Monday, April 28, 2014

Middle Tennessee Women's Retreat-2014

Dear Friends,

OMGoodness, has it been a wonderful weekend! I attended my first Middle Tennessee Women's Retreat in Nashville, TN. This was the 23rd year for the retreat and it is hosted by the Ann Downing Ministry. Ladies from 25 states came to the retreat, including all the way from Maine. I didn't know fully what to expect, but I knew whatever I experienced that it would be good.

My baby boy, Shawn, and I loaded up my SUV and headed to Nashville early Friday morning. Along the way Shawn decided he would run the half-marathon on Saturday to benefit St. Jude. He's done that race before, so it was natural for him to run again. Shawn did run the race and is only slightly limping now. Overall, he made it fine.

I stayed at the hotel all weekend with the exception of scavenging for food late Friday night after all of our retreat sessions were over. I was starved.

I can honestly tell you that I didn't know one single speaker on the program when I read the brochure. I could understand that if I've been hiding in a cave all these years, but I haven't. Anyway, I don't remember the last time I've laughed so hard in 2 1/2 days. We laughed, cried, praised God, prayed for our fellow attendees, made life-long friends and just felt so comfortable with each other.

If you ever get the opportunity to hear Sue Duffield, Kendra Smiley, Kathy Blume, Sharon Kay King, just to mention a few, do it. These are some mighty talented ladies that are "on fire" for God.  There were other workshop speakers, but I didn't get to take their workshops. Still I heard from others how great they were.

Yesterday morning during our worship service, Jeff Duffield, Sue's husband, played the piano for us. I told him when I get to heaven I'll be able to play just like he does. Right now what I play could not be considered worship music. My chording can't be classified as "playing" a piano either. lol

My buddy, Shannon Knight, is the person who encouraged me to attend the retreat and be a vendor. I trust Shannon completely, so I took his suggestion and ran with it. Not only did I sell many books, but I donated a portion of my profits back to the retreat to help with next year's expenses which Ann had asked for.

The musical portion of our weekend was awesome. Sherri Thrower led us in worship each day which was sweet. We listened to Ann Downing, Shannon Knight who has made the first cut and moved on to the next level in the Singing News Magazine awards for Solo Artist of the Year, Daryl Williams, a most phenomenal songwriter that I got to meet for the first time, and Chris Golden, one of the sons of William Lee Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys. After talking with Chris for a little while, I felt like I had always known him. He drummed for 17 years with the ORB, then felt God calling him to a different path in the music world. Now he sings for Jesus full-time.

Shannon mostly did the sound for the weekend, but he did get to sing a couple of songs. I would have enjoyed hearing him more, but we were on a strict time schedule.

I met some absolutely AWESOME ladies that will be my friends forever. We had the best time together and agreed we wanted to keep in touch. There is one thing that totally overwhelmed me. MANY times during the weekend ladies, total strangers, would tell me that there is just something about you. I heard it over and over and over again from people I've never met before. I told my husband last night that I hope what they're seeing is the light of Jesus shining through my life.

I had a very unexpected pleasure meeting one of my FB friends for the first time. Her name is Pauline Patterson and she is a well-known Southern Gospel music promoter from Kentucky. Pauline asked if she could interview me for a magazine she writes for. With absolutely no hesitation at all, I told her YES. I will let you know when my article comes out and give you the link to it so you can read it yourself. 

We were so caught up at our banquet table Saturday at lunch that NONE of us noticed when a lady from another table slipped over and STOLE a dessert from one of our ladies. We were all amazed that out of eight grown women, none of us saw that happen. Eventually, a lady at our table thought she might know who the culprit was and the practical joke came to an end. The lady with the missing dessert ended up with two. That's a pretty good return for a stolen dessert. lol

At Saturday night's banquet, a lady named Norene Dysart and her daughter sat at our table. As we talked, I found out they are Southern Gospel Recording artists with a Country flavor that have been nominated for a Singing News Magazine award too. I just happened to tell her that I'm a Southern Gospel songwriter. They are looking for some original material as they head back into the studio for their next project. Norene said she would like for me to send them some music to consider. I will. Doesn't it just blow your mind how God works in every situation? And to think I thought I was going to the retreat mostly to sell books. What I got out of it was much more than I could have ever dreamed possible.

This was my first retreat to ever attend, but I would gladly return again. It would be hard to top this year, but I bet they can.

I hope you all have a great day.

Until next time,


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Poem In A Pocket

Dear Friends, 

Today is Poem In A Pocket day. While I'm not giving poems away to folks or sticking poems in pockets today, I wanted to share another one of my poems with you. I hope it will mean something special to you as you read it, maybe even take you down memory lane in your own life. 

