Jeff Meshel consistently chooses powerful performers and songs for his blog. Many of his selections take my breath away. This one is at the top of my list. He writes: “But the discovery that’s been haunting me for days is this one, a spontaneous, honest homeboy and girl moment.  Aretha Franklin (b. 1942) Smokey (b. 1940) grew up in the same Detroit ‘hood, knew each other since forever. Here she’s the featured guest on a TV show called Soul Train, and Smokey’s a guest of the guest. Watch the banter, the comfort and immense mutual admiration. Watch the emcee challenge Aretha live on camera to come up with a Smokey song.”

Watch this!

Look how young they are. And Aretha is such an amazing pianist on top of her great voice. It’s a gem of a moment.

What are the many things to keep in mind when recording a music CD? I am happy to say that BMI has taken care of answering this question in great detail so I don’t have to tell you about the mistakes I’ve made over the years. Check out Cliff Goldmacher’s BMI post here.

An Anthem for Our Time

January 12, 2011

Out of Many is an anthem for our time with a hope that we can all find common ground to work together.

I co-wrote the song with Thomasina Levy and it has been recorded over the past 2 years.  An extraordinary group of musicians gave their talent and time to help this project come to life. They include David Darling, a 2010 Grammy winning cellist and Nammy winner Joseph Firecrow. We believe a song can help unite us. We are giving this song away for people to enjoy, to be inspired and to help bring our country together.

Thomasina: “Our country is at a transition point, and transitions are difficult and anxiety-provoking, perhaps this song will help make the transition easier.”

Joanie: “I hope that people will want to sing it and make it their own. Maybe it can remind us of what we truly want in our lives. I hope it makes these times easier and more full of community.”

Facebook: OutOfManySong

10 good things to keep in mind if you are a songwriter and want to be the best you can be.


  1. Find a co-writer. Songs can evolve differently with another person’s perspective so co-writing can be an excellent learning experience, especially if you write with somebody that is a little bit better than you. Also, two connections are more effective than one when finding ways to get your song heard and/or placed.
  2. Write regularly. The more you write, the better you will become. Always finish a song, even if you think a song isn’t worth finishing. You never know what could happen with it.
  3. Rewrite then rewrite again. Don’t be afraid to rewrite your songs; editing is your friend. You may end up having several versions of the song and that is perfectly fine. To quote pro songwriter RC Bannon, “Great songs aren’t written, they’re rewritten!”
  4. Get social (media that is). Create a presence on the internet with MySpaceFacebook,Twitter and YouTube.  These marketing tools for your music are key to connecting to your audience. You can also create your own website or blog.
  5. Play out. Get your music heard and gain exposure at writers’ nights, open mics and connect with your local radio stations (many have unsigned writers programs).
  6. Get friendly (but not too friendly) with your fans. Stick around after the show and talk to fans.  Get feedback and hear what other people think of your music. What do they like it about it?  What do they dislike? What else would they like to see you do?
  7. Hi my name is… The music world is all about building and establishing relationships. Get connected by networking! Here are a few places to find the perfect new pals.
  8. Listen and learn. Utilize the one-on-one mentoring that is offered with an NSAI membership. Soak up the knowledge and start applying it to your musical goals. Mentors can point you in positive directions and provide very valuable advice.
  9. Get paid. Check out the Performing Rights Organizations, ASCAP, BMI or SESAC and see which one best fits your needs as a writer.
  10. Go to an event. Attend NSAI workshops, Song Camps and Songposium to gain further knowledge of the music industry and the craft of songwriting itself.


Via: Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI): NSAI is the world’s largest not-for-profit songwriters’ trade organization. Established in 1967, the membership of more than 5,000 spans the United States and seven international countries. For more than 40 years, NSAI has been dedicated to serving and protecting the rights of aspiring and professional songwriters in all genres of music.

She is 25 or 26? Immense talent. Beautiful.

Yale Clones Singers

November 22, 2009

I had to be satisfied with performing solo or with a group at college. Check out this group consisting of Sam Tsui and 5 Sam Tsui clones doing an awesome Michael Jackson medley, arranged and produced by Kurt Schneider. Both are Yale undergrads.


Everyone else is talking about it, so can I? The new Nano iPod has been announced with the new and improved Steve Jobs, Apple CEO. One is a video camera, radio and pedometer as well as music player and one is a now healthy looking genius.

“iPod nano is the world’s most popular music player with over 100 million sold and now we’ve added a video camera to its incredibly thin design, without any additional cost to the user,” according to Jobs.

Choose a RED Special Edition iPod nano and a portion of your purchase price goes to help fight AIDS in Africa. Good marketing strategy.

You can check out the video/ad at


JT at Tanglewood

August 30, 2009

Picture 2

My husband and I, along with 22,000 fans, just attended a fabulous James Taylor concert at Tanglewood, the music festival in the Berkshires which is the summer home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The tickets were Bill’s birthday gift from the kids. The concert opened with JT playing with subtle and tasteful backup from a large band, including sax and trumpet, drums and percussion, and more, as well as 4 and occasionally 5 (his wife, Kim) backup singers. T is such a generous and relaxed performer. He clearly had a wonderful time. He spent the entire intermission signing autographs at the edge of the stage. It was a very blissful and feel good first set and I could have gone home after that totally fulfilled. Second set included several very sweet duets with Yo-Yo Ma accompanying JT. Then, more! with Yo-Yo Ma and both JT and Sheryl Crow who surprised me with her thoughtful song called  Wildflower. Although I find her to be a bit of screechy singer, the melodic beauty of the song, accompaniment and the lyrics really has made me an admirer. The end of the concert got a bit loud for me and we left before it was over, listening to the final songs float out over the beautiful Tanglewood grounds and through the fields as we escaped before the crowds for our long drive home. Here is a nice review of the concert on Friday night and another.

Great gift, boys! Next year you come with us!

The post-script is that today I read that he is donating his take for his 5 nights of concerts back to Tanglewood- a whopping $500,000 to support classical music and the music festival. What a guy.

(photo by Hillary Scott, from


I had a beautiful walk at the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord, MA. As I enter the trailhead there is a blackboard (not blackbird..) where visitors can chronicle the birds and mammals and reptiles they have seen on their visit; on the list were river otters, muskrats, ducks, geese, Grebes, snakes, hatched eggs. 

There were dozens of Red-winged Blackbirds at the edges of the marsh. Flying up and catching insects in midair, quite unafraid of my walking by. I now know the song of this bird- it was like a blackbird symphony. The call is like a yodel and a harsh trill.

To hear the song of the red-winged blackbird, click here.


An orchestra created entirely through YouTube performed in New York’s Carnegie Hall on Wednesday night. After auditioning over 3,000 musicians -via YouTube submissions- and tallying via online “favorites” voting with final judging by major orchestras, 93 were chosen  from 30 countries and flown in to perform Chinese composer, Tan Dun’s ‘Internet Symphony No. 1’ . Apparently the performance had a standing ovation (around the world) and in particular at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas.

Check out

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There hours of concert waiting for you. Full symphony as well as 3 little kids playing a 6-handed piano piece! Astonishing.

“Interactive, creative, fluid, democratic” are some descriptive words from Thomas.

Hat Tip: guykawasaki, twitterer  Ridiculant Blog