Saturday, February 23, 2013

I am excited that I'll be performing on three consecutive days in May: in Philly, Wilmington (DE) and Annapolis (MD), as the opener for my friend James McCartney. These gigs will be the first steps of promoting my new album, which I am currently working on in the studio. In fact, I recorded my first (non-scratch) guitar-tracks on Thursday--an important stepping stone in my artistic life..!

I see this as the beginning of a completely new phase in my career. I am to take the stage in May as a guitarist as well as a singer, and it's an exhilarating thought. To even call myself a guitarist is a huge leap for me--one that fills me with (cautious) pride. I am actually in the process of buying myself a second acoustic guitar, this one with a pickup, so I can play on stage. (!!!) I looks like I'm serious about this. Wait...I am!

I'm starting to see myself in a different way: more accurately I suppose. For a long time in my artistic life, I wasn't encouraged to think of myself as a "real" musician, by the powers that be. I was made to believe rather, that I was mostly just the face and a voice, and that I needed others to write and produce and be the "real" artist in my stead. This, when I was actually writing most of my music anyway.(!) Well, I am no longer under any such misconception. I am a real artist; I am a real musician, and I do not have to rely on anyone else when it comes to songwriting or artistic vision. It is all in me, always was. I know this now. Can't nobody take it away from me.

“I seem to have run in a great circle, and met myself again on the starting line.” 
―Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I am refreshed by a sensation of things happening at the right pace, at the right time, without a feeling of being rushed. When it comes to music, there is often an urge to hurry, to want to get the new songs out there the moment they are remotely close to being done. There's an innate urgency and impatience to release the new material without figuring out a good action plan first. That, I feel, has been one of the biggest pitfalls of my career: the rushing of things; the not planning things well enough in advance. This time I don't want to make that mistake.

The music business has changed. This is not news for anyone, I'm sure. I personally am still struggling to find my trusty avenues through which to discover great new music and artists, now that TV and radio are no longer part of my life regularly. The internet is still largely a wild west as far as  I'm concerned, and I'm sure many of you have a similar experience. But let's face it, the internet is where it's all at these days, and sooner or later I, like everyone else, will find our niches within it. What is becoming clear to me is that a lot of the rules of the music business, and the many ways in which music was marketed in the old days aren't relevant anymore. Us artists have to be innovative and smart about how we go about introducing and sharing our music with the world.

I had a meeting with my record label (ECR Music Group) and my labelmates this week, at which we discussed how we will go about the releases of our albums during this year and the next.  Following the conversation I am surprised to find myself excited like never before about the new landscape of the music business. What may to major labels be an atmosphere of unsustainable, diminishing returns is to an independent label an environment full of promise. The music business these days is evolving day by day into something completely new, and to tie all of this together: so am I.

I love this feeling of not being rushed. I finally have the opportunity to take my time to learn and grow as I'm in the process of creating my new album, without a feeling of someone breathing down my neck. I also have a chance to make sure my new music is released in a smart way and at the right time in this new, evolving musical landscape. Most of all, I want to make sure that it's the right time for me, and that I am ready. And I will be, unlike I ever have been before.

I feel like Rocky in the meat-locker right now.. I'm preparing myself for the fight, getting into the best shape I can be. I'm not there yet, but I'm happy this time to take my time to do it right.  I'll let the stars align...

"Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance."
--Cowboy Proverb

Saturday, February 9, 2013

On Wednesday-night I was privileged to join a close friend of mine, Robin Morgan, at the Red Carpet Premiere of the documentary "MAKERS: Women Who Make America", that will be premiering on PBS on February 26th.  The movie "tells the story of the women's movement through the firsthand accounts of the leaders, opponents, and trailblazers who created a new America in the last half-century." Robin is one of these trailblazers and is interviewed in the film and on the I feel very lucky to have access to her brilliant mind and to have gained her friendship.

I proudly call myself a feminist. It seems that these days, many young women and men (and quite noticeably artists and actors), distance themselves from the word, because of the way it has been tainted in the media. I think that because of bad propaganda, a lot of us these days misunderstand the meaning of feminism. Here is what Wikipedia says:

"Feminism is the set of all the various movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending how women should be treated and what rights, power, and opportunities women should be allowed to have. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment."

Feminism thus is about equality. Equal rights for men and women: equal pay for the same jobs, in contract law, property, and voting, bodily integrity, autonomy, and reproductive rights, among other things. I personally don't understand how anyone could oppose these rights..! But oppose them they do. Here is what Hillary Clinton said in the 1995 UN Conference on Women:

"If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely -- and the right to be heard."

As a woman who has been abused in a number of ways, and silenced by men in the past, I have taken this issue very close to my heart.

I am a heterosexual woman and I love men. One in particular. Being a feminist does not mean that I shit on men or that I want women to take over the world. Nope. It is merely equality that I am after. And this documentary, Makers, is a great reminder for us younger women, who didn't live through the time of the Women's Movement, that the rights that we currently have are not to be taken for granted, even if they are our "inalienable rights." Our rights were hard-fought, and the stories of the battles are shocking to hear in this day and age... If we want to keep the the status quo and further advance towards equality in the world, we need to continue fighting.  Both men and women.  It is in all of our best interests that woman is equal to man in society, and the work is not yet done. I will certainly do my part, and I salute everyone who brought us where we are.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"When you're up to your ass in alligators, it's easy to forget that your objective was to drain the swamp."

I've had a great, but challenging week. It seems that with every new push that I make towards expansion and empowerment in my life, there is an almost equal force trying to push me back; all of this happening in my head and in my body, of course... It's that "two steps forward, one step back"-phenomenon, so familiar to many of us. It is frustrating, because some part of me always tends to think that I land back in square one, every time I take a step back...But in my heart, I know that it is not so. As I learned recently, what actually happens, is 'recycling.' A cyclical process of healing: cycling upwards on a spiral (as opposed to downwards). It is just that certain parts of the cycle can still be...well...complicated.

Sometimes, on my journey, I have moments of disbelief and exhaustion: how can there still be so many realizations, about my life, my family, my past? Am I finally nearing the end? When will it get easier? Will it get easier? I suppose these are the moments that I'm up to my ass in alligators and it's hard to focus... But, if I look back, even to a year ago from today, I can see a massive positive difference in my life. I'm a different woman, for crying out loud!

As I was agonizing over the amount of heavy-duty realizations yesterday, a mentor of mine had this to say: "I hope that you will never stop having realizations. You don't want to have a boring life, do you?" Hell no, of course not. I just hope that it gets a little easier to handle them. And to be honest, even judging by my experience, it does. It's just a matter of remembering what the objective was, and where I'm going. It's not a step back, it's a new level.