From the beginnings of my artistic life as a poet singer-songwriter through the years exploring and performing early music, folk, jazz, disco, pop, contemporary Christian music, new and experimental music, teaching and mentoring others, I have had the privilege of experiencing different cultures, peoples, music, and ways of being in the world as an artist and a teacher. I never dreamed that a life of song would be so adventurous and so fulfilling.
I grew up in Miami, Florida to the sounds of music. Lying in the grass on sweltering summer afternoons listening to the symphonies of cicadas, learning the chants of ocean waves singing the shorelines, the steady rhythm of Ravel’s Bolero to which every Saturday my mother and I cleaned house, Frank Sinatra spinning on my audiophile dad’s record player, and later my regular late night forays to the Rancher Motel where I cut my creative teeth on Miami’s jazz greats, I can’t remember a time when music was not my constant companion and guide.
At 13 I began studying classical voice at Barry University. At 18 I started my professional career as a singer songwriter in the coffee houses, hotels, and bars of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Two years later I became soloist and member of “The Early Music Consort” led by early music pioneer Arnold Grayson and remained active in the group 6 years. I studied jazz voice at the University of Miami, but restless to sing, withdrew in order to dedicate myself fully to writing and performing.
While performing with my jazz fusion band in Coconut Grove in 1977 Bee Gee’s producer Albhy Galuten heard me sing and took my demo tape to Barry Gibb. This life-changing encounter quickly merged me into the fast lane of the recording industry and show business. Within a year I was recording my first single, which Barry had written for the project. “Ain’t Nothing Gonna Keep Me From You” had modest success on the pop charts but Barry and his team believed in the song. They did a disco remix and when the song was re-released as a 12” it made its way into clubs all over the world. To this day it is regarded as a one of the most popular and best loved disco hits from that era. My first album, Pleasure Train was released shortly thereafter.
Harry Wayne Casey, better known as KC of KC and the Sunshine Band, an old school friend, collaborated on my second album Moonlight Madness as producer and guest artist. We recorded one of my favorite songs from my teenage years, “Yes, I’m Ready,” written and originally performed by Barbara Mason. When we heard the final mix in the studio we knew we had “a record.” “Yes, I’m Ready" soared to the top of the charts the following year and went “gold.”
A third album, Caught appeared. The title aptly described my relationship to Casablanca Records. Neal Bogart had become ill and the company went through a series of presidents in a relatively short period of time. I recorded a fourth album, Relationships, which was never released.
Although I had seen many of my dreams realized and had the privilege to have met and worked with outstanding musicians and entertainers, the fast lane was just too fast for me. I slowed down enough to hear the still small Voice in my soul, which had been almost silenced by the unceasing clatter of my career life. I awakened again to the faith of my childhood and began nurturing and informing that faith. Gradually I started to write again, this time with an inner posture of deep listening and the commitment to create that that flowed out of the Source of my spiritual life.
This time I entered a river. One meaningful encounter flowed into another. Soon I found a publishing home and then also a recording home at Word Records. Under Word Records and subsidiary label Dayspring led by Neal Joseph, two contemporary Christian albums were released, A Call to Us All and Voices in the Wind. I was deeply pleased that these albums, which were so close to my heart and my true calling were well received. One morning I was awakened by a phone call from a friend and colleague informing me that I had been nominated for a Grammy for best female performance. That my music was recognized and honored by my contemporaries was a joyful, humbling moment.
During those years my faith and lyric content increasingly broadened and deepened to the extent that labels and dogma became, finally, incompatible with my spiritual experience. In my travels I had encountered authentic spirituality in a myriad of forms and I was often inspired and instructed by people who used different words and concepts to describe similar experiences. I felt I needed a new language, one that was inclusive and affirming of diversity.
I continued to write and produce and to appear as a guest artist on several projects, some of which are featured in the discography. After all those years of recording, touring internationally, television appearances and six solo albums, I yearned to return to school and finish my education. I studied the creative process, creative writing and women’s studies at Vermont College, then earned my MFA in Vocal Performance from the California Institute of the Arts in 1996. In the following year I took an adjunct position there and taught voice.
While still studying, in 1992 I began teaching voice. My own musical journey unfolded in such a miraculous way that I felt spiritually impelled to teach and mentor others as my teachers and mentors had guided me in the course of my own life. I have taught with as much passion as I have had for writing and singing. My students are my constant inspiration.
In 1997 I moved to Hamburg, Germany. I lived and worked there for the better part of 16 years, with a three year residence in Arizona between 2003- 2006. In conjunction with an active performing life, I taught and coached voice, both in conservatory settings and privately, supported Waldorf Education as a teacher trainer, teacher, and consultant for music curriculum. I directed a number of choirs, from groups of organic farmers to seamen, and most meaningful for me: Gospelchor Blankenese from 2008 – 2013. A short biographical piece on the choir and me was featured on the German television network NDR. I appeared in jazz clubs and festivals and gave concerts from folk, early music and contemporary classical music to gospel and jazz throughout northern Germany. In 2005 I was invited to record and perform in the Philippines.
I returned to the United States in 2013 where I now reside in South Florida. During the summers I perform and teach in the beautiful city of Hamburg, Germany.
Today I continue to follow where the songlines lead: appearing on stage in concerts and disco balls, in churches and spiritual gatherings; teaching privately and in various educational institutions; writing, composing, and recording; directing choirs and facilitating workshops with people as they find and express their True Voice.
I move among these artistic expressions and landscapes with the commitment to serve others and to contribute to the making of a world in which harmony is not only a musical term but also is recognized and cultivated as the essential, binding quality of life found everywhere in society where people live and move and have their being together. The journey goes on!
For more in depth reflections about my experiences in the musical world, remarkable people I have encountered and had the privilege to work with, on teaching, on spirituality, how my singing life has been my path from and to the divine, I invite you to read my Life Songs Blog.