reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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my palette. [k.s. friday]

her palette - the piano

yesterday david wrote these words about his palette.  as i read his words, i realized he was conveying many of my own sentiments.  with his permission, i have only slightly modified his words this morning to express my own artist palette – my piano.  the re-posting of this, and even using the same verbiage, reminds me of the intertwining of all soulful expression.  bear with me as i experiment, my words in red, an exploration of two artistic planes running parallel.

true confessions: i never rarely clean my palette the music stand on top of my piano. i like the messy build up of color. color is found in many forms but mostly notebooks and pa-pads, scraps of paper, snippets of tracks recorded on an iriver or an iphone. i like the chunky texture pile. it serves as a gunky history of my work, a genealogy of paintings compositions past and future. and then, over time, it becomes a tactile work of art in its own right. unfettered by any of the mental gymnastics or over-ponderous considerations that plague my “real” work, it is the closest to child-mind that i will achieve. it is accidental. it is free.  it is idea, melodic gesture, poetry waiting for notes, phrase waiting for the rest of the lyrics.  ready.  waiting.  free.

this might be a stretch but it is, for me, nevertheless true. i love my palette because it is the place of alchemy in my artist process. it is the true liminal space.   long before the space spanning the route taken from introduction to coda.  i begin with pure color. i begin with the rest, silence inbetween the notes, the place for breath so you can hear the vibrations of sound.  i smash the pure color together with another color and transform it into a third color, the hue i intend. note upon note i build a melody, smashing note upon note i build a small unaccompanied orchestra of harmony, the hue i intend.  on a palette, color becomes intention. sound becomes intention.  and then, once transformed, with a brush or knife i lift the color-intention from my palette and in an action that is often more responsive than creative, i place it onto a canvas. i play, i listen, i play again.  i lift it from the keys of my palette and place it onto the canvas of paper, attempting to capture the fleeting moment it has created and etch it into a piece of music that can be repeated, played again.  it transforms yet again relative to all the color it touches. it transforms yet again relative to the air in the room, the echo of an intention, the listening ear it touches.  an image emerges. more color is called for. it emerges, this composition of music, and more color is called for.

and, somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette. the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful. and somewhere in this call and response of color, i become like the palette.  the pass-through of alchemy, the door that color passes through en route to something beautiful.  this!  can there be a more pure statement of artistry? and, in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind. unfettered. accidentally interesting. free.  and in the process, perhaps i, too, in my messy build up of life/color, grow closer to that child mind.  unfettered.  accidentally interesting.  free.  the rest between the notes.  the breath of music on the air. 

“You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough” ~ William Blake  i paint.  i write.  i compose.  i don’t know what is enough until i know what is more than enough.  truth. 

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

iTunes: kerri sherwood

their palettes website box

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ks friday

jacketrightnowjpeg copy 2as much as i like black and white, NOTHING is really quite black and white.

we walked the tax stuffff into the accountant’s office this morning.  it’s been over 20 years that i have been keeping precise records for the company that is my recording label: sisu music productions inc.  this company (like me, like any of us) has seen its ebbs and flows through the years.  some of it was due to economy, some due to personal reasons, some due to technology and the internet changing every professional musician’s life, some due to the matter-of-fact financial challenges on any independent recording artist.

while i was compiling all the information this year, i had many conversations with d about how i was feeling.  at one point, he turned to me and said, “this is like reading your calendar at the end of the year, isn’t it?”  mmm.  yes.  a cruise through the year in my life as an artist with albums, an artist who has spent time on the radio, on stages, on wholesale show floors.  some years that ramble-through is exciting; some years that ramble-through is disappointing.  there is always back-story behind the activity, the sales, the decisions.  it’s not black and white.

i stand here in march, 23 years after the release of my first album, touching the very very black of my piano and the very very white of the scrap paper i use so often to write on, and look out ahead of me.  i wonder where – in this arena of my life, this heading, this column – i am going.  the view from here is foggy and unclear.  do i have albums to make?  stages to play on?  my end-game is different now – it has to be; i am 23 years older than i was back then – at the beginning.  i can only wonder if the music that is still a part of me, still inside me, never yet hitting anyone’s ears as a finished recording, will find its way, will find relevance, will lead me into the next.  it’s not black and white.

IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE from the album RIGHT NOW track 4 – on iTUNES

IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE from the album RIGHT NOW on CDBaby

PURCHASE THE PHYSICAL CD – RIGHT NOW

KS FRIDAY (KERRI SHERWOOD FRIDAY)

 

it's not b:w framed art copy

 

it's not black and white LEGGINGS copy 2

 

it's not b:w square pillow copy

read DAVID’S thoughts on IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE

IT’S NOT BLACK & WHITE from the album RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood


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ks friday #1

slow dance single jacketi just updated my “about” page on this blogsite.  i wrote the words “15 albums and a bunch of singles and i’m still wondering what i’m doing in this industry.”  truer words were never spoken.  our current world, in all its fantastic technology, has changed everything for recording artists everywhere.  music is not hard to create.  sales are. i have ranted many a time (and even on this blogsite) about this very thing – vastly minimized earnings with the challenge of streaming and burning and grabbing.  but i am a musician.  and, if you are an artist of any sort, you know that you are what you are and that’s the story.

our studio melange (paintings, music, cartoons, books, children’s books, plays) introduces friday as ks kerri sherwood friday…an opportunity to say a few words about a song or piece of music, maybe acquaint you with an album or a track you haven’t yet heard.  something that might resonate with you.  something i recorded in a rainy auditorium 23 years ago (a few people will understand that…carol and the-amazingly-“fine”-ken included.)  something i flew to nashville to record. something i recorded after twenty-three hours in the studio.  something i recorded at yamaha artist services in nyc. something i recorded five days before my wedding.  or maybe something new.

so – in keeping with valentine’s day (and every day) – not to be all geeky-mushy and everything, when IS the last time you slow danced? this song, SLOW DANCE, when it was released as a single from the album AS SURE AS THE SUN climbed a secondary adult contemporary radio chart up to #13.  ASATS copy

for a recording artist, there is nothing like hearing your song on the radio.  except for maybe slow dancing with the love of your life.  yup.  no comparison.

slow dance.  the song.  it seems to speak to people.  and THAT is my work.  what more can i ask for?

 

SLOW DANCE from the album AS SURE AS THE SUN (track 3)

KS friday

www.kerrisherwood.com

www.kerrianddavid.com/the-melange

SLOW DANCE from AS SURE AS THE SUN ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood


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there are angels all around you.

angelsallaroundyoujpeg“there are angels all around you,” pete said. he said this a few years ago now and it has stuck with me like glue. it was snowing – fiercely – and i had chosen to go drive in it with my inordinately-low-to-the-ground little xb. maybe not a terribly smart decision, but i needed to purchase a special gift and overnight it, so i left home determined to get to the little shop called ‘peacetree’ and find the perfect present. i took wrapping paper, a card, tape, scissors and a fedex envelope with me, in an effort to be organized and confuse the universe with my illogical logic.

having found and wrapped the perfect gift at the shop, i looked outside the big front window and saw that, not only had inches of snow piled up in my short time there, but the plows had gone by, encircling my little scion with drifts. i looked at pete, wrinkled my face in worry and said, “uh-oh…this should be an interesting drive home.” he looked back at me, his eyes kind and clear, and said, “there are angels all around you.” there were several moments of silence between us and then he said, “really.”

my husband just wrote a beautiful post about the angels all around us…the ones who help us, cajole us, take care of us, leave us favorite groceries on our front steps for when we return home from a difficult trip, make us soup, drop off a bottle of wine, bring us brownies….people in our everyday lives who make things easier. we all have them. sometimes we appreciate them a lot, sometimes we have no idea how life would be without them. they are indeed angels and life is better simply by their being in our lives. angels all around us. i was moved when the girl told me about someone she bought a sandwich and water for outside a convenience store…he was a veteran and she felt like she was drawn to helping him by her pa, my dad and a WWII ex-pow. with not much at all to spare, she was an angel for this man, who needed help. yes, angels all around us. ones we know, ones we don’t know.

