Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Idol Not-So-Live Blogging (Wrapping it Up) I need to finish going through my thoughts about the rest of the show. But I can't. I just can't. I have found myself swimming in new idol waters: I am having trouble caring. The show (just like last week's show) was boring, boring, boring. Well, with the exception of Paula sucking all the air out of the room. That was fun . And awkward. And awful. And delicious. And one of the most unbelievable TV moments I have ever seen. So much to say about it, but I know Paula's probably reading this, so I won't. haha

My favorite performance was Brooke's 2nd number. I still maintain that she is my favorite of the bunch. There is a character about her voice, and something interesting about her disposition that is interesting to me. Both she and Jason have the most unique presence about them. I really like them both.

David Archuleta is still...dare I say it...the one to beat. I know, I know. All you David Cook fans are going to come after me. But here is what I know: America has NEVER voted for a winner who is not totally likable. Every year, of the top 2 contestants, the one that everybody likes, and the one who seems genuinely humble and blessed to be there wins. I absolutely would not put David Cook in that category. Having said that, he may very well pull off a win...he has had so much momentum in the top 10, and has worked hard with undeniably the best performances of the season. But can he fend off the David A-train, seal the deal, and be the first slightly smug American Idol winner? We'll see.

I hate to say it...but I think Brooke might be going home tonight. Somehow, Miss 9-Lives Syesha has snuck into the upper ranks of the week. I don't know how she has made it here, but she has.

Anyway...these poor kids had to learn all these old songs that they had never heard...pick keys and decide on arrangements...then get up and try to sing them in front of millions of people, as if the songs fit them like a glove, and like they have known them forever. That's a hard thing to do, and I congratulate them all for even somewhat pulling it off. They are certainly showing more talent and ability than the judges, who seem to get away with saying EXACTLY THE SAME THING week after week for 7 years, dawg. And NOW, they can't even read their judging notes off a piece of paper.

Oops...this post has turned slightly jaded. Sorry.

On to happy news: THE SPURS WON THEIR FIRST SERIES. And it was a great game 5. Suns are out (sorry Arizona and Suns people...I like you,'s just that the Spurs are my peeps). On to play the Hornets. GO SPURS.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Idol Live Blogging! Woo Hoo! we go!

Jason Castro - Forever In Blue Jeans - This guy is just a natural artist. Nothing massive "money notes"...but he sounded good.

David Cook - I'm Alive - He sounds good (as usual)...but it almost sounds like he's doing a Neil Diamond imitation. It was a'ight. Not his best...but it doesn't matter...he's coasting through to next week.

Brooke White - I'm A Believer - I didn't know Neil Diamond wrote this song. uh oh. She looks she's grasping for words either off a teleprompter or in her head. She is throwing out the occasional smile...but she is NERVOUS. She sounds OK...but she should have done this song about 4 steps higher. It would have given her tone more shine. I am scared for her this week.

David Archuleta - Sweet Caroline - I'm glad to hear him NOT sing a ballad. He has a great, soulful approach to his singing. And his voice has this cool texture that is really rare in someone so young. Having said that...this performance seemed a little he is trying to hard, rather than just letting the song sing itself. But is he great...and I am so positive that he is going to sail into the finals.

Syesha - Hello Again - she was OK. I'm not a huge fan...but aside from a few pitchy moments, it was pretty good. I love this song...and I have ever since we sang it in 8th grade chorus. I was singing my baritone part along with her. I'll say it was a good moment for her.

O MY GOODNESS. Paula just messed up in the hugest way. She just commented on a Jason Castro song that HE HADN'T EVEN SUNG YET. THAT WaS ONE OF THE MOST AWKWARD MOMENTS ON TV I HAVE EVER SEEN. Talk about sucking the air out of the room...

Lay off the sauce, Paula!

Well, I know from Mandisa that the judges watch the dress rehearsal and often form their opinions and get their judgments from that performance. So, she got caught. Ouch. That was painful.

Jason - September Morn - uh...not great. I really like him...but at this late date in the show, he should be fighting to KILL IT, and he wasn't.

David C - All I Really Need Is You - What a great voice. I don't know this song. Good use of his falsetto. I want to like him. I really do. I'm trying.

I have to go back in the studio and sing...gotta press pause on blogging for now. I'll be back later tonight. Enjoy the rest of the show...and GO SPURS!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My Sister's Wedding

Look at this beautiful bride!!

