A little bit of how I got here...
Jersey Girl I was born and raised in northern New Jersey—I am a true native of this small, densely packed state. I grew up riding bicycles, playing kickball in the street, and running through the woods. But suburbia is not an idyllic, safe world. My childhood was full of awful things, wonderful things, stories. All of it entered my imagination, fueled what I wrote, what I sang, who I became. I also grew up singing, all the time, in both sanctioned and unsanctioned locations ("sanctioned" being choirs and talent shows and whatnot; "unsanctioned" being everywhere else). When I was nine years old, the 'rents gave me a guitar and that, as they say, was that.
"Po Biz" Growing up, I was exposed to lots of music, from the jazz singers my mother loved to Fiddler on the Roof (a sacred text in my house) to the great bands (the Dead, the Band, the Allman Bros., Talking Heads) to the modern folksingers and troubadours. But it was traditional songs that mesmerized me. The very old songs that no one wrote, or everyone wrote, are packed with story and emotion, as though the years compressed them into perfect shapes. Singing those songs, I learned about words, and that led me into writing poetry. So, poetry became the passion that took me through high school, college, and into grad school. I wrote and wrote and wrote; I immersed myself in the "po biz," did a stint at Yaddo (that was cool), won fellowships and awards. But I also kept singing other people's songs and, of course, the very old songs. For years, I never tried to put the two—music and poetry—together. Poems often make terrible song lyrics and song lyrics are often lousy poems. Songwriting was intimidating. The artists I revered wrote incredible songs, but they were, to my thinking, beyond the reach of ordinary mortals like me. I'm talking Leonard Cohen, Pete Seeger, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Cheryl Wheeler, Dave Carter, Patty Griffin, Chris Smither, Richard Shindell—you get the idea. Eventually, though, I decided to give songwriting a try.
Night Writer Once I decide to do something, I generally do it. Pretty much. Sort of. Anyway, that actually happened with songwriting. I'd put my tiny daughter to bed and then write till midnight. Within a few months, I'd written enough songs to fill two albums, one of which—Love at Every Turn—I recorded at Signature Sounds with the wonderful Mark Thayer. After that, some nice things happened and here is a list of some of that stuff:
- Sing Out! liked Love at Every Turn, and said my voice is "eerily reminiscent of a young Judy Collins." The Online Folk Festival liked it, too.
- I won the New Folk Showcase of the NJ Folk Festival.
- I had songs featured on "Car Talk" and other radio shows.
- I performed at lots of great places, including the Sanctuary Concerts, the Minstrel, Riverspace, the People's Music Festival, the Ridgewood Library, Bergen Community College, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Acoustic Long Island, and elsewhere.
- I received an honorable mention in the Solarfest Songwriting Competition.
- I sang for Pete Seeger, the man himself. I sang for Chris Smither, another musical hero.
Today, I still sing in both sanctioned and unsanctioned locations. I can come sing at your place, if you'd like (go to the Contact page to get in touch with me). I expect to keep doing this for...well, for pretty much ever.