                                                                       FILTHY TEMPLE

This bag of flesh and bones is God's creation;
One day He breathed the breath of life in me.
His purpose wasn't so a crowd would gather,
But so that I could serve Him honorably.

While taking inventory of this temple,
I find there needs to be some cleaning done.
My life-sustaining organ isn't spotless,
But stained with shameful sin I can't outrun.

Daily sin collects upon my heart's door,
Penetrating, focusing within.
This filthy temple that I call my body
Stands ready for a cleansing once again.

I will never overcome temptation
Or be the person God wants me to be
If I am never willing to relinquish
The evil and the ugly found in me.

My offerings are meager, yet He loves me;
He knows there's good that can replace the bad.
He's confident that I am not a "lost cause,"
And rescues me from rough times that I've had.

God sent the greatest janitor in Jesus
To scrub away the scum He daily sees.
His motive is to clean my filthy temple, 
Sanitizing and maintaining endlessly.

*This poem is one of 100 from my book: Walk Softly (You're Steppin' On My Heart!). Available on Amazon. 

I hope you are enjoying my blog posts. Please tell others about it.

Until next time,



Monday, April 21, 2014

A Serving Heart for Jesus

Dear Friends,

I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter. After church, my family had lunch together and got in some visiting time too. I miss the good ol' days when my house was full and our Arkansas family could come down for a few days. Daddy is in heaven now, so those days are gone. I still hope there will come a day when the ones that remain can be together again under the same roof for a little while. If that never happens, I'll cherish the memories we once had. 

Before I ever got out of bed this morning, this poem from my book Walk Softly (You're Steppin' On My Heart!) came to my mind. I feel that God laid this on my heart because someone needs to read it this morning. Here it is.

                                                                          USE ME

Lord, use me on this Monday anyway You choose to do, 
Whether taking meals to the elderly or buying a child new shoes,
Dusting pews or retrieving litter from Your sacred ground
Or let me pass a smile along when Life comes crashing down.

Lord, use me to scrub those pots and pans when other folks won't stay;
Let me use the talents You have given each and every day,
Give needed words when a phone call comes and death rears its ugly head,
When the cabinets wreak of emptiness, help me see that folks get fed.

Lord, use me to make a phone call, pay a visit, or send a card;
Keep me mindful I'm to serve You in both the easy times and hard.
Use me, Lord, not just on Mondays, but the other days as well;
Let me share the "Good News" of Your lasting love that saves from hell.

Lord, use me as a beacon when the path is dark and long;
Let me lead lost souls to You and watch You plant in them a song.
Although I'm only average, take the gifts You've given me;
Expand and multiply them for the cause of Calvary.

With no intention of letting up, there's so much yet to do;
The fields are white unto harvest and the laborers are few.
I want to serve You, Lord, and give the best I have to give;
The best in me is You, dear Lord, as long as Your servant lives. 

I hope you have a wonderful day and I hope that all of us will serve Jesus today and everyday to the best of our abilities.

Until next time,



Friday, April 11, 2014

People Throwing Packages at Me While I'm Singing

Dear Friends,

I come from several generations of singers, songwriters and musicians. I joined my daddy's band when I was only nine years old. I sang and played the acoustic guitar. That was the first band I joined. Two more bands would follow years later. I won a talent contest in the 4th grade and kept right on singing. I've always been surrounded by music from both sides of my family, but it was my daddy that has had the largest musical influence on me. 

In my early years I sang many solos in the one-room church I attended at Robertstown, AR. When we moved back into town, I delved right into church there and the music program was a top priority for me. I sang on a Saturday afternoon radio program on station KVOM in my hometown of Morrilton, AR with my daddy's band-Ben Baker and the Mountain Music Makers. And, my church, Morrilton Assembly of God, had a radio program every Sunday morning and I sang on it too as a soloist and as a member of the church choir. 

I was blessed to have sung many times on the Cal Dring Morning Show in Little Rock, AR years ago and I've appeared on the Tommy Trent Fun Barn in Little Rock. I sang on it the night Nat Stuckey was there. You might remember Nat's big hit-Has Anybody Here Seen Sweet Thang?

I was invited to be the headliner one time at the Del Mack Opry in Fayetteville, AR. I thought I had everything ready for my big entrance. The plan was for me to be introduced, then walk out on stage singing Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. Wouldn't you know it? The house band started the song in the wrong key. What should have been perfect had to be stopped and started over so I could sing the song in a lower key. Goodness. It was the first time my name had ever been on a theatre marquee and the band messed up right at the beginning. Oh well, I got over it and the show went on.

