10 years ago, I was living in a 3 bedroom house with cardboard walls. The house sat at the dividing line between two neighborhoods on the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio. The previous renters had been drug addicts and often as I attempted to plant roses and azaleas along the perimeter of the small overrun backyard, I would find needles or other parapharnalia. It was the small room on the first floor, at the back left, where we shoved my upright Kohler and Campbell piano and where I set up songwriting shop, the floors badly scuffed, windows drafty, ceilings high and water stained.
There was a bathroom that separated my writing room from the kitchen and often I’d bang my guitar’s neck into the bathroom, lower the toilet lid, close both doors, and let the sound of the melody I’d just pulled out waft around the tiled walls like smoke.
The following spring, I planted a foot tall willow in the front yard.
Every now and then, I drive down that street. It’s hard to spot that house anymore, though. The willow is enormous and has draped across like a heavy curtain, hiding the view of the mildewed brick and the bent aluminum screen door we walked through so many times.
That was 2001 and it was during that year and the next that I turned as best I could my longing and fear, grief and joy into a collection of songs. That record was my first solo, independent release, my first stumblings, ramblings, and post-baby prayers; my grasping for straws, hopes on a page, dreams from a sometimes difficult past.
I had no idea what I was doing but now, at the least, I’ve come to revel in that uncompromising truth.
So Black, So Bright was a record about my great grandmother, Maude Palmer, who lived to be 95, blind, a widow of 2 husbands and 3 children. She was a share-cropper who farmed great stretches of sun burnt Florida sand.
So Black was about myself as a reluctant mother, having never thought twice about having children, yet becoming transformed (and milk-sodden) through the birth of my son.
So Black was about my loneliness, my partner’s loneliness, my loss of home and place, loss of my faith and the grief that swept in and through and all around.
So Black was about dreams of making children’s books, dreams of a music career, dreams of past friends, old lovers, blowing palm trees, the sound of a whippoorwill across a South Florida wetland, and the raw, contagious, stupid love of a fantastically clutsy dog named Edie who exhausted the ever-loving hell out of me.
We caught SBSB in a makeshift studio in Norwood, Ohio. My producer and friend, Jack Henderson, built a vocal booth just to accommodate me. He strung tiny, colored lights around the room and we spent many hours trying to capture my nervous, insecure, frazzled handiwork. Jack glued my songs together with superior musicianship and there are many magical moments on that project that will make me forever proud.
SBSB ended up giving me a new artist of the year award here in this great city of Cincinnati and then mystically shooed me down this well-grazed path of dreamy opportunities, musical friends, tours, more records, more songs, towed cars, stolen gear, 12 hour drives, the best management support team ever, the best lawyer ever, the best booking agency ever and YOU. YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary birth of that record and to celebrate 10 years of living this life, I am offering, via my webstore, So Black, So Bright at whatever-you-can-afford from now until the end of the year.
You name the price. You set the tone.
Many of you know me through single songs like Build You Up and Days Like This but I’d love for you to hear what I was thinking when I first started. One of my favorite songs on SBSB is the track, Long Is The Day. It has the same heartbeat as BYU and DLT. You’ll hear it.
Thanks for 10+ years of buying my music, thanks for 10+ years of spinning my soul. I’m honored to be living a life that I never knew could be lived. I will do my damndest to continue to honor these chances that I’ve been given.
Here’s to many more.
All my love,