How Can I Say This

Gratitude + Gushing

This page will continue to get filled up with mega-gushing over all the women who gave their time, hearts, heads, and talents to lift up this project beyond anything I could have imagined. These three boxes are just the beginning. Check back over the next month. 

Those Badass Women

You’ve seen the list by now but here it is again.

Sav Buist and Katie Larson (The Accidentals), Annie Bacon, Jamie Baker, Robin Lee Berry, Jenny Bienemann, Dizzy Burnett, Edie Carey, Louise Mosrie Coomb, Sue Demel & Deb Lader (Sons of the Never Wrong), Kitty Donohoe, Tracy Grammer, Anne Heaton, Maggie Heeron, Lara Herscovitch, Judy Insley, Jan Krist, Carolyn Koebel (AnDro), Audra Kubat, Catherine Miles (Miles & Mafale), CJ Milroy (The Milroys), Diane Perry, Heather Pierson, Cheryl Prashker (Runa), Christine Schinker, Emily Slomovits, Suzie Vinnick, Telisha Williams (Wild Ponies), Erin Zindle (The Ragbirds), and many more who, along with a few of the aforementioned, joined the “Crowded” chorus including Judy Banker, Ruth Bloomquist, Jennifer Buehrer, Lauren Crane, Kristi Davis, Allison Downey, Sue Fink, Sue Gillis, Mallory Graham, Sophia Hanifi, Jill Jack, Amy Petty, Linden Thoburn, Sharon Tse, Kathy Wieland, …

All of these women are heroes of mine for many reasons. Musicianship, songwriting, creativity, generosity, kindness, and most, I’m proud to boast, are really dear friends. They come from as far west as California and south to Savannah, northeast to Toronto, and many points in between including Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Colorado, and of course Michigan! 

They are national touring artists, award-winning songwriters, virtuosic musicians, inspired performers, recording engineers, dancers, teachers, mentors, actors, poets, writers, and a whole lot more. 

This album called out to be made by women – in part because of the subject matter but also because I’ve spent most of my musical life surrounded by men.  They are gloriously talented men who I love and respect, but I needed to step way out of my comfort zone to create something different and though I would never throw shade at my previous recordings, this one comes from a very different place for me. It’s personal. 

Choosing these women was a no-brainer. I’m already a big fan and I know how creative they are and knew I could completely trust their instincts. I wrote the songs, sent them a ‘scratch track’ with some basic arrangement notes, and let them do what they do with very little direction. I’m no fool. The smartest thing we can do as musicians is to surround ourselves with people who are more talented than we are. They make us better. =)

to be continued ….

(SIDEBAR: There are easily another 40 badass women – some dear friends – who I wasn’t able to finagle getting on the album but that just motivates me to do another one.) 

Holding my hand

I’ve never been good at asking for help. It’s not in my nature. I like to be the one who’s in control and doing the helping. But I’m no fool. When there are people who know a LOT more than me, I’m good with getting out of the way and letting them lead me.

So much of the help getting this Kickstarter to a place that felt good to me while still asking for people’s money came mostly from Kari Estrin. I could most certainly fill paragraphs in gratitude to her. Her knowledge of the industry mixed with a genuine tenderness and enthusiastic encouragement pulled me back from the ledge a few times. She’s already promoted 3 of our albums to radio and helped to put us on the proverbial map and I wouldn’t trust this CD in anyone else’s hands. 

I also had a great chat with the super talented singer/songwriter from Kansas  City, Julia Othmer. She was kind enough to share her own experiences with her Kickstarter campaigns. And though we didn’t talk personally, the wonderful Katie Dahl gave a presentation for FARM back in January that really inspired me to dive into this thing. All of these women helped me think beyond my own limited imagination and though I still have that voice in my head that questions whether the ‘crowd funding’ paradigm is right for me, I think I might even enjoy this! 

So many to thank

In addition to every badass woman musician who decorated these songs with their gloriously creative talent, I am indebted to two very talented engineers at La Luna Recording and Sound in Kalamazoo, MI – Cynthea Kelley who got the album off to a beautiful start before handing it off to Maggie Heeron who performed miracles bringing the whole thing to a glorious finish line. Manipulating all the bits and pieces while expertly blending instruments and voices that were recorded on a myriad of gear delivered through the magic of the internet from California to Savannah to Toronto and many states in between. No small feat.

Songwriting Angels

The songwriting angels I reference in the overview range from many dear friends who inspire me with their talent and dedication to the craft and keep me on my toes – They are the whole Yellow Room Gang (David Tamulevich, Jan Krist, Jim Bizer, Kitty Donohoe, Matt Watroba, David Barrett and Michael Hough), the Monday night Song Salon (named after the gatherings originated by the revered songwriter Jack Hardy) where fellow song lovers meet to share works in progress and give gentle constructive feedback; my newer angels in The Songsmiths, a private Facebook group started by Andy Baker where we write to a prompt each month and that our pal Dave Boutette invited me to join. This group is responsible for at least half the songs on the album and a whole bunch more that will likely show up on future recordings. 

I was also fortunate to participate in a few virtual songwriting workshops both as a participant and facilitator along with my friends, bandmates, and songwriting mentors, Jan Krist and Jim Bizer. Jan has been helping songwriters find their voice and dig deeper for years with her workshops held out in the Pacific NW and the pandemic made it possible for us to join from home. Many songs came out of those workshops and our subsequent Diamonds in the Rust retreats.

I have to call out my dear friend, Whit Hill who has always been one of my songwriting heroes. Though circumstances didn’t allow for her to be featured on this album, she was one of the first to hear the ‘demo’ recordings and offer some invaluable feedback that not only encouraged me but helped me see some things that needed fixing. I’m so much happier with the songs.

And speaking of helping me see things that needed fixing, one casual comment to Telisha Williams (who plays bass and sings on the album) about struggling with some lyrics, led to a zoom chat that turned a decent song into something I couldn’t be more proud to include on this album. She asked all the right questions, offering just enough to spark a deeper dive that feels more personal and transformative. “Learning” would not have become one of my favorite cuts on the album without her.

And certainly not be forgotten is the wonderful, Jenny Bienemann, whose Haiku Milieu songwriting challenge turned into the title track for this album. She asked me to write a blog post about it. You can read that (along with some kind words from her)

I mean, most of the women featured on the album, are also songwriting heroes of mine. I learn from them every time I’m fortunate to be in their presence or smart enough to listen to their music.