“My songs come from real life, and reflect our shared journey. I help people find the presence they knew, the balance they seek, and the joy they long for through concerts, workshops and with the Companion on the Journey Community.”
David Kauffman is a songwriter, recording artist, and filmmaker. He performs concerts and facilitates workshops with a crystal clear mission: Song and Story for Healing and Hope.
David was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife Missy and two daughters, Cameron and Mia.
What is a Companion on the Journey?
Everyone needs a companion on the journey. A friend, a confidante. But we’re not taught to value relationships nearly as much as we value achievement and excellence. There’s nothing wrong with achievement and excellence. But if there’s no one to share them with, it leaves you empty.
I Only Knew Three Chords
When I was 14, I was asked to sing and play guitar for Mass. I knew three chords. The sanctuary, filled with classmates at my all-boys Catholic High School, was pretty distracted. Only a couple of guys were singing along. Then I sang a simple acclamation and something happened – something came through me. When I finished, there was a new silence, a stillness. Like the words snuck into their hearts. It was an awesome feeling. I sang at liturgies for the next four years. I wasn’t very good at first, but I loved playing those songs.
Like a lot of my prep school classmates, I was headed for a degree in business. I set the music aside for the most part. After college I went into banking and real estate development. For 5 years I climbed the ladder, became a partner in a real estate firm. I had a path for my life.
The Sleeping Giant Awoke
Two weeks after my wife, Missy, and I got married, we were invited to be part of a Youth Group team at a local parish. I showed up on night one with my guitar strapped to my back. The youth director asked if I would write a simple chorus for the prayer service that night. I did it. And here came that stillness. I was scared to death! The same deep satisfaction I felt at age 14 was back. Like a sleeping giant awoke.
I kept it to myself for about a month. When I couldn’t hold it in anymore, I approached Missy, and asked her what she thought of me pursuing a career in music. She had concerns and I couldn’t blame her. This was not the life we’d talked about before we got married. And so began a two year conversation where we studied all of the pitfalls of leaving the real estate firm and embarking on this journey.
There’s only so many factors you can cram onto a spreadsheet. Then you just have to go with your gut and make a decision. Which is exactly what we did…together. With Missy’s support, I dove in.
In Pursuit of a Dream
I wrote a song that was chosen as theme for a big national conference. That led to invitations to sing and speak at some 600 youth rallies where I honed my skills, wrote new songs, developed keynotes, led workshops. It was great. But financially, it was painful. When the phone was cut off periodically, I’d use the payphone at the grocery store to make calls to concert sponsors.
I began to pursue a recording contract. It started with a song consultant who had me write a song a day for two years. We focused on songs that fit the current trends in the industry. They were good songs, very clean and polished. And…they got me signed to a multi-record deal.
I released a 12 song CD and we were all sure it would be a hit. But the week my first single went to radio, my record label fell apart. Internal power struggles caused the management to go their separate ways, leaving my record deal in its wake.
10 years of very hard work, toil and sweat were slipping through my fingers. I was spent. I was confused. I was broken. I couldn’t shake the thought that when we got married Missy signed up for the successful real estate guy; a comfortable life with no major surprises. And here I was 10 years later still trying to find a solid foothold.
In the midst of the turmoil, I went on an ACTS Retreat, a life-changing experience of silence, prayer, talks, conversation. I came face to face with the reality that I was way out of balance. I wasn’t focused on family very much. And I realized the way I approached music was the same way I approached banking and real estate; success, career building, pursuit of achievement and excellence.
I came home from the retreat broken, and broken open. I sat down one morning and wrote a song called Come To Me. All those polished songs the song consultant had me write came from me, but this one was different. It came from something greater than me. This song was about surrender. It was vulnerable and revealing and connected to my life story.
All of a Sudden, Ten Years Later
I thought my music career was over but at that moment I didn’t care. I couldn’t stop playing this song. It spoke to me like no other song I’d ever written and it was speaking to others too. A few friends heard it and asked for copies of the lead sheet. They started using the song in church, on ACTS Retreats. People wanted the recording.
I suddenly realized that years of killing myself trying to carry my songs hadn’t worked but now that I was writing songs straight from the heart … the songs carried me. And it hit me… my best songs came from sharing my truest self.
I realized this is what I needed to do all along – in my life as well as my music – I needed to be myself. I needed to find a way to connect to the deepest part of myself.
I believe songs are a true companion on the journey. I believe they take us to a place of healing and hope, a place of wellness and wholeness. I believe they connect us to our own spirit and to the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Love. I needed that. I think we all need that.
What I want is What I Have
There was a time when I thought I wanted to play arenas full of fans. Own lots of guitars. Tour a hundred nights a year… But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I remember one Thursday morning a couple of years ago…I was working on a new song. Later that afternoon I went to the ball fields to watch my younger daughter play catcher in a softball game that my wife Missy was coaching. That evening I headed up to the high school to watch my older daughter perform in the Spring musical. And it struck me just how lucky I am to have a truly rich life.
When I left my real estate career all those years ago I thought what I wanted was a career in music, but what I really wanted was to be connected to my own true spirit, and to the Spirit of Love. I’m grateful to finally be home and present to my family…not just physically, but spiritually, emotionally.
As you journey through life; as you engage in relationships, raise your family, work your career…it’s important to find your own presence, to take time for yourself, to make space for a companion on the journey.
I’m inviting you to join me in discovering the power of song to renew your heart and call you back to a presence you once knew, a presence that will help you live a balanced, centered life…a joyful, spirit-filled day each day.
Leave your email address on this page and I’ll send you a series of 3 Song and Story exercises to help you find your center. I call them COJO’s, That’s our acronym for the Companion on the Journey Series.
In each COJO I share a song and a story, and lead you into a time of reflection, journaling, and contemplation. Each COJO can vary in length depending on how much time you want to give it. You can do it on your own, with a friend or a small group.
Cojos help us find our center, our balance, our presence. I made them just for you and this community.
I’m offering to be your companion on the journey. I hope you’ll join me.