I've been taking the good advice I so often give others: "Follow your dreams -- that way, you will make at least one person in this world happy!" No matter what else I've been doing -- working as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a technical writer, the managing director of a professional theater, or any other job -- I have always written songs. Making my first CD -- "I'm Here to Love" -- was so much fun that I immediately started production on my next three. "God Bless the Man (who knows how to use his tools)" is a collection of original songs in what I call the "celebration" genre" (see below) that range from playful to suggestive to sincere. "Tiara," like my first CD, is an eclectic compilation of funny, poignant, thoughtful, and story songs. "Everyday Alleluia" compiles those of my songs with an inspirational feeling, including the title track 4-part choral work in Latin, Spanish, and Arabic and "Dear One," which I wrote for the Threshold Choir (see below).
I write all my songs a cappella. Which means that I can write anywhere -- when I'm swimming laps, driving, doing dishes, taking a walk, trapped in a boring meeting, on a flight or waiting to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night. Which also means that all my songs are hummable and many are very danceable (especially if you like to waltz!).
Themes such as unrequited love, etc., have been well covered by other songwriters. So, I figure my job is to focus on topics that haven't gotten as much attention. My songs are often inspired by events in my own life and the true stories of other people. Thus, I've written about a parent finding herself dumpster-diving, the joy of attending a home birth and welcoming a new soul into the world, a woman rising to new heights in response to being called to create something she thinks is beyond her capacity, the challenges facing the young people I've worked with in Juvenile Hall, the emotions following the death of a newborn baby, the experience of flying home to see my mother when it seemed as though she may be dying, and many other true-to-life situations. I also explore more conceptual themes, such as the meaning of marriage vows, the ways in which death could be considered a perfect lover, our purpose for coming to earth, how to create inner peace and world peace, and how to use lullabies as propaganda to convince children that going to sleep is fun.
An endless source of material for me -- which I call the "celebration genre" -- is the joys of sexual electricity between men and women. I also just get a kick out of the humorous aspects of being human. So I write funny songs -- what to do with all the zucchini gardeners end up with at the end of the summer, the disclaimers we songwriters feel compelled to make before we present a new song, curing the blues by wearing a tiara, what women REALLY want, etc.
I love creating songs for special occasions and for individuals. For instance, I've written a song for each of my godchildren and for several weddings. I am honored to be a member of the Threshold Choir, whose purpose is to sing (in twos and threes) at the bedside of people who are dying. So I've been writing songs in 3-part harmony for that purpose as well.
In terms of musical styles, Kate Wallace described my genre as "folk-lectic." The flavors of my songs include blues, reggae, R & B, rock, ballads, lullabies, gospel, Celtic, and waltzes.
I grew up singing in the church choir, my father sang with a barbershop chorus, and our family sang show tunes and campfire songs together (in 6-part harmony) during road trips in the station wagon. As a result, I value multiple harmonies, and I often see in my mind's eye the choreography for my songs if they were staged. Living in England and Europe for 3 years when I was in my mid-20s enhanced the Celtic influence already present in my writing and my voice. As a dancer, I find I am often drawn to writing in waltz time. And, having worked in the field of sound healing for many years, I am drawn to exploring the capacity of the voice beyond melody and lyrics.
Musicians who played on my CD are as follows. David West: Bass, lead guitar, mandolin, banjo. Kate Wallace: Rhythm guitar. George Friedenthal: Keyboards. Kenny Edwards: Cello. Tom Ball: Harmonica. Dave Tolegian: Clarinet. Bob Nichols: Drums. Lorenzo Martinez: Percussion. Doug Clegg: Accordian. Barbara Coventry: Fiddle.
For shows, I put together a small ensemble, usually consisting of bass and lead guitar.
"I'm Here to Love," released in August of 2008, features 12 original songs. "Jumpstart" and "Dumpster-Divin' Mama" received the first airplay. "She Rises" and "Peace by Peace" have been selected as inspirational theme songs by the organization Peace x Peace.
Tom Prasada-Rao is currently producing my next 2 CDS -- "God Bless the Man (who knows how to use his tools)", which will be released in June, and "Tiara," which will be released in the fall of 2011.
"Soldier's Lullaby" has its own website for military families separated by overseas deployments.
Teach Me to Love like Death
Yes Is My Answer
My set list includes songs from my CD, plus sometimes a cappella versions of songs that I am in the process of recording for my next CD, as well as original songs that work best in a live setting (e.g., sing-alongs). I usually do 2 sets of 45 minutes.