Geographical Background (From whence she came):
Susan Leigh Picking (SLP) is a Midwestern gal with Pacific Western cool. She moved from her native Michigan to California some 15 years ago via a circuitous path. She studied in Nurnberg, Germany as an exchange student, Earned a BA in Broadcast Journalism from The University of Wisconsin, and spent several years on the slopes of Colorado. Susan instructed skiing in the Rocky Mountains at Copper Mountain Ski Resort. Her love of the slopes and passion for travel sent her to the Southern Hemisphere chasing winter on the South Island of New Zealand. She landed in Long Beach California using it as her home base in between trips as a flight attendant. A year ago Susan transitioned back to Grand Rapids Michigan with a hip and vibrant arts, culture, and music scene.
On arrival in Southern California she found the inspiration to explore her musical self. As a youth Susan began studying piano and cello. It wasn’t until her move out west that she discovered her voice. She continued piano stvvudies and began to study voice privately under local Long Beach vocal instructors Karen McLain and Ellen Johnson. Her music studies brought her to the Commercial Music program at Long Beach City College earning certificates in Songwriting and Vocal Performance. This musical immersion confirmed Picking’s life passion of music.
Picking’s Irish heritage drew her to Celtic music and the study of Sean Nos singing- traditional acapella singing. She has studied with Krysia Kocjan-Haber, Lillis O Laorire, and Moira Smiley. Being a part of the L.A. Irish music scene she sang in the Celtic Band Crannog. Picking will pull out the Bodhran (Irish drum) for such events. She has performed at The Taste of Encino, The Summer Solstice Festival (California Traditional Music Society), The Library Concert Series in San Juan Capistrano, Southern California Dulcimer Heritage Harvest Festival, and with the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra.
In recent years Picking has made her name proud by learning to play, pick, and strum the ukulele. She has added this instrument to her musical reperatoire with her own unique musical stylings.
Most recently her musical studies have drawn her to Sound Healing and Sound Therapy. She performs at Holistic Health and Self Empowerment Conferences around the globe. Music is a transformative lyrically, melodically, and vibrationally. Music can transport you to another time and place, retrieve memories, and shift moods. She frequently pairs with inspirational speakers providing background and inspirational music for meditation, hypnosis, holistic healing, yoga, and self empowerment recordings as well as workshops.
Music Style (The Genre Question Unanswered):
Susan has received praise for her moving melodies and stirring lyrics which reflect a deep soul. Susan’s songs are about life, but not as we usually think of life. She cajoles the listener to see the quirky underbelly. Her wistful wit comes through a voice rich with lovely cadences, one might even hear a hint of an Irish lilt. Susan Picking is influenced by 70’s folk rock.....with the likes of Carole King, James Taylor, Van Morrison, Billy Joel, and Joni Mitchell. Susan Picking on the piano, has been likened to Carole King, Natalie Merchant. Sarah McLaughlin, and Norah Jones. On the Uke you might draw likeness in style to Patti Griffin, Alison Krause, or Celtic singer Niamh Parsons. Her arrangements are Americana influenced .......based in folk, pop, jazz, blues, bluegrass, and maybe even a little celtic. Fitting nicely into the vague category of Independant Artist, Contemporary Folk, Singer/Songwriter.
Releases: 3 Recordings
Down in Your Soul
Susan Picking is a singer songwriter with lashings of talent. SLP released her much anticipated CD Down in Your Soul in February of 2008. She recorded it at Mambo Sound and Recording in Long Beach with engineer and producer Steve McNeil. WYCE 88.1 FM A Community operated radio station in Grand Rapids Michigan nominated this CD as best Female Solo Release and A Listeners Choice Award for 2010.
Take Three In March of 2009 she released a 3 track demo titled Take Three . This CD has two award winning tracks “Why” and “Wonder in the Wander”. It was recorded at Charlaquinn Studios by Ray Echlin in Long Beach, CA. “Why” was chosen for the 2009 SongsAlive! Compilation CD. Songsalive! is an international non-profit that supports Indie Artists with exposure, performance, and creative opportunities. It was also the winner of The Independant Singer/Songwriter Award (ISSA) in the fall of 2009. “Wonder in the Wander”, garnered 2nd prize at the RiverFolk Music Fest in Manchester MI in August of 2009 and selected to be on the 2010 Songsalive! Compilation CD.
