By Whitney Nichole
Standing earnestly at the microphone, Allen Shamblin was very easily one of the kindest, warmest speakers at this year's EXPO. Right away he told us that he could feel the incredible energy buzzing around the conference - and at the same time, he knows that we may be sitting in front of a blank piece of paper next week, searching for that song. This talk, he told us, was to ward against that writing block - to prepare us so we don't hit that wall next week. His flu shot against despair.
Allen's journey to where he is today is a lesson in perseverance, love and faith. Working as a real estate appraiser in Texas back in his twenties, he realized that he was miserable. One day sitting in traffic, it occurred to him that he absolutely had to do something he was passionate about. This could not be his life. Music was the one thing that coming up for him - but he had very little musical background. Shamblin did not let that stop him. He started praying and working every day to become a songwriter. It didn't come easy or quickly. In fact he worked at it daily for six months and still could not put a song together. A week later however, six songs were written. That same day he was talking to a friend at a cafeteria about his songs, and a woman overheard him, offered her help, and ultimately connected Allen with the president of Warner Bros. Records in Nashville. It happens that quick sometimes.
Allen passed along to the audience three sage pieces of advice which he received years ago from a mentor, that still stick with him to this day:
1) Show up every day.
2) Be nice to everybody.
3) Don't quit.
If you do those three things, you will be in the top 2% and there is plenty of room for all of us. "Breaking in" is not as complicated as we make it. A few more gems from Shamblin:
"Music comes from life - don't miss your life. Embrace that moment - that distraction. That is where the songs are."
"There are no small opportunities."
"Banging your head against the wall never works. Great songs are not written by willpower, they are written by yielding and serving the idea."
Allen closed with a resume of sorts, listing all the jobs he has had along the way. At the end of the day he can heartfully say, "I finally found a job for which they cannot pay me enough to quit."