That's my sister Kathy, and her daughter Ashley. It was a great wedding. Possibly the HAPPIEST wedding I've ever seen. The room was filled with people who were so thrilled for these two great people.

Here they are...Jon and Kathy Younce.

This is the whole Cottrell family...minus our Jack (he stayed back home for a bible drill competition).
My dad, my two sisters, my brother, in-laws and nieces and nephews. And one great nephew. My nephew Sam almost got cut out of the pic. Sorry, Sam.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dove Awards

Hey, friends. Long time no blog. I apologize for my inconsistent blogging ways. This has literally been the craziest and busiest stretch of my life. I have been waiting for tomorrow to be here for a long first day off in forever. You know we left for London last Monday. Came home on Wednesday. Left for Missouri on Thursday (Women of Joy conference - great fun). Came home on Saturday. 6:30am sound check on Sunday morning with Beth at the GMA (Gospel Music Association) chapel. Amazing, albeit early time there. Then lots of this and that during GMA week this week. And then the Dove Awards were tonight.

Angela and I had a great time at the awards. I was up for 3 awards. I didn't win any this year, but we had a great time anyway. We sat with David and Susan Moffitt and Sue Smith and her daughter Holly Zabka. We laughed and sang and worshipped. And texted a lot. David and Sue and I were nominated for a musical we wrote together (we won together last year in the same category).

Seriously. I did a month's worth of texting during the show. And much of it was to people who were sitting on my same row. We had church friends behind us...and lifetime friends all around us, it seemed. Three of my praise team members sang background vocals for Natalie Grant and Wynonna - Seth and Nirva Ready and Lici Brown. There were most awesome.

I had lots of favorite moments. Of course hearing my girl Mandisa sing was sheer joy. Hearing Ricky Skaggs and The Whites was awesome. Casting Crowns brought it with "East to West." Phil Wickham sang some song and I almost rededicated my life, it was so good. I am going to buy his cd tomorrow. Cindy Morgan won Songwriter of the Year. I was so happy for her. She is my all-time favorite. What an amazing writer. I have had the awesome privilege of writing some songs for my next record with her. I was so nervous and was the biggest geek ever. But that is a story for another day.

Phil Stacey sang at the Doves tonight, too. Remember him from American Idol last year? That dude can SING.

And of course, Shmaimy was there. Rocking our world. Angela and I swayed to "Thy Word." Could've listened for hours.

TobyMac won Artist of the Year. I was shocked and ecstatic. I thought it might be Casting Crowns' year. I love them, too. But I just think TobyMac is the bomb (that phrase is so 7 years ago...but still he is). He is completely genuine...and his heart for kids and for sharing the gospel is just awesome. Congrats, Toby. Anytime you need a middle-aged singer-man with a vibrato the size of Middle Tennessee, I'm your man.

I missed blogging about Idol. Rats. But truthfully, I was completely bored this week. Which is strange for me...I love Broadway music. And I love Andrew Lloyd Webber's works. But the deal is NOBODY BROUGHT IT. I mean, come on. Somebody throw yourself on the floor and emote a good dramatic song, for crying out loud.

I totally called it tonight. You can ask the people on my row...I knew it would be Carly to go home this week. It's my sixth sense...I can't help's just a gift. : >)

I am sad to see a good singer go so early. But she will be fine. Good things will happen for her.

Did you see the girl from the UK - Leona Lewis sing? Angela and I about fell in the floor. I impulsively began clapping when she was done...without realizing I was in my living room, and not actually in the audience. It was THAT GOOD. She is an amazing singer...and the song - Bleeding Love - is great.

We are heading to Boone for my sister Kathy's wedding! Yea for Kathy and Jon. That, too, is a story for another day.

See you later, alligators. But not too soon...I'm going to Boone.

See, I'm a songwriter. I make stuff up for a living.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We Are Home

Hey, everybody! We made it home in time to tuck our kids in bed tonight. So glad to be home...and so thankful that our house was peaceful and prayed over while we were gone. The kids were so happy and at rest.

There is so much to share - about the trip, and the Lord, and life, and family, and so on. But for the life of me, I cannot stop myself from saying the following things...

