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  • Joel Henry

Entertaining with heart...

I recently had a few special moments after a show with a good friend and colleague talking about the evening, our journey in the entertainment industry, and with a few smiles both agreed that we wholeheartedly love what we do so much that we would still do, what we do, even if we didn't get paid for it. Crazy, right?! Giving it all away for free just for...for what? Well, since you're here, I'd love to share my time and thoughts with you about entertaining (or performing) with heart.


It was about a year ago in a small town south of Austin. I once again had the wonderful opportunity to perform for an amazing audience (someday I will no longer have the opportunity to write sentences like that, so I cherish each and every time I get to). People were singing along to all the standards - Sweet Caroline, Don't Stop Believin', Piano Man (the list goes on), and dancing around the piano...everyone (including myself) was having a great time. At the end of the night, I received many compliments and was greeted with smiles and handshakes. All of it warmed my heart, but none of it quite like the personal story one special woman shared with me. It had been months since she had been out of the house. She had been crippled by a debilitating disease, and after many, many months of rehabilitation and healing, she had decided to celebrate her recovery by going out. She went on to tell me that with the pain and sickness she endured, she lost her smile and her joy. She then gave me a warm hug, smiled and thanked me, and I'll never forget the gratitude in her eyes as she, and her family and friends, laughed and enthusiastically recalled special moments from the evening. THAT is a cool memory...


Fast forward a year, and once again, enjoying the wonderful opportunity to do what I love to do...sing with, play for and entertain an amazing group of people. It was another great night. At the end of the performance, when my partner and I were visiting, a woman stopped and thanked us for the show. We humbly reciprocated and thanked her for her kind words, then she went on to tell us about her son in the audience. There was a young man to our right about 4 rows back in a wheelchair. We, of course, were aware of this young man because we take mental notes and snapshots of the audience throughout the entire night. She said that communication with him was often difficult, but tonight he had a smile on his face the entire performance and sang along to every song. Her smile was accompanied by a warm hug and I again saw that indistinguishable look of gratitude in her eyes...(I hope you're starting to see my point...)


As with anything, you need to make money. It sucks, but it's true. I'm not here to pontificate on the love - hate relationship we all share with the almighty dollar. What I am introducing is an interesting question, would you still do what you do without getting even one red cent to do it? Would you do IT for free? Freely give your incredibly important time (which none of us ever have enough of), selflessly share your passionate pursuit of excellence, generously devote your unique talents to create an exceptional experience for your clients?


Those who answer YES understand that the ultimate payment you receive by selflessly sharing your heart in your professional endeavors far exceeds the value of any man-made paper and plastic. We may not be able to pay our mortgages with warm hugs and sincere gratitude, but as our hearts and souls grow fuller, it makes each moment we breathe richer and the special memories we make a boundless treasure.

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