“Her voice was broken, so I sing aloud”

I work every day to make her proud
Her voice was broken
So I sing aloud.
—Emma Langford

I went to Milwaukee Irish Fest this year and heard some really top-notch Irish music by a lot of young artists who may be using traditional Irish instruments, but are singing about contemporary and deeply personal themes. The one that impressed me the most was the first person I heard on Friday, singer-songwriter Emma Langford.

Her range and vocal colors reminded me of a young non-smoking Joni Mitchell. Her stage presence is engaging and entertaining. And then she sang a song addressed to her 13 year old self, who had been diagnosed with vocal nodules and was told by her doctor that she had three options:

  1. She could have surgery
  2. She could go on vocal rest for 2 years (accompanied by voice therapy)
  3. She could keep singing and have a career as a Rod Stewart tribute artist (her words, not mine – but don’t they sound like something I’d say? maybe that’s why I like her so much)

She chose option 2. And for two years, she couldn’t do what she loved to do most.

I’ve had bad bouts of bronchitis that affected my voice (and my pocketbook), and the feeling of not wanting to do what I feel I was born to do left me feeling – broken. Not just my voice, but my spirit, my heart.

Emma sang, simply and without accompaniment, to tell that 13 year old girl that everything was going to be all right:

I work every day to make her proud
Her voice was broken
So I sing aloud

I think that 13 year old girl that still lives within her – and in all of us, whether we’ve suffered a vocal injury or some other physical or psychic injury – would be proud of her continuing to sing aloud and beautifully, with no sign of ever having had any damage.

She sings about everything from her own personal struggles with anxiety, to songs about getting her boyfriend back after stupidly breaking up with him (and any songwriter who writes the lyric, “Yeah, dick move on my part,” is golden), to songs about the love between a broken church bell and the ruins of a church (probably the most “Irish” sounding of all the songs).

There are so many songs I could share, but this one is her new single. It’s completely different and comes from her upcoming CD. Enjoy this video and check out her YouTube channel. I think you’ll enjoy it. Wait for her “trumpet” solos. 

So sing aloud and be proud. It’ll be all right.

It’s die-dee-die-dee-time!

Yes, it is time for my semi-annual (sometimes annual) pilgrimage to Milwaukee Irish Fest to dance jigs, drink beer (none of which will be green), listen to Celtic punk and traditional (die-dee-die-dee) music, eat deep-fried food, and celebrate what is not my heritage, but what speaks to me much more than anything in which I was raised.

The studio will be closed from 8/14 (that’s today!) through 8/20. I will be teaching next Wednesday and Thursday and the following Monday. Then the studio will close for 8/27-9/2, and we will start back up on 9/3 with the fall semester.

If you are a studio member, please read your email. The studio policies and final packages are going out before I leave today.

Enjoy this video from Milwaukee’s own Tallymoore, which at the time this video was filmed (at 2014’s Milwaukee Irish Fest), included MezzoidMKE alum (and my original cabaret partner) Ryan Cappleman!

Found a composer!

I am thrilled to announce that Garth Baxter has agreed to accept a commission to compose three Irish songs. Garth and I have been Facebook friends for awhile now, and he has written some pieces for a good friend of mine, soprano Annie Gill, and so I thought I’d check out some of his work on YouTube.

The first song that came up was a choral setting of “Wild Mountain Thyme,” which I posted the other day as the song that has meant a lot to my husband and me at our regular pilgrimages to Milwaukee Irish Fest. I thought that this was a sign, so I contacted Garth immediately.

I’m in the process of getting the poems pronounced for me and I’ve ordered an Irish-English dictionary from Amazon to help me do a word for word translation.

This is very exciting. I don’t know when we’ll get started, let alone finished, but I think this will be a fantastic collaboration!!

Now to decide whether the recital they’ll be on will be the originally intended “outside the box” theme or if I’ll just go with a Celtic theme and reprise some of the things that I did with MacDowell Club a few years ago….

More info to follow!