to get through them, you somehow do. Sometimes it's about doing all you can to just get through the night. It's those everyday things you do that are the little victories. Inch by inch, day by day, you slowly discover you're moving forward. Every night, because of "Little Victories" someone comes up to us and tells their story of what that song means to them.
A woman named Wendy, who attended our Agoura Hills show, recently told me that her friend, Collette, had bought five tickets to our show that night for her and her friends. Collette was a big Kenny fan and was so looking forward to coming to the concert. While I was signing CD's, I asked which one of them was Collette. That's when Wendy told me Collette wasn't there. "She passed away last week." said Wendy. "She had been struggling with cancer for a long time and it finally got the best of her." Out of love for her, as sad as they were, her friends decided to use their tickets and come anyway to celebrate Collette's life. Coming to our concert was their own Little Victory.
Then there was Jeffery, a man of about 38, who explained to me that he'd been recovering from a difficult divorce for three years now. "I thought I wasn't gaining any ground, even after all this time. Healing a broken heart is damned hard, slow work," he said. "But your song made me realize that it's the everyday things, just going about the job of being a human that does the most good. I saw a ray of hope tonight." For Jeffery, just getting out of bed each day is a Little Victory.
After our concert in Chandler, AZ, a woman named Ivy sent me a personal Facebook message. She wrote: "I'm disabled and have a myriad of health problems. Every day is a big struggle for me and getting out last night was a rare treat. I'm almost homebound so that song hit home for me so much more then you know. The woman sitting next to me was crying when you sang that song. She told me that her mother had died this year and that 'Little Victories' hits home for her too: 'Little Victories' is my new anthem,'" she said.
I guess my point is when you meet a stranger, you never know what that person may be going through. Thanks to "Little Victories" we get to hear so many heartfelt stories after our shows. We're always blown away that we were able to break through for one small moment, to help somebody forget their pain, or at least remember that they're not alone.
And if we can do that for three and a half minutes at a time, then Blue Sky Riders is doing something extraordinary. Little victories, indeed.
Follow Georgia Middleman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@gmiddleman