My intended favorites

Music.  Music moves me.  If you could make an analogy for my life it would be an endless playlist and it is indeed my constant. It is no surprise to those who "know me by heart".  I am the keeper of the playlists and you may have indeed received one from me as it is one of my favorites to give.  My playlists are not accidental.  They are well thought out, reviewed and strung together based on the criteria that rattle around in my brain... Transition, flow, topic, tempo, key, lyrics and last but certainly not least, meaning.

I am a sap, a sucker for the lyrics that kick you directly in the gut, make you cry or make you want to laugh out loud.  Sentimental to the core, the songs that get me dig into something that I, more than likely, typically refrain from admitting openly. My music is the mystery of my story.  Being a relatively open book, there isn't much that I hide away... often my most favorite songs touch on something I identify with, something that strikes me down deep... or at the very least makes me want to take off running, or bust a hot move, when I probably shouldn't. (often, I dance slightly on the treadmill. Blush.)

When I was about 16 I wrote my first song.  Piano and some lyrics and there it was.  A little piece of me I floated out there for the world to hear.  It was as if the song had written itself in my bones and it was just ready to float out - my favorite notes and chord combinations always settle that way.  But there was something vulnerable about communicating "something" that rests in the quiet depths of what goes unspoken.  I have almost always pulled a "Hey you've got to hide your love away" in the realm of self-written works as they are ultra-personal... I refrained from singing and playing those for just anyone... Until, well, recently.

In college as a fallen voice major I shifted to the haven of Interdisciplinary Fine Arts, still getting my St. Olaf chalk-full-of-music education and realized after a stint of vocal injuries that relying on this singular piece of the pie as my money maker may not quite be my intended path.  I learned a lot - not just vocally, how to protect myself, how to sing and adapt, but also what to listen for.  But music is my core, so I have sought it in every era of my life - as a soloist, wedding singer, children's choir director, vocal coach, church choir member, songwriter, co-writer and band member... The hope has always been "to do something with it" (wink wink).

Now the possibility of daring myself to move with my own music has been a major challenge. I have written and sang with a variety of folks who have challenged, changed and grown not only my musical tastes, but also what contributes to my spark.

My Dad is the numba one stunna in the realm of musical exposure.  As far back as I can remember, I was exposed to the greatness of my father's musical collection.  Way too loud in the living room, would say my Mom, but Dad pumped out Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young, too!) I learned to identify each of the parts and the difference between each of the voices.  Stephen Stills voice is one of my all time favorites.  Led Zeppelin, gave me a little more uumph and listening to Zeppelin still makes me feel like I got a little sass in my back pocket. The Beach Boys exposed me to happy songs but like, The Beatles, evolved into something a little more complex.  To this day I have a tough time nailing down which Beatles album is my fav - I bounce between Help, Rubber Soul and the White Album.  My first "really big" concert was in 8th grade when Dad got last minute tickets to The Rolling Stones.  I still remember being amazed at a nearly 60 year old Mick Jagger dance wildly across the stage at the OSU Shoe. Leslie Gore and The 5th Dimension were summer favorites by the pool.

Now I would say my Mom is a bit more reserved in her musical tastes.  She would always nod and smile as my Dad would gush over the next song he had to play for us, until he turned up the volume too loud, anyway.  Her infamous loves were the Carpenters and Petula Clark and well, Josh Groban.  To this day, any time I hear a Carpenters song, or "Downtown" there is an instant flash to my mothers face.

My sister, being a hint and some change older than me exposed me to Duran Duran, The Bangles, Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant and the 10,000 Maniacs, Dave Matthews Band and Pearl Jam, just to name a few - I'm leaving a whole lot of the late 80's and early 90's out, but I'm sure you can imagine. I vividly remember waking up at about 7 a.m. to a little of Tori Amos's "whoo-ooh" from Happy Phantom, or the floating finger picking of Pearl Jam's "Release" on our regular school days. She would get so mad when CDs would mysteriously disappear but I was enamored with my sister's a.m. music collection.

As the years passed, I inherited a brother-in-law, who exposed me to the likes of Willie Nelson, Jonny Cash, Hank Williams,  Randy Travis and a number of other old school country favorites.  Now, don't let him fool you.  This whole old school country exposure started so he could beat me and my sister at "Name That Tune."  Beware Pat, we Kearns girls catch on fast :)

And so, as my time has passed I have inherited new music from talented musically-inclined friends who have exposed me, whether in a classroom, over a computer, on road trips, or by singing, writing and playing with me.  Those relationships have established my own colorful array of music edu-ma-cation St. Olaf could have never provided for me.

So now I get the practical application of the crossroads between where St. Olaf and my family and friends have taken me on my musical journey and it's time I start inventing a little bit of my own.   2012, bring it on.  I see a bit of IV & Kearns in my future...  Happy New Year.

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