Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It takes a village

Someone said to me recently, " Obviously I am not in your village" after a discussion on the guest parenting that many people do without reservation. Passive-aggressive behavior to the side, I've learned, after years of keeping my doors wide opening to accept every broken bird shakily scaling the walls of life, that it is my birthright to create a safe and happy village for my children. It is the gift I give myself.

To find the place you call home, stand in it, and own it with the people you choose to love, is the greatest gift of all. It is the eternal gift of peace that you share with those who have the courage to be in your sphere. To honor and cherish that sacred realm is my greatest responsibility and used to be my greatest challenge.

To that person who said that to me, I thank you. You helped me to practice building gossamer wings for my children to fly with, and gem-studded walls that they can climb over, protected by a force-field that radiates from inside of my heart. Thank you for the reminder, the test, and the confirmation, through inner knowing and joy, that the umbilical ties that bind me to the beautiful people I used to carry in my body  can only be tampered with it if I decide so. and I decide no.

The greatest gift I was given as a young adult, was the experience of watching my parents literally build a new life from scratch. With the chill of October settling into the wild terrain of the West Virginia mountains, a 30 mile stint from Maryland, they completed the roof of their new home, and settled into a life that often smacked of complete insanity. But in the end it was the sanest thing anyone could have ever done, even when those mountains became their worst enemy. I watched everything that my father called home disappear before his eyes.

Maybe this is why I am a protective mother, because I know that stability is a myth. You can chase the most beautiful dream, but it has its own free will and can slip from your grasp. But what you can always take with you is the love that you share with your family. Controlling the influences in my children's lives offers a small modicum of control. The rest is completely and utterly unpredictable. The sixties loosened the hold on children that the fifties never could release, and we ran freely until we heard the call for dinner. The world is a completely different place now than it was then. Technology has enabled those that would hurt children to have greater and greater access to them. I wrap my arms as broadly around them as makes sense, while still allowing them to grow.

So, in sum, my village is my village. Every day I try to make it more and more beautiful than the last. Those that step into the sphere of my family, bring gifts of the Magi to my sons: respect, acceptance, love, kindness, intellect and an understanding of the precious insight that each young mind brings to our existence. They are the seers. I aspire to be as all knowing and kind as they are. Even in their worst moments, their hearts are bottomless. My prayers supplicate for a wider soul, a boundless love and greater acceptance, tolerance and equanimity. They teach me every day how to be a better human. Any adult who does not recognize their innately precious souls can move on to someone else's village.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The seven steps to learning a Joni Mitchell song

I have been trying to learn a Joni Mitchell song since I was 25, listening to her since I was 15. (not referring to songs like Big Yellow Taxi...) I was finally forced to face this monumental process when Joanne Juskus invited me to be a part of the 70th anniversary Joni Mitchell tribute here in Baltimore. 

I can hands down say, learning her more challenging songs has been a feat of concentration, craft, and dedication, akin to writing my own song. Most covers do not require this much investment. I have codified the seven steps I used to learn, A Case of You. I hope that this helps other performers. I am currently on Step 7.

Step 1. Fake learning it. This manifests as actually printing out the lyrics and putting them on your stand, but never getting past the first two lines of the chorus. You may leave it in your home music studio for years, but never actually learn the whole song. Another manifestation is clicking on a You Tube version of it, and marvelling at how wonderful it is. That is a form of studying the song. 

Step 2. Pouring several shots of Bourbon, or several glasses of wine, curling up in a ball and acknowledging that you need to focus on your day job, because you are just not that good. This happens after a long listening session where you are reminded of how incredibly brilliant she is. 

Step 3. Starting to learn the song

Step 4. Practicing the song every day for months and months. It is akin to an addiction, to the alcoholic who drinks alone, and hides bottles in the closet. Visitors come over, your mother is calling, your best friend needs advice, but you are sneaking off into a corner of your house to play the song, apologizing all the while for the interruption. You cannot help it at this point.

Step 5. Pouring some more shots and curling back up into a ball after inadvertently comparing your best performance to hers.

