what happens when an artist chooses generosity

It was a long day of filming the Try Hard Life series in Charlotte. Several friends and family members were gathered there for the day to help us pull it off. We took a break for lunch.

As I tried not to spill salsa on my pants, I listened to Dad and Reeve talk in the kitchen about how her dad makes guitars. They talked more about music and he asked if she writes her own songs.

She said she did and he asked her what she likes to write about.

And then, the question musicians always hear, and depending on their personality, they either long for or dread:

Would you play a little something for us now?

Her face turned red and she smiled small, shrugged her shoulders and looked around the room. Was she waiting for someone to object? No one did.

We had the time and my brother in law had an old guitar. She settled in to her place on the sofa and we continued to eat as she began to strum.

Time stopped a little and we held our breath. Lucky for you, the camera was rolling.

Reeve singing Night Owl.

Reeve took us on a four minute trip into her soul. We were quiet there at the end simply because we hadn’t come back yet.

She could have said no, but I think she would have regretted it. We would have regretted it, too.

When an artist chooses to be generous, everyone wins. Even though she wrote the song about her own life, we could all somehow relate to it. The more personal you are with your art, the more generally it applies to those who are there to receive it.

It seems counter-intuitve, I know.

Add more of yourself to your work – more of your personality, preferences, and desire. The more we see you, the more we’ll see ourselves.

Go here to learn more about Reeve’s music.


  1. says

    i’m a blubbering mess reading this. your words. her music. her art. her courage. “The more personal you are with your art, the more generally it applies to those who are there to receive it.” YES! you put into words what i’ve felt every time i’ve heard her sing. thank you!

  2. Jen says

    I have loved listening to you on 91.9 for the last couple of weeks. I just had the chance to catch up on your blog this morning. When watching your promo video for your book, I saw “Susan”. I am certain she was my Young Life campaigners leader in high school. I would love to reconnect with her via email. If you have a chance to share my email address with her, that would be great.
    Thanks so much,

  3. says

    Loved what you wrote, Emily. And Reeve’s music is amazing! Thanks for sharing. I know it takes energy to pour your art out for others. Thank you — from a designer to a word smith :) — for pouring yourself into your art and sharing it with us.

  4. says

    Oh Emily, your words echo the still, small voice that’s been prodding me with, “Let them in. Let them in.” Scary and exhilarating at the same time. Thanks for putting needed gas in my tank today.

  5. says

    I could listen to her all day. Can totally relate with the night owl thing and you are so right that the most specific, personal, touchable details make the art somehow more accessible. Touch the glass. Hear the birds and alarm clock. It’s more than an idea- it’s a livable, relatable experience. And Reeve’s art does what all authentic, heartfelt art does…it makes me want to head to the piano and write another piece of my own.

  6. Julie says

    Oh, my, that was good! Thank you, Reeve, for sharing the blessing of your gift and thank you, Emily, for knowing that this video needed to be shared with a wider audience.

  7. Mela Kamin says

    Wow, Reeve – what a gift! Your voice & that song will be rolling around in my head today – thank you for saying yes to the gift & especially for sharing it. Blessings!

  8. anuradha says

    Shared on facebook for all my dear friends to enjoy. Thank you Reeve, and thank you Emily. Your art through music, the video series, the books and blog encourages and inspires!

  9. says

    i love this minute, just after i finished reading your words, emily, listening to your gorgeous song, reeve. i was rocking my baby to sleep, listening, transported to a holy, perfect peace.
    your art, both of you, frees the art inside me.
    (i’ve got goose bumps.)

  10. Reese says

    “Add more of yourself to your work – more of your personality, preferences, and desire. The more we see you, the more we’ll see ourselves.” Thanks for writing that, Emily. It’s something I need to remember and trust God to give me courage to put into practice.

    Reeve – wow, wow, wow! I could listen to you all the time. I read on your website that you’re in the studio working on your first full-length cd. I’m so glad to hear that and can’t wait to buy one!

  11. Christy says

    Loved your message and Reeve’s performance of this song. It illustrated your point so perfectly. Both, so beautiful! Thank you! This one’s gonna stay with me for a while!

  12. says

    I love the title of this post. Calling it “generous” for an artist to create somehow helps free me up; it moves me from thinking about myself and being self-conscious about putting my stuff out there to remembering that God’s given me gifts to use and share–whether that’s with a roomful of friends or lots of people, it just matters that we’re sharing.

  13. says


    I am blown away by all this encouragement. A friend just told me to check out all the comments on your post. I was already so encouraged, grateful, humbled, and still a bit red-faced by your post. But reading all these beautiful woman connecting with my song and your beautiful words has brought me to tears. I have never thought of singing as being generous but I believe I will forever see singing differently now. I just can’t thank ya’ll enough, especially you Emily! These encouraging words were very much needed this week. LOVE!

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