Sometimes a Musician

One of the things I am most thankful for in playing music for a living is that it was never my intention.  I am an accidental musician, at best, who sort of stumbled uncomfortably onto this journey half-protesting and with great trepidation.  Admittedly, much of my fear was based in the mystery of the unknown and the lack of control of things, much like any graduating college student heading out into the real world, but quite a bit more was based in the fact that I never quite felt “cut out” for this sort of work.  I always felt like a bit of an imposter…like I would some day, inevitably, be “found out” and everyone would realize that all this time I was just pretending to be a songwriter, just posing as an artist.  So many of my counterparts in music seem to live and die by the art they’re creating and, to be honest, I have many times envied the passion with which so many of these artists carry out their calling.  They cling so desperately to the art and creation and delivery of music that I think it quite literally becomes their lifeblood.  It’s as if the act of creating is as vital and involuntary as the act of breathing.  As if without it they would cease to exist, and with it, they have something to really live for. Truthfully, though there have been times that I have tended in that direction, I fear that that sort of singular passion toward what we do, or even who we think we are, can pull us away from our one, truly singular identity in Christ…and Christ alone.

All I know for certain is that music was meant to be part of the story God was choosing to tell for me, whether I planned it or not.  I was just a college kid with a Biology Degree and firm sites set on absolutely nothing apart from medical school.  But I also wrote songs.  My own little “personal therapy sessions,” as I like to call them, were never really intended for use outside of my living room walls.  But thanks to a few close friends who quite literally forced me to face the possibility of “seeing what would happen” with music, here I am today.  A 1-year “experiment” before planning to apply for medical school has turned into a 15-year career of writing and playing songs.  I can say with all honesty that I have no idea how it happened.  People ask me all the time how to “get started” in music and I have to tell them that I quite literally don’t know.  I can say this.  It was not comfortable for me.  It was not my dream.  It was not my life’s ambition.  I was afraid.  I was insecure.  I was not up for the task.  But I believe that God was.  I believe that God saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.  I believe there was a Spirit flowing in a certain direction and I knew only enough to not try to swim against it.  I’m actually excited to see where God takes me when music is done.  I am not nearly naïve enough to think that it will last forever.  And to be honest, I don’t want it to.  Because I know that music is not my life source.  It is not my identity.  Music is not who I am.  I have tried to run from it, even prayed that it would end at times.  What I know to be true is that, for whatever reason, God is for us and He chooses to use us.  And He wants to use us right where we are.  And this is where I am right now:  I am a husband and a father, a friend, a brother, a son, and yes, sometimes a musician.  It has been a beautiful story to watch unfold.

44 Responses

  • Elizabeth wrote on January 11, 2011

    Hey Bebo, I'm glad your friend talked you into your current career. A few years back, when I was feeling very low, before I heeded the voice of the Spirit calling to me, I bought a compilation CD with your song "Great Light of the World" on it. The song helped me to believe, in my darkest hours, that God was calling out to little sinful me. I even repeated "Oh Great Light of the World, fill up my heart" every morning as a morning prayer when I woke up. Without that song, and the many that followed, I don't know what would have happened. Thank you for your words and your work.

  • Theresa wrote on January 11, 2011

    So beautifully written, Bebo! I thank you for sharing your heart with us here and I encourage you to keep on this amazing path God has you on as He certainly has blessed us with the gift of music He has given you! And if you should ever decide to lay the guitar down and seek out a new career path to travel down, you might consider taking up writing for a living... you do it quite well! 8)

  • Chris Dilts wrote on January 11, 2011

    Bebo, Don't know if you remember me.. we spent 5 days driving through Maine together and the snow tunnels of New Brunswick. Anyway..... Your music has been a place where i can be ok with who I am. I have often thought that we are very alike in out thoughts. I have identified so much with "Ocean". I absolutely love that cd and am thankful to God for giving you the words and music. Don't discount the gift God has bestowed on you and enjoy this musical world as long as He allows. You have such an honest and humble way about you that is a refreshing change in the "arts". Your music has inspired me to be closer to my God and Father. I would think... looking from the outside, that your unwillingness to be a musician has actually benefited you and indirectly benefited us... Blessings my friend! Tell Gabe we said HI! And come stay at the Inn... opening March 1st

