Music is Life, with Words from Plato and Joni Mitchell

Life is a lot of work! Especially for those of us who have lives in which we reflect on ourselves and our lives. As Plato said, “The life which s not examined is not worth living”. But I must say that at times I really do believe that ignorance IS bliss! One you start examining your life, you see many things – wonderful AND painful. One thing I am learning about myself right now is how much being creative keeps me healthy and happy. As I’ve mentioned in the past few blogs, I’ve been pretty ill, and although I’m pretty much better, my singing voice still hasn’t returned completely. It is definitely coming back, but one of the two muscle groups which work the vocal chords is still a bit swollen – which makes it hard (if not impossible) to sing sweetly and hit the high notes. It is just a matter of waiting at this point. The great news is that it is getting better each week!

While I am impatiently waiting for my voice to return, I am realizing that singing and creating music has been an enormous outlet for my emotions. I had no idea just how much life it brought me. Makes me think of the Joni Mitchell lyric, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you dont know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. I’m seeing how important singing and creating music is for me. It may sound stupid, but I didn’t see the depth of this before. I always knew I loved music, and turned to music many times in my life for joy and comfort, but I never saw how much it kept me balanced, happy and healthy. So much of life is hard work, overcoming fears and difficulties. Music has been my buffer. My respite from the toil of life. Actually giving me strength to contend with the rest of life. It is great for me to see this. Now that I see how necessary a part of my existence music is, I know I must do everything I can to keep it at the forefront of my life. It will keep me sane, healthy and energized. For whatever reasons, I think I have a hidden perception that (unless you are Miles Davis or Madonna) music is not a “real”, respectable career (like being a doctor or a businessman of some sort). In this country, the arts have always taken a back seat to other endeavors, and the life of an artist is not an easy one. There is very little support for an “unknown” artist. But I see first hand from the past two months, how much life the arts (singing and music in particular for me) bring – to me and to others. They keep us sane and alive and hopeful and strong. And I’m very lucky that at this time in my life I’m able to follow my calling and make music, and record CDs and so on. If I have ever had any doubts before that I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing, those thoughts are now erased! I can’t wait to sing with my whole soul and being when my voice comes back!

I’m writing this entry really for myself. To remind myself (incase at some point I slip back into my previous state of mind!) how important creating music is to my life. It is not just a feel good thing to do, or following some unknown calling from deep within, but it is life giving and essential to my existence.

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Eva Yerbabuena, Flamenco, Heath Ledger and a Health Update

I just returned from seeing Eva Yerbabuena dance flamenco at UCLA’s Royce Hall. It was a wonderful show! There is something so appealing to me about flamenco. I don’t know the history or culture of it (I think it was started by gypsies), but it seems to have so many qualities of other forms of dance and music. Yet flamenco is totally its own form of dance and music. There are elements of tap, clogging, belly dancing, modern dance, even some vague similarities to Hawaiian dance. And the singing style is somewhat reminiscent of the singing I heard cantors chant in Synagogue growing up. Flamenco has all these elements and combines them with one main ingredient – emotion. It is all about emotion – raw emotion. The show tonight was full of emotion. And Eva’s tapping was pretty amazing! There were four male dancers as well, who were all great. And four singers and four musicians. Pretty simple, yet pretty powerful. It is great to step out of one’s life and watch artists in action. At one point, I was very aware of the audience, and the fact that there were several hundred people watching a few people onstage, expressing themselves musically. It is kind of surreal if you think about it. All these people gathering to watch others move their bodies and make sounds. I guess it comes back to art, and the enriching experience it can bring. As I’ve said several times before, thank God for artists!

Speaking of artists, what shocking and sad news about the death of Heath Ledger. He was a truly great actor. I had the honor of meeting him very briefly a couple of years ago (along with Michelle Williams), and he was incredibly soft spoken and nice (and surprisingly tall!). A photo was taken (not a great one) and I’ll post it along with this blog. He will be missed by many.

And finally, an update on my health – since people are asking. I’ve finally been getting out of the house this past week, and my energy is coming back slowly. I started vocalizing one week ago today, and my voice is coming along slowly. My vocal chords are still a bit swollen, but I’m doing exercises to stretch them and regain their flexibility. My teacher thinks I’ll be singing again in a few weeks. I hope so. I truly feel a loss not being able to sing. While I wouldn’t want to repeat this experience, I must say that it has brought me many thoughts and understandings I would never have had, had I not lost my voice. One of the major ones is realizing what a gift it is to sing. I hope I never take it for granted. A “thank you” to all who sent messages, comments and emails. You have no idea how it warmed my heart to read your messages. It made a huge difference during my illness.

Stay tuned for more updates, including the release date of the new CD!

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