"A superb songwriter with deep piano roots, Tina Lear knows how to tell a story. On "The Road Home," her third album, she sings those stories in a way that makes you want to hear them over and over...” Ernie Rideout, Keyboard Magazine
"Tina has a quiet, cool, powerful voice, an eye for detail, an ear for language. . .and a talent for surrounding herself with brilliant producers and side musicians. . .” Christine Lavin
These are some of the quotes about Tina’s third cd, “The Road Home”.
The granddaughter of a famous vaudevillian (Ole Olsen of Olsen & Johnson), Tina attended California Institute of the Arts and Brigham Young University. She became a member of the Warner Brothers Film Actor’s Workshop at age 18, and played her original music at the Troubador in Los Angeles. Her career then went underground for almost 20 years, during which a long-term marriage ran its volatile course, ultimately enriching her life with three children.
When that marriage ended, she moved to Seattle, started performing locally and began recording at the encouragement of Grammy nominee Bill Ginn (then a composer and arranger for Jennifer Warnes). At the same time, she attended Bastyr University where she got her Bachelors Degree in Applied Behavioral Science. "I thought I might become a therapist or counselor, but finally realized that my life’s blood is in music." She came away from those years with three cds under her belt-- "Classified Ads" (1994), "Full Moon Big Circle" (1998), and "The Road Home" (2000)– all of which garnered national airplay and gave her a considerable following among fans of smart, literate, deeply-felt songwriting.
In addition to winning awards at major folk festivals, Tina also received three "Honorable Mentions" in the Billboard Annual Songwriting Contest. Key performances in the past ten years include the SXSW (South-by-Southwest) Music Conference, Northwest Folklife, the Women of Wisdom Conference (as the featured performer, she collaborated with playwright, Maria Glanz, weaving songs and spoken word together.), Seattle’s famed Jazz Alley club, the Bluebird Café in Nashville.
Her career has taken an interesting route from singer/songwriter to composer/lyricist. “Composing for musicals is what I’ve always been headed for. I just didn’t know it.” Although others have seen it coming. For years, Lear says, people have been telling her “You should write for Broadway.” Who knows? Now, she may get her chance.
In 1999, she met award-winning playwright Elise Forier on Whidbey Island, where they both lived. After a casual conversation in which Elise mentioned a play she had always wanted to turn into a musical, Tina asked if she could see the script. It was the beginning of a very rich collaboration that has thrust the names Forier and Lear into the Theatre for Young Audiences spot light. In the nine years since they first met, they’ve written three musicals, one of which has been published, and another which has been produced in Washington and Pennsylvania. And this is only the beginning.
Their first collaboration was "Escape from the Box," a story written for middle-school aged actors that explores the nature and importance of diversity. Even before it was made into a musical, it had received Honorable Mention in the 1998 Jackie White Children’s Playwriting Awards. It was produced as a musical by the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts (Langley, WA) in 1999, with funding from the Washington State Arts Council. Another production was done October 2004 at the DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre in York, Pennsylvania. ("The Box" and "Buy It Now!" are tunes from this show and appear on her cd, "The Road Home")
Their second musical, "Cathy’s Creek," was commissioned by the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, produced there in 2001 (held over an extra week). It won the Bonderman National Youth Theatre Playwrighting Award in 2003, and, as part of the award, was given a public reading at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, the first musical to win such an award in 18 years. It was such a hit there that it was subsequently produced at Stages Theatre in Hopkins, Minnesota, and later published by Dramatic Publishing.
The success of their most recent show, "Valerie and the Bear," led to a workshop with the Seven Devils Playwright Conference in McCall, Idaho. Much interest has been generated from that staged reading in 2003.
In 2007, she received her MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She’s working on her fourth musical with Elise Forier, a work based on the 1912 textile strike in Lawrence, MA. So it seems that her ancestral roots are now showing up in her life. She’s following a lifelong dream, and we’ll just have to wait and see where it all leads.