  • 3rdangelsmsg wrote on January 11, 2011

    Again, Bebo, you write beautifully. I can very much relate to what you are saying - not because I am a musician (although I know a few guitar chords) but because I am a mother. You may think, "What?! Can there be a higher calling? Can there be a better blessing in life?" I understand, and I agree. But, it was not my dream for my life. I know how you feel, and believe me, there have been days I just wanted to give the kids to their father and say "Here you go, I'm all done" and just leave, but, of course, I don't - because God has given me work to do. If I don't teach these children about Christ, who will? Who will ever love them like their own mother? No one. When I had my firstborn 13 years ago, I suffered terribly from post-partum depression - for over 2 years! At least that is what they called it. I knew it was the mourning of the loss of ME. One of the things that got me through was an obscure little song that ended like this; "But to be a mother and a wife is a heavy load to bear. And so you gave your life away, like the God inside your heart. And even though we've gone away, home is where you are." It was then I realized that the "loss of ME" is the greatest gift God could have given me, for it makes me more like Him. God bless you, Bebo, and thanks.

  • Jen (Young) Scott wrote on January 11, 2011

    This sums up exactly how I feel about the ministry I am in as well. I think ofitas God's gift to this ambitious sometimes prideful girl--such a thing of His creation that I cannot be tempted to take credit or think of it as anything I "did." What joy it brings this old friend to see you living out His call for your life with faithfulness! All the best! Jennifer Young Scott

  • Ruthiey wrote on January 11, 2011

    I echo what the other three commenters said. Your music has brought hope to many, including me. Your vulnerability has blessed me.

  • Kathy Kirk Cook wrote on January 11, 2011

    Bebo! It has always been interesting/funny to me that I don't think I EVER heard you sing during the Windy Gap days when you were in college. I knew from M.L. that you and Rich could sing, but never heard more than maybe a homemade cassette tape. So, while lots of music got made in the Triplex, and you were often in the company of many of your closest friends, you were too shy to sing then, but now sing to hundreds on a regular basis! Praise God that He brought you to that! It is an amazing story of His grace and work in your life.

  • Tracy wrote on January 11, 2011

    I understand your viewpoint as a photographer and artist as well. It is not my identity and there are times when creating becomes more of a burden than a creative outlet of artistic expression. I am always looking forward and onward, when frequently I know God's desire for me at this time is to be firmly rooted in the present. I also started to pursue medical school (and then ended up as a nurse), but we are vessels to be used for greater purposes than ourselves... May God give you peace and stability at every juncture.

  • Kevin wrote on January 11, 2011

    I first heard you play at Young Life's WindyGap back in 97(?). I havent stopped listening to you since then! Praise God that he always has plans for us! (Jer 29:11)

  • Jack wrote on January 11, 2011

    Well said... with honesty and humility...Christlike

  • Lindsay wrote on January 11, 2011

    I find it interesting how we all have plans for our lives when we leave college, sometimes not bothering to ask God if it is the direction He wants us to go. I thought my high school sweetheart and I would marry after college, he would become an engineer and we'd live in a nice suburb and have a couple of kids. But that wasn't what God had planned for living amongst corn and soy bean fields and being a sounding board for him as he pastors a small rural church and I stay home with our 3 girls. Like others have said, I'm really glad your friends pushed you into sharing what God has gifted to you with the rest of us. At poignant times, your songs remind me Who really matters and to live in a way He would be proud of. Thanks! Looking forward to hearing your newest album live in Cedar Rapids in April!

  • Karen wrote on January 11, 2011

    Bebo, I think this is why I have been a fan of yours for so long. You're real and you talk about real things. You put your heart on your sleeve and you put yourself out there for the chance that what you're going through and what God is teaching you might help/relate to someone else. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with all of us out here.

  • Annette wrote on January 11, 2011

    Well, I'm glad you didn't become a doctor, not that it is a bad thing. God knows we need good doctors, especially ones with good consciences and hearts. And you certainly have that!. Your music is such a blessing to me and so many in ways you couldn't possibly know (but God does) and I think your understanding that you are right where God wants you to be now is spot on!

