I’ve been a professional musician most of my adult life. The music industry took me places and gave me experiences I could have never dreamed of. During my career, I’ve played at over 500 weddings, many in stunning settings. I particularly love the tranquility and beauty of mountain-top weddings at the Aspen Sundeck, nearly 12,000 feet above sea level in the tops of the rocky mountains of Colorado.
Although I’m not famous by any stretch of the imagination, there have been many “rock-star moments,” including performances at Red Rocks Amphitheater and entertaining a crowd of 65,000+ onlookers as they waited for a campaign appearance by President Obama (check out the “Soul-X” clip at the bottom of this page to see some footage of this event!).
There were also some particularly intimate moments, like the Christmas Eve (2010, I think) when I sat at a gorgeous 9-foot Steinway Grand piano in the living room of Denver Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlen and led his neighbors and coaching staff in singing Christmas carols.
Then there were the elite private parties… headlining at the NFL Commissioner’s Ball at the 2008 Superbowl and numerous private parties for the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies. In addition to working with the Obama campaign, I did scores of political events on the city, state, and national level, including playing at the Democratic National Convention.
I’ve worked on hundreds of high-profile corporate events, including many parties for Fortune-500 companies. I’ve met and performed for several of the richest men in the world, and over the years, had SO many memorable and incredibly unique experiences. Indeed, I’ve been blessed to have these adventures.
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Looking back, I realize that I intuitively knew from an early age that addiction and substance abuse might become a problem. And yet, to build my music career to the level where I was playing upper-tier events, there were choices to be made. I chose to spend literally decades of my life in smoke-filled bars and not-so-glamorous private events where drugs and alcohol were EVERYWHERE (and were frequently free). Very quickly, I was hooked, and my life as a Mormon alcoholic began.
Although I began my recovery efforts early in 2008, my journey back from alcoholism has been (and still is) a long and rocky road. I did not reach full sobriety until early in 2018 and was still not comfortable in my sobriety until late in 2019. One of God’s tender mercies came into my life in the fall of 2018 when I received a calling as choir director at my church. Despite my extensive history as a performer, I had never directed a choir before. I discovered musical talents I didn’t even know I possessed, not only in directing but in the writing of choral arrangements.
In April 2019, I took a bold step. I quit my bar bands, wedding and event bands and essentially declined all public performances except at church. (You can read more details about the rise and fall of my music career in my post “Empty Houses, Part 3: Filling the Empty House“.)
Then came 2020.
With the Covid pandemic came the closure of church meetings and the discontinuation of choir performances. I’ve patiently waited but lately have felt like my talents are being hidden under a bushel (and yes, I DO realize I’m mixing my metaphors–don’t give me grief! 😉 ).
When I quit my last events band, I wrote a letter of resignation to my talent broker. Indeed, this letter was inspired by the Lord, and later when I reread it, I realized that I had been given a piece of personal scripture intended for MY benefit.
One Sunday morning in April 2019, I got an unexpected call from a band-mate. He was quitting the band (something that I had contemplated doing myself for a LONG time). For some reason, the conversation left me extremely agitated. It drove me to my knees as soon as I hung up the phone.
I spent most of the day in prayer and still was distraught and confused when I finally went to bed. There weren’t any dreams or visions in the night, but the next morning I woke up knowing without a doubt what needed to be done. I got up and fired off an email to my booking agent:
“Over the past 6 months, I’ve found faith in prayer and have received personal revelation from God like never before. Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day in prayer. This morning I awoke with an answer in my mind and a level of peace regarding my music career that I have not felt in over a decade. In a still small voice, God spoke to me.
PLEASE listen closely to God’s answer to me:
“Kyle, you are not meant to be a full-time musician at this time. Stop trying to make money with music and treat it as it should be…praise to me and enjoyment and relaxation to you. Immediately quit ANY activity that is causing you anxiety, taking time away from your family, and/or chasing my spirit away, and pursue only those projects that invite my spirit into your life.”
“My goals have changed dramatically over the past few months. I apologize if this is bad timing for you, but I will be resigning from “The Headliners” band, effective immediately.”
Praise, Enjoyment, Relaxation, and Inviting the Spirit
So, my quest leads me here: I can proudly admit that I am an alcoholic in recovery.
However, I have no idea what it looks like to be a
>>MUSICIAN IN RECOVERY<<
As I discovered 30 years ago, it takes lots of work to transform a hobby into a profession. Now, I see it is far more difficult to turn a career you’ve been so passionately involved in for decades BACK into a hobby. And even harder to take something that has been so intimately related to addictive behaviors and turn it into something positive and non-triggering.
Sometime shortly after deciding to quit The Headliners, I found myself second-guessing this and several other major life decisions I was contemplating. At length, I decided to take the matter back to the Lord.