What a thrill it was to sing for those wonderful folks until they started walking up to the stage and throwing wrapped packages at me! Probably like most of you I was wondering if my singing was really that bad for folks to throw things at me. As it turned out, there was something the theatre manager had forgotten to tell me until the show was over. If folks like the singing, they bring you presents, or actually they throw presents at your feet. It was a little difficult to finish my show because I didn't know what was happening at the time and I didn't know what was in those wrapped packages. Anyway, eventually I got through the show.

Music has always been a very important part of my family. If I couldn't sing and write songs, I think I'd self-destruct. I love music that much. It's a great way to express yourself like no other. 

I also started writing songs at nine years old. I've been writing ever since. I'm hoping this is my breakout year and that several of my songs get recorded by names that you would automatically recognize. Like every songwriter I'm sure, I think I have some good songs. I'm just anxious to hear some of them on the radio. If I have a bucket list, that would be one of the things at the very top. 

Meeting Mark Wills and Joseph Baldwyn last night got me reflecting on my music days. You can see what a passion those men have for music. The same could have been said about me during my days on stage, radio and television. Actually, I still have a passion for music. I just don't normally perform on stage anymore. 

Well, dear friends, I've shared some of my past and my love for singing and songwriting. There is much more to know. Believe me when I say this. Maybe that will be a blog for another day. 

Have a great day and make this day your best one yet. 

Until next time,



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rodney Griffin-Songwriting Sensation

Dear Friends,

Good morning to all of you. I haven't blogged in a few days, but I have a great interview for you today. I have Rodney Griffin, a longtime Southern Gospel singer and songwriting sensation. I don't want to jump ahead and tell you too much about Rodney. I want you to hear it from him. So, here we go.

PB: Rodney, welcome to what I call "Jelly Bean Central." I am excited to have you as my guest today. As with any famous person, there are probably many of my readers who may not know who you are. Let's tell them.

PB. Rodney, I know you as a phenomenal singer and an amazing songwriter of Southern Gospel songs. At what age did you start singing?

RG: My Dad is a pastor.  He talked me and my younger sister into singing a song at church one Sunday when she was 5 and I was 7.  I hated it.

PB: Actually, I think your dad did all of us a big favor by doing that, even though you didn't know it at the time. 

PB: Do you play any instruments?

RG: I don’t play anything extremely well.  I know chords and can find them on a piano.  I can play the “uum chuck uum chuck” rhythm.   I also enjoy playing bass guitar.

PB: Well, that's a start in case you ever want to continue on. 

PB: When did you start writing songs?

RG: I was sitting at my desk at Newport News Shipbuilding when I wrote my first song.  I was 23, I believe.

PB: I can honestly say that I think you are one of the best songwriters in the Gospel industry. I've followed your career for many years, so I can say that without hesitating. 

PB: Have you won any awards for your songwriting?

RG: It’s kind of embarrassing with so much unknown songwriting talent in our industry, but I’ve been voted Singing News Favorite Songwriter for 15 years…crazy

PB: Oh, that's not crazy. That's beyond wonderful.  But, I do understand what you mean. There are many known and unknown songwriters out there who have written some good songs. The ones by the unknown writers just haven't gotten the right breaks they need yet.

PB: What are the titles of some of your songs?

RG: My Name Is Lazarus, Just One More Soul, Faces, God Wants To Hear You Sing, He’d Still Been God, He Locked The Gates, It Pays To Pray, Do You Want To Be Forgiven, God Saw A Cross, What You Took From Me, Take It From Me Meshach, Way Past Ready, I’m Looking For The Grace, Preacher Tell Me Like It Is

PB: What is the highest you have charted initially with a new song?

RG: I’m not sure.  I do think I’ve written or co-written around 15 number ones.

PB: That is amazing, but deservedly so.

PB: I know that you are a member of Greater Vision now. Have you been with other groups in the past? How long have you been with Greater Vision? What part do you sing?

RG: I’ve sung baritone for Greater Vision for 20 years now.  I was with Ed O’Neal and The Dixie Melody Boys for 2 years before coming here.

PB: Greater Vision has awesome harmony. It's worked for 20 years. I hope you guys plan to keep on keeping on. 

PB: To be successful in the music industry, one of the things you must do is go where the people are. How do you feel about life on the road?

RG: The way I describe my life is that I loooove to come home to my family….and I loooove to head toward the bus.  I love my life.

PB: How does that affect your home life?

RG: Regina, my wife of 19 years is incredibly supportive.  She knows that this is my calling, and wouldn’t have it any other way…otherwise, she’d have to cook more than 2 or 3 nights a week.

PB: You're very fortunate to have such a great support system in place. There are bound to be many aspiring/established artists that don't have that solid support system in their corner. I know you truly appreciate Regina supporting you in your calling. 

PB: Tell my readers and me about your personal life-wife, children and etc. This is where you get to brag on your family.