  • Tweets that mention Sometimes a Musician | Bebo Norman -- wrote on January 11, 2011

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Christopher Ellender, Bebo Norman. Bebo Norman said: new blog up - [...]

  • Jennie wrote on January 11, 2011 write beautiful songs and blogs. Please keep it up...Blessings!

  • Shellie wrote on January 12, 2011

    Bebo, thanks for following God and for singing the songs He gives you. My husband has always been a huge fan! I loaded up your cds on my player and recently listened to your music while walking around a children's hospital in TX every day. (My little break from the 4 white walls!) My daughter and I lived there for 4 months while she received treatment. The honesty of the lyrics were a blessing to me so far from home.

  • James wrote on January 12, 2011

    Like the others. I'm very thankful for your sincerity. God bless you.

  • Connie wrote on January 12, 2011

    I grew up on Keith Green music- one of my favorite all time song writers. I always felt like he could lead me right to the throne through his music and lyrics. I got married and had kids and then heard one of your songs one day. Not sure which one it was, but I remember that moment of once again being ushered to the throne. I have been listening to your music ever since and now my oldest, now 18, is also hooked. Thank you for being willing and obedient and allowing Him to use you to bring me to a place of true worship! We came to a small concert on St. Simons Island a few years back...just you and one other musician that could play "a ridiculous amount of instruments". What an incredible night! My husband and I loved feeling like we were in your den just hanging out and listening and worshipping together. If you ever come back this way, we would love you hear you again!!!!!

  • ChristenB wrote on January 14, 2011

    I am in awe of how God works in our weaknesses and through our insecurities... somehow as if to say: "This is about me and my glory." I am an accidental photographer who never aspired to become a professional photographer but similarly, friends saw something in me that I could not see. I still don't know where God is leading me in this journey of photography. I am much more comfortable in a non-profit organization working among an underresourced population. And yet, I have enjoyed allowing God to inspire new kinds of creativity and beauty... and using this gift for His purposes.

  • sojournerway wrote on January 15, 2011

    Looks like he made it into the hospital after all... just in a different way than first imagined :) Love it.

  • Stephanie wrote on January 23, 2011

    Hey Bebo: This is from the GATOR fan you met in Cuba, NY (if you remember, I know you meet hundreds of people). Sorry for heckling you from the audience. Anyway, just wanted to say how 'bout the Auburn Tigers! Despite contoversy, the mighty SEC stands strong once again. Hopefully, my Gators and, grudgingly, your Dawgs will have better seasons next year. On a heavier note, I do thank you for stumbling into music. Life has dealt me some heavy blows as it has most of us. Ever since I saw you in concert those many years ago in Gainesville, your music has been a source of strength and a reminder of the one constant in life...God and his love for us. Thanks again!

  • Frisbee wrote on January 25, 2011

    I was tweeting away on twitter trying to find something to cure my boredom - and POW - someone I follow tweeted this post. Now, I am not quite as bored. Thanks for posting good material. - Frisbee

  • Amy wrote on January 31, 2011

    I love this post. It resonates so deeply with me. I mean, I've always known I had a knack for writing, but at the same time, I compare myself to fellow writers who do so much more, seem to always have the right words, and have so much more passion than me. And my writing career isn't exactly how I planned it. OK, it's nothing like I planned it. So I feel like I stumbled into this area of my life, too. Yet with easy clumsy tumble, I had your music supporting me and nurturing me, for which I am grateful. Thanks, as always, for your honesty. It helps me to be more honest myself. :)

  • Andrew Sadgrove wrote on January 31, 2011

    hi there mr norman i have been a christian for over 15 years & i have heard many many christian bands/music makers. i have 2 of your cd's with a third on order (ocean) the two i have a big blue sky & ten thousand days. I can honestly say with my hand on my heart i have never heard such beautiful lovely melodic music there are tracks on these cd's that has literally moved me to tears, i love Selwood farm thats aces. The other band is Third day & they are awsome as well, all praise to you fella may GOD bless you continually on a day by day basis. Andrew hyde U.K.

