When I was just beginning to dip my toe into the world of singer-songwriters, wanting desperately to be able to tell my stories through music, I lived in Detroit, and really had no idea where to begin.
It may be hard to imagine these days, but 12 short years ago, mega-book stores were just beginning to pop up.
We got a Borders in my neighborhood, and I spent a huge amount of time in the music section.
Today, if I spent 2 hours combing through cd’s, I’d say I “wasted” an afternoon. But, today, I’m reminded how it was anything but a waste.
I’d go to the singer-songwriter section, pull 8-10 cd’s, and scan them in. I’d put the huge headphones on, and lose myself. Well, not so much “lose” myself, as I know now, I was “finding” myself. I was discovering Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, Paula Cole, the Indigo Girls...and Jonatha Brooke.
I’ll never forget the day I found Jonatha Brooke’s Live album. I poured over every single song. I bought it, too. I lived in my parents’ basement, had almost no money, but...I bought it. and I listened to it. over and over.
Fast forward...a move from Detroit to Minneapolis, a major label deal, breaking that deal, an indie-label deal, that deal ending, a song on Grey’s Anatomy, Kelly Clarkson recording one of my songs, performing on national tv, a world tour, and several US tours, opening for amazing artists like Cyndi Lauper, Jonny Lang, and BB King...all coming to this moment...
Tonight I’m going to a rehearsal where I’ll pretend to be casual when I say hi, rehearse a few songs, and, tomorrow, share the stage with...Jonatha Brooke. The woman I listened to, hung on every single word of...
If I could go back in time and talk to that girl in Detroit, combing through cd’s at Borders, and tell her...do what’s in your heart. That’s what the women you most respect do. Speak your truth and try as hard as you can to ignore anything anyone might say that would stop you from doing just that....well, I guess the message was delivered in their music. Because here I am. About to go rehearse with Jonatha Brooke. She won’t know, but the young woman, afraid to step out into the world, who could only be brave enough to put the things she was too afraid to say in real life, into songs...that girl will be doing cartwheels tonight and tomorrow night. The 36-year old version of that girl will worry about hitting the right notes, doing a good job, etc.
Somehow, they’ll meet in the middle. I’ll take a picture with Jonatha, and frame it. Wish I could send it back in time and say to my younger self, “Anything is possible. Work hard, look for inspiration. and surround yourself with mentors that are better than you...even if you’ve never met them. One day....you will. Make ‘em proud, and show them the fire they lit inside of you.”