Recently a friend from my past rolled through town- Her name is Channing Lee and she is one half of the quirky two piece band Channing & Quinn. The last time I saw Channing was around seventeen years ago, I think she was eleven years old and I was around eighteen or nineteen. Our families were good friends and while there was a big age difference between the two of us- she was my little buddy. My memories are of a little kid with an "old soul" AND one of the sweetest, most beautiful voices you ever did hear come out of a little girl. I can remember long ago, her dreams of being a singer.
Fast forward to today- Channing is all grown up (and now I feel REALLY old) and she is indeed a singer and has been pursuing her dream all these years. Channing and her partner Quinn Matthews were passing through town on their West Coast tour and we had the opportunity to catch up before they play in Portland, OR. They shared the highs and lows, the adventure, the whimsey and the hard work involved in a living the dream of working as musicians. So often we hear about the "creatives" (artists, musicians, writers) who achieve overnight success but in my opinion it is the stories about people taking the long road that inspires me most. Perhaps it is because this is my own story- a lifetime of dreaming, working, practicing, loving and dedicating yourself to the one thing that you know you are meant to do. Meeting others who have been on the same kind of path is so inspiring- which is why I couldn't resist sharing a little interview with Channing and Quinn. Here is a peek into their life!
Channing and Quinn are a quirky two piece band based in Nashville, TN. They met and started writing music in Boone, NC and then eventually moved on to Nashville. When they play live they do the work of several musicians by playing guitar, ukulele, drums, glockenspeil, banjo and more! Channing provides the vocals and Quinn plays just about any and every instrument! They have toured the country playing shows at a variety of venues and in 2008 and 2011 embarked on a 2 week train tour, touring the East Coast and performing while only traveling via Amtrack train and public transportation. Currently they are on a West Coast tour promoting their latest album- Under This Big Striped Tent and have made their way across the country in an Airstream performing in cities along the way.
What does chasing a dream look like for you guys?
I think it took us a while to figure out what our dream looked like. We used to think chasing a dream was "one big thing" like winning the lottery but what we have learned is that chasing our dream really is a process of slowly taking baby steps and moving forward. Right now our dream is simple- to make a living playing music. We don't have to be famous or be rock stars, we just want to be able to do what we love and be able to survive. We are on our way and we are doing what we love and we are doing it full time and we are surviving. The next step would be figuring out what our life is going to look like as we move forward.
Do you feel like taking baby steps have worked in your favor?
Yes! We took baby steps for a long time (and still are) and those steps enabled us to make the BIG decision to quit the side jobs that were supplementing things. It was a combination of taking those baby steps and then a leap of faith. But we really have to work hard to support that leap. There has to be something (lots of work) to back up the big decisions.
What does your daily life look like?
When we are home and not touring there is a lot of day to day business, marketing, booking, writing and recording. Lots of our time can be spent on the computer answering emails and working on the business end of things. When we first started we thought we would just be writing and playing music but there is so much more that goes into being a musician. When we are touring it looks a lot different because we are traveling. Half of our job is trying to figure out the daily logistics involved in travel, how to get from place to place, where to park the airstream, how to get in and out of the venue. The least amount of work (and most fun) is actually playing music and then we have to pack it all up, hit the road and move on to the next city and the next venue.
What is the best part of being a musician?
We love traveling the country and meeting so many people who end up becoming friends. The ability to network and create community with other musicians is another great part of this life. But the best part is probably getting to perform and see the audience enjoy and know our music. It's really cool to be able to look into the crowd and see people singing along to our songs.
What advice do you have?
Keep doing what you love- that is all that really matters.