We interviewed Brenda Lane about her songwriting activities, and how she got into it. She graciously shared some of her story with us.
Editor —Brenda, you have a track record of making beautiful music that has blessed many hearts and ears. I just met you, so I’m eager to hear your story. Tell us briefly where you grew up and at what stage in your journey you discovered your love for songwriting.
Brenda —I grew up in Northern California in a small coastal town. I had no inclination for music; I had never played an instrument, never been in a choir, didn’t read music, and had zero thoughts about doing anything in the music industry. I was in my early 30s, going through a very dark season of life, when the LORD breathed the very first song into my ear. It was obvious to me that this was a gift because I was not naturally inclined towards music. But the melody and lyrics refused to go away and so I asked God to bring me someone who could play it on an instrument and someone who could sing it. That prayer was answered within two weeks. What followed was an outpouring of songs in multi-genre. It was love at first … um, sound.
Editor —That’s really interesting. A lot of kids who end up being highly musical display evidence of an interest in music at an early age. So, you connected with some people who could help bring your music to life. Did you form a band and start playing gigs? Or was this mostly about songwriting?
Brenda —After that first song (which taught me the process of song, arrangement, singer, studio, and airplay), we continued to meet. The second song, which was an orchestral piece, took a bit of training on my part. Kathy Bonilla, who ended up with a gift of arrangement, began teaching me the names of the instruments. I could hear them but didn’t know what they were. She would sit at her synthesizer and play sounds until I recognized a sound I was hearing. Then she would tell me the name of the instrument and show me pictures of it. Then I would tell her what it was doing. The “language” began to develop. Christianna Brown, a recording artist, stayed with us after that first song. The songs poured in quickly, many genres, and it was then that both Kathy and Christianna sensed that something was going on. We formed a group and named it His Company. We traveled for three years in that ministry. Kathy wrote arrangements and performed them, Christianna was the vocalist, and I was the speaker. It was a walk of faith and God blessed us with astonishing favor.
Editor —Wow! This is different than a singer/songwriter sitting down with their guitar and writing s song. You were doing orchestral arrangements. That’s fascinating! How many years have you been writing now, and how has your music evolved over time?
Brenda – I have been hearing music for over 30 years. Much of it came to me while I was sleeping; upon awakening it was fully embedded into my memory. I was hearing huge symphony pieces from the very beginning, and in between all of those pieces, I was also hearing other genres (hymns, traditional, contemporary, country, jazz, musicals, etc.) It has always left me overwhelmed with the enormity of the gift, (If you had been privy to it, you would have found me sobbing on the ground after hearing some of this music) … knowing full well that even to this day, I can’t read music, I can’t perform it. I play very little piano for the “work” purpose of a song. And only by the grace of God can I convey it to people who are highly gifted in music. However, my inabilities don’t seem to bother God one little bit. He has brought me enormous talent through others; vocalists, arrangers, musicians, and engineers who somehow can read my waving arms, off key voice, stumbling piano playing and … well, my passion. Owing to the fact that I can hear the music so well, I can sit in the presence of extremely famous and gifted individuals, far exceeding my ability, and still have complete confidence in saying “No” to them if they aren’t following what is my head; chord structures, instruments, melody lines, harmony lines. What has “evolved” over time is my confidence to produce. I have had the privilege of working with very famous individuals who give credence to the work. I know that I can accomplish whatever God breathes into my ear.
Editor – So, you’ve written many songs this way. That is unconventional, but you can’t argue with success! If you don’t mind, please tells us some of the people you’ve collaborated with. Also, is there a website where our readers can listen to some of your songs?
Brenda —Yes, readers can listen to some of the music on my website. In addition, I’m happy to share some of the AMAZING individuals that I have been honored to collaborate with. It’s a long list, but it gives you an idea of how extensive my songwriting has been. I’ve listed some of their credits to show you the ridiculous favor that God has showered upon this untrained–but willing–composer.
Jaime Jorge—International Violinist Credits: Numerous CDs.
Jonas Petersen—Strings. Credits: Madagascar 3, Sherlock Homes – A Game of Shadows, Hans Zimmer, Amnesty International, Disney.
Jeremy Lappitt—Sax Player. Credits: John Legend, Idina Menzel, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jersey Boys, Minions, Crazy Rich Asians, The Voice, etc.
World Renowned Musicians—Oboe: Bill Woodworth, Flute & Whistles: Sam Levine, Violins: David Davidson and David Angell, Cello: Anthony Lamarchina, Guitar: Mark Baldwin, Percussion: Ken Lewis, Bassoonist: Eric Heidbreder, Violinist: Javier Orman, Cello: David Abramsky, Violin: Sarah Murray Espinoza.