RG: In December, Regina and I will celebrate 20 great years.  We have 2 girls, Reagan (16) and Riley (13).  Both girls love to play in the homeschool volleyball league there in Somerset, Kentucky.  We’re active members of Bible Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky.  We moved there a little over a year ago to be closer to Regina’s Mom and my parents.  We’re enjoying our time with the grandparents.

PB: That's great. There's nothing like being near family that you love. 

PB: Who has been your largest musical influence?

RG: I had more cassettes of the Cathedrals than any other group growing up.  I never dreamed I’d someday get to sing on the same stage as them.

PB: Has there been one particular person that has encouraged you the most?

RG: I’d say Regina has been the most steady support for me through the years.  She’s great!

PB: I haven't met Regina, but I can already tell that she's a real jewel. 

PB: When you aren’t on the road singing or writing songs, what do you do for fun?

RG: I have a bass boat that I love to get on the lake.   I also have a motorcycle that is like a one man convertible on Kentucky country roads.

PB: I’m guessing you’ve traveled a large part of the world by now. What has been your favorite place to visit?

RG: I guess Israel is my favorite.  It’s not the prettiest…like Hawaii…but you can feel the presence of the Lord when you visit where He walked.

PB: I haven't been to Israel, so I can only imagine how wonderful it must be there. 

 PB: With such a busy life, is it hard for you to slow down?

RG: Not at all.  I enjoy sitting in my recliner and watching the NFL network when I have a chance to.  I’m an avid Dallas Cowboys fan.  I even re-watch games they’ve lost and try to figure out why.

PB. Rodney, share with us some of the greatest highlights that you have experienced while being in the music industry?

RG: Travelling with Gerald Wolfe for 20 years has been a blessing.  He’s had  many great ideas through the years.  One of my favorites was the Greater Vision Quartets CD.  We brought in several living bass singers, and captured a few who’d gone on to heaven (like George Younce and J.D. Sumner) throughthe latest recording technology.  They’re voices were lifted from original analog recordings.

PB: Modern technology has brought us so far. Not that many years ago you wouldn't have been able to do things like this. 

PB: Do you have a musical hero?

RG: People sometimes say that I remind them of Glen Payne when he sang…not vocally, but by my actions.  That’s an honor, because he is a hero.  Another vocal hero has always been Mark Trammell.  I enjoyed trying to pick his voice out of old Cathedrals recordings.  I had a similar range, and wanted to learn to put that same part in the harmony.  Now I get to do it every night.

PB: Is there anyone you would like to record one of your songs that hasn’t yet?

RG: Yes, Elvis.  I’m thinking that won’t happen.

PB: LOL! Yes, I'm thinking you're right unless you know something the rest of us don't. One thing is for sure. If Elvis had recorded any of your songs, you could retire from everything if you wanted to. You'd be financially set for life.

PB: Until you become well-known in the music world and get that first big hit, it can take quite a while to get a large royalty check in the mail? Do you remember how much your first check was for?

RG: I don’t remember the amount, but I do remember the first group that I was not singing in that sent a royalty check was the Truthseekers out of Marion Illinois.  They are still dear friends to this day.

PB: Many years ago I went by myself to hear Greater Vision at First Baptist Church in Fulton, MS, about 30 minutes from where I live. GV was wonderful. When I left there, I felt like I had been to an old-fashioned revival. It was just AWESOME! All of you seemed so down to earth. I think everybody there could say the same thing. I was fortunate enough to get to talk to you at the merchandise table after the concert. You were extremely gracious and friendly to me. I won’t ever forget it.

PB: As we close out this interview, what words of wisdom would you like to share with my readers and me?

RG: I’m certainly not wise, but I would say for young songwriters to not be discouraged when you don’t have success in getting songs recorded quickly.  In God’s time, He will give you the interesting and unique song ideas that groups are looking for.  It takes time…no need to rush.  A great song will ALWAYS be a great song…even if it’s passed on by many groups.  This is God’s music.  He will get His music to where it needs to be.

PB: Rodney, it's been a true joy to spend some time with you and get to know you a little better. Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to make time for me. For any of my readers that have never heard of you and Greater Vision or seen you in concert, I highly suggest they do so when you travel to their area. They will be blessed more than they could ever imagine. 

Well, folks you and I have just spent a few minutes with one of the most talented men in Southern Gospel music, Rodney Griffin. Look for his songs. Request them on the radio and purchase his CDs. You won't be sorry.

Click on this link to go to Greater Vision's website. I hope you'll check them out.

I hope you have a great day today with SONshine in your heart.

Until next time,


Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's a BIG deal-BOOK of the WEEK!

