Hymn-Singing With Ann Downing

 

She travels and sings. I travel and sing. She’s from Mississippi. I’m from New Jersey. She lives in Hendersonville. I live in Hendersonville. I’ve known about her since I was twelve years old. She’s only known me for the last four years. But the fast friendship simply began by meeting Ann at a local Hendersonville restaurant with friends. It went like this: “Hi Ann. You don’t know me, really. But I could have been a Downing years ago...”. She throws her head back and laughs. I laugh. It’s true.

She travels and sings. I travel and sing. She’s from Mississippi. I’m from New Jersey. She lives in Hendersonville. I live in Hendersonville. I’ve known about her since I was twelve years old. She’s only known me for the last four years. But the fast friendship simply began by meeting Ann at a local Hendersonville restaurant with friends. It went like this: 
“Hi Ann. You don’t know me, really. But I could have been a Downing years ago...”. She throws her head back and laughs. I laugh. It’s true.
That simple first encounter has led to an unusual and rewarding relationship with Ann Downing. She comes equipped with solid friendships, both inner circle and casual, plus an arsenal of fans. So it wasn’t in my frame to even try to invade any of those areas, like a groupie or something. This was different right from the start. And yes, we are SO different. But in the things that truly matter? We are crazily alike. Ann has a renewed passion to take it to the next level, both spiritually and musically, to a new generation. So do I. That’s what friends do. They find the commonalities, the drive, the treasures, and they run with an “iron sharpening iron” cadence.
Later, a casual conversation over a Starbucks coffee (and many meetings since), creates this inspiring chit chat into a surprising mentorship. And probably not what you're thinking either. We're both experiencing the amazing and unpredictable transformation of ministry on the road. I’m the perpetual student of reformation, studying new paradigms and doing my homework on relevancy in music and ministry. And sometimes that relevancy pushes me to look back. Ann, the singer/songwriter, allows herself to be the student this time. And somehow, I’ve been blessed to be the teacher.
“Ann, have you thought about recording a hymns project?" I ask, fumbling over my words while eating a chocolate strawberry. 
"I know that Jeff and I could do this for you.” 
Bold. Spicy. Out there. That’s what has transpired after a four year relationship. She knew this wasn’t a hard-sell, “trying to get a record deal” kind of discussion from me. This was straight from the heart. Timing and trust is everything. 
Later, as we prepare to record at Oak Tree Studios in Hendersonville, TN, I ask Ann why she picked the hymns she's selected for this project. She answers:
“I had a few songs in mind from the beginning of the plan, then picked up my hymnal and started thumbing through, stopping to read each lyric. The words of the hymns just jumped out of me... the songs I feel I’ve lived with Him.”
Ann’s earliest recollection of standards like “Footsteps of Jesus” and “Blessed Assurance” comes from being that vivacious little six year old from Oldtown Baptist Church in Mississippi. 
She tells me, “I think one major thing I’d like audiences to hear from these classics is a journey back through their lives. To remember the points along the way. Beautiful songs with more than just a melody, but music that reflects a real encounter with God.”
“The hymns have stood the test of time... not just because of familiarity, but because of deep truth and about one’s walk with God. Trusting Him for the future, “ Ann adds.
Ann, in her own right, is an exceptional songwriter. But this time around, she’s allowing the pen of these former inspired writers to minister to her as a listener first. Then, the “Statements Of My Faith” (the album title) simply translates as it declares: “All That Thrills My Soul Is Jesus”. That just about sums it up.
Jeff Duffield is producer, arranger and orchestrator of this project. Jeff is no new-comer to gospel music, with over 500 albums to his credit. As his wife, I walk a delicate balance here, not to be obnoxious with kudos and promos, but just wait til you hear this. We all sat in the studio and cried, sensing God’s presence in the room! This is what matters. I’m honored too, to sing with Ann on a few songs as well.
For more information on Ann’s new “Statements of My Faith” Hymns project, check her website: www.anndowning.com. For more information on Jeff Duffield Productions check his website: www.jeffduffield.com. And if you have any time left and you’d like to add a few comments to my banter and “Sue-biquitous” way of writing, speaking and blogging, I welcome you at www.sueduffield.com or by following me on: www.twitter.com/sueduffield. She travels and sings. I travel and sing. She’s from Mississippi. I’m from New Jersey. She lives in Hendersonville. I live in Hendersonville. I’ve known about her since I was twelve years old. She’s only known me for the last four years. But the fast friendship simply began by meeting Ann at a local Hendersonville restaurant with friends. It went like this: “Hi Ann. You don’t know me, really. But I could have been a Downing years ago...”. She throws her head back and laughs. I laugh. It’s true.