1. For the first time ever, we have a 100% talented top 6 on American Idol. High five.
2. I didn't think the two David's were as good as the judges said.
3. I thought Carly, Brooke and Syesha were better than the judges said.

Hopefully I will be live-blogging during the show next Tuesday.

That's all I have for this highly spiritual, uplifting and informative post. Good night!


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Abbey Road Pt. 2

We have had an awesome day. We are rounding third with this puppy. One more song...then we are off to dinner.

Angela is asleep here beside my on the couch in the control room. Our body clocks are MESSED UP worse than my final 4 bracket. We hardly know which way is up. But we are HAPPY.

My son just signed onto iChat, and I was able to visit with him for a while. How happy did that make us? I love technology.

But not as much as you, you see
But still I love technology
Always and Forever
Our love is like a flock of doves
Flying off to heaven above
Always and Forever
Always and Forever


Napoleon goes everywhere with me.

OK. Sorry. I have occasional 13 year-old sensibilities. No more Napoleon references. Gosh. heart was full of joy as I saw my firstborn pop up there, online...across the world.

More pics. Thank you AGAIN for your prayers and sweet comments. See you soon...

Carl, the arranger and conductor...

The players...

Bart, Brown and me

Abbey Road! I wonder why The Beatles didn't go with cheesy grins looking at the camera...

Getting ready to board the subway...

Did The Beatles blog in this very spot??

We Are Here!

We made it to London last night. Our flight was easy and not so long. The airplane wasn't even half we had lots of room to stretch out. I was inspired by my friend Rich to buy an airplane power cord for my laptop, so I was able to get some work done. A VERY LITTLE BIT of work. Angela and I enjoyed the 7 hours of together time. We watched some t.v. and picked on each other.

We got to our hotel at around 11:30pm London time (5:30pm Franklin time). Angela was able to get to sleep pretty quickly. Me...not so much. I finally was able to go to sleep around 4am, which was really perfect for my 6:45 wake up call. Fun times.

No sleep...but I still couldn't be happier or more full of joy. We are now at Abbey Road getting ready for the session. The symphony players are arriving and set up as we speak. It was surreal to walk through the halls of this place...and see all of the pictures hanging on the wall of all the amazing musicians who have recorded here...and all of the AMAZING movie music recorded here. All of the Star Wars posters are hanging on the wall...and Lord of the Rings...and the list goes on. I stopped and had a moment in front of the "The Empire Strikes Back" poster. Nerd much?

Here are some pics we took this morning...

Ang and me in front of Abbey Road Studio...

Producer Brown Bannister...

Brown, Carl Marsh (the orchestrator) and me going through arrangements. This is the first time I cried today. He played through two arrangements I hadn't yet heard. I flipped out and fell apart right there. More of that to come, I'm sure.

Thank you so much for your prayers for us for this trip. I will be back with an update later. Blessings to you today...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Big Weekend

Today begins a great roller coaster weekend for me. I am singing tonight at the Symphony Hall for an event with Max Lucado. Sandi Patty, Jaci Velasquez and Heather Headley will also be singing. It's hard to explain what the event is, so I won't try. Just know it's an event for bookstore people, publishing people, and the like. It's a night centered around his book, "3:16," which is a great book, by the way.

Then I am heading to San Diego in the morning for Living Proof Live San Diego. Can't wait! I love San Diego. I actually love Southern California more and more every time I go. Woo hoo...all you folks who are looking forward to being there...just know that we are looking forward to it, too!

We fly home Saturday after the event. Then on Sunday, I have a Hymn Sing with the Nashville Symphony. Two performances on Sunday. Shmaimy will be will Melinda Doolittle and some guy named Bill Gaither. I am so excited to sing "In Christ Alone" with the symphony.

Then our big trip is on Monday. Thank you so much for your prayers for us as we trust the Lord to sustain us through the next week.

It seems like everyone in the blogosphere is talking about the Idols singing "Shout To The Lord." I have read of Christians and non-Christians alike being offended and up in arms. I read an atheist's take on it last night, and he was just so irate. I couldn't believe it, really. This guy spends so much of his life jawing about people being treated equally, and wanting EVERYONE to be ACCEPTING of EVERYTHING. Then all of a sudden, he doesn't want to return the courtesy to Christians. Suddenly giving equal time and credence to everyone isn't working for him, because he doesn't agree with the song. Wow. It seems like his take on the whole thing makes him guilty of that which he accuses Christians.