Dear Friends,

Good morning to all of you that have stopped by JELLY BEAN CENTRAL. The skies contain dark clouds where I live and I hear the wind whistling outside. But, it's still a beautiful day to me.

I have some big news that I want to share with all of you faithful readers today. Most of you have probably heard of a BOOK of the MONTH CLUB at some point in your life. Well, I'm taking that basic idea and going a different direction with it. I've decided to start a BOOK of the WEEK for you. What that means is you will be able to order a specific book at a reduced price. Actually, you will be able to save several dollars on each purchase. The ONLY way to get the reduced price is to order directly from me.

This week's special is HAS a DONKEY EVER BROUGHT YOU BREAKFAST IN BED?. It regularly retails for $12.00 plus tax. This week ONLY you can get it for a total of $8.00. That is nearly a $5.00 savings. If you want to purchase a copy of this book, please send me a PM on Facebook and your mailing address. Not only do you get a lower price, but you also get a signed copy of the book and a FREE bookmark. 

Every Monday I will list the BOOK of the WEEK and every week you will get it at a reduced price. 

Soon my two new books should be out. I'm hoping no later than the end of the month, but we'll see. 

Thank you for being a faithful follower of me on Facebook, Twitter and now my blog. Please share the news with others. 

Have a great day! 

Until next time,


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Nashville Songwriter Marty Funderburk

 Dear Friends,

I have a very special guest today that many of you will already know. However, there may be things he shares that you aren't aware of. I'm talking about Nashville songwriter Marty Funderburk. 

PB:  Marty, welcome to my new blog. I’m happy to spend some time with you and feature you as my guest today. I’m sure I have many readers that may not know who you are, so let’s tell them.

PB: Where were you born?

MF: I am the only member of my family who was not born in Mississippi…I was born in
Waukegan, Illinois. But we moved back to Mississippi when I was still a baby, so I’m a Southerner by breeding and raising if not by birth certificate!

PB: Who are your parents?

MF: My father is the late Jack Funderburk (a Smithville boy) and my mother is Carole
Stevens McKissick (an Okolona girl). I grew up in Wren.

PB: Marty, I know your mom, Carole, and your step-dad Marvin, well since I attended church with them for many years. Actually, I knew them before I got to know you. Sweet, sweet people. 

PB: I know you as a friend that is loaded with musical talent. Will you tell my readers
about your musical ability, any instruments you play and etc.?

MF: As a child I always loved the piano…so much so that my parents eventually moved
our old upright piano into my bedroom so they could close the door and have peace
and quiet! I would sit for hours and figure out chords to my favorite songs. While
other kids were out playing ball I was at home pecking out melodies and making up
songs on that old piano. Then, in high school, I became a trombone player and
Drum Major in the Amory Panther Band. I later attended Mississippi State
University as a trombone major with the intention of becoming a band director like
my mentors Ernest Cadden and Bob Taylor. But God had another plan and I
switched schools and majors during my Sophomore year. I graduated from Welch
College in Nashville with degrees in Bible and Church Music (Vocal Performance) in
1981. After college I toured with The Life Action Singers (a national revival
ministry from Buchanan, Michigan) for 6 years before returning to Nashville to
pursue a career in Christian music. I took on various part-time jobs that enabled
me to work in recording studios as much as possible. During that time I was a
backup singer on many projects including Homeland EZ-Key Soundtracks
(produced by Ben Speer) and albums by Dallas Holm, Steve Green, Lulu Roman as
well as a vocal collaboration with Cynthia Clawson. A highlight of those days was a
performance at The White House for President Clinton. I performed there as a part
of The Young Messiah Tour for The Clinton’s first Christmas in Washington. In the
mid 1990’s I formed a Contemporary Christian trio called Beyond the Blue and we
were soon signed to a major recording contract with Word Records. We toured the
country as the opening act for singer and comedian Mark Lowry.

PB: I know that you are one of the world’s greatest Gospel songwriters. Tell me how
you got into songwriting.

MF: When I left Life Action and moved back to Nashville in the late 80’s I met Gary
McSpadden (of The Bill Gaither Trio) at a dinner party. He learned that I was an
aspiring songwriter and asked me to come to his house and play him some of my
songs. He was just starting McSpadden Music Group and was looking for young
writers to sign to his company. After hearing my songs he offered me an exclusive
contract on the spot. He saw the potential but, in my heart, I knew I was not of the
caliber that I would need to be for success in the big city! Consequently, very little
became of my time with his company. In the late 90’s my group, Beyond the Blue,
came off the road and I accepted a job as Director of Publishing for Daywind. It
was there that I actually learned the craft of songwriting. I eventually resigned
from that position to became a full-time songwriter and producer.

PB: I might add that your songwriting is blessings hearts everywhere. 

PB: At what age did you start writing songs?