Wonder in the Wander
In August 2011 Picking released CD Wonder in the Wander. She rereleased this title track surrounding it with Ukulele based songs. Picking affectionately named these the “Susukie Sessions”. This was recorded in Grand Rapids, MI by Christopher Andrus of Mackinaw Harvest Studios.
Working on a Children’s Music CD.
She is currently in the studio with Author and Hypnotherapist Gale Glassner Twersky creating background music and songs for her upcoming release to accompany her book Reprogram Your Subconscious.
Future Projects (Where from here):
Picking is currently on her Wonder in the Wander 2011 Tour promoting her new CD. Picking has toured the Midwest, East Coast, and portions of NSW and Victoria Australia. Picking,an extensive traveler, spent many years as a ski instructor and flight attendant tramping around the globe. The wonder in this wander.....or wandering in this wonder is about how we, in our diversity, are all connected. She was inspired to write the award winning song “Wonder in the Wander” while on Safari in Tanzania in east Africa. She writes about the magic and synchronicity that happens every day if you are open to it. She is currently collecting essays from fans and fellow writers in order to compile an inspirational book about true life stories of people experiencing serendipity. She hosted a Wonder in the Wander essay writing contest, which just concluded. Picking is still accepting entries to be considered to be included in the Wonder in the Wander book, though the prizes have already been awarded.
piano/vox - susan picking
guitar/slide guitar - Lu Urquidi
Upright bass - Ray Echlin
Drums - Mario Johnson
Wonder in the Wander
Ukelele/Vocals/shaker - susan leigh picking
Rhumba box/Guitjo/shaker - Ray Echlin
Piano/Ukelele/Vocals - susanleighpicking
Upright Bass - Ray Echlin
Drums - Drew Marcos
Trumpet - Michael Cartwright
Hammond B3 - Austin Bach
Down in Your Soul:
Piano vocals - Susan Picking
Percussion - Bryan Brock
Organ Solo-Charles Washington
Background vox- Moira Smiley/Malik Moore/ Susan Picking
Piano/Vocals -Susan Picking
Bass- Sean Emch
Drums - Damien Smith
Guitar - Lu Urquidi
Vocals- Susan Picking
Guitar- Lu Urquidi
Irish Step Dance (foot percussion)-Maire Clerkin
Background vox-Moira Smiley
Ain't No Mistake:
Piano/Vocals/slidewhistle/whistle - Susan Picking
Banjo - Peter Fahey
Tuba - Charles Warren
Percussion - Bryan Brock
Foot Percussion - Maire Clerkin
Background Vox - Moira Smiley
Down in Your Soul- album
songs: Sideways,Little Bua, Down in Your Soul,I Pray, Namaste, No Mistake, Constant Light, Revolving Door, Let's, Feels Good.
Why, Wonder in the Wander, Passing Tides
Wonder in the Wander - Album
songs: Wonder in the Wander, Sing a Melody, Keep on, Keepin' On, The Box, Upon My Face,Don't Fight It, The Emptiness, What's Normal?, Wander in the Wonder
Singer-Songwriter Finds Inspiration In Life experience
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Singer-Songwriter Finds Inspiration In Life Experience Susan Leigh Picking, a Long Beach sin...Singer-Songwriter Finds Inspiration In Life Experience
Susan Leigh Picking, a Long Beach singer songwriter, recently won awards for her songs "Why" and "Wonder in the Wander." Photo by Barbara Allen
By Darcy Leigh Richardson
Published: Friday, December 11, 2009 12:44 PM PST
Susan Leigh Picking’s path to becoming an award-winning singer and songwriter was a circuitous route, one that took her through several continents and a couple careers before she discovered that music was her calling. Although Picking began playing piano at a very young age and studied both piano and cello until she graduated from high school, she said there were times in her life when music took a back seat. Those times were when she left her rural hometown of Hastings, Mich., to study journalism at the University of Michigan and then at the University of Wisconsin. Picking said she didn’t have access to a piano or a cello and didn’t have many opportunities to play music.