Anyway, I am not a theologian. And I certainly want to respect everyone's opinions and feelings. But personally I was so glad and excited to see the name of the Lord spoken and revered on that show. I mean, really. Why in the world would they choose that song, unless the Holy Spirit was doing a work? Of all the inspirational songs in the world...they choose "Shout to the Lord." Wow. And - yes - they left out the word 'Jesus.' I was bummed about that. But these people are LOST. They are lost. They are not found. They don't get it. I am not going to hold them responsible for knowing what to do with a moment like that.

It's an observation I've made with us as the body of Christ: we tend to want to expect lost people to know how to act saved. It's sort of like being mad at a blind person for running into a chair in a room when he is all by himself.

Do I wish they would have said 'Jesus?' Yes. Am I glad that by the providential hand of the Lord they sang "Shout to the Lord?" Heck yes!

And I pray in Jesus' name that the Holy Spirit will do a mighty work in our nation...that those words that were sung - "Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of Your name! I sing for joy at the work of Your hands! Forever I'll love You! Forever I'll stand! Nothing compares to the promise I have in You!" - will permeate every heart that's longing for something more in this life...aching for a love that will not let them go. Do a mighty work, MIGHTY LORD.

And there was cause for happiness for something else: Paula Abdul said her first complete sentence of the season. Granted, she didn't construct it herself...she read it from a teleprompter. But still.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Hey, everybody!

I can't live-blog tonight during Idol. I am in the studio cutting lead vocals for the Christmas project. Rats. I am going to miss it so much. It was a blast last week.

And next week we will be you know where with you know who (Shmaimy), so I won't be able to do it then either.

Last complainy thing - my computer is in the shop, so I haven't been able to blog in a few days. But I will be back soon.

Happy Idol-watching...see you soon...


Friday, April 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, My Firstborn

My Jack is 11 years old today. I still can't believe it.

It was 11 years ago this very morning that a new kind of love was begun in my heart. Sigh. I love him so.

Jack is such a good boy...and brings so much joy to our family. I am full of wonder, watching the Lord birth destiny into his life...growing his gifts and nurturing his heart.

Jack asked us this morning if he could get his ear pierced. We said yes. ONLY if he will let us do it. With a toothpick.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Merry Christmas, Y'alls

I am in the studio today laying down tracks for my Christmas record. Woo hoo!

I'm not ready to tell what songs we are putting on the record...but I will you that this first one is "so delightful." The next one? It goes thumpety thump thump.

And in 11 days, Angela and I leave for London...gulp...with the whole production posse to record the London Symphony at Abbey Road. Ask me if I am a puddle on the floor. Puddle. Words like UNFATHOMLY GRATEFUL and OVERWHELMED and HONORED don't begin to dig into the full emotions I am feeling about this particular adventure.

Not to mention that a certain artist whose name rhymes with Shmaimy Shmant is also record the symphony for her new Christmas tunes.

Please pray that I don't break into "Stay For Awhile" in front of her. I always have that subconsciously sing an artist's songs while with them...without noticing.

Dork much?

Fun times. Happy times.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sibling Encouragement

Well, my sweet little girl tried. She put an encouraging note on her little bRother's bulletin board.

But maybe she was more honest than she ever meant to be...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

American Idol - Live Blogging!

OK...I'm going for it. A.I. live we go...

I love Dolly. Please God, let me sing with her sometime this side of glory. So gracious and perfectly down home.

Brooke White - my favorite contestant singing my favorite Dolly song. "Jolene" is one of the best marriages of melody and lyric of any song I've ever heard. The thing about Brooke is - you can critique her pitch here and there. But you can't attack what is her greatest strength - her approachability, likability, and overall artistic vibe. She just IS. And she is awesome. Let me take a number...I'll stand in line for that record.

David Cook - no doubt - he is amazing. I might even like him more than Chris Daughtry. That was a great performance. He has great control of his falsetto, like Randy said. Can I have some of that, please?

He is a contender - for sure.

Ramiele - who would have thought that Ramiele would have her strongest performance on country night? It wasn't great...but pretty good. I was crazy about her after her first audition...but she has not kept up her end of the bargain. She is not as strong as I thought she would be. But she is still cute and a pretty good singer. She needs some hyped up pop production - a la Mariah, Beyonce, and JLo...and she would be great.

