Music is my first memory: 2 ½ years old at the organ, playing harmony notes over my Mom's piano renditions of show tunes and hymns. If a note didn't sound right, I'd fiddle around with it until it did. That remains to this day my idea for harmony: experimenting until it sounds beautiful to my ear.
In high school, I found myself fascinated by romantic poets like Keats, Wordsworth, Blake, and other great lyric writers like Shakespeare and Dickinson. Their words struck me as passionate and beautiful. There I was, admiring their works long after they were gone, and it dawned on me that immortality could be achieved through art.
I wrote my first songs as English class projects, and when I played them for my classmates, I knew I had found a very fun thing to do for the rest of my life. I received my first guitar as a high school graduation gift, and with it I began to write what would eventually become my first album.
For the next decade I earned my living singing harmonies, arranging songs and driving across the country in a beaten, old Ford van. My voice developed, I became comfortable on stage and I learned how to sleep in the most awkward of positions.
Two guitars and three van engines later, I’ve just finished my first full-length album. I’m lucky enough to be working with some wonderfully talented musicians, who inspire me to do better. I spend my days in the studio or at the piano, chasing chords and words. If I’m stuck, I make some eggs, read some Schopenhauer or ride my bike around the lake until I see the Minneapolis skyline in the distance.
And then I remember that feeling I had in high school; the feeling of knowing that I was meant to do music. I still have it now, when I wake up at 3am with a song in my head, or when I tinker at the piano and stumble across those notes that go together like peanut butter and jelly.
I’m no Emily Dickinson, and certainly no Shakespeare. My only hope is that some of my thoughts and dreams and loves will outlive me through my music, and that years from now, a 2-year-old might be fiddling around to find the perfect harmonies to go with my songs.