“Playing the piano and the cello were therapeutic for me,” Picking said. “I worked out my day on the piano.”
Following a few years in Colorado as a ski instructor, Picking decided to become a flight attendant for United Airlines. Her training was based in Los Angeles. Since one of Picking’s best friends lived in Long Beach, Picking said she decided to move to Long Beach 14 years ago.
“As a (high school) exchange student in Nuremburg, Germany, I had sung in a choir as a way for me to be social,” Picking said. “But I had never taken voice lessons until I came to Los Angeles. After my first lesson, I knew it was my passion.”
Picking said she began taking performance and commercial music classes at Long Beach City College in the late 1990s, and studied voice privately with Long Beach vocal instructors Karen McLain and Ellen Johnson. It was during a class at LBCC that Picking felt inspired to write lyrics for her songs.
“When I’m songwriting, it’s like I’m channeling and the song just comes out from elsewhere,” Picking said. “It’s inspired. I’m pretty spiritual and the lyrics come from my life lessons.”
That inspiration led to Picking’s song, “Why,” being named the Adult Contemporary category winner in the Independent Singer Songwriters Association (ISSA) 2009 Song Contest. Picking said she was nominated after playing in a session for ISSA staff, and fans were allowed to vote for the final winners in each category. In addition to entering independent singer/songwriter competitions, Picking went on a Midwestern tour following the release of her first CD of folk/Americana/acoustic music in 2008, “Down In Your Soul.” The tour included six stops in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.
“I wanted to release a CD because I’d been performing a lot and people wanted to get a recording,” Picking said. “It took me 18 months to do it, longer than I anticipated. But I was excited more than anything. I never anticipated myself being a singer and songwriter.”
Picking, whose grandparents are from Ireland, said listeners might be able to hear a Celtic musical influence in her songs. She has studied traditional Irish a capella singing, called Sean Nos, and sung with the Celtic band Crannog. Picking has performed at several venues in Long Beach, including Utopia, The Pike, DiPiazza’s, Viento y Agua Coffeehouse, The Madison, and Portfolio Coffeehouse. She usually performs with the band DB6, whose members mostly are from Long Beach, Picking said. She will perform in a free show at 8 p.m. Friday (tonight) at The Madison, 102 Pine Ave.
Since her musical studies have interested her in sound therapy recently, Picking said she volunteers as the co-director of the Immanuel Center for Conscious Living’s music program. The center, based in Bluff Heights, offers meditation and spiritual service classes, and a Sunday fellowship service. In preparation for the release of her second CD in 2010, Picking has put together a three-track demo that includes her songs “Why” and “Wonder In The Wander,” which received second place in The Riverfolk Music and Arts Festival Songwriting Contest in August.
“So many artists now are independent and supporting themselves, like I am,” Picking said. “In 2010 I want to find a creative way that I can tour in more cities and get my songs out there. I hope that my music spreads joy and fun … and provides opportunities for introspection. My songs look inside and find the good in life.”
For more information, visit www.susanleighpicking.com.
CD Review for Songsalive! Member Susan Picking - Down In Your Soul
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CD Review for Songsalive! Member Susan Picking - Down In Your Soul 10-Jan-10 21:22 | web girl (admi...CD Review for Songsalive! Member Susan Picking - Down In Your Soul
10-Jan-10 21:22 | web girl (administrator)
Reviewed by Brooke Mason
Based in Long Beach, California, Susan Picking performs in the greater Los Angeles area. The CD Down in Your Soul is Picking’s first release; she is currently working on production of a forthcoming cd. Susan’s song Why? was featured on the SongsAlive! 2009 Compilation CD. Her song Wonder in The Wander which is to appear on her pending release garnered 2nd place in the RiverFolk Festival in Manchester Michigan over the summer.
Picking performs traditional Irish music and has previously performed as a singer with the Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra. Her Irish heritage drew Picking to the study of traditional Celtic music and sean-nós singing. The track Let’s is a lovely acapella chorus.
