This was how my musical life began. Luckily, my parents played lots of records around the house. When I was about six years old I heard a local woman singing one of my favorite songs, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" at a talent show. It was underwhelming.
I was outraged at the lack of feeling in her performance. Didn't she know that music is supposed to make you feel something? I realized at that young age how deeply I longed to affect people through song. Music was officially in my blood. From there on, I dug into whatever musical opportunity I could find. I sang in front of a lot of people throughout adolescence.
Fresh out of high school, I accepted a scholarship from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where, in 2001, I received my degree. Berklee completely opened up my world. I started writing songs; I met people from all over the world. I began performing my original music and sang in a reggae band for a few years.
I also collaborated with one of my favorite bands, The Slip. Studying and playing so many new kinds of music, I had begun the journey of finding my own voice. But Boston started feeling too small. When I was 24, I decided to move to Los Angeles.
I had big dreams of taking my music to a larger playing field, and large it was. I played a lot of gigs (most notably at The Knitting Factory and the revered Hotel Cafe in Hollywood). I went back to school for a bit at Musician's Institute and won a "Best Stylist" award. To pay the bills I nannied for some film industry folk and celebrities, and taught a lot of private music lessons.
In 2008 I taught a series of piano lessons to Oscar-nominated actor Ryan Gosling, and this year one of my compositions ended up on Ryan’s band’s debut record, Dead Man’s Bones, released on Anti- Records. Wow! Big fun and crazy stories ensued during my time in L.A., but the over-sunned and industry-obsessedl vibe of the city was really wearing on me. And so, in late 2009 I decided to head back to the east coast to begin production on my debut album. Every time someone asks me what kind of music I make, I stumble. I don't know how to encapsulate it into a few words.
Here I have a bit more space: I explore sound within mostly traditional song formats. I like the comforting elements that popular music provide--the swell of a gospel hymn, the lilt of a ragtime number, the feeling of longing from a pop ballad, and the angelic realms of stacked vocal harmonies. But I also enjoy the quirky, the off-center, the pleasant surprise. Most of my music is based on personal experience.
Although I come from a long line of story-tellers, I make music from the inside-out. My musical influences come from all over the map including jazz, American folk, choral, indie, children's music, West-African, classical, Japanese, Afro-Cuban, rag-time, country/Americana, reggae, liturgical, and more. I draw from it all, and never really know what kind of song will come through. And, I am happy to keep it this way. Exploration is essential to my livelihood.
I am looking forward to what unfolds during my new adventure in Massachusetts. I am making a record with an awesome production team: Overclock, Inc. I'll be living on a little farm and recording in a studio on another farm. Just as it has always done for me, I really hope this record helps people connect with their humanity.
If I can inspire, bring joy, or help one process a difficult time, then I will feel I've done my job. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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