MF: I had a rock band in high school called SyZyGy (pronounced C-Z-G) and I think the
first song I ever wrote was for them…I was probably 14 or 15. The song was an
uplifting number called “Grave of Love.” Teen angst run amuck!

PB: What are some of the names of the songs you’ve written?

MF: Wow…I’ve written close to 700 songs. But here are a few of the more popular ones:

Three Rugged Crosses (written with my brother Ricky for The Freemans)
I Believe God (Brian Free & Assurance)
I Still Glory in the Cross (The Bowling Family)
I Have Never Walked Alone (Jake Hess)
All That Matters to the Lord (The Imperials)
The Journey’s End (The Blackwood Brothers)
I Still Have it All (HisSong)
Die Another Day (Brian Free & Assurance)
Wandering Heart (LordSong)
The Cross Said it All (Kim Hopper)
Hope is Alive (The Ruppes)
Right in the Middle (The Booth Brothers)
I’ve Got Family There (The Dixie Melody Boys)
But for a Cross (The LeFevre Quartet)
Whenever I Hear His Name (The Hoskins Family)
I Want to Know That You Know (Greater Vision)
It’s All About the Blood (Brian Free & Assurance)
More (Lauren Talley)
I Love Lovin’ Jesus (The Crist Family)
There’s Only One Well (Legacy V)
Good Morning Lord (Young Harmony)
When They Found Nothing (Legacy V)
A Quartet Christmas (Ernie Haas & Signature Sound)

PB: Marty, there's no doubt about it. You're a super talented man that God has given much talent to. 

PB: Do you write solo or do you co-write with anyone?

MF: I’m comfortable writing by myself but I prefer collaboration. Two heads are better
than one! There’s a tight-knit community of Christian songwriters in Nashville and
I am privileged to work with such talented and dedicated individuals. And,
pragmatically speaking…there’s nothing like having a songwriting appointment on
your calendar to make you get up and write a song!

PB: Are you on staff at a particular company?

MF: I have been a staff writer for Daywind Publishing for almost 15 years.

PB: How do you get your songs recorded? Do you write a song, then “pitch” it to an
individual artist or group or how does that work?

MF: I write the song and record a “work tape” (a simple piano/vocal rough demo) that I
send to my publisher. They then hire professional musicians to create a real demo of
the song. Once it’s recorded my publisher pitches the song to various artists who
are looking for new material along the lines of what I’ve written. Sometimes it take
years to get a song placed with an artist. For whatever reason some songs just don’t
find a home for a long time while others get picked up right away. I’m convinced
that God knows who needs each song and, in His time, He makes it happen if it’s
meant to be. Though I have people pitching my songs for me, I still send songs to
those who request them from me personally. But most of my time is spent creating

PB: Do you find it’s easier to get your songs recorded since you work in the music
industry as opposed to being an unknown writer, an outsider?

MF: Most definitely! A reputation is a powerful tool (for good and bad). Success begets
further success. I made a conscious choice to position myself (physically) where the
action was taking place. I sacrificed a great deal of financial and personal stability
in hopes of one day fulfilling my dreams. Because of that concerted effort I was
eventually able to place myself before the “gatekeepers” and when opportunity
presented itself I was there to present what I had prepared for all those years in the
trenches. Had I not showed up with “the goods” I would not have succeeded. So it’s
not enough to be in the right place at the right time…as my first boss, record
producer Bob MacKenzie, said to me, “The longer the line of preparation, the more
likely it will intersect the line of opportunity.”

PB: Do you have a favorite song that you’ve written?

MF: There are two that come to mind…”Once Upon a Cross” (recorded by The Mark
Trammel Trio) is epic in scope and lays out such a clear gospel message. And “Love
Came Gently” is just the opposite….very sweet and simple and yet profound. It’s a
Christmas song that has been recorded by Ricky Skaggs & The Whites and
performed on CMT many times, and it’s also on a project by The Hoppers. I also
love that both of these songs are now living in the church as choir anthems.

PB: What has been your best-selling song so far from a monetary standpoint?

MF: That’s easy…”For the Love of God” recorded by Kenny Rogers. The project was
Kenny’s first Gospel album and my song was the title cut. It was initially
distributed exclusively through Cracker Barrel Country Stores, but was just
recently re-released through The Gaither Gospel Series into all other markets.

PB: Which of your songs has charted the highest right “out of the gate?”

MF: I really don’t know…but “Forever Changed” (The Kingdom Heirs) and “Life Goes
On” (The Talleys) both went to #1 pretty quickly!

PB:  I know my church choir has sung some of your anthems before and I know that
you write songs for specific individuals sometimes. I was at a concert one night in Aberdeen, MS and you mentioned that there was an open call for a song for Brad Paisley. Do you have a preference over the two ways to get a song recorded, considering they are in different genres-solid Gospel and Country?