and then there are the angels that i believe pete was talking about. the ones we can’t see. the ones who are present with us, but just on the other side. how many times have you felt the presence of someone you love who is no longer on this plane of existence? truth be told, i rely on that. i talk to my sweet momma, i tell my daddy stories. i ask my big brother to help me out, to give me clear, precise thinking, as he had. i’ve seen evidence of them, trying to get my attention…my “coincidental” noticing of the big semi on the highway going the opposite direction with the words “WAYNE WAYNE WAYNE” written across it…the two cardinals repeatedly swooping in the backyard over the deck, in moments i am missing my parents desperately…the intervention i can’t explain in an accident that could have proven to be tragic…the slight smell of cologne or perfume in the air…the can falling off the shelf in the green room beside the stage on the last take of the last song (called “divine intervention”) of my very first album (the-best-producer-on-the-planet-ken and i left this sound in the recording, feeling it an important message)…

i’m not sure we can seek these angels out.   as much as i’d like, i can’t just call them up. but i do know that they are there. and that blizzarding day i was out in the snow and got stuck by the fedex box, there is no explanation as to why i was able to just – all-of-a-sudden – drive out of the enormous drift into which i had slid. pete was right. pete is right.

occasionally, i see pete out and about in town. one of these times i will stop and tell him how much it meant to me that he said that. undoubtedly he won’t remember. but me? i will never forget. there are angels all around me. and yes, there are angels all around you.

kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood

angel you are: track 10 on AS SURE AS THE SUN

there are angels all around you – prints/mugs/pillows/cards


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peace.

in this time of craziness, i strive to be an instrument of peace.

sharpersquareinstrofpeacewordsonlyjpeg

in this season of hope, i hope for peace on earth.

3peace-earth-peaceonearth-jpeg

in this holiday time of wishing, i wish you peace.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/as-it-is/id507694171     (track 5:  peace)

PEACE. from the album AS IT IS. one of my favorite tracks ever, with eternal thanks to the best producer on the planet, ken abeling.

MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT OF PEACE gifts

PEACE.EARTH.PEACE ON EARTH gifts

itunesgiftthis

 


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twenty years later

my sister sent me this.  i don't know who to credit, but it's brilliant.

my sister sent me this. i don’t know who to credit, but it’s brilliant.

a year ago yesterday i wrote about an anniversary….it was 19 years since i released my first album. well, that makes this year’s yesterday 20 years since the release concert for that first album! i looked at someone last night and said, “two decades!” which makes it sound like forever ago. in some ways, it is.

fifteen albums and several singles after that first release i sit here at my piano and get lost in thought. thoughts of what next? thoughts of direction – looking back and looking forward. thoughts of relevance. (yes, i have used that before in writing. but it’s so…relevant.)

at 56 i am a different composer, a different performer, a different dreamer than at 36. it doesn’t seem as important to fill any concert venue in order to have impact, in order to resonate with someone in his/her life. i wonder where the next two decades will take me. sheesh, where will the next one decade take me?

i face different challenges now than i did at 36. i’m not writing in interrupted bursts at the piano, in-between toddlers’ requests or needs. i have more uninterrupted time to sit and compose, to write lyrics. hmm…i find that i’m actually better when being interrupted.

my songs are different too. lyrics at 36 were designed for airplay – 3.5 minutes or less. more than that was the kiss of radio-death. lyrics at 56 aren’t designed. in fact, i’m wondering who will listen. how many other pianoplayingsingersongwritercomposers are out there?

i was listening to pop radio while driving the other day and was floored at all the lyrics i would never have written. the lyrics “i’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble” would never occur to me. so i’m guessing (newsflash!) i’m not cut out for this pop radio thing any more. that’s a no-duh, you’re thinking. and yet, i know that people are still listening. i get feedback (jay’s word:) from people who generously take the time to sit down and jot a note to me about how something i have written touches them. this is huge. this is what makes writers keep writing, composers keep composing…the idea that something they have to say resonates with someone else. although the muse forces us all to continue regardless.

so….where am i going? i’m thinking about recording a new vocal album that is ukulele-based. not because i am a good ukulele player, but because i am not a good ukulele player. it will force me to really think about the lyrics, the melody, the stuff of emotion. i won’t be able to rely on those familiar and beloved 88 keys. it would make me change; it would make me grow. both are good.

i’d like to find a way for all the music that i’ve already recorded to be accessed more…in a fiscally rewarding way. the 319,954 downloads in the first quarter (see post from September 22) didn’t actually help me make a living. and that same thing happens each quarter that goes by. i’d like to think that everything that has been invested in all those albums – all those pieces of music – all that heart – might be able to help me pay my bills. $0.00079 royalty per download isn’t really the way to get there. and all the radio promoters and marketers i’ve paid in the past didn’t need the income from my music to pay their electric bill. they needed the income i paid them. big difference. but genuine iTunes downloads or licensing for movie scores or some wildly lucky viral hit would help.

in the meanwhile, i have to decide to decide. that it doesn’t matter, ahead of time, to know who will listen or what will happen. that if music is to be written, it just must be written. i have no real control over the rest.

twenty years later i think i get it.

