Tag Archives: Musicians

Introverts in Music

With the amazing Raphael Saadiq and Kim Burrell, fighting my shyness for the  sake of the music.
With the amazing Raphael Saadiq and Kim Burrell, fighting my shyness for the sake of the music,  c. 2007.


When you grow up in a big family, you get a humbling sense early on of your worth in life.  You matter, but no more or less than anyone else.  Individual thoughts and feelings don’t always get validation, because there usually isn’t enough adult time and energy to devote to everyone.

I grew up the ninth of ten children.  I have noticed that outstanding behavior usually gets attention, whether it’s praise or scorn.  The quiet, normal, uneventful wallflower children usually get the least attention.  This has carried over into every aspect of life I can think of, from my education to my work as a musician.

I have started reading ‘Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking‘, by Susan Cain, which recognizes the growing popularization of the glorified extrovert.  Our culture can easily make quiet, shy and normal people feel painfully boring and even worse, like failures.

I always felt like that as a child, experiencing only a brief season in my life of pride in this fact, thanks to the mysterious, aloof, artist known as Prince.

I had a neighbor, who unbeknownst to her, made a not so friendly comment that stuck to my sensitive self and hasn’t left me yet.  Upon finding out that I sing, often in huge rooms full of strangers, for a living she remarked that she “didn’t see me as the type of person who could do that, because I don’t walk into the room demanding all the attention.”  Well!  I thought, as I fought back the onset of my rolling eyes and tried to close my gaping mouth, you don’t know very much about artists.  There are many of us, with many different personalities, some extroverted and introverted! We are, after all people too.

Yes, we get up on stage and rock out, or act out!  Yes, we bravely pour our hearts out onto a colorful canvas or a written page! Yes, we often take to social media to promote our work!  But we are still be introverts, who just happen to be passionate and driven about sharing what we’re proud of!

The art comes naturally, everything else is the work we all must do, (unless you are Prince who admittedly does not do any of it)!

Thanks Susan Cain, for a book that gives so much perspective and pride to the introvert.

I’ll be back to share my thoughts as I continue reading the book.  In the meantime, if you have read it or have a thought on the subject-even if you’re an introvert, leave me a comment!

Career Day in NYC Public School & Detrimental Advice

Career Day at P.S. 161
Career Day at P.S. 161

Today Michael and I were honored to be invited to participate in P.S. 161’s Career Day.  It brought back old memories from my student teaching days.  And it has me wondering why some of us parents give our children such detrimental advice.

First of all, it was a challenge to accept the invitation, because we have Olivia, our 18 month old with us at home everyday.  Finding care, once in a while as opposed to having a baby sitter on a daily basis can be difficult.  Most of the babysitters we know have sucked their teeth and lost their patience with us for the last time because of our off and on need of their services.  They want more permanent work and we get that.

Sometimes we’d just like to have dinner and see a movie, but finding good babysitting is rarely easy. We ought to know, we found babysitters for our gigs all over the world with Alejandro Sanz, but it took a team and there were always glitches.   In the end, persistence prevails, for great and  small things alike.

We found a babysitter as late as yesterday evening and had a wonderful time at P.S. 161 today, talking about what we do and singing our song Dance.  We visited a special ed. class, a 3rd grade class and 1st grade class. The students were all lovely and bright, with hugs, smiles and lots of questions-many of them, unrelated to music- like are you married and what’s your cultural background, etc. Curious minds.

Afterwards, the adults gathered for lunch in the library, where we shared stories from the day.  I couldn’t help but shake my head when one lady told us about a boy who said he didn’t need to study because he was going to play basketball when he grew up!  I actually had a student at a different school, tell me nearly the same thing years ago.  He only showed up half the time for that after school reading program and one of those times he told me that his dad said he didn’t need any of it (the reading classes)!

Great teachers can do amazing things with young minds, but it amounts to nothing if parents don’t reinforce what’s learned, or at least support those efforts by encouraging the child!  Everybody knows this already, right?

So who are these people?