Welcome to the Higher project on ArtistShare.
Throughout my career as a singer/pianist/songwriter I’ve been pushing the boundaries of songwriting. I’ve recently been drawn to writing songs that combine lyrical poetry with a rich harmonic language, pulling from classical music as well as the circumscribed system of harmony in jazz and classic American song. Shulamit Ran, composer, friend, and mentor, has been instrumental in teaching me how to access a limitless harmonic vista. This album features “Angels, Birds, and I…,” a new song cycle that portrays this musical adventure, pushing the frontiers of my songwriting all the way into art song. I’m happy to say that classical singers as well as jazz singers are performing these songs.
In 2015 I had the honor of performing "Angels, Birds and I..." along with other songs of mine at Chicago’s Harris Theater with the incomparable Renée Fleming. Together we also toured my songs in concerts in NY and Washington D.C., and in 2016 Renée sang them at a Carnegie Hall recital. Her performance of “Higher,” a song I wrote for my mother, at the sold-out 4,152-seat Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Champaign-Urbana, was a gift she gave me I will never forget.
In 2016 Augusta Read Thomas and the Ear Taxi New Music Festival asked me to open the festival with these songs. I was honored by the request. The songs are at once “contemporary” and indebted to traditional jazz and classical harmony—art songs that are unique to my synthesis of sonorities and forms, and offer a new landscape for singers and instrumentalists.
In addition to “Angels, Birds and I…,” this album will include some instrumentals and covers, just for fun. We also hope to find an operatic soprano to sing one of the art songs, for my listening pleasure! and yours, of course.
Please join me as I share with you this very personal journey through ArtistShare.