The Listening Room Café ( A ~ Not So Short ~ Story )

Photo Credit - Perry Joseph Photography  ( The Listening Room Café - March 4th, 2019)

Photo Credit - Perry Joseph Photography ( The Listening Room Café - March 4th, 2019)

Three years ago I had just moved to Nashville. I was overwhelmed by moving to a big city. I was lonely. I had a small, slightly empty, apartment. Thankfully, I had my Mom for a little while to help me adjust. I had no friends, no contacts, and no idea how to get connected in a town that is all about connections. On one of the many exhausting days that come with moving to a new place, we had someone knock on our door. It was my Dad surprising us with a visit that weekend. I wish I could fully explain how wonderful it is to open your door when you’re feeling a little homesick and see someone you love standing there. We decided that we were going to check out The Listening Room Café that night. It was one of the best memories. I remember the names of the songwriters performing that night. I remember the songs and stories we got the chance to hear before they were cut/released. My biggest memory of that night, however, was the distinct feeling of longing to be on that stage. I had no idea how, or if, it would ever happen (remember - no friends or connections!!) but I knew that I wanted it badly.

The Listening Room Café - March 5th, 2016 (My first time watching a writers round.)

The Listening Room Café - March 5th, 2016 (My first time watching a writers round.)

Fast forward three years later. I’m no longer so overwhelmed by Nashville, but I still have my moments. I only feel lonely occasionally. My apartment is no longer empty - if anything I’ve crammed way too much stuff into the tiny space, but it feels like home. I call my Mom a lot since she went back to NC. I have friends (granted it’s a small circle but I’m very grateful). I still have no idea how to make this crazy dream of mine work, but I’m slowly becoming okay with not knowing. However, this past week I was struggling really hard with it.

I missed my family a lot. I was tired of getting out and “networking”. I was tired of giving it my all when it feels like I’m just running in place. I just wanted to sit at home and be anti-social. Even though my sweet friend Judy Paster had invited me a while back to be a part of her writers round at The Listening Room Café, I was having one of those weeks that I couldn’t even feel happy about something as wonderful and big as that. Don’t get me wrong, I almost cried happy tears when she asked me if I wanted to join her round. As noted above, I have wanted to play The Listening Room for SO LONG.

I had several disappointing things happen throughout my week that kind of killed my vibe. I also knew that my family probably wouldn’t be able to come. They have jobs and commitments they have to keep. I had a few other things happen that were disappointing. Needless to say, I was letting my bad mood steal my joy.

Sunday afternoon I was cuddled up in my PJ’s watching Netflix when my doorbell rang. I don't typically get many visitors so I assumed it was one of my neighbors; I opened my door and saw my Dad. I hadn’t seen him in a few months so it was the best feeling to get to hug him. Just because I love Nashville doesn’t mean I don’t get really homesick sometimes and this week was one of those times. Once in a while you just need someone that you don’t have to try so hard with. Someone who already loves you and already knows you. You can just relax. I felt so much relief just seeing him standing there. He came into my apartment and set down his bag. I was in the middle of excitedly saying “What!?!?!?!?!” a billion times when someone else knocked on my door. I was really confused at this point because my Dad was right there (my Mom is in the throws of tax season, so I knew for a fact she couldn’t make it out). When I opened the door a second time it was my drummer/best friend, Paul Graham. They had both planned this surprise to come see me play at The Listening Room. I was speechless. I was elated. I almost cried. I got to spend a day and a half with two people who make me so happy. Family.

My Dad (right) and Paul Graham (left) after my first performance at The Listening Room Café - March 4th, 2019

My Dad (right) and Paul Graham (left) after my first performance at The Listening Room Café - March 4th, 2019

One of the first things my Dad said was, “I told you the first time we went to The Listening Room that I would be there when you get to play on that stage.”

My Dad has always had this habit of saying “when”. There are no “if’s” in his mind. He doesn’t work that way. My Mom and my Dad have always supported my music. They’ve always made me feel like there’s no question as to whether or not I can do it. It’s just simply, I can and I will.

The view that brought tears to my eyes. (There were more people not pictured.)

The view that brought tears to my eyes. (There were more people not pictured.)

When we got to The Listening Room I was so nervous. I had been there a few months back to see an artist I really admire and now I was getting to go in the green room! What is life?!

I have to take a minute to say thank you to Judy Paster for inviting me. In this town it’s really hard to find people who genuinely care about you. In my experience, not many women I know would be so willing to invite another female artist to be in their round at one of the best venues in Nashville. Judy’s friendship means so much to me. She is such a genuine, caring, and talented person. She single handedly made one of my dreams come true! I am so grateful to her.

To share a stage with Judy, Cory Batten, and Bill Diluigi was such an honor. Cory co-wrote “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)”. It was a surreal moment when I got to sit on stage and sing along to a song that I use to sing along with on the radio. Bill has written many successful songs but one of the things I found amazing is some of his songs were on one of my favorite TV shows “Hart of Dixie”. I got to share a stage with both of these incredible songwriters.

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As the night went on, I sang my songs, shared my stories, told a few jokes, and I really tried to take in the view from the stage - the stage that I had wanted to be on for so long. It was everything I had imagined it would be and more. The crowd responded to every song with pure love. It felt like magic. That’s why I fell in love with music and songwriting in the first place. I desperately needed that reminder.

People came up to me afterward to tell me how much they could relate to my songs. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I already felt emotional/thankful to get the opportunity to share my songs. Thank you to anyone who came up to me afterwards. You have no idea how much you made an already beautiful night much more special. 

Whether you ended up at The Listening Room by randomly googling things to do in Nashville, or you are a friend who came to support me, thank you. I am grateful for any opportunity I get to do what I love. You’re the reason I got to do that Monday night.

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I felt so, so, so, special. Thank you to every person who came up to me after the show.

I felt so, so, so, special. Thank you to every person who came up to me after the show.

I know this is an extremely long post so if you’ve made it this far you are the real MVP. I just had way too many emotions that I needed to express.

Photo Credit -  Perry Joseph Photography

I love you guys.

Thank you.

xx Carson

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Carson Hill