  • katie wrote on February 3, 2011

    Hi Bebo, thanks so much for being a willing vessel to share God's truth - I really like your song "I will lift my eyes", I just heard it on the radio and it really touched me. I'd like to sing it for worship time, but there is a discrepancy in the lyrics on the net: my question is just with one line: many sites say "the lover I needed to save me" or "the love that I needed to save me" or "the one that I needed to save me..." It sounds like "the love that I needed to save me", but I want to sing it the way you wrote it. Thanks so much for your time, Katie

  • Joanne wrote on February 6, 2011

    Bebo I came across you in a second hnd store what a blessing

  • Cierra wrote on February 28, 2011

    I've stumbled across your song "Dissapear" and I recognized it from passing stations on the radio. So one song led to another and I found "A Million Raindrops" I am a student and I love English--your songs are so well written and beautifully composed, you cannot be the only one holding the pen. God has blessed you, so much. You're the modern day poet, and your trepidation in this career only secures your faith in God to persevere in your life. I praise God for your circumstance and your work--and for letting me find today's devotional time with Him at the inspiration of your voice.

  • JWilder wrote on March 7, 2011

    Hey Bebo, I'm glad your friends talked you into it. I thought for a long time that Christian music was only what was available in my church hymnal, and it was slowly killing my worship of God, and further my relationship with him. I found out about K-LOVE and Way-FM, and the first time I heard you on the radio was "Great Light of the World". I can't begin to tell you how music like yours has strengthened my relationship with God. Thank you for your sacrifice, and thanks to your family as well, I know they probably share it with you!

  • Dee Kohler wrote on March 17, 2011

    Wow, I guess I have sort of the opposite story. I keep feeling the pull to do music- write, play, sing, preform, but things keep getting in the way, or not working out, or I have no confidence, or it just doesn't "happen" the way I always thought it would. The opposite to your story. I am a mom of 2 little kids, a wife to an amazing pastor husband and do photography and music on the side. But I truly always, always thought I'd fall into being a musician. I think what's going on now is that God's redefining my idea of "success" and "happen" and "musician". Also "timing". This is what I always wanted to to do, and yet God has put me in the place I am in life and made me happy there, and now I see maybe I wanted the success of it too badly. Maybe I pushing my agenda when God has a different idea than me of what's going to happen with my music. It'll always be there- I know it will, the music and the drive and heart to sing out, I just don't know what form it'll take, and thought it would happen much differently. I hope I'm learning to trust God as I record in my basement and play guitar at Chapters once in a blue moon. That he will make it what pleases Him, and I'm along for the ride. ><>dee

  • James wrote on April 13, 2011

    THat's the way it should be for sure.

  • Amanda wrote on April 16, 2011

    Thanks, Bebo. It's easy to get wrapped up in what we do sometimes, and let it distract us from who we are, or more importantly whose we are. In some ways it's harder for people who work in any sort of official ministry, as we can be so easily convinced that what we're doing right now is our forever mission. Thanks for the reminder that we should all be open to the Spirit's lead - perhaps down strange new roads.

  • Marcel Kubo wrote on April 21, 2011

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In concept I want to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and precise effort to make an excellent article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means appear to get one thing done.

  • Janine wrote on April 27, 2011

    Hi Bebo, I stumbled across your blog sort of an accident today, but I'm really inspired by this entry. I really felt you should know how much your music shaped my life, and kept my heartbeat close to God the past 10 years. Your music came into my life early in college when you did a show at Mt Vernon University. Now as a fellow musician and worship leader at my church, I am inspired in a new way, reading this blog and understanding many of these same feelings of identity. I guess I wanted to say thank you, for following the call to create and sing beautiful music-- and for always being real in your lyrics. While your legacy will far surpass just your songs, the bit of it that has changed my life will remain in your words and melodies, and for that, I am grateful. May God's heartbeat be ever near you in the years ahead.