Picking’s influences include Carole King, and you could hear those influences on the piano oriented folk songs like Down In Your Soul, I Pray and Little Bua. And like Carole King, Susan Picking isn’t afraid to jump genres. The Constant Light and Revolving Door surprise with more of a bluegrass and Americana feel that is totally fun. Sideways and No Mistake are more of the jazz folk similar to Jewel or Ricky Lee Jones.
Down In Your Soul is mostly jazz piano oriented. The instrumentation is primarily piano, with a few cello tracks as Susan is classically trained in piano and cello which you can hear on the track Namaste. If you are a fan of Carole King or Ricky Lee Jones you will enjoy the sounds of Susan Picking.
Label: Susan Leigh Picking
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"Engaging,funny,talented susan Picking makes you feel like she's singing to just you." Tom Dustman ..."Engaging,funny,talented susan Picking makes you feel like she's singing to just you."
Prof. of Music LBCC
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Former local woman to perform at Hastings coffee house. Susan Picking, a former Hastings resid...Former local woman to perform at Hastings coffee house.
Susan Picking, a former Hastings resident who is a Long Beach Califronia based singer/songwriter, will perform at the State Grounds Coffee House in downtown Hastings at 8 p.m. Friday, April 10.
Picking is a piano playing and ukulele strumming musician. She released her CD Down in Your Soul in February 2008. She is currently working on another recording and has released a three track CD titled Take Three. Her performances cajole the listener to think about the quirky underbelly of life, said a press release.
State Grounds is located at 108 East State St.
CD and Live review
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A real discovery author: redlichtie I met Susan in the bar of the Isle Ornsay Hotel on the Isle of...A real discovery
I met Susan in the bar of the Isle Ornsay Hotel on the Isle of Skye a couple of years ago where a local musician was strumming his guitar. Susan asked if she could sing along and soon enchanted everyone present with her renditions of some Scottish songs. This CD is clearly a different genre but the purity of Susan's voice and her fine musicianship are no less enchanting. The songs are evocative and merit close listening. Their sentiments are eternal and will resonate widely.
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Congrats author: G-Money For the lovers of soulful lyrics, and a emotion you can almost feel throu...Congrats
For the lovers of soulful lyrics, and a emotion you can almost feel through the headphones. Her writing in each song tapped into a different period and lesson in my own experience. Susan moves effortlessly from folk, to blues/jazz, to blue-grassy bop. Congrats to Susan- I loved it. Sideways is an absolutely beautiful track and The Constant Light is wonderful driving music. Feels Good features beautiful horns and reminds me of a soundtrack to a movie...
Local Musician Wears Many Hats
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GRAND HAVEN When Susan Picking took a furlough from her job as a flight attendant in California, he...GRAND HAVEN
When Susan Picking took a furlough from her job as a flight attendant in California, her plan was to work full-time as a musician.
She didn’t realize that becoming a full-time musician entails much more than composing and singing songs.
Picking not only writes and sings, she promotes her music, schedules her tours and interacts with fans on social media outlets. It helps that Picking, 47, has a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin.
“Music is changing — it is social media driven,” she said.
Picking said it is through social media outlets that independent musicians like herself get noticed.
Picking attended Mary A. White Elementary School in Grand Haven until sixth grade, when her parents moved to Hastings. She had been living in Long Beach, Calif., for the past 15 years.
The urge to become a musician brought her back to Michigan. She now resides in Grand Rapids.
Picking’s second album — “The Wonder in the Wander” — will be released on Sunday, Aug. 23, at a Grand Rapids concert. The title track was written while Picking was on a safari in Tanzania.
She performed this past Tuesday at Grand Haven’s “Tuesdays in the Park” series.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.
I typically do a 45 minute Set. How many of them I do depends on the gig. I will often do two 45 minute sets.
Typical Set list is:
2)Down in Your Soul
5)Cool Tall Drink of Water
5) It Ain't right
7)Wonder in the Wander
My typical Cover repertoire consists of 70's folk rock favorites and some Jazz standards. Have a repertoire of Traditional Irish. Will gladly prepare special requests in advance.
1)Case of You- Joni Mitchell
2)Chains- Carole King
3)Bartender Blues- James Taylor
4)Tupelo Honey- Van Morrison
5)Sunny- Bobby Hebb
There are no upcoming dates at this time.