Living in ‘If Only’ felt good enough for years. Performing in Top 40 bands and solo, songwriting, creating musical theater productions, kids music, radio plays, teaching, conducting, recording, arranging and other musical endeavors have all added up to a richly artistic musical life.
Honored to share the stage with, or open for the likes of Tracy Chapman, Pete Seeger, Bill Staines, Jake Armerding, Cris Williamson, Sally Rogers, Bob Franke, Loren&Mark, Moe Dixon and more. Back in the 1980s I waited backstage in the Nameless in the company of Greg Brown and Bill Morrissey. But in my 20s I was hell bent on the pop world and had little time for local follk music life. Or so I thought.
I’ve won various songwriting awards, and been granted an Artist in Residency position by the Margret & H.A. Rey Center. The United Nations featured my music in their ‘Year of the Child’ celebration. The Boston Pops put my song ‘Run Boston Strong’ in final contention for the commemorative ceremony televised from the Hynes Memorial Convention Center. The BAA broadcasted it during all major races leading up to and including the 2014 Boston Marathon.
And through these rewarding opportunities I’ve felt challenged by some persistent thoughts: ‘But what about developing a music career in earnest? What about taking real risks as an artist and putting yourself out there? Can you sign off knowing you never played out this part of your life completely?’
Here, at the apex of my sixth decade, I say, ‘No.’
In performance I’ve been likened to Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Joan Armatrading, Carole King – even Ellen DeGeneres for humor and David Lee Roth for Top 40 lead singer jumping. But consistent meaningful mastery takes commitment. I want to sign off knowing I attempted the attemptable.
‘What I do is me; for that I came’
-Gerard Manley Hopkins
Once upon a time this sounded self-centered and selfish. Now it sounds like service.
“Your songs are like telegrams from the soul.”
– Brother Blue
“It’s somewhat unfair. Like the Sam Shepards, Tina Feys and Kris Kristoffersons of the world, this woman is a triple art threat. She sings like a bird, writes songs well enough to have them chosen for national commemorative events, plays piano and guitar well enough to tour if she wanted to, arranges, writes full theatre and shows, and does vocal voiceover work. Most of us are lucky to be even half-facile at one of those things.”
– Vance Gilbert