I love helping women find and claim their voice and share it on stage because I know first-hand how incredibly empowering and blissful it is to overcome fear and finally let yourself sing.
I myself went from singing in a closet, hiding my voice and songs and being frustrated, stuck and miserable to feeling free, confident and joyful performing my own music internationally, making a CD, teaching workshops and building a soul-centered and successful studio that caters specifically to the needs of women artists and artists-to-be.
But it wasn’t easy getting here.
I started playing piano when I was 5 and had my first paying gig at 14. I was already a highly successful and award-winning professional musician by my 18th birthday. My life revolved around traveling for competitions, performing, accompanying, playing in master classes, attending festivals, and spending hours alone practicing each day. There was a lot of intense pressure, tension and perfectionism associated with music very early on, but I muscled through and did what was expected of me despite the consequences to me emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Deep inside what I really wanted to do was sing my own songs but even though I was a trained professional musician and even landed leading roles in musicals and won awards for my singing, I was still too afraid to express my own true voice and lyrics-I was full of self-judgment and criticism.
After college, I made a radical move away from the classical piano performance career track I was on which deeply shocked and disappointed everyone around me. I did it partially because I never felt I belonged in that world in the first place, and partially because after years of pushing myself to play through physical pain that no doubt had emotional origins, I seriously injured my arms and needed to stop because I could barely sweep my floor let alone play. This was devastating.
I went to India and learned music there as well as a whole new perspective on the purpose of music. When I came home, I earned a prestigious music teaching position at the Boy’s Choir of Harlem School but simultaneously I was working on my own healing. I was intent on finding my own voice and shifted my focus to self-discovery and personal growth.
I was certified in Yoga, Meditation and Stress Management in 1996/97 and in Holistic Health Counseling in 1999 and worked at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition for 2 years before starting my own private practice. I studied creative movement intensively and worked and apprenticed with various healers and therapists. I stopped performing nearly altogether but I ate lots of kale and read lots of books about women’s empowerment and healing. I discovered the power of my own voice and my natural leadership skills by facilitating classes and workshops on nutrition, yoga and the Artist’s Way at the Elizabeth Seton Center for Women’s Empowerment and Spirituality, and other centers in NYC and internationally. I loved that work because I love helping people but I barely recognized my life or myself without music as the center of it. And I was sure that if I didn’t find a way back to music I would never be truly happy.
And of course, it didn’t help that I hung around with musicians who were gigging constantly and whose paths were clear and linear. Being so close to music and not doing any was so painful and I despaired of ever finding my own musical identity and path.
Then came a miracle-a long distance phone call with a friend who heard my pain and distress and cared enough to lovingly coach me until 3am. What I discovered on that call was that the people who inspired me most were my favorite female singer/songwriters (at that time they were Ani DiFranco, Over the Rhine, Jonatha Brooke, Indigo Girls, Joni Mitchell) because they seemed to believe in themselves enough to actually complete songs and share them, because they are courageous, strong and free, and because their music heals me and makes me feel understood. By the time we said good night I knew what I really wanted and why. And I knew that I was ready to claim my voice and recognize just how much I had in common with these artists.
The Anais Nin quote, “There came a time when the risk to remain tight as a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom,” applied to me perfectly. After years of confusion, I was ready to blossom and to find my courage and strength and move in the direction of my truest artistic dreams.
Slowly, I started to allow my voice to come out. First in the company of just me. Eventually I started valuing my voice and my creativity enough to complete songs, perform them, book gigs, lead bands and even produce and record an intimate CD called, ‘My Song Is Out Now’. Soon I became a regular performer at Rockwood Music Hall, the Bitter End, Makor, Café Vivaldi, Sidewalk Café, Triad (now Stage72), and I played private parties, fundraisers and showcases.
Although I was thrilled to finally be singing my songs, I had a new problem. I was frustrated by my vocal limitations. I knew I was just winging it. I also knew from my piano experience that straining could lead to serious damage and I didn’t want to go down that road again. I searched for vocal training and after more than a few weird and unhelpful experiences with teachers, I found the internationally renown Speech Level Singing technique (SLS)-the same technique used by Stevie Wonder and thousands of other music legends and stars. It helped my vocal skills improve so much and I was so impressed that I became certified to teach it in 2006 and opened an SLS studio.
Pretty quickly though I realized that strictly teaching technique in a prescribed way was not ‘me’ and was way too limiting. While I believe technique is essential for great singing and continue to teach it, I also know from my own journey that it is not everything. That’s how Total Singer Support was born-for the folks who like me, need to learn how to improve their voice but need a safe space to grow into the artist they are meant to be.
My unique holistic approach includes cutting edge technique and draws on all of my personal and professional experience in music and beyond to create a sacred sanctuary where women feel seen, heard and safe, and where they are supported on every level to fulfill their hearts through their singing.
I’m so humbled to get to work with fantastic women in NYC and all around the world over skype. You have all inspired me so much. Thank you.
So now the question is, what about you? Are you ready to sing?