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Make Your Music Before You Die

Anya Lee has the rare distinction of having died and come back to make her music.

Don’t be like Anya.

Make your music before you die.

I’ll share Anya’s story later in this post, but first I want to to tell you that I found out this week that one of our dearest friends has dementia so badly that she can no longer care for herself. I’ve been heartbroken about it. She’s one of the most musically gifted and kindest persons I’ve ever known. She’s traveled the world singing at women’s events, made albums, led worship at her church for decades, and she’s been an inspiration to so many people, maybe even millions, all told. But no longer. “That’s what happens to old people,” I hear you thinking. But here’s the thing–she’s not old. She’s still in her fifties. Dementia has taken her early.

“Time and tide wait for no man,” wrote Chaucer. When we lose a loved one to death or dementia, it sets this truth in sharp relief. We feel shocked, jolted back into the reality that mortality is a thing, after all. As thick as our denial is, however, the truth remains that “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27). Death itself is a changeless fact that we often lose sight of, though it should be our greatest motivation for living a full life for Christ and for reaching our highest potential as songwriters, artists, and humans.

Memento Mori

Stoic writer Ryan Holiday reminds us that the contemplation of death dates back to Socrates and to many other Stoic philosophers, specifically in the discipline of Memento Mori, remembering death daily in order to live a free and full life. “To practice death is to practice freedom,” wrote Montaigne in his Essays. “A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.”

Lest you think all this talk of death and dying is unbiblical, consider Paul’s words “For you have died and your life is now hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), or “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20a). Few of us live as if we have already died. We’ve sanitized death to the point of extreme denial in our culture. The result is that we Christians can be as consumed with momentary consumption, success, greed, and power as the next Hedonist.

“A man who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.”

Montaigne

Living each day as if it were our last puts everything in a biblical perspective that causes us to align our values and actions with eternity in mind. We’ll be there a lot longer than we’ll be here. Jesus’ entire Gospel is about bringing heaven to earth now. That only happens when we value heaven, that timeless realm of existence when we’re dead, above this brief, momentary life. It’s not morbid to meditate on death. It actually makes life more precious and motivates us to do our best now.

I’ve lost three of my best friends in the last two years, one of them with no warning, so death has been a topic for me in my life and in my songwriting. I wrote a song called “Oh My Saints” I’ll be sharing soon about losing those guys and how it’s hard to process their loss, even though I know they’re pretty happy where they are now. You can follow me on Spotify and get notifications, if you’d like!

Don’t Die With Your Music Still In You (like Anya Lee did…)

Anya Lee, an artist now part of the new NCS Collective, has the rare distinction of having died and come back to make her music. Miraculously revived from being frozen to death on the Appalachian Trail in 2019, Anya Lee knew that God had given her a second chance to make her music. She had put it off for years, afraid she wasn’t good enough, afraid she could never afford it, and afraid that it could never happen for her.

But something radically changed when she stared death in the face. Putting off making her music was no longer an option. She took steps of faith to come to NCS for song coaching. God has met her each step of the way. Now you can experience the joyful R&B-influenced pop styles God birthed in Anya Lee that we almost missed out on HERE.

Miraculously revived from being frozen to death on the Appalachian Trail in 2019, Anya Lee knew that God had given her a second chance to make her music.

Thoreau is often cited as saying, “Most people lead lives of quiet desperation and die with their song still inside them.” While it’s a beautiful sentiment, he actually only wrote something close to the first part in Walden. The second part has been added as a kind of coda taken up by writers, poets, and shade-tree philosophers like me to emphasize the travesty of not bringing out your best art while you still can.

How many of David’s psalms didn’t make it out of his heart onto the scroll? How many world-changing songs swim around in the hearts and minds of songwriters that never make the journey from imagination to studio production? How long will you wait? Memento Mori, indeed. My sweet friend had no idea dementia would strike. Anya Lee could not have predicted her death and miraculous resurrection, much less a second chance to get her music out of her soul to the world.

NCS provides many ways to help you. Check out NCS COMMUNITY and consider joining dedicated Christian songwriters around the world as we journey together to share Jesus in our music. Don’t get dementia or die yet. Jump on the chance to get started today. We need you. We need all God wants to bring through you. Stop looking for free Christian songwriting contests and wasting your time. Time and tide are too busy to wait for you. Tomorrow is promised to no one. Carpe diem.

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