MF: I just want to reach the largest audience with my music…I don’t really care about
genres or labels. I’m going to write the truth as I know it and hopefully in a way
that makes a difference in people’s lives. There are many Country songs that have
deeply moved me in recent years. I love that many Country artists are not afraid to
voice their love for God and Country.

PB: In your line of work I’m sure you’ve met some amazing individuals. Can you
share some names with us of folks that have awed you, maybe musical heroes of

MF: I’ve been fortunate to have spent time and labored alongside some monumental
figures in music and in my faith. I truly hesitate to begin calling names, but I would
have to say that Del Fehsenfeld, Jr. (the founder and director of Life Action
Ministries) probably had the greatest impact on my spiritual life. He was a man of
intense focus and unquestionable integrity who walked humbly before God and
man. He was taken from us far too soon.

PB: Is there any one person that you’d like to record one of your songs that hasn’t
done so yet?

MF: Sandi Patty…that would be a sentimental milestone.

PB: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now where music is concerned?

MF: While I’ve primarily written for the Southern Gospel and church choral markets
I’m somewhat restless and finding I need to be challenged in order to keep building
momentum. I’ve written more and more Worship music in the past few years but,
without a vehicle to deliver those songs to churches, I’m not satisfied that I’m
making the best use of my time and talents in that genre. Most modern worship
material comes from a handful of Worship artists who write their own stuff. So I’ve
begun to work with some new Pop and Country artists who are wanting to present
positive messages. Most recently I’ve been writing with American Idol finalist
Naima Adedapo, who many will remember from Season 10 of the show. I find that
collaborating with young talent helps keep my music fresh and hopefully relevant.

PB: Besides Facebook, are you on any other social media sites? How can your fans
interact with you?

MF: I have a MySpace page that features some of my songs:

PB: What is the best way for folks to become familiar with your music?


PB: Do you have a website?

MF: No. But it’s on my list of things to do.

PB: Marty, thank you for allowing us to get to know you a little bit better and for
opening up your life to my readers and me. Do you have any parting advice for
aspiring songwriters?

MF: Writers write. If you want to become a great songwriter you have to write a lot of
bad songs first. Seriously. There are no shortcuts. It takes years of honing your
craft, so be patient and diligent. And please, resist the urge to cling too tightly to
your ideas. Remain teachable and flexible. Nothing will close doors quicker than a
closed mind. Remember, great songs are not written…they are RE-written! Oh, and
never say, “God gave me this song.” To make that claim is to place your song on the
same level as The Holy Bible…and we all know that God’s not adding material to
Scripture! That statement implies that no one should question the song in any way
because doing so would be to question God Himself. We are all inspired by a
lifetime of experiences and materials we’ve read or sermons we’ve heard or movies
we’ve seen or songs we’ve enjoyed. It’s a big stewpot of stimuli that we draw from
and it results in something of unique beauty that could only come from each very
special life. When I traveled with Mark Lowry I recall people approaching him
with songs that “God gave them” and he would listen to them and say…”I know
God, and He can do better!” So when, and if, you have the opportunity to share
your song with a “gatekeeper” present it humbly and accept critiques graciously
and realize that not every song has to be commercially viable to be used of God.
Some songs are meant just for you, some just for your family or your church family,
some just for your community or region…and some, if you really get it right, might
just reach the world. Finally…I just want to say how grateful I am to do what I love for a living. I know that many people invested in my life along the way and I owe them all a debt of
gratitude. I thank God for allowing me to be raised in an unusually special
community. Amory, Mississippi is not just another town. It was, and is, an
exceptionally good town with good people who inspire the best in all of us. It will
always be my home.

PB: Marty, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule for this interview. I know my readers have learned much about you that possibly they didn't know before. I certainly have learned some things about you that I didn't know too. You are a super talented person. May the Lord continue to bless you with good health so you can keep blessing others.

Well, folks. What a thrill it was to interview Marty Funderburk, a great presence in the Southern Gospel music industry. I hope you will tell others about my new website and blog and encourage them to read Marty's interview and to make my blog a daily part of your life.

Until next time,


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Novelist Emerald Barnes-A Very Talented Lady

Dear Friends,

Today I have the privilege of interviewing my friend novelist Emerald Barnes. Emerald loves books about as much as I do. She even works in the book industry. I want you to get to know Emerald today and learn a little about her. Here we go.

PB: Emerald, welcome to "JELLY BEAN CENTRAL." I'm thrilled to have you as my guest today. Let's get right to the heart of the matter and let everyone know about you.

PB:  What first triggered your interest in writing?