After a day of fasting and prayer, I spent the evening in the Ogden Temple. As nightfall drew near, I retreated to the Celestial Room and bowed my head in prayer. I poured out my soul for a long time and then turned to the table next to me and opened up the scriptures.
With the strong impression that I was getting answers to my prayers regarding a career change I’d been contemplating, as well as what to do with my musical talents, I read the following:
“And verily, I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better… for my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.”Doctrine and Covenants 25: 10, 12
As an alcoholic in recovery, I know from painful experience just how difficult it is to
“lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.”
However, if my adventure in recovery has taught me anything, it is this:
Far, Far Better Things…
Through the weeks and months following my temple experience, my career change came into clear focus. I made the unlikely move out of a very lucrative job driving a garbage truck and started over again at near-minimum wage. Now I share my addiction recovery stories with those who really need it, serving as a Certified Recovery Support Specialist for Davis Behavioral Health. The transition has been life-changing in SO many ways.
Still, the “musician in recovery” question is, at best, a work in progress. As I’ve discussed in other posts here, life’s most rewarding challenges start by lighting a candle and stepping into the darkness. Admittedly, this is not something that comes naturally to me. I struggle with wanting to know where the journey will end before taking the leap of faith. I know in my heart that the results will be worth it, but that first step is, for me, infinitely more difficult than I would have ever imagined.
I take great comfort in the words of Jeffery R. Holland:
Why does God not care as much about where we’ve been?
It all comes back to the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Elder Boyd K. Packer taught us this truth:
Each of us has a loving Father in Heaven. Through [His] plan, those who stumble and fall “are not cast off forever” (from the title page of The Book of Mormon).
…the Lord has said, “…he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I the Lord remember them no more.” (Doctrine & Covenants 58:42).
Could there be any sweeter or more consoling words, more filled with hope, than those words from the scriptures? “I, the Lord, remember their sins no more.”–Boyd K. Packer, Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, “I Will Remember Your Sins No More,” April 2006 General Conference
Imagine that! Because Jesus Christ suffered for our sins “…that they might not suffer if they would repent…” (Doctrine & Covenants 19:16), he can promise us that he will remember our sins no more. To me, this thought is incredibly liberating. Although I do not understand the logistics of how this is done, I testify to you that I know it is true. God will literally forgive and forget our sins. As a loving Father, he is truly more interested in where we are willing to go than where we have been in the past!
New Year, New Direction…
Recently, I have felt impressed to explore new directions to express my musical talents. I have crossed paths with various people who might help me in my quest to sing (and PLAY) the song of the righteous and to return to using my God-given talents by “laying aside the things of this world and seeking the things of a better.”
I must admit that, as with many aspects of my recovery, I am writing this article from a somewhat selfish motive. In my quest to discover the path to becoming a musician in recovery, I have begun reaching out to people who have a different social network than mine and who might have the ability to help me redefine how I use my God-given talents. As it turns out, these people actually DO care where I’ve been and how it has developed my talents and skills, in addition to where I want my musical talent to take me in the future.
To that end, I’ve posted a portfolio (see below) of some very brief samples of my various performances spanning the past twenty years. I’d love to hear some thoughts and/or ideas about what YOU think being a MUSICIAN IN RECOVERY looks like. Feel free also to share any ideas or resources that would be helpful to me in my quest.
I’d appreciate YOUR input.
Please drop me a line at kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE or comment at the bottom of this page.
Not to overlook my primary purpose for hosting ChangeOfHeart.LIFE, I want to leave this with you:
If you struggle with addictions of any kind, know that my heart goes out to you.
I invite you to make my quest yours as well:
Join me in laying aside the things of this world and seeking for the things of a better! I encourage you to seek out the help that you need to overcome your addictions and discover for yourself that
LIFE IS BETTER IN RECOVERY!
I am strengthened by sharing my stories of addiction and recovery.
I invite you to do the same.
Leave a comment here or drop me a line at kyle@changeofheart.
Usually, I share an inspiring video at the end of each post. Today, I hope what follows inspires you, but perhaps for a somewhat different purpose.
Almost two years ago when I dropped out of the commercial music industry, I also took down my self-promotion website. I’m ending my post today with what some may call a “glory-days” gallery in the spirit of unabashed self-promotion. I invite you to take a listen. You’ll find the music of different styles and genres that I have performed as a soloist and part of a larger unit. These will give you an idea of where I’ve been, and the depth and breadth of my skills and abilities.
Click any of the images below to hear my various past and present performance samples. If you’re interested in a particular style (solo piano, sacred music, etc.), or if you want to get a taste of how my “glory days” were, use the filter buttons below to narrow your choices.