Well, folks, I played my heart out on Saturday on the incredible singer-songwriter stage at Wildflower. I was nervous enough that my hands were shaking uncontrollably as I reached to re-tune my guitar between the two songs that were chosen for the contest. Amazingly, muscle memory took over while I told a slightly embarrassing story.
The story was from the previous day: I was walking down the hall backstage stride-in-stride with Gretchen Peters, one of my songwriting (and human) heroes. I got up the courage to open my mouth and mutter 'Gretchen, I just have to tell you that you are one of my favorite songwriters... and from what I read on the internet, you're a really amazing human, as well.' I was primarily referencing the many articles that she's written for the Advocate over the years. To be completely honest, I'm surprised she even heard me - I was basically talking into my shoes and didn't even really look at her. Gretchen was as gracious as I was awkward, commenting back that my mumbles made her night. She then went off and played a breathtaking set.
So here I am recounting this interaction on stage the following day, praying that the third judge whose name I missed during the announcements was not Gretchen Peters, simultaneously trying to re-tune my guitar and tell this story while scanning the judges tables to see if any of them looked like Gretchen. It was almost a disaster. 'Humans are not made to multitask.' I reminded myself - heck I may have said that out loud. Thank goodness for my good pal muscle memory - I think I finally cut myself off and shut my mouth before I said anything too embarrassing, focused for 3 more seconds to get my guitar in tune (which felt like an eternity of dead air) and then whoosh! into the second song I went.
Gretchen was not the third judge.
Later on Saturday evening, all of us 10 finalists were called up to the stage so that the 'winners' announcement could be made. I don't usually expect much from these competitions - and to my pleasant surprise, my name was called. I headed back to the hotel with a few more dollars in my pocket and a pretty remarkable smile on my face, as I'm sure you can imagine.