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After I was encouraged by the Lord to take a break from playing music in the places I had been playing, I finally had released myself from the name Gail DonAvan. Well actually, I wasn't as cooperative as all that, and it was more like a two by four between the eyes before I got the message that I needed to back away from the venues I was playing in. So I did. My hubby didn’t understand it… he wasn’t pleased at all, but I had to do what I had to do.
As Gail DonAvan slowly faded into the past, Gail Engling reluctantly took hold and transformed back into her mild mannered,true self ~ I mean MY true self. Let’s face it, I had been performing for audiences as my alter ego in a professional capacity since I was 18 years old. Now what? As it turns out God had already put a plan into action before I had any clue what was in store for me. Go figure.
Let’s backtrack a bit first…I started singing in the worship group at church at the tender age of 13 and was leading the 8:30am folk group summer services there by the time I was 16. The Lord was faithful training me up to do what I was created to do…Sing! From there I was singing at wedding ceremonies, and eventually my first wedding band “Midnight Magic” complete with accordion (or rather a Cordavox which is a REALLY BIG accordion.) trumpet and drums. I was on my way, we worked every weekend. Several years and several bands later I was doing the same thing. Not really going anywhere with my music but I was in fact~singing…. Not thinking too much about God anymore, but He wasn’t gone, just not in my music, not on Sunday either for that matter. I was too busy, He was patient. VERY patient, 22 years patient.
Towards the end of my reign as Gail DonAvan, I started attending a church again, it was nearby where I lived, and very convenient if I had to work late the night before. The special sauce (as they call it) for this church is the worship. I cried a lot in my first few months there every time we worshiped, like God was calling me back to church in a language I could totally understand. So I joined the church and hopped right into choir…where I was again at home; shortly thereafter I had resigned from playing music in a paid capacity, completely. My attention was focused on God with my heart and my music. A short time passed and I was awarded a solo here and there in the choir and eventually became part of the front line worship team; in addition became worship leader in the band for our 5th and 6th grade Wednesday night services; (I still am today). I was back in my element…well sort of. I had a love for music in a much different and deeper way than I ever had experience before. Yet while I was living out the dream in church, something was still tugging at me to sing out there in the world, but with a different point of view, with a different mindset. I think God had to work some other things out in me before sending me out in to the world again…So I hung tough waiting. The waiting is the hardest part. (I think that’s a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song). So I had been waiting for God to open up that door again for me. I had been gearing up for it for the past 8 years. I had false starts…singing jobs when I thought “this must be it” “this must be what I have been waiting for”… these singing gigs that either went terribly wrong or just completely fell through. Was I totally deaf or was God just not speaking? He wasn’t speaking…Cuz it just wasn’t the right time and after the fact it became very obvious. So I resumed waiting…8 years.
Then last year a door opened and I didn't even have to knock. I was hesitant to even venture in, but I had to try. It was a small beginning, which is something I have learned not to take lightly.
Since I had lost the fan base that I had as Gail DonAvan, I had to start from scratch… but that didn't matter anymore. I was invited to play music again and it was okay to do so now; at a small coffee house down the road, Kahuna Coffee. Not for money, not for fame, not even for a grand following, but just to play my music because that is what God created me to do, He would direct my steps.
The big question now…Who was I? Did I dig up the ghost of Gail DonAvan…or did I dare to venture out as Gail Engling. I was confused and a bit apprehensive to go out there as ME. After rolling it around in my head for what seemed way too long…I decided to play it safe… Gail DonAvan Engling. It had a nice ring to it… I wanted to sing for God as well so I created Singing Under Grace as a company name. Well after a short while, Keith (my hubby) announced his opinion starting with the whole DonAvan Engling thing as I was getting ready to release my second CD Heart to Heart…I had to put my name on it, but what name? Why was that so difficult for me? ...More next time in~ A Rose By Any Other Name: Part 3 the final chapter.