MUSIC, LEADERSHIP, CULTURE… and humor (sometimes)

Archive for June, 2009

the beauty of collaborative art (a new song on video)

i am part of a songwriter’s group that meets monthly and this past Monday night, we attempted our first ever collaborative song-writing session. These things are not easy to do, especially when more than 2 heads are involved (we had 6).

this was a lesson in how creative art can be a shared experience.  we normally think of performance art as a medium that involves other people and creative ventures typically thrive in solo atmospheres (at least for me).  however, when we put ourselves into a group of other creatives we trust (which is something we’ve been building by meeting together for the past few months), some great things can happen.

we wrote a song in about an hour and a half.

some key learnings for me on how this happened:

  1. everyone contributed something – whether it was a beat, a key word, a melody, or riff, everyone had the right and permission to speak into the song
  2. not everyone was trying to be the next Justin Timberlake in this short session – meaning, we naturally yielded to each other and some of us were more quiet in the process than others, which was necessary.  we knew and embraced our roles for this moment.  too many dominant voices and this project would have blown up like the Titanic– oh wait, the Titanic sank…
  3. we kept building on spontaneous ideas. we weren’t waiting for something fantastic to come along and slap us in the face.  if someone had a guitar riff, we had them play it out and loop it until a melody and eventually lyrics were formed.
  4. we had fun. we weren’t trying to meet a deadline, we weren’t trying to write a hit.  this was merely a project for the moment.
  5. we prayed. seriously, we asked for inspiration and specifically asked for a song and the prayer was answered.

so without further ado, here’s the video.  we filmed it right after we wrote the tune.  none of us in this video are “experts” and we’re all actually playing instruments we normally wouldn’t play.  it was our attempt at being third culture.   this was our tribute to Africa and the song ended up being about contentment and beauty!  please don’t take offense to our sounds at the end of the song… we’re really hoping that actual African words can be uttered in that spot!

Behold, “All is Well” by Ben Chang, Alvin King, Jeff Fulkerson, Theo Tam, Jen Liu and DK (yours truly)

the lyrics:

Beauty and light surrounds me now

The clouds rolled through

I throw my head to the breeze

And my face welcomes the cold, crisp air

All is well within my soul, soul

All is well within my soul, soul

This is life I have now, never felt it before

Awaken my senses to depths of a love

In this moment the worries can pass with the storm

I’m immersed in the rays of hope

And this mist of life


cruisin’ down the road in my African Impala

not an African Impala

not an African Impala

I attended a great arts conference last week and was rocked many times over by incredible insights and moments of inspiration.  One of the speakers at this gathering was Efrem Smith, a dynamic, brilliant, and hilarious (to say the least) artist/preacher-man who got everyone up out of their seats by the end of his talk.  One must note also that his name, “Efrem” is effin’ awesome.

He shared about the African Impala and offered these facts: (more…)

why it’s great to be ordinary

There is a big difference between being ordinary and being mediocre.  Ordinary is a state of being.  Mediocrity is a choice.  I just gave you my thesis at the very start of this post.  Chew on that and enjoy.

My focus today, however, is on the state of being ordinary.  You can consider me an expert on being ordinary.  Let me explain why:

I spent nearly 2 years in Bangkok, Thailand with my new wife (right after our wedding) and one of the things I was faced with in my time there was my “darkest night of the soul”.  Ever have one of those?  If you haven’t yet, hate to break it to you but you’re due for one.

In my darkest night, I was faced with this one reality that nearly crippled me and discredited all of my efforts and so-called accomplishments in my short 20-something years of life:

I’m so completely, utterly, and painfully ORDINARY

I mourned the thought that in my deepest core, I was extremely plain and normal.  Regardless of the talents and (more…)

my greatest accomplishment to date


this is me and my son, Micah David Kim.  He is 6 months old right now and I couldn’t be a prouder father.  I refer to him as my CBITW, an acronym I made up just for him that stands for “Cutest Boy in the World”.  I still can’t believe that he’s my son and somehow, the combination of Sadie’s beauty and my unmatched charm (you know!) produced this masterpiece.  I assure you the picture above is real;   my dad used to do this to me and my brother when we were younger and when Micah flexed his legs in my grasp and this photo was captured, it was a surreal moment where past, present and future all came together at once.

While Micah was still in the womb, Sadie and I were at a conference where Tony Campolo was the speaker and there was a moment where Tony was sharing how from when he was very young, his mother would tell him that he would live to serve the poor.  I got chills at that moment because as much as I want Micah to be a dominant shooting-guard in the NBA and (more…)