"...one of the most creative songwriters and storytellers in the Grand Valley"--Peter Frankland, Channel 11 News.
Notes on this CD:
This CD, "Songs of the Dark," by Susan Cypher/The Nightbird's starts with the song "Imaging." This first song of flight, transformation, and freedom; of "chasing rainbows and catching fire in my hand," begins what is a mythical, mystical, magical taste of the forbidden. Moonlight bathes every note of this CD and brings out the meaning of my stage name "The Nightbird." Although my music is always positive (meaning no screaming, name-calling, or swearing), it often sings with sensuality, sexual overtones, and the taste of flamenco-style guitar. Take the song "Demon Lover," for instance, about that lover you can never forget (not a demon in the ancient terms of the word) but a person whose taste and smell and touch haunts your memory even on your deathbed.
This CD celebrates those things that make life real and sweet. "Nighttime in my Garden" brings to life a moment of dreaming in the moonlight, as the trees sway with their silvered limbs in the moonlight and a genie of imagination and mist rises to carry the listener away in his/her arms. "Darkly Waltzing" (a favorite of several fans) is, as suggested no lighthearted waltz, but a shadowdance on an eerily lit background whirling to a haunting melody.
"Sweet Revenge" on the other hand has a dark humor to it, as the dog (who really is a woman) recounts the tale of how she came to be transformed and how she is going to seek revenge for the wrongful transformation. "The Torture Chamber," is about a man who simply loves his job as he sings "I am the headsman I make torture fun, fun for me if not for you til setting of the sun," and "Magpies" was based on a real-life death of a friend that asks us to look inside before condemning those different from ourselves. As you listen, these songs pull you into a fantasy world where magic is real. My signature song "The Nightbird" sings of My own chains, as the music that is me seeks to express all the voices that haunt and cry to me to write about them. As the song says The Nightbird "sings with the sound of my voice..." and is "sweating, yearning, shaking, burning"... crying, crashing, spinning, and dying." This music is as real and as magical as it gets in this world. In bardic tradition, I write my music. My songs reach back into the past, forward into the future, and deep into the heart and mind. By the way, (little plug). If you like this CD, please check out my other title on CD Baby. "In the Moments Between Dreaming." If this one is moonlight and darkness (the soft dreamy magic moonlight), the other is sunlight and shadow. They were written as a set, originally, meant to compliment and finish each other :)--by the way there's more below, if you wish. Thanks for dropping by!
From here on in--this is about me!!
I consider myself a modern-day renaissance musician. Growing up I loved the way the fairy tales wove themselves into my very heart and being, and as The Nightbird I seek to do the same. I first became aware of a type of musician called a bard--a person who wrote their own stories and music. When I first became a singer I called myself "The Traveling Troubador" singing and telling stories to children and adults, but none of it was my own voice.
Somewhere during this journey I found my own voice and started writing all my own stuff. I also moved from performing for children (although I never did aim completely at children) and started aiming at adults. As I researched what a bard was, I realized that this type of storyteller was someone who was trying to bring to life stories told to the adult audience and young teens. This was the person I saw myself becoming. I felt that we lost our way as a people. I heard the music we listened to and thought "where is the mysticism, where is the poetry," of music. Not for me the writing that to me was witless and often the same. I was highly influenced by my favorite writer, "J.R.R. Tolkein" and also "Mercedes Lackey." True poets, true shapers of the word. That is what I seek to do. I shape the words. I want you to breathe the wind and storm I sing into the songs. Most of my best reviews will never be seen in a magazine. It is the person who hears me, turns around, and with awe on their face (this happened last weekend) says "Oh, my God she's beautiful" and stares enraptured as I weave my song around them (not truly referring to me but to my music). Or it is like one of my favorite fans who says "Your music has magic and healing, Susan, let it spin." Of course, when this friend talks about magic, he is not talking metaphorically. He is a very cool guy and just a little (a little, trust me a lot?) just like all my true fans. We tend to be those who think "Here they be Dragons" means there is one in the backyard for those who look closely.
Some of my reviews are like these from my friend and another fab artist Petrella, who I had the privelege to perform with and is reknowned as the "First Lady of Country Soul" (I like that Country Soul--now this is definitely a lady to check out as well). "No bird has a voice like yours." Then there is the one I cherish from Mike Nardone, Director of A & R, Universal Music Group, who wrote to me saying in a review of my music "I enjoyed listening to your songs"...with "Siren Song" being another "well-written song and my favorite of your three songs" submitted for evaluation. I loved it because he complimented me on my songcraft and said "the vocalist" (that's me HA!) had "passion and confidence throughout."
