Some of my favorite stories follow the classic hero's journey. The protagonist is happy, or happy enough, until something calls to take him off to the unknown. In the best stories, the hero encounters trials and tribulations so great that he loses all sense of who he is. In his darkest hours, a mentor appears to help the hero discover his own previously unknown inner strengths. He overcomes great hardship, and at the point when he has given up all hope for returning home, the hero finds himself back, transformed by hard-won wisdom and with new eyes.
There is a heroine's story, too. In that, in addition to the stages of the hero's journey, the protagonist gets turned around by, and must grapple with, society's narratives about women and men. Who gets to live a life of adventure, and who stays home to tend the fire? Who sets (or makes) records, and who pours creative energy toward having babies?
After about four years of touring in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states as a solo singer/songwriter, my own heroine's journey brought me to Passion Records, an independent record label based in Boston. I recorded two albums with Passion, and embarked on a nation-wide tour with a drummer and bass player, all of us in a van fueled by vegetable oil. Fans showed up to shows with vats of recycled vegetable oil. We played through 28 states over 7 months. It was a blast, but sleeping in a different town every night exhausted me and left little time for writing. And, underneath it all, there was this: All my life, the radio stations, MTV, and music magazines heralded men. Men got the microphone, men got the stage, and, in my favorite books and films, men got the adventurous road trips. When women went on road trips, they were killed or, in their moment of greatest freedom, drove off a cliff. Where did that leave me?
When the tour ended, I crawled onto the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, depleted. From the farmland on the eastern shore of Maryland, I watched the wind on the Bay and the eagles circling overhead, and, for the first time ever, knitted. I made 11 purses in 6 weeks -- perhaps I was trying to knit something back together in myself. My ever-present and magnetized true north -- writing and performing as a songwriter -- slipped away. I lost my life's compass.
With a suitcase filled with lopsided newly-knit purses, I moved to California. Here, for the last decade in sunny Los Angeles, I've composed music for film/TV and performed at festivals with world music kirtan bands. I've studied yoga philosophy and written stories about being on tour. Most recently, I have been at work on a book-length memoir about the beautiful tangles of falling in love and becoming a stepmother.
Then, in 2018, the spark to come back to my singer/songwriter roots -- to come back home -- reignited. My vision, once clouded by unhelpful cultural tropes, has been cleared by these years of yoga and literary writing. Fueled by the rekindling of my oldest passion, I have been singing in my backyard she-shed, and writing up a storm. Fittingly, I call the shed Seeds + Thunder, because in this room of my own, I've been sowing seeds and rattling the roof with song.
It's now 2019. I am my own record label. With the help of YOU -- my family, friends, and fans -- later this year I join GRAMMY-winning producer Brian Yaskulka at the historic Sound City complex in Los Angeles. Brian and I are currently in pre-production, which means we're selecting the best songs from my pile of new tunes. Right now, I'm honing the delivery of the songs, writing charts, and envisioning arrangements. Hammond organ? Clarinet? Cello? At this moment, it's all on the table.
For me, music connects one soul to another. It is friends gathering together. It is a lyric that speaks directly to your heart. I am beyond excited about embodying this music career model that eliminates the barriers between creator and listener. We have so much to offer each other. So much to learn from each other. Through the hard-won self-understanding from my own heroine's journey, I know that what I have to offer now is my life's calling: to speak heart to heart, from my soul to yours, through intimate, universal chords of truth.
If you haven't already, will you join the mailing list? I have a song gift just for you, and I'd love to give you exclusive content as I embark on this next musical journey.
With your help, the new record releases next year. I couldn't be more excited to share these songs about the journey, being human, and growing up.
2020: I'm looking at you with clear-eyed vision.