Step 6. Finding your sweet spot, finally. Finding the place where you do not sing it exactly like her, where your individuality and artistry shine through, while balancing the places in the song that may sound more like Joni to help connect the listeners to the song.

Step 7. Creating plan B for all of the times you end up with more words than will fit into a line because she writes more words into one line than any other songwriter in the history of folk music and you are still getting stuck 2 days before a show with words falling out of your mouth at the wrong spot in the song even though you have practiced it hundreds of times.

I am on step 7. It is a jazz step. You gracefully catch yourself from falling. Avid listeners and other songwriters in the room will know, but they will be impressed that you do not end up flat on your face.

Back to the piano for another round!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Song!

Finally wrote a new song, after a while of trying to, or not liking ones that I wrote etc. It's about life's roller coaster ride, and how we sometimes end up in a place that just doesn't seem quite fair. I"ll put it on my next CD. In the meantime, you can hear it live at any of my upcoming performances this summer.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

CD Release Party & Benefit for the Samaritan Women

My good friend, and partner in song and Spirit, Deletta Gillespie, is holding her CD release party and benefit. The CD has been a wonderful journey and we are so proud to see her share her talent and beauty with the world. I am tickled pink to be featuring a set along with Ama Chandra will have a set too, so it's going to be a powerful women's music event, and the energy will be very high. This is a benifit for two organizations; The Samaritan Women and for the Spiritual Empowerment Center, where Deletta and I attend (and Ama was in the house today!) If you've never heard of The Samaritan Women, please check this amazing organization out. It provides a healing space for homeless female veterans, as well as victims of human trafficking. It also provides education, and life skills. There is a working farm that promotes the ideals of farm to table. The story of the building itself and its comparison to the transformation love can bring, is amazing. They are dreamers and visionaries, and have some expansion that they'd like to do, including classes in the food industry, more rooms, a gym and more. This organization helps our most desperately down trodden, especially young girls in vulnerable positions who are enslaved. I am thrilled to have an opportunity to connect with this amazing organization, and do my part. For more info, and a video-tour, please check this out. Date: May 17th, 2013 For more info and to purchase tickets online: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/359835 Please help spread the word, and bring your peeps along. It's going to be a great show, and a stupendous event. Teporah

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March News....gigs!

It's been quiet in Teporah-land over the winter. After the piano bar I was playing in regularly took out the piano, I decided to re-focus my energies to nothingness. Sometimes, letting things go brings other energies into your space. If it's too hard to paddle up stream, it's okay to let go and just float with the current. So that's what I did. The first gig of my fresh new outlook was Friday evening at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reston. I admit, I love playing to a Unitarian crowd. They are good people! I had a great time. The crowd was super sweet, I sold a few CDs (one was a birthday present, you all know how special that feels), and shared alot of love, both ways. Thank you Doug Sedgewick for inviting me into your church's space for an evening!

It's a month of firsts. I've had Crush Wine on my radar after a good friend in Annapolis suggested I play there. The owner figured he'd give me a try, so I'm looking forward to that on the 23rd. He said it's always packed on Fridays, so I hope there's a corner for my piano! It will be really nice to play in Annapolis again, as I have some good friends, and fans down there.

And another first is coming up on the 31st. It's an open mic where I'm the feature, at a sweet little hipped out coffee shop in the Arts District by North Ave, a block from Joe Squared.

I'm enjoying playing out again...that's for sure! And it's a different vibe than last year...


Saturday, September 17, 2011

News and Happenings

This month has been an exciting combination of firsts. My first show at 7West Bistro in Towson, and my first official video recordings. I recorded at Ty Ford studios, simply renditions of some recent songs to keep a flow, and new material online, despite not having the funding to produce a CD right now. (Eventually will come some day!)

I've also been really, really enjoying playing at a new piano bar in Canton, Baltimore, which has a grand piano, and a wonderful vibe, as well as clientele.

I hope to see you at a show soon!


Monday, March 7, 2011

The song 'Hot Potato' used in a short film

I met Daki online through a screenwriters website that linked composers and songwriters with producers looking for music for their films. We hooked up and she immediately gravited toward the song 'Hot Potato', and used it in her first Indie Film. It's the perfect match for the scene. Check it out!