If you follow me over on my dumb, non-spiritual blog or FB, you've already seen me post this for it's intense look behind the curtain of a recording session.
But I can't let it go yet, simply because there are things going on in this video that worship leaders need to see. Indulge one more time, and I'll stop posting this video. Promise.
Some backstory: this is behind-the-scenes footage from the recording/taping of the 1985 release, "We Are The World." This one of the first, celebrity rock-star song releases and it made a huge splash in the 80's for both it's financial impact as well as it's ambitious roster of talent!
In this scene, we're seeing Huey Lewis, Cyndi Lauper and Kim Carnes are recording the bridge section of the song. Not to bury the lead on the video...Huey can't hit the note. Over and over and over...Huey can't hit the note. But there's more going on here. Watch the video and see what sort of lessons you can learn as a worship leader.
HUEY DON'T SWEAT
You're standing next to Michael Jackson. Steve Perry and Kenny Loggins are seated on a bench to your right. And oh yeah, Lionel Richie's just walking around listening to you mess up over and over and over. We can identify, can't we? There are days like this where you just can't seem to nail what you need to do. Times where you're rehearsing and making notes and putting in the work and yet it's still not happening. Do not get discouraged. Do not blame your team. Laugh it off, make fun of yourself and keep going. It may take you 11 tries. It may take you 30 tries. But just know every time you miss that note or make a bad chord, you're getting better. Huey isn't freaking out (externally, at least!) He's confident, he's trying and he's calm. When stuff isn't landing, don't forget to hold fast to the calling God's placed on your life. You're in your church for a reason! Don't sweat, just work at it!
PERFECT TAKES A LONG TIME
We talk about this a lot on the site as well as the podcast...but look how long it took them to get this section to sound right. Watching the video in the 80s, you never would have thought it took this long. It seems so effortless on the final version! Of course, this was before Melodyne and other plug-ins to make musicians fool-proof, but I want to know that making records is still the same. That live worship song you love that sounds so spontaneous and perfect and raw most likely took weeks to create. If you think for a second that your volunteer praise band is going to nail that sort of perfection with 45 minutes of rehearsal, you're setting yourself up for heartbreak. Your Sunday team won't be perfect. (Or even better...they CAN'T be.)
JUST LET MJ DO IT
If you're like me, you watched this thinking, "Michael Jackson is nailing his part every single time! Let him sing it!" In the end, I'm glad they didn't give it to Michael. That trio part ends up being pretty cool and we never would have gotten that if the producers had given up. But there's a lesson here, too, for worship leaders. Let people do what they're good at it. If you've got an awesome singer, let 'em sing. If you've got a player who can nail a riff, hand it over. You don't have to play the coolest guitar and have all the solos and get the spotlight the whole time. If you've got awesome talent on your team, I guarantee your church wants to see those people shine. Be generous and humble enough to go, "You can do this way better than me. Hit it."
LIONEL RICHIE PULLS THE WL TRICK
Toward the end of the video, Lionel pulls the singers aside and says something quietly. If you turn up the volume, it's essentially this..."We're gonna' do one more take and then move on, because I don't want you to blow your voices." I'm not saying Lionel Richie is lying here. i'm just saying that worship leaders often do this sort of thing when they're afraid of hurting someone's feelings. Too many times, I've been too scared to tell somebody, "Hey, this isn't working" so I've made up some lame excuse. The sad thing is, that never works. If your team trusts you and knows you have their best interest at heart, they can endure some honest talk. In fact, I think they'd much prefer the truth than some made-up excuse. I don't know if Huey, Cyndi or Kim are suspicious or not, it's too hard to read on a 30 year old video, but your people will be. Don't play your team. Lead 'em, love 'em and be honest with 'em.
What other things did you notice about the video? What can worship leaders learn?