  • Christina wrote on April 28, 2011

    How interesting that being the most honest kind of artist that you are, that you would feel like an "imposter" in the industry. Yet I can identify. Oftentimes while I am serving alongside others in ministry, whether it be at my local church or some big event like a crusade or major outreach, I tend to question my motives while seeing others pour their energy into it and treat their work as if it were a holy project bestowed on them by God. And although I am doing my work as honestly as I can, I somehow feel inadequate or that I'm missing something. Then I wonder what is making me feel this way and whether or not the people with whom I am working are themselves the "imposters". In any case, I know you have it right when you say that Christ should be the focus of our work and not the work itself. Even in Christian circles, sometimes I feel that getting lost in one's work is viewed as admirable when really it is losing sight of the One we serve. Anyways, this is turning into a blog itself, but I just wanted to say thank-you for making this point and helping us Christians to fine-tune our worship of the Creator. God bless! :-)

  • Christina wrote on April 28, 2011

    How interesting that being the most honest kind of artist that you are, that you would feel like an "imposter" in the industry. Yet I can identify. Oftentimes while I am serving alongside others in ministry, whether it be at my local church or some big event like a crusade or major outreach, I tend to question my motives while seeing others pour their energy into it and treat their work as if it were a holy project bestowed on them by God. And although I am doing my work as honestly as I can, I somehow feel inadequate or that I'm missing something. Then I wonder what is making me feel this way and whether or not the people with whom I am working are themselves the imposters. In any case, I know you have it right when you say that Christ should be the focus of our work and not the work itself. Even in Christian circles, sometimes I feel that getting lost in one's work is viewed as admirable when really it is losing sight of the One we serve. Anyways, this is turning into a blog itself, but I just wanted to say thank-you for making this point and helping us Christians to fine-tune our worship of the Creator. God bless! :-)

  • Travis wrote on May 8, 2011

    15 years. . . has it been that long? Well, such is life when we toss our sea anchor into the deep current of God's Kingdom purposes and let Him pull us along. This attitude in you, Bebo, draws me to your lyrics because they are written out of a "real" life. Much like happiness is the byproduct rather than the goal of a life well lived, so is your music a byproduct of your life.

  • Karon Boissoneault wrote on August 8, 2011

    Real instructive and superb body structure of subject material , now that's user pleasant (:.

  • Ashlie Swaringen wrote on September 14, 2011

    I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You've made my day! Thx again

  • Drea wrote on October 27, 2011

    I am, like the others, so very thankful you chose to "dive in". Your music has a certain humble quality that strikes a chord with my soul. It's real. We all struggle and need to know that there are others out there that are fighting the fight right along side of us- your music is their voice. Thank you!

  • Regina wrote on August 29, 2012

    Dear Bebo, Thank You for serving God as you do, what He has for you and yes, so much more to come!! You came into my town once long ago, Gainesville, FL with the Joy FM, hosted by Westside Baptist Church. I didn't know who you were but intrigued by the sound of your name. I loved your songs during your acoustical concert, didn't know any of them or their titles, wanted to buy one of your CDs but not sure. Thankfully there was iTunes, listened for a month to snippets of your songs, settled on buying "Nothing without You" and that song opened the door for many more Contemporary Christian Songs after. Catching melodies for me was easier than prior, the oldies but goodies were it for me, English was not my first language and maybe because of how I learned to speak, maybe it was hard to catch the lyrics in songs for me, but not now, not now for the Contemporary Christian Songs. God gives to each of us giftings to help others know and love God more, just keep your heart always Open for Him. God Bless You and family forever! Much Love and Thanks for the songs that Glorify God :) THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I THANK GOD for You!!! Regina

  • Cody wrote on September 13, 2012

    You probably don't read these (especially considering this was from 8 months ago) and I'll admit that I don't own any of your CDs, but my brother stumbled upon this and showed it to me. It's a complete flash-present of me today. I don't plan on being a musician. Med-school is fully what I'm moving towards, but I find comfort in writing songs and just playing away in my free time. This has been really uplifting, not to push me to become a musician, but to push me to find my identity in Christ (instead of pre-med) and my comfort in Him - the creator of music. -Cody

  • cars wrote on May 20, 2013

    Are you feeling like you do not have the car you deserve? This is because the salesman is trying to get a great commission out of you. Don't treat a salesperson like a friend. Continue reading for some valuable tips and information.

  • nerd wrote on June 29, 2013

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and the rest of the site is also very good.

  • wrote on August 16, 2013

    Hi, There's no doubt that your website may be having browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent site!

Leave a Reply