Art reflects Life... but not necessarily the way we think. A sculptor can shape a block of marble into a human form. A painter's brush can put a landscape in a frame. But though such works of art may be beautiful, they are not reflections of the all-encompassing essence of 'Life'. They are merely re-creations of the ordinary, fashioned by a talented eye... Everyday Art reflects the artist's view.
What brings Art 'to Life' is when visionaries get a glimpse of the Big Picture. When talented eyes can look past the ordinary and recognize that they, too are creations of the Ultimate Artiste, everyday moments can become Life-reflecting portraits, sculptures, books. And when a visionary, like recording artist David Phelps, acknowledges The Divine in his life, the common events of every-day can actually turn into songs...
Watching the surf cover up my toes
Breathing the salt air from the coast
Ten years old with my eyes pressed closed
Life is a church (*)
Finding the 'extra' in the ordinary is Art at its finest; and exploring that Big Picture is the inspiration behind David Phelps' latest Word Records offering, Life Is A Church. Wielding the artistry of his signature voice, David compels you into a gallery of intimate, melodic portraits. Each track, in this eleven-title collection, ventures past the usual, musical imagery. Through a creative collaboration of instruments and intellect, Phelps unveils the Art of reflecting the Ultimate Life, while going about the day-to-day events of living.
Now that You've pulled back the curtains
I can see You everywhere
And I wanna empty out all my pockets
Till there's only one thing that's there (**)
That one 'thing' Phelps sings about so passionately did not appear to him in some dramatic flash of light. It was revealed gradually; artistically woven through the everyday activities of his childhood in Tomball, Texas. In that little town, northwest of Houston, David was surrounded by a nurturing neighborhood. His parents, a CPA and an English professor, provided a no-nonsense, down-to-earth environment for their two daughters and son. It was a rural community content with the everyday activities of work, school, chores and church. It was Mayberry with sagebrush.
I used to ride my bike down the street three miles
And no one ever thought about it twice
Cause everybody looked out for everybody else
I was never ever by myself (***)
In this safe, practical, Norman Rockwell paradise only one thing defied the speed limit; the rapid growth of David's obvious talents. Though the Phelps family had their feet firmly planted on the ground, they knew how to raise the roof with a song; for part of their routine was a daily, disciplined dose of music. From the kids' weekly piano lessons, to the family's frequent rehearsals for their church performances, young David was consistently exposed to the audible Arts; That daily rhythm of harmonized Gospel motivated the youngster to such a degree, that he began to exhibit skills beyond the ordinary.
Although his gift was obvious to both his family and the members of his local church, it was David's appearance in a high school talent show that offered the first inkling that his music was more than the re-creations of a talented voice. Taking the stage, like every contestant before him, the nervous freshman opened his mouth. And in the time it took to sing a single phrase of 'Bethlehem Morning,' Phelps' snickering classmates fell silent. At the song's conclusion, the only sound in the auditorium was the echo of his foot steps, as he turned to leave. But just as he stepped off the stage, the stunned hall erupted in applause. And the singer heard someone call out, "Look, they're standing!" Peaking through the curtain at the sight, David Phelps got his first glimpse of the Big Picture.
Tomorrow is a chasm of uncertainty
But, I will go there, if You'll go with me. (+)
From then on, every day, every new experience was a tap of The Sculptor's chisel, chipping away the excess to reveal more of Phelps' developing form. David's countless stage performances, as an adolescent, prepared him to be the youngest winner of Christian Music's 'Seminar In The Rockies' Competition. His growing experience propelled him to earn a music degree from Baylor University, and take on the position of Artist-In-Residence at First Baptist Church in Hurst, TX. Eventually, after a few more chisel taps, David Phelps' fresh, cutting-edge sound attracted the world's spotlight upon becoming part of the legendary Gaither Vocal Band.
Once a small town vessel of Texas clay, Phelps has transformed into a rock solid work of art - not a still life, but a living, breathing work in progress. David's continually maturing craft is both a testament to his Creator, and a conscious reflection of that Ultimate Artiste's influence. These days, Phelps not only has a clearer view of the Big Picture, he is more aware of the subtle brushstrokes that shade the canvas of the every-day.
Silhouettes sent from Heaven
Paint a portrait of eternal things
A fleeting glimpse like a vapor
Brings remembrance of what is holy
Clean and pure, unblemished and unflawed
Oh, come to me sweet visions of God (++)
Everyone is capable of creating visions of extraordinary Art, especially the team that orchestrated Phelps' latest effort, Life Is A Church. From producer-arranger Greg Bieck (Barbra Streisand, Jessica Simpson) to songwriters Matthew West, Marcus Hummon, Kyle Mathews, John Cox, Tyler Bieck, and Cindy Morgan, this collection is a collaboration of audible Art. Every lyric is sculpted, every melodic phrase is colored to bring the Big Picture into clearer focus. And in the final mix, when these talented jigsaw pieces snapped together, the musical portrait formed - like fine Art- was simple, yet profound.
No mountains ever moved one inch at my command
No waters parted at my feet
I'm just a witness to the wonders God can do
Through willing instruments like me (+++)
Among the CD's eleven titles is David's own intimate composition, Visions of God; a uniquely personal account of finding the 'extra' in the ordinary - those little masterpieces we often fail to notice...
She gently falls asleep
Her head is laid upon my lap
The highway sings a soothing lullaby
My daughter here beside me
My little boy is in the backseat
Outlined by the headlights from behind
I ask the Lord to freeze us here in time (++)
And in that same thematic frame, David and Cindy Morgan paint a musical tale that vividly illustrates the everyday acts of an ordinary life. Legacy of Love is both a haunting portrait and a melodic mirror.
He was the kind of man that good men talk about
The way he showed his faith was how he lived it out
His hands were rough and calloused
His shoes were old and torn
And the lines that framed his smile
Were lines so well and deep and worn
So what will be remembered of what he left behind?
What will stand the test of time? (^)
Looking back on David Phelps' own legacy, so far, he has come a long way from Tomball, Texas. Over the last eight eventful years David's artistry has echoed off the walls of Carnegie Hall, and vibrated the chandeliers in the White House. His masterful melodies have been burned into six award-winning Gaither Vocal Band CDs, five critically-acclaimed solo offerings, and well over 40 certified Gold and Platinum Gaither "Homecoming" collections. It has been a showcase far above the expectations of any ordinary artist. But for David, a perpetual work in progress, these happy years have been just an extended glimpse of the Creator's bigger picture.
Trusting in that Divine design, Phelps' Life Is A Church comes on the heels of his announcement to bow out of the Gaither Vocal Band. Though not an easy decision, it was made as an exercise of faith and growth. Pushing the boundaries is every artist's goal, and David's focus is beyond the ordinary.
The beauty of the pain
Is that we do not stay the same
But we grow and we show
We are stronger than before
When we reach for something more (***)
A sculptor's stone and a painter's canvas can re-create the everyday, but finding that extra 'something' in the ordinary is Art at its finest. And when a visionary voice, like David Phelps, can acknowledge that something in every line of every song, Art comes 'to Life'. And when art reflects that Ultimate Life, a moment can become a masterpiece; our surroundings can become a sanctuary, and our every-day life can become ...a church.