This letter is for Kevin Nichols—singer, songwriter, illustrator, and friend.


There’s a pretty substantial difference between playing guitar by the campfire and playing on stage in front of a crowd. The difference isn’t just in song selection or talent, synergy or composition, but in a combination of factors that begin, truthfully, with some fairly innocuous technical requirements.

For example, if you have a singer and an acoustic guitar performing together, they can adjust to one another easily. But if you add a grand piano, it will now require a much higher degree of control to get the balance correct between the three instruments. Just hearing the vocals overtop the piano will be a challenge, and once you throw in a drum set, the game changes exponentially.

Whenever we come together there is a natural swell in volume and intensity. At some point, that swell will outpace our individual ability to compensate and we will need amplification. Amplification is any kind of artificial boost to ensure the instruments can be heard. Guitars have amps, but nowadays most bands will even have dedicated amplifiers to mix their drum and percussion section.

The work you do is like an amplifier. You bring people together with your talent, your charisma, and your charm. You draw them in and make them feel like they’re being heard, like they have a voice. Your voice says what they wish they knew how to articulate. You’re a cultural creator, not only because you create original composition, but because you curate events where others get to hear what you’ve made.

Every good amplifier has magnets, and you’re no exception. God is at work in you, producing a field that draws people through you to him. You’re an accidental evangelist, a billboard advertising God’s goodness through your acts of creative expression.

I don’t ever want you to doubt what you do or the difference it makes. You’re shadowing God in the best, oldest way: you’re a creator perpetuating Creation.

Now go turn your amp to 11.