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood


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319,954. first quarter 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 5.12.43 PMbmi, one of the major music royalty companies, sent me a statement and a check which i opened today. happy to be a bmi artist, i was grateful to receive the check; i read it first, a natural human reaction. then i pulled up the statement.

my original music had 319,954 plays in the first quarter of 2015. that is: between radio, tv, internet, music program companies, my music has been spun over 319,000 times. in one quarter of a year. now…that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it. one of my big questions these days about my music is – is it relevant? well, apparently, it must be. and so this is reassuring.

now, you would think that would equate to a decent royalty check, the ability for an independent artist to make a living. this is what i made per spin (an average…i am a bit of a math geek)….are you ready? i made a whopping $00.00079 per play. that isn’t even NEAR a PENNY. so let’s see. that means that the total of 319,954 plays has NOT netted me enough to:

1. buy a decent basket of groceries
2. even pay half of my private health insurance premium
3. pay for my dog to have 3 months of heartworm preventative medication and flea and tick preventative medication
4. pay my one-month cell phone bill
5. contribute to half of the mortgage payment
6. pay the minimum payment on my master card bill
7. pay the amount of my monthly parent plus loans for my son’s college fees
8. pay an hour of an entertainment attorney’s time
etc etc etc

it would just cover the electric/gas bill.
it would pay for life insurance.
it would cover a month of car insurance.
it would cover the cat food.
it would cover the water bill.

but. it will not cover any combination of these bills. and, as i pointed out above, there are many it won’t cover at all.

and that brings me to value.

what is the value of music? and, if it is relevant, why is so little value placed on it? how many places have you been, events have you attended (weddings, funerals, dance parties…what would those be without music?), commercials you watched on tv, movies that inspired you, moved you, disturbed you – how would those be without a soundtrack? how many moments have you cherished that would have changed dramatically withOUT the music in that space of time? what does it do to your heart? and how can we place so little value on that?

there were a reported (mind you, this is what is reported, not what is the real total) 19,974 plays on the internet of my original music. this netted me (wait for it) a grand total of $3.61. yes, you read that right. $3.61. i could not even treat you and me to a starbucks for that. i couldn’t even get a happy meal for that. and yet, 19,974 people/entities listened to the music i conceived, wrote, recorded, paid for a recording engineer, mastering engineer, piano technician, miscellaneous equipment, yamaha had a piano delivered to the studio, purchased upc codes and copyrights, had a graphic designer design a cd format, ordered and paid for replicated cds and print art (jackets, tray cards), paid ups to ship boxes upon boxes to the office, paid for marketing materials, paid employees to market and distribute, drove thousands of miles and carried hundreds of pounds of boxes of cds to play concerts, perform at wholesale, retail shows and stores and do radio and tv interviews, uploaded over 200 tracks from 15 albums to itunes, and see that pieces have found their way onto the internet in ways i can’t put my finger on…..i needn’t go on….i’m sure you get the point…. in the days of physical cds and brick and mortar buildings, and even in the days of just itunes downloads that paid artists, there was a chance at treating you to BOTH a happy meal AND a starbucks. but now…..

and so. the music. it’s relevant. and it has value. but who is missing out in this equation??

a few weekends ago i performed for an important event. as with all work, it took preparation and commitment, practice and heart to make sure that my performance supported the event. after it was over, many people commented on how touched they were by this music. one gentleman asked me, “when you aren’t playing music, what do you really do?” really???

i am 56. there is a lot of music left in me to write, record, perform. how do i justify continuing to make this music when each piece that reaches the ears of another living soul pays me less than a penny? do i hope for sheer luck? for an overnight itunes download sensation? or a youtube that goes viral, heaping advertisers at my doorstep?

these are potent questions. what are the answers?

how can i (afford to) live and keep making music? how can i (afford to) live and not keep making music?raw-1

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood