This post is by Kelsey Kopecky, our March Pilgrim in Residence. Kelsey will be sharing about spirituality and life on the road each Thursday in March. Read Kelsey’s other posts at A Sacred Journey here.
“I need a reason to sing. I need to know that You’re still holding the whole world in Your hands. I need a reason to sing.”
All Sons & Daughters
I spring up from my bunk and make my way to the front lounge area of our shuttle bus to see Steven, our lead guitarist, faithfully behind the wheel. Another drive through the night, going to bed in Oklahoma City and waking just outside of New Orleans. My phone rings right on time as I clear my throat and prepare for a phone interview. “Good Morning, Kelsey! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!” After a bit of small talk and laughter, I get ready to answer the standard question:
I expect something like: “So, you guys are called Kopecky Family Band, are you really related?” To which I usually answer: “Actually we are not related at all. Gabe, our band’s other singer, thought my last name had a special ring to it, so we joked how funny it would be to start a family band with our best friends…”
To my surprise he instead asked me, “Why do you make music?”
I stopped in my tracks and thanked him for asking this. I closed my eyes and inhaled. Music.
When I play music I feel alive—the lines of skin and bone that hold my soul are blurred, and my deepest expression can come to the surface. It’s a feeling like nothing else, a process of trusting the flow of creativity without squelching it, allowing vulnerability and transparency to take over.
To me, this is where true art happens. Here, I am fully aware of the power of God as music brings us to the present moment. When we get lost in a melody, our bodies can feel the fullness of our experience, whether that be pure joy or sadness. There is no room to construct a mental to-do list, or replay a conversation from earlier in the day. When I sing from this place of presence, the posture of my heart is open and available. The breath that flows out of my mouth is supported by a deeper knowing.
In one of my favorite yoga podcasts, Transparent Yoga in Everyday Life, Molly Lannon Kenny explains the science between the breath and the nervous system. For example, if a sudden inhale or a gasp occurs our nervous system tenses up and our fight or flight responses are engaged.
On the contrary, when we sing, we inhale a slow deep breath and as we release this breath and alter the tension of our vocal chords, our nervous system can become calm and stress can dissipate. Another example of this breath-nervous system connection is laughter. Our brain recognizes this staccato type breath pattern and releases the “feel good” chemicals that tell our nervous system all is aye-OK.
We are nearing the end of what our management calls our “record cycle,” which means we have been playing the songs on our latest album for over a year. People often ask me if I get sick of singing the same songs night after night, and to tell you the truth, sometimes yes, sometimes no. The only way I can fight to keep the songs new is to fight for authenticity when I deliver each song. Since every song is a different story it evokes a different emotion in me.
When I am present and fully in tune with what I am trying to share with the audience, it is an experience that can only happen once in a lifetime. It will never be that song at that venue at that moment. All of a sudden I feel gratitude for the space that we are sharing.
Maybe that’s what family means to me—true unity.
Lately, this song by All Sons & Daughters has been nourishing my heart and helping me focus on the bigger picture. I have a reason to sing!
What if someone asked you WHY you do what you do? What makes you feel alive?