My life has always been full of music. I don't even remember learning to play the piano. My mother tells me I started when I was two, crawling up on the bench trying to make music like my father did. He was always playing. One of my fondest childhood memories is of playing piano duets with him, or singing while he played. He was a composer as well, but came from a family where "musician" was not an acceptable profession. I am currently working on transcribing and recording some of his music. (He died in 1981) I can still see him at the table during dinner, while we listened to some piano concerto, conducting the disembodied orchestra with his knife.
I guess my influences come from everywhere. In the 60's I started out listening to the classics, which was from my father's influence; Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and of course, my beloved Chopin. Soon I discovered musicals, which I adored passionately. I cut my vocal teeth on (don't laugh, now) Mary Poppins. And when I was eight, I sang the music from The Sound of Music over and over, trying to get it right. I can't think of anyone better, technique-wise, to emulate than Julie Andrews. Then, when I was eleven my sister came home from college with a guitar. It was 1969, and she was playing Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Peter Paul and Mary. I was hooked on folk music and guitar playing.
In the 70's I got into heavier rock, listening to, and playing, music by Kansas, Queen, Styx, ELP, but I still listened to the acoustic artists like Cat Stevens, Livingston Taylor (James' lesser-known but just as wonderful brother) and CSNY. And, of course, more musical theater. I played the guitar and piano incessantly; all the junior high talent shows, coffee houses, local theaters, and then bars when I was old enough. By the time I was eighteen I was playing in my first band, complete with Les Paul and black bellbottoms. Over the years I've played in many bands; keyboards, guitar, always singing. I wore out my Queen albums practicing my singing.
In the 80's there were lots of scantily clad guys with long hair prancing around playing music. Fun to look at, but largely a "boy's only" club, unless you could play wailing guitar leads, which I couldn't. For an acoustic guitarist/pianist there wasn't much work, and I looked silly in spandex (still do), so that was when I decided to go to music college. It was an opportunity to devote my time to nothing but practicing and studying, something you never have time for in the "real" world of a gigging musician. So I went to Combs College of Music in Philadelphia, and stayed until I had a Masters Degree in Piano Performance.
After I left college I floundered. I had been plagued by tendonitis in graduate school, and after I graduated I quit the music business for awhile out of frustration and pain. During this time I wrote fiction and poetry, and studied writing. The creative drive was too strong for me to ignore, and I needed an outlet for it. I still write, and although my main focus is music, I have a few projects in the works that I hope to find time for some day. The two most useful things about that period in my "life without music" was that: 1) I developed stronger writing skills, which have helped my lyric writing immensely. In fact, in 1997 I was invited to conduct a seminar on lyric writing at a writer's conference. 2) I realized that for me, a life without being actively involved in music seemed like just passing the time until I died. I resolved that no matter how much trouble I had with tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome (I have that too), I had to get back into playing music.
So in the late 80's I got back into performing solo and with bands, and was pretty successful. The band I was in went far enough to open up for Eddie Money and The Little River Band. But I was discontent. Top 40 music didn't seem the right place for me, and I missed the piano and musical theater.
As the 90s dawned I took a long look at what I really wanted to do with my musical life. I had always wanted to write my own songs, but for a long time my attempts just didn't sound right to me. I guess I hadn't found my "voice." For some reason it finally seemed like the right time, and I started writing in earnest. This eventually resulted in the release of Labyrinth in 1995 and dancerdemonloveranswer, released August of 2001. The process of creating both these albums has been a great joy. There is nothing quite like watching your music come alive in the studio.
But something was still missing, and so I branched out, trying to find it. The first place I went was back to the piano. The piano is really my home, and my first true love. So I started writing for the piano, and one of these new works appears on dancer. I also threw myself headlong back into theater. I've worked in professional theater since I was thirteen, sometimes acting, mostly providing music. I've accompanied a great number of musicals, and also composed for theater, but got out of that world as I was focusing on writing original music. My most recent compositions, once I'd decided to go that route again, was for Everybody's Ulysses for the Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, PA, for which I wrote original songs and incidental music. I've also done some work scoring for film, most recently for the independent film Christmas Dinner, for Haverstick Films. Also, perhaps prompted by the theme of dancer, I began studying dance again, something I haven't done since I was ten, and I've begun to write instrumental music with the intention of having it choreographed.
I finally feel like I have found the balance between pop, rock, classical, musical theater, dance and teaching that I searched for, for so many years. It's really just about devoting your life to the arts, and this varied and sometimes crazy lifestyle offers me the opportunity to really stretch out. Currently I'm teaching music classes at Harrisburg Area Community College, teaching private lessons, and performing at least two or three times a week, both piano and guitar, and continuing theater and dance work when I have the chance. I currently live in Harrisburg, PA with my amazingly tolerant and wonderful husband Eric, three cats and a dog.