reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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no piano here

musings from a few days ago…

and so here i am…inside the theatre, watching the setup….but this time it isn’t for a concert…it is for a play – ‘the lost boy’ – opening its world premiere performance in california. (oh, did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

i was just sitting outside (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?) hand-sewing one of the costume fragments for this play. david is inside with some techs painting the platform. i am running lines in my head. it’s not unlike running my music in my head, and yet it’s totally not like running my music in my head. when you are the composer, you have a bit of a free-rein option (eh…who am i kidding? you have a lot of free-rein.) when you aren’t the playwright, you…umm…don’t.

this process has been…interesting for me. this play is an interpretive storytelling…a story of legacy with poignant moments as well as comedic moments. now, as a performing artist i am used to telling stories from the stage…it is part of every concert i perform, every keynote i speak. but the last time i actually acted (in the truest definition of that word)? well, that would be high school – i performed ‘the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds’….i can’t even remember one line from that. prior to that? well, you need to skip a stone backwards to when i danced with (the infamous) kenny brook in ‘the sound of music’ in sixth grade. not exactly moments of brilliant acting, but please also refer to my exquisitely-portrayed sister bertha – in the same play – for invaluable experience (ok…that might be an exaggeration.) but it certainly counts that kenny was pretty darn cute and i got to dance with him.

the set is simple.  the set is profound.

the set is simple.
the set is profound.

i have spent many, many hours on the stage…as a performer…as a storyteller…as a solo artist…playing, singing, speaking. this project? this is outside of my box. there isn’t a piano here. no mics. no amber fresnels beaming down on me. i feel like i should offer up a disclaimer to the audience…something like, “by the way…this isn’t what i normally doooo. in real life i……” but no. and so now i am challenged with that very thing that i talk about….stepping outside our own comfort zone and trying on new shoes (speaking of which, i get to wear these great minnetonka mocassins for this production!)   stepping outside and making a mess. i get to work at something i am not good at….kind of like playing my cello, only a bit more public. and like we all tend to do, i immediately expect a lot of myself; so i must fight the urge to diminish my potential – what i think i’m capable or not capable of – to resist the learning. how many people around me each week are learning something new (in ukulele band? in the choir i direct? in workshops i lead?)

and so, my empathy button is ‘on’ and i see inside me the way we all try to default to the things we know, when the learning is actually outside of those things. especially the learning about ourselves. i, quite truthfully, find that i need to extend to myself some forgiveness for not knowing, and yes, forgiveness for resisting, forgiveness for feeling vulnerable, and grace in that forgiveness to just try. maybe i’m not sooo bad at this. maybe it’s actually fun. maybe i can actually learn something new…just like everyone else…and maybe, just maybe, i can embrace it. even with no piano here. at the very least, i can realize that, just like everyone else, i find comfort in the familiar. and in stepping into New?…well, i just need to take a breath and move full-speed ahead into that path. no regret, no judgement, no fear. just sisu. it’s all good. (did i mention it is sunny and warm here?)

did i mention it's sunny and warm here? :)

did i mention it’s sunny and warm here? 🙂

and the curtain’s up.

kerri’s music is available on iTunes

www.kerrisherwood.com

www.bearay.com

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19 years ago today

RELEASED FROM THE HEART november 11, 1995

RELEASED FROM THE HEART
november 11, 1995

19 years ago today it was snowing. this morning i look out the sunroom window at golden leaves on the ground, a grey sky, rain falling. not as stunning as snow falling, but still part of the plan…a season of preparation, of going fallow in the overcast to come back stronger in the sun…

19 years ago today it was frenetic…the official release of my first original album with a big concert to celebrate it. family and friends had flown or driven in to be here and i was balancing my time between kirsten (who was 5), craig (who was 2), practicing and visiting and getting all the details in place…

19 years ago today ‘released from the heart’ entered the world…funny how you can be nervous and sure at the same time. this heart-project – so raw-ly (is that a word?) me…scary to put ‘out there’ and yet i was so ready.

19 years ago today i played the piece ‘galena’ on stage to start the release concert..originally written, spur of the moment, in galena, illinois where three of my friends and i were mini-vacationing. we had some amazing mystical moments during that trip, things you simply can’t explain. you know what i mean; those things that are happenstance, but aren’t happenstance. we sat around a table at a bistro, enjoying wine, laughing, talking, listening to a piano player who was accompanying various servers as they sang broadway tunes. my friends, carol, jo, patti, volunteered me to play the piano. i wasn’t about to duplicate the broadway theme, so i noodled around and wrote a piece on the spot (later to be called ‘galena’.) a family dining there insisted on buying the recording of this piece, which didn’t exist. one of the members of the family persisted and tracked me down in wisconsin, asking me to please record this piece that had meant so much to their celebration that evening. motivation. an impetus. it pushed my buttons and i started exploring the options.

that’s where the most amazing producer comes into the picture. our first recording encounter, which was also our first meeting, was not without challenge. my playing was measured, unemotional. ken’s suggestion was to get someone else to play the music i had written. i’ll never forget that. i was appalled. so we re-entered the project, building a remote studio in one of the concert venues at northwestern university. the day we started our recording there was blistering hot and the air conditioner units on the roof began to leak into the auditorium. we laid comforters on the chairs and could still hear the persistent drip, drip, drip. so we waited. two more dates there and at least twenty-six hours of playing and re-playing and re-playing and we had completed the fifteen pieces on the album. a zillion details remained: editing, mastering, graphic design, getting a UPC, cd (and cassette) replication choices, copyrighting my music, seeking distribution channels……

thank you to all of you who, 19 years ago, were a part of this beginning for me. and thank you to all of you who have been on the journey with me along the way. your prodding, your enthusiasm, your quiet help, your encouragement, your making-me-think, your life wake-ups have all been exactly what i needed. granted, i, like anyone, would have loved an easier journey, but then it wouldn’t have been this very journey. and so i trust the design of it all and try to learn each of the lessons.

and so 19 years ago today i released that first of what is now 15 albums and a few singles. and today? today i sat and listened to every track of ‘released from the heart.’ i am on the way to recording a new album…a new vocal album. it’s been 12 years since ‘as sure as the sun’ was released and it’s time. here’s the thing, though. as i think about this new album, as i come out of a long fallow, i wonder. i’m not 36 anymore. i’m 55 and by the time this album is done i will be 56. and i want to be relevant.

so today, 19 years later, i’ve decided to share the stories, the ones behind the pieces i composed. in concert it is natural for me to do that; people have asked me if i would record albums with the stories as well. i personally can’t imagine listening to me speak every time i heard the music – you know that thing about hearing your own speaking voice on tape – seems blahblahblahblah-ish. but i will write the stories…and, in this new day, share them in a new way. and in the writing-back and writing-forward, i’m hoping for clear relevance. the other night john the drummer said, “it’s not your job to determine relevance. it’s your job to put your work out there.” as i listen to this album and watch my little candle flicker next to me, i’m beginning to suspect that relevance is already there. for each of us.

RELEASED FROM THE HEART november 11, 1995

RELEASED FROM THE HEART
november 11, 1995

 

 

go to iTunes for the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART

kerrisherwood.com