Past to Presence" is more than a 3 CD collection of 47 out-of-print songs. It's a life metaphor for honoring the Past – preserving it, learning from it and, ultimately, letting it go! The word Presence for me is very spiritual. It's the emotion, the energy, the present moment and the Divine that compose life's miracles.
As a child I wanted to be a baseball player. I said to my mother, "Piano is for girls." Reflecting on recordings and performances spanning 20-plus years brings to mind the maxim: Mother knows best!
Twenty years ago I had a nice collection of piano originals I called "Sunday's Reflection." I made my very first CD with the help of the then-new local CD manufacturing company Zomax. It's quite the racket being your own record label, and it didn't work very well.
In the years that followed, I had some lucky breaks working with the great company NorthWord Press in Minocqua, WI. I did well with a little help from the sounds of "Mother Nature" and the music being sold via interactive display at Target.
From there I was lucky again to work and record with Mannheim Steamroller/American Gramaphone. I produced 14 years' worth of children's music with Baby Genius, and worked on countless other CD projects for Unison, Page Music, Madacy Christian, Moulin’ Dior, Allegro, LifeScapes, Michael Whalen and others.
At the halfway point of my career, I released another collection of original piano songs I called "C-Notes." I had met Arnie Roth and was able to record with the London Symphony Strings at the famed Abbey Road Studios. So creative I thought I was, I even stuffed some real C-notes into the CDs. This CD later became "Heartstrings" and was I almost signed to Sony Classical. Then the music business turned digitally upside down.
Around 2007, I found myself sold on the rage of e-commerce, social media and SEO. Musicians like myself are easy to sway. Show us the way to share our gifts and we jump. I spent much time, money and heart on building websites, hiring search consultants, and pumping obscure radio. I expected to sell millions of downloads. Unlike gravity there is not a cause-effect component of the music business, when I read glowing reviews, saw my songs on the radio charts and yet barely sold any music I humbly concluded, It didn't work very well. But I learned some big lessons: Do it
yourself. Hire only what you can't do. Look within and be responsible for the effort, not the results.
Times have changed, but I've embraced the digital world and I'm amazed at the streaming activity with my current music. When I get emails from people relaxing to my music on Pandora – and it actually pays – there is a true hope and "Presence" for the future!
The process for “Past to Presence” began with my super fan Mary Jindra’s appreciation for “Spiritual Piano.” I always think of CDs as little Powerball tickets. "You have to play to win" was the phrase that resonated with me. I have a habit of giving my CDs away, as it is much easier than selling them. Giving Mary that CD really resonated with her and she went on a Steven C piano bender of sorts..."Steven's music captivated my soul and made me forget the rest of the world. I wanted to hear the rest of his music and so I began my search. Once I start a search, I keep going." Mary used the Internet to find me “used” on sites such as Amazon, eBay, gemm.com and musicstacks.com. She also hit up Goodwill, Cheapo, Savers and various gift shops.
Mary would show up at my gigs with handfuls of CDs to have me sign. She needed a large tub to accommodate the voluminous collection. I asked if I could borrow her tub of Steven C CDs, as she had the most complete library of my music. The sight of the CDs was both inspiring (I did that!) and depressing (that most of the music was out of print). Much of these CDs were "concept" albums that labels hired me to produce – widgets, really, to lure impulsive buyers. "Theme songs," if you will. And for a while, that concept really did work. Many of my songs were given new titles to match a given musical motif. For "Past to Presence," I've renamed many of the songs to fit their true musical origins. That works for me.
Mary's quest created a light bulb moment for me: Not many people would do what she did. Let's make it easier to find my music. I went through ALL the CDs and loaded the songs that were not currently available on my three original releases. In revisiting my musical past, it blew me away when I realized I had 47 songs that were not published. And, certainly not insignificantly, that I am 47 years old.
I separated the songs into 3 (my lucky number) mood groups, and amazingly the numbers worked again – 15 Mellow, 16 Middle C, and 16 Movin' tracks. The BIG question for each song became, is it up to par as is, or does it need editing? Certainly they all needed re-mastering. Songs recorded on my old piano with old recording gear needed a new "Presence." Then I pondered, "If I re-record, will it be better than the original?" A time-consuming process that brought great musical reward. This music brought me great joy and many memories. I could feel the many chapters of my life through these songs! I ended up re-recording about half of this collection.
When I declared music as my major at Hamline University, I was told: “It’s really hard to make a living playing music. You should have something to fall back on.” Always inspired by hearing advice regarding what I can’t do, I didn’t follow the wisdom shared with me. I have felt lucky as a career pianist in the Twin Cities for over a quarter century. However, after thousands of gigs at country clubs, weddings, funerals and even Timberwolves basket ball games. I ponder my ability to continue doing music this way. Using one’s heartfelt art to sustain life now brings about a sense of renewal. Generating income in the way in which I have been has become less of a priority for me. The inspiration to focus on my own compositions and to share them completes the “circle” of my purpose.
Along this amazing journey I’ve honored my past, I’ve learned new lessons from it and the word Presence has been magnified, creating a renewed musical energy in me.
So, I'm letting "Past to Presence" go…. in your hands, through your ears and our connected hearts. May it lead us to personal joy and a life fulfilling Presence.
Thanks for joining me on this Journey.
To the interconnected Universe for connecting me to everything needed to do what I do. To my supportive and patient family, friends and fans. To JA and the Bahama Boys, Scooter, Bob Miller, men’s club, Ab, Michael Whalen, Tom Hambleton, Ed Patton, Vicki, Doc, Emmy V. Val, Cara , Ed Bonk, Bill Sadler, John Chase, Lisa D, aaa for finding and inspiring me, old houses, Starbucks, and everyone I forgot.
Produced by Steven C Anderson for Steven C Music
Mastered and edited by John Chase
Additional Production by Patrik tanner & Michael Whalen.
Graphics by Vision Van Gogh
2013 photo by Michelle Tanner
Copy proofing by Lisa Dahlseid