Listen… There is NO intimacy without risk. It is just one of the lessons of life. And those risks have informed the sound of my heart’s “voice” since I was 10 years old and wrote my first song. I had a lot of love to give…and an energetic passionate appetite for intimacy…so.... I didn’t play it very safe from the start. It didn’t feel like a choice at the time, but an unquenchable compunction to express the poetry of life’s malevolent give and take, carrot and stick, heaven and hell. Through my music, short stories, plays, acting, song writing and singing, I sought the safety of the stage.
Walking the wild side as a lead singer for numerous rock bands as a teen, with mic in hand, I had found a place to channel the rage, sexuality and longing with which my young strong girl’s body and spirit were seething. A Unitarian friend of my parents blessed me with my first record of the Edwin Hawkins Singers. With that first listen, I practically cried with a familiar love for that Gospel music and the permission it gave me to belt out what was truly inside of me. Tremaine Hawkins, Cee-Cee and B.B. Wynans, Donny Hathaway and The Clark Sisters remain my strongest inspirations to this day.
I tried college at a white glove school… but when the soul brothers found me thumbing a ride away from Harvard Yard, where those of us who ran with wolves were not welcome, it was they who embraced the musical truth of my blue-eyed soul. They’d march me into popular Boston nightspots, and coffee shops, and march me out with my first solo paying dates. R&B and my originals were a good fit, and soon it was time for a bigger risk. Always being in love with some musician or actor certainly helped accelerate the geographic decisions as well. But ultimately, I had so very much in my heart to say…and my ancestors had blessed me with all kinds of creative ways to say it. “Triple Threat” they called me. I was a threat all right.
I was nuts in both good and bad ways as New York was offering me the many opportunities I had hoped for. As a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I was immediately signed to a very reputable agency, and spent many years auditioning and acting on stage, television and small film spots. But the underbelly of the city’s music life called loudly to me, and at night I was hooking up with some serious bad-ass musicians like Freddy Froo (Betty Carter’s drummer), The Brecker Brothers, Bernard Purdy, Alvin and Eddie Pissant as I was singing in Harlem after-hour joints, and “empties” as they were called then, till 5 am. A couple of years on the road with prize-fighter, Joe Frazier, as the lead singer in his “Las Vegas Review” immersed me in a glamorous world of high rollers, amazing horn sections, and both the perks and rigors of life on the road!
All sorts of wild offers came and went. I’d pass on most, if it meant keeping me away from the intoxicating love of the current man in my life. However, one thrilling seduction I could not resist was the offer from Frankie Crocker, Steven Bray (Madonna’s co-producer) and Epic Records which gave me another kind of “drunk” as my first EP appeared in Tower Records and Billboard charted us with the sort of bullet it was safer to be around, well, sort of.
Some publishing deals and session work at Sound Mixers, with the likes of Aretha’s Bernard Purdy, Fernando Saunders, Richard Tee and many other stellar talents, were life lessons transforming me and my musicianship. Love remained my favorite melody and when I met the piano man, who would become my husband, we formed the national
recording and touring band Mojo Hand. This all-original Louisiana Zydeco-Blues-Rockin’ 6 piece groove party would keep us in clubs, festivals and roadhouses from Muddy Waters’ in New Orleans to Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago for the next 15 years.
Keeping the melodies truthful, required that truth be told, even when the beat was mitigated by the beating my spirit was taking through the ups and downs of show business. My second musical stage creations, .22 Caliber Mouth, won the O’Neill Musical Theater Development Prize.
This thrilling miracle of an opportunity coincided with a quick succession of abrupt life altering events leaving me alone in a way I had never known nor could imagine. So it seemed a new risk was presenting itself to me once again. This time, like it or not, I was totally on my own.
I have recorded many CDs with Mojo Hand, other CDs about Brown County and West Baden. I’ve sung leads and back ups for the projects of famous and infamous artists but until now had never gathered my own material, written and recorded for my own project and presented it on my own terms! Never have I dared reach for such intimacy with my audience, to tell my story exactly the way I want, the way I feel it and the way I know it. So, I ask that you Listen, I Mean It.