Well, today was our first full day at CBA. We started by crashing the Parable morning worship service, which had Chip Ingram as the speaker/preacher. They also had an Aussie group that I can't recall right now doing the music. At first we couldn't understand a word they were saying, and it wasn't because of the accents. It was just too loud. But thankfully the rest of the music was singable by everyone there and was quite good. Chip spoke on wearing the full armor of God as retailers, since we are much of the Christian world's "gatekeepers." It was actually quite convicting to hear what he had to say. He was very straight forward about the various temptations that can afflict those who work commercially in the Christian world, whether in retail or not. Later we went to a backstage reception hosted by one of our vendors. Ho hum. We had already eaten really good Italian food earlier, so the snacks didn't appeal to us. Although the Australian chocolate/mint iced tea was a little strange. But it tasted OK. Later on we joined some others from G.R. Baker for an early evening concert called Worship Now! How Great is Our God. That had a combination of speakers and performers such as, Jared Anderson, Billy Smiley (founder of White Heart), Scott Wesley Brown, author Philip Yancey speaking on prayer, and Christopher Parkening, an amazing classical guitarist. While Smiley and Brown did a great job teaming up on some traditional hymns (which was a big surprise, considering their backgrounds), Parkening stole this show with a rendition of an Italian (?) composer, who wrote the piece while living in Turkey, and so it had a distinctly Middly Eastern taste and sound. He truly is a master guitarist. Since I had grown up on Andre Segovia, and knew good classical guitar, I wondered if he really was as good as had been said. Well he is, undoubtedly so! You could hear a pin drop while he was playing, he had the crowd mesmerized by his virtuosity.
After a short break, we heard several more artists perform for the balance of the evening. The young new artist Ana Laura hailing from South Texas had a sweet, if somewhat nervous manner that was quite endearing, and her voice was reminicient of an early Jaci Velasquez. Her range was nice and her stage presence was impressive. She's definitely going to grow into her voice quite well at this rate. I look forward to hearing more from her. Leigh Nash also performed and I was very interested to see what she had to offer, since I had seen her years ago when she was still with Sixpence None The Richer when they visited Hope College. She still possesses her naturally quirky demeanor that is almost pixie like. And her voice is as good as ever. Her vocalization is simply hypnotic, and left me transfixed. I can't wait to hear her entire first solo effort when it hits the stores. What I found amazing is that she managed to perform the entire time while on fire engine red stiletto heels. Amazing! Bebo Norman came on at the end, and I had seen him speak earlier in the day at the backstage thing. And so I was eagerly expecting a really good show, but was fairly disappointed. It mainly had to do with the fact that most of what he sang could not be understood, so while the musical aspect was fine, the inability to ascertain the lyrical content was annoying.
Now before Bebo came on the end of the music for the night, there was one group that I was also looking forward to, and that was the Tex/Mex/Rock group Salvador. They actually got people on their feet (without having to ask them!) for all of their songs. They were very funny, they played loud, and they had a ball. And it showed. By far, they were the highlight of the evening for me. Next time they're in West Michigan, I'm getting a ticket. They rocked!
Finally, at just before 10pm, we had two new movies previewed for us: Charlotte's Web, starring Dakota Fanning doing a live action role, and many other stars doing CGI voice over roles. It looks like a very sweet rendition of the children's classic, and I believe it's due to release this Christmas. If for no other reason, go see the movie for Dakota Fanning. That girl knows how to act! I've never seen her do anything bad movie wise. Then the other movie that was previewed was the film adaptation of William Wilberforce's life work, which was to abolish the slave trade in the UK back in the late eighteen hundreds. The eight minute clip we saw was brilliant, and it's due to release in February of next year, which will be the bicentennial of his getting the legislation passed that outlawed slavery in the British Empire. Wilberforce has always been a hero of mine. What's wonderful about this film is that it shows that it was Wilberforce's orthodox Christian (quite Calvinistic) faith that motivated him towards his life's work. Afterwards, they asked those in attendance to sign a petition to continue the work he began two centuries ago, since we still have slave trade going on now, involving millions of people, men, women, and children. That was a sobering, but good, way to end a long day.
See ya tomorrow!