Recently I was interviewed in the "Grand Junction Free Press," a local newspaper, and the writer (Gary, who took me to lunch and a ride in his cool car) wrote of my "high flying spirit" as well as my "love of the moonlight...the enchantment of fairy tales, and the magic of old lore like that found in "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkein. (Told you I liked Tolkein:)
Below here are background stuff--I'll try not to bore you too much :)
I had the privelege of playing at The Avalon Theatre in Grand Junction at The Big Break in the summer of 2001 and was selected from a field of thousands as one of the top 20 acts. Fun places I've played include The Unity Walk in 1999. (I wrote a story called "Janus" for that one about prejudice, which the character has to learn to overcome). This is turning into a series of stories I hope to look at publishing in the future. I also got to be at the 1999 and 2000 Earth Day Celebrations in Grand Junction, along with various coffee shops, public events, private parties, and many fairs and festivals. I also the featured performer at The Planet Earth Gallery for the Dark Show in 1999 and was the only singer from Grand Junction at a benefit concert in Loveland, Colorado that raised money for the construction of ears for a small boy who was born without them. This and the movie "Immortal Beloved" inspired a song called "Loss" that I wrote and hope to produce on my next CD about what I would feel about losing my hearing, something I fear.
In 2002 I had a great journey when I went with my sweetheart and a good friend, Tom Averna, to Park City, Utah to perform for the New Artist Radio Awards. I was so thrilled to be elected for 2 awards (Arisen Female Artist 2002 and Best Female Folk Artist 2002) winning the former. That year I was also privileged to accompany my friend and fellow artist, Theresa Joseph, on hand percussion at a Songwriter's Invitational in South Dakota while also previewing one of my newest songs "Walking Between Worlds," that I wrote for Joseph and another dear friend Ambra Scarlett (both Native American flute players). This is another song planned for production this year and explores the pain suffered by many of mixed heritage who stride between various cultures, often suffering abuse from both sides, who could be seen as the bridge that might be a healing force in this broken world. (Both of these women are my sisters in every sense of the word but birth).
This year I played in Nashville (wow what cool people) in a showcase for Affinity Music, as well as recently traveling to Denver to play in a Just Plain Folks showcase (my God what talent amongst these Indie artists, I was overwhelmed). Both performances went very well and I met some fabulous people, not only industry people to help me further my dreams but people who I think will be friends as well.
This last year (2004) I got to pay at the New Artist Radio Awards and to my surprise and great joy (because I didn't even know I was up for an award) found out I was the "New Artist Radio Folk Artist of the year 2004. That was very cool!!
From here down my musical past (Read at your own peril!)
As a musician, my influences have been many. As mentioned above, I played folk music for years, singing Peter, Paul, and Mary (still do), Janis Ian, Steeleye Span, Simon and Garfunkel, and lots and lots of others, some known, some unknown. I loved its focus on lyrics and stories. I have also played a wide variety of music including classical music, rock and roll (in several bands--some good, some we won't talk about:), country (again some good and one truly bad), jazz, some really strange music based on Israeli music I wrote for some dancers (one of my first pieces). I even arranged gregorian chant for brass when I was in college.
Some of the groups I have performed with are The Centennial Band, The Western Colorado Chorale, Patchwork, the Mesa State Jazz Band, and just finished a stint as a choir director and choreographer at a New Age Church. I was lucky enough to play in a backup band one year for Darlene Austin when she was traveling through here for a benefit concert. If anyone had been there, I was the unseen keyboard player behind the huge keyboard stack--I'm rather short but very feisty!! I am also able to say I was the last official member of Windfield (out of Denver). I ran lights for their last tour here in Grand Junction and sang onstage with them as well. (Note here--good people--very, very good people)!! Their leader, Dano, was one of the best people I have ever known. We still talk from time to time.
As I read my official bio I find I hold B.A. degrees in Vocal Performance, Music Ed, General Education, and play a variety of instruments including: piano, guitar, French horn, and trumpet. But my favorite instrument, the one I most enjoy using, and teaching is Voice. For these reasons I sing--I sing because I love it. I sing because I must. I sing because without song life is a dingy place.
More than anything I love to write and perform. Music is the magic that makes my life complete.
*On a personal note. Although I still love to play for my very first fans (those who first listened to me in the town of my childhood, Maybell, Colorado) the squirrels, rattlesnakes, rabbits, and so on, having real-live people in the audience is really very cool. HA!