Take Chances, Be Open & Follow Your Heart!
I grew up in a small town in the middle of Ohio, the oldest of four kids. My father was a big fan of classical music while my mother gravitated more toward folk and jazz. For us kids, it was pop, rock and R&B all the way. We all liked to sing and everyone played an instrument at one time or another, often together. Suffice it to say, we had all kinds of music going on in our house and my siblings and I became experts at riding the genre merry-go-round. Saturday mornings we’d lie on our backs in the living room, listening to Casey Kasem’s Top 40. Sunday mornings we’d get dressed up and head to church to sing in the choir.
My dad was the music director at our church so choir practice was something that followed us pretty much wherever we went. Family outings in our trusty VW bus became concerts on wheels. One year, we actually sang Handel’s Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus rising out of our vehicle in three-part harmony, my little brother hitting the highest soprano notes with angelic perfection while my Dad and I held up our parts on alto and tenor. I was eleven and my brother was nine. This fete accompli didn’t win us any popularity points with our peers, but we secretly enjoyed the complex chorale arrangements and beautiful sounds we were able to make together.
My parents started me on violin when I turned eight and I stayed with it all the way into high school, though by then I’d begun dreaming of playing guitar. After years of orchestra and choir I was itching to break away and get into more contemporary, teenager-friendly music-making.
My first guitar was a hand-me-down from one of my dad’s seminary students, a weathered Epiphone with nylon strings and a wide neck. I took a couple of lessons at first, but mostly taught myself, picking and strumming my way through covers by my favorite artists of that time – James Taylor, Neil Young, Elton John, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, Don McLean… to name a few. I continued to play through high school and college, eventually adding a few classical and Latin instrumentals to my repertoire. At times, I’d play for friends or family, at home or in various dorm or apartment building stairwells – talk about great acoustics – but mostly I played by myself, just for the sheer pleasure of it.
After I graduated college I moved to Los Angeles, excited to embark on the next chapter of my life – in search of that strange new thing called a “career.” It was time to see if I could start making a living off the graphic design degree I’d just earned. And for the next 25 years that’s exactly what I did, going from freelance designer to art director, eventually becoming an entrepreneur and starting my own business, IPK, which I still operate today.
But time has a way of moving in circles, and after years of focusing on design and running a business I had occasion to be drawn back toward my musical roots – partly through family, with nephews getting into piano, guitar and ukulele; and partly through talented friends, many with music industry careers of their own, bringing music back into my daily life.
Inspired and encouraged, I dusted off my old guitar and went from casually tinkering to playing for hours each day, all in a matter of weeks, picking up ukulele along the way – an instrument I have since fallen in love with! Musically, I went from playing covers to writing my own songs – each one compelling me to keep going – playing more, writing more.
This entire musical catharsis never left my living room, however – until the day I chanced to play a newly minted song at a party and happened to catch the ear of Janet Robin (Lindsey Buckingham, Meredith Brooks, Air Supply). Janet liked the song and offered to record it. I accepted, thinking it would be a fun novelty. The rest, as they say, is history. I didn’t know it at the time, but that decision would change everything going forward. Working with Janet inspired me to take my music to the next level and I began taking on gigs at local acoustic venues, testing out my stage chops (and fright!) in front of live audiences. That in turn, led to more song-writing and more recording, and ten months later I’d released my first record, “True North.”
And of course, the musical journey continues! I’ve been writing new songs ever since the release of “True North” and continuing to do shows. I’m even taking my music on the road this year. I am so grateful to have entered this surprising new chapter of my life, returning to my roots while embracing the future… and very much look forward to continuing to share this wonderful musical adventure with all of you.