Dolly rocks. These kids have NO IDEA what a privilege they have received.

Jason Castro - He is sounding great. his voice has bends and twists (and, yes Paula, COLORS) that are very cool. He does stuff that I couldn't navigate my voice through. Wow - Jason - bring on the Jesus song! I loved it.

Are these judges saying the SAME THING every week of every year. I am finding myself tuning out all three of them. Paula has 11 sentences from which she draws.

And Simon is not usually wrong. But he is WRONG about Jason. I think Simon automatically tunes any song out that talks about Jesus.

Carly - Smart, Carly. Very smart treatment of this song. Way to go. But the thing about her is she needs to dress a moment like this up a little bit. She looks like pop star diva moment from the neck up, and sound check from the neck down. I think she's cute...but she could have diva'd up this night. The high note - KILLER. Hey, Simon agrees with me on the wardrobe. But I think she sounded better than what he is giving her recognition for.

David Archuleta - THIS KID. He was made to sing. Chills on the first line. O MY GOSH. His licks are perfect. Every note in tune. Wow. He is going to be a MONSTER singer. I need a moment.

Kristy Lee Cook - Lucky her to have country week now. Hey, it's not so bad. She is doing great tonight. Her best so far.

Once again - brilliant and original lines from Paula.

Uh oh...don't ever talk back to the judges. And don't EVER blow them kisses.

Syesha - Dolly is funny - "She's not SHY-esha, that's for sure." Haha. I am nervous for her choosing "I Will Always Love You." In tune so far. I like this - I think it's compelling. Wow. I'm shocked. Shocked. I LOVED it. They'd better not throw the Whitney thing at her. I think she changed it up enough to avoid that. She sounded great. OK...Paula is right - she is growing. Did I really say that - Paula is right? Wow.

Rats. They threw the Whitney thing at her. They are right I guess - it's tough to avoid comparisons when you choose one of the best and most recognizable pop female performances in history. I still think she was great, and deserves to stay.

Download blah blah blah iTunes blah blah blah...

Michael Johns - Smart choice. Wow. Brave with the scarf. Could you see me sporting that at a Living Proof. Haha. He sounds AWESOME. I think he is having his moment. Chills. ON COUNTRY WEEK? Wow. Dolly is one heck of a songwriter. That was his best performance yet. are tonight's top 3 for me:

1. David Archuleta
2. Michael Johns
3. David Cook

But let me say that I think everyone did well tonight. Thanks to the great songs of Dolly.

Get ready for the 9 to 5 group number tomorrow night. Not even a horrid group number can keep me from loving that song.

Good night!

Delayed American Idol Recap

Hey, everybody. I hope you are having a good week. I only have a second...I am in the studio, and I need to stop blogging in a minute so I will have plenty of time to TOTALLY OBSESS over what key to sing "O Holy Night" in.

I wanted to check in with everyone before Idol tonight. I never did a recap of my own. So here is my two cents worth about last week's show.

There is a huge momentum shift happening in David Cook's favor right now. At first it was all David Archuleta. Now it's Mr. Cook. He really has been amazing for a few weeks in a row now. I still am not convinced he can win...but he sure is doing some amazing singing.

I am still on the Brooke train...once again cheesy me downloaded her song. I thought it was great.

What's the deal with the judges giving bad marks for the arrangements? Is this Producer Idol or American idol? I say, judge their voice and performance. Not their arrangement. the soap box.

Syesha had another great week. I hope she lasts this week...and I hope she has picked a killer Dolly song.

Michael Johns and Carly Smithson were both great. I thought they were too hard on Carly...I love that song (Total Eclipse Of The Heart) and I thought she sounded amazing.

Of course, David Archuleta was good again. I still think in my American Idol gut check that he is the one to beat.

That's all I got for now.

I have another funny Levi story. Last night, Angela made something that she hadn't made in a while. She sauteed Tempeh with oil, garlic and soy sauce. Yum. It was delicious.

Obviously Levi was not a fan. He took one bite and went running to the trash can. After spitting it out, he said, "Yuck. I hate it. It's so awkward."

He has been intrigued with that word - awkward - for a while now. He still can't get it in a sentence just right. But he certainly did a good job selling it in that sentence last night.

Have a good day. We'll chat after idol.

Turn around bright eyes.