Johnnie Carl—Arranger, Conductor, Pianist of the Hour of Power Orchestra and Musical Director for the Crystal Cathedral, (Glory of Christmas and Glory of Easter productions). Credits: Roger Williams, Celine Dion, David Foster, The London Symphony, John Tesh, Lee Greenwood, Michael Crawford, Glen Campbell, and many others.
Archie Jordan—Multi-Platinum/Gold songwriter. Credits: BJ Thomas, Amy Grant, Ronnie Milsap, Anne Murray, Charlie Rich, Barbara Mandrell, and many more.
Kent Hooper—Engineer, Programmer, Multi-Instrumentalist, Arranger. Credits: CeCe Winans, Amy Grant, MercyMe, Kristin Chenoweth, Carly Simon, Bill Withers, Sandi Patty, Larnelle Harris, Mandissa, Travis Cottrell, Jeremy Camp, Scott Krippayne, Regie Hamm, Avalon, Vince Gill, Lauren Daigle, Michael W. Smith, and many more.
Phillip Keveren—A multi-talented keyboard artist and Composer, Prolific Arranger, Orchestrator and Producer. Widely acclaimed for his piano publications. Credits: Steve Green, Travis Cottrell, Larnelle Harris, Sandi Patty, Mandisa, Jeremy Camp, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and many more.
Larry Kenton—Orchestrator, Conductor. Credits: Star Trek, Mission Impossible(s), Up, Ratatouille, and many, many more A-list films.
Ned Lot—Voice Over Director, Producer. Credits: Frozen, Chronicles of Narnia, Finding Nemo, Deep, and many more.
Guy Niosi—Multi-Instrumentalist Musician, Programmer, Engineer, Composer.
Kai Reuter—Producer, Programmer, Multi-Instrumentalist.
Aaron Latina—Composer, Orchestrator, and Music Director for numerous films, musicals, commercial projects, and movie trailers.
Jay Dref—International Recording Artist. Credits: Stephan Moccio (Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, Celine Dion) and Singer, Songwriter, Producer Lauren Christy (Shakira, Jason Mraz, Brittany Spears, Avril Lavigne, Christina Aguilera) secured Jay to record their composition, Taxi in the Rain. Jay just won Italy’s Enrico Caruso award, and numerous theater productions.
Adrian and Emma Jean Galliard—International father-daughter singing duo based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Credits: Internet fame after videos of The Prayer and Time to Say Goodbye went viral, bringing in over seven million views.
Lori Glori— International Recording Artist, Songwriter, Producer, Motivational Speaker, Author, and all-around entertainer. Numerous CDs, Number 1 hit in Europe (Shine).
Vonda Beerman—International Recording Artist. Numerous CDs.
Lila Cervantes—International Recording Artist, Award-winning bilingual artist.
Sarah Van Drunen—Recording Artist.
MUSIC INDUSTRY PROS THAT GAVE HIGH REVIEWS OF THE MUSIC
J.A.C. Redford, Composer/Orchestrator/Conductor for numerous A-list films.
Ralph Carmichael, Composer/Orchestrator/Conductor.
Max Mace, President, Heritage Singers.
Kyle Thompson, Catalyst Resource Group, Faith-based movies.
Audrey De Roche, De Roche Music, Inc.
Editor – That’s amazing! You have had so many great opportunities to brighten the world with your music. I’m sure it has been a great deal of work but also a lot fun! Your experience positions you to be able to encourage and help others learns the trade. In the limited space we have left, what advice can you give to those who are just getting started with songwriting and music production?
Brenda—My advice is this: Recognize and honor the One who gave you the gift. If you have a passion for music, then pursue it. Pursue it in prayer. Pursue it in your quiet time. Pursue it by education. Pursue it with friends. The blessedness of music is that it pulls people together. My life has been surrounded with extraordinary people. Sometimes they’ve shown up unexpectedly, sometimes they have reached out/searched for me, sometimes I’ve reached out to them. But however it happens, music has been a gift that encourages fellowship with others. Life is full when you are surrounded by kindred spirits; a truly remarkable blessing.
Editor—I like that. Our job is not only to focus on the depth of our spiritual life and to develop our craft, but to let God handle the breadth of our influence and reach. May God bless you as you continue to write new music that inspires people in positive ways.
Brenda Lane was interviewed b y Rich DuBose, Director of inSpire and Adventist Society for the Arts.© 2017 - 2021 ASA. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.