EB: If I’m honest, I don’t remember exactly what the trigger was.  I firmly believe that it was the fact that my mind was always geared towards daydreaming.  I’ve always been a daydreamer, and I’ve always loved reading.  I wanted to create worlds for other people to enjoy, and with my overactive imagination, writing seemed like the logical step to take.

PB:  How old were you at the time?

EB: I was young.  I wrote my first story in fourth grade, so I was around nine or ten.

PB: In what genre do you write?

EB: I mostly write in the young adult genre. Some of it is Christian; some is more secular.

PB:  What is the first thing that you wrote?

EB:  Well, I wrote a story about a young girl trapped in a school Halloween night with ghosts and goblins walking around the school, but that was in fourth grade.  My first official novel I wrote in high school though, but nothing ever came of it.  It’s still sitting in a drawer collecting dust.  I would love to rewrite it though.  It was such a fun story, and now that I’m more experienced with writing novels, I believe that I could fix it up really nice.

 PB: How many hours per week do you devote to your craft?

EB:  There is no official amount, but I treat it as a job, writing as much and often as I can.

PB:  What are your greatest aspirations as a writer?

EB: To touch the lives of young adults and make them realize that they aren’t alone in what they’re going through.  My upcoming novel, Entertaining Angels, is really what will speak to the teenagers.  It’s about learning to accept yourself and finding help when you need it the most?

PB: I know I want to read that book. There's just something about your title that draws me in to want to buy it.

PB:  What person has influenced you the most with your writing?

EB: I have so many, but Melissa Foster and Natasha Brown are the ones who come to mind. They’re both self-published authors who have helped me grow with my writing.  Their own stories are beautifully written. They taught me how to edit properly, and they’ve shown me the ropes.  So anything and everything that I write is somehow inspired by them.  Dean Koontz was the original influence though.  I wanted to write like him.  He’s truly a talented author.

PB: My son, author Jason Brannon, that you know well, has always been a big Dean Koontz fan. At one time I think Jason read every book Dean had out. At least he did in his younger years.

PB:  What one person has been your biggest encouragement as you pursue your goals?

EB: My mom and dad.  I know you asked for one, but they’re a unit, so I hope that counts.  They encourage me, pray for me, and help me when I need it the most.  My dad is usually the first person to read my novels, and I don’t know if I could have gotten as far as I have without them.

PB: There's just nothing like that family support. It means so much when we're stepping out into areas of our life that are uncertain. 

PB: What motivates you to keep writing?

EB: Helping teenagers with their problems.  I know that I needed the outlet of reading as a teen, but I didn’t have the books we do now.  The Young Adult genre is probably more popular than ever right now, and if I can touch one young person’s life by my writing, it’s totally worth the heartache and pain that can be associated with writing.  That is my motivation.

PB: Emerald, even though I don't specifically write for teens and young adults, that is one of the main reasons I write too.  

PB: When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?

EB:  I love to read, spend time with my nieces and nephews, watch TV, and movies.  During the spring, summer, and fall, I love to watch my nieces and nephews play as well as go swimming and fishing with them. During fall, I’m all about college football on the weekends.

PB:  Do you do public appearances?

EB:  I love to do public appearances; however, those aren’t very frequent for me.  I have visited a high school and talked to teens about my writing, but I haven’t had a chance to go anywhere else yet.

PB: If so, are you available to travel for events/engagements?

EB: I am.  All my details are on my website.

PB: Do you have a website for my readers to check out?

EB: I do. You can visit me here:

PB: What is one thing that makes you totally unique?

EB:  Gosh, I don’t know.  Some people have told me that it’s my sweet personality, but I have no idea.  I’m not really all that unique, I don’t believe, but we are all unique in some way. 

PB:  What can you share about yourself that might surprise my readers?

EB: I sing.  I haven’t sung in churches in a long time, but I do sing.  I’m supposed to keep singing, but now that I’ve joined a big church, it’s hard for me to get over my shyness and just do it.

PB: It's been a real joy having you as my guest today. I find that I always learn something, sometimes several things, about my guest that I didn't know before. Best wishes with your writing as you forge ahead to the next novel.

Friends, below you will find Emerald's bio, links to purchase her books and various social media sites where you can keep up with Emerald and her writing.

                                                     About Emerald Barnes

Emerald Barnes lives in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it.  She tries her hardest to write novels that appeal not only to young adults but to those who are young at heart as well.  When she isn't writing, she's spending all of her time with her nieces and nephews or has her nose in a book or Kindle.  She has the great pleasure of being an Indie author with her first two books and doesn't know what her future holds except that there will be more writing of books along the way.

Piercing Through the Darkness

Read Me Dead


Emerald Barnes
WLC Volunteer and Author
Amazon Author Page

Until next time,