That simple first encounter has led to an unusual and rewarding relationship with Ann Downing. She comes equipped with solid friendships, both inner circle and casual, plus an arsenal of fans. So it wasn’t in my frame to even try to invade any of those areas, like a groupie or something. This was different right from the start. And yes, we are SO different. But in the things that truly matter? We are crazily alike. Ann has a renewed passion to take it to the next level, both spiritually and musically, to a new generation. So do I. That’s what friends do. They find the commonalities, the drive, the treasures, and they run with an “iron sharpening iron” cadence.


Later, a casual conversation over a Starbucks coffee (and many meetings since), creates this inspiring chit chat into a surprising mentorship. And probably not what you're thinking either. We're both experiencing the amazing and unpredictable transformation of ministry on the road. I’m the perpetual student of reformation, studying new paradigms and doing my homework on relevancy in music and ministry. And sometimes that relevancy pushes me to look back. Ann, the singer/songwriter, allows herself to be the student this time. And somehow, I’ve been blessed to be the teacher.


“Ann, have you thought about recording a hymns project?" I ask, fumbling over my words while eating a chocolate strawberry. "I know that Jeff and I could do this for you.” 


Bold. Spicy. Out there. That’s what has transpired after a four year relationship. She knew this wasn’t a hard-sell, “trying to get a record deal” kind of discussion from me. This was straight from the heart. Timing and trust is everything. 
Later, as we prepare to record at Oak Tree Studios in Hendersonville, TN, I ask Ann why she picked the hymns she's selected for this project.

She answers:“I had a few songs in mind from the beginning of the plan, then picked up my hymnal and started thumbing through, stopping to read each lyric. The words of the hymns just jumped out of me... the songs I feel I’ve lived with Him.”


Ann’s earliest recollection of standards like “Footsteps of Jesus” and “Blessed Assurance” comes from being that vivacious little six year old from Oldtown Baptist Church in Mississippi. She tells me, “I think one major thing I’d like audiences to hear from these classics is a journey back through their lives. To remember the points along the way. Beautiful songs with more than just a melody, but music that reflects a real encounter with God.”


“The hymns have stood the test of time... not just because of familiarity, but because of deep truth and about one’s walk with God. Trusting Him for the future, “ Ann adds.


Ann, in her own right, is an exceptional songwriter. But this time around, she’s allowing the pen of these former inspired writers to minister to her as a listener first. Then, the “Statements Of My Faith” (the album title) simply translates as it declares: “All That Thrills My Soul Is Jesus”. That just about sums it up.


Jeff Duffield is producer, arranger and orchestrator of this project. Jeff is no new-comer to gospel music, with over 500 albums to his credit. As his wife, I walk a delicate balance here, not to be obnoxious with kudos and promos, but just wait til you hear this. We all sat in the studio and cried, sensing God’s presence in the room! This is what matters. I’m honored too, to sing with Ann on a few songs as well.

To order Ann's "Statements of My Faith" CD, click here.

This is an exclusive article written for SGN Scoops

Comments

Beth Zimmerman April 12, 2013 @01:56 am
Wow! Looking forward to hearing more! I love the old hymns!
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