The Gift of Confidence: “Gretchen Wing with Chicken Biscuit” Now Feels…Legit

meThis is what I’m doing tonight:

This is my second annual “Gretchen Wing With Chicken Biscuit” concert. The year before we were simply Chicken Biscuit. Then I started writing songs, and something changed.The story’s a little longer than that, but I’ve told it before.

Right now, I just want to compare two Gretchens:

October 2012
Lopez Community Member: “So, you’re giving a concert?”
Gretchen: “Yeah, I know, it feels so weird, I can’t believe I’m actually asking people to pay money to come hear me, I’m just, you know, I’ve never done anything like this before.”

November 2013
Lopez Community Member: “So hey, another concert?”
Gretchen: “Yup! So excited! Hope you’re coming!”

What changed? I’m only a marginally better guitar player than I was a year ago, and I have a long way to go before I reach the level of the wonderful Biscuits who play with me. My voice is probably a little stronger, from a year’s worth of singing.

But the main ingredient of change is CONFIDENCE. By now enough people have told me I am a good singer and a good songwriter that I have finally stopped thinking they are all extra-nice folks with low standards.

I believe I’m good: therefore I am. WHOA. Talk about a life-changing Blinding Flash of the Obvious.

I could probably run with this theme, and who knows where it would take me? But I’m kinda in a hurry here…gotta walk the dog and get the house ready for the post-performance party before heading into town for set-up and sound-checks. (I meant to post this yesterday, but our internet went bye-bye…so it goes!)

So I’ll close with the obvious question: Have YOU had an experience where someone telling you you could do something made it happen? Are you having such an experience now? Please tell me all about it!


Why go out on a limb? ‘Cause that’s where the fruit is.


Come play me, big girl… (courtesy Lisa Hall-Wilson, Flikr)

Not quite two years ago I started taking guitar lessons. Oh, I knew how to play guitar–with spectacular mediocrity. I’d picked up some chords during college like people do, and stuck with the “I just need to know enough to accompany myself singing” line for the next 30 years. Hey, there was always someone else who could cover that tricky B-minor so I could skip it, or play an instrumental if the song needed it.

But when I left teaching for a life of writing and working part-time in a bakery, I ran out of excuses not to learn more. I had time. My kids were in college. What the heck was I afraid of?

Nothing, turns out. I found myself a great teacher named Bill, who tailored his lessons to fit my needs. I started up the trunk of the tree. Steep, yes, and boy did I develop some calluses–but not exactly scary.


Lots of limbs to go out on, right?

After seven or eight months, Bill suggested I try writing a song, as a way to get a feel for how chords go together. I protested, “Me? No way, I’m not one of those people who write SONGS.” Hey, those folks are special, gifted. Definitely not me.

But then Bill left town for a while, and I found myself taking his advice, “noodling” around with chords (one of my favorite guitar words), singing “oooh,” softly to myself. A haunting melody came to me, lots of A-minors and D-minors. A chorus suggested itself to fit the melody. On my long walks, I hashed out lyrics for verses. I was surprised how easily they found me.

When Bill came back, I told him, “Umm…I think I might have written a song.” When I played it for him, my cheeks must’ve been bright red. Didn’t help that the song was called “Passion.” Bill did me the favor of not watching me too closely while I played. But when I finished, he was impressed.

“You really have something here. But I think it needs a bridge.”

So I wrote a bridge. Even stuck in some B-minors to challenge my fingers. When Bill heard the whole thing, he announced he wanted to record it. That recording got sent around to various musical folks on the small island where I live. I heard nice things. The word “legit” especially stood out to me.

My musical Muse? (courtesy Maryann Rizzo, Pinterest)

That must have been what my Muse was waiting for.

I started writing more, and haven’t stopped. It’s been a year, and I now have 16 songs.

Writing those first lyrics and singing ’em for Bill, that was my first slide out on that limb. But that branch got REAL skinny when a promoter on the island got me to sing a bunch of my songs in a concert.

Never sung into a microphone before. Never had folks pay to hear me sing. Never sat out front of a group with the spotlight literally on me.


Good thing I remembered to paint those toenails!

Yup, I’m barefoot–know why? I started sweating so much out of nervousness, I decided to lose the boots at the last minute to give my body some relief. It worked; my barefoot self is much more relaxed. The more I sang, the easier it got. And at the end of the evening, I tasted that sweet, sweet fruit. I still do.

I’ll leave you with a clip of me and Chicken Biscuit (our band) singing my song, “Hard to Let Go”–’cause after all this build-up, you want to hear me sing, right?

But what I want to know is, What’s something that YOU’VE done that seemed incredibly risky, but paid off sweetly? Or, what’s something you wished you could make yourself do, or something you plan to do? What’s stopping you? Let me hear from you!