Gratitude List 1817

(1) It’s a new day.

(2) Grateful for Spokane Faith and Values and in particular for the current Afterlife Series.    I was able to pitch in with my own take on the concept, and am fascinated with all the different ideas people are propounding.  I very much enjoy the discussions all the interesting journalists and religious figures I have met there.  It feels good to be respected and for my opinions to be considered.  But it feels even better to be among people who can disagree with each other, not only without fighting each other to death, but actually enjoying the great diversity of opinions that we, as thinking human beings, tend to form.   God bless them all.

(3) People are really nice to me here in this curious little hamlet — even people whom I am afraid may regard me only as a weird freak on strange trip.   This really is a pretty cool town.

(4) Saw a fabulous production of Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY at the Regional Theatre of the Palouse on Saturday, thanks to my friend Cody who drives.  I rarely leave the area (or even my house for that matter) but this time I’m glad I did.   It’s a show about marriage, and I happened to have been the Assistant Musical Director of the first nonprofessional production of it as in 1972.   Fifty years ago, yet I remembered practically every word and note.   Excellent production in a wonderful little theatre.  I got to sit second row orchestra.

Cody and I played and sang two songs from Eden in Babylon in the Green Room after the show, and the Artistic Director emailed Cody today to ask what my name was to see if he can get me on staff at R-Top.   When one door closes, another one opens.  I sure enjoy teaching singing.   Thankful for Cody too, that’s two jobs in a row he’s got me.

(5) Not sure which of three blessings to report, so I’ll capsulize.  I had a great four mile run on a beautiful afternoon on Friday, had a great conversation with one of my previous pastors (and it turned my head around), and I am starting in with a new therapist tomorrow at ten.   She says she will advocate for my true diagnosis with my new doctor once she’s convinced what it is.   She and the doctor are both runners, and that somehow seems it will help.   Looking forward to a new chapter in this surprisingly new life.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1815

(1) This coffee tastes so good right now, the very first sip reminded me I wanted to sit down and write a gratitude list.

(2) Weather has been so unexpectedly nice lately, with the snow melting all about. One wants to take a ten mile bike ride to the nearest college town in the most adjacent State. Yesterday I walked six miles; and though still crunching in the snow, I found it to be salutary.

(3) Can’t help but be grateful for this nice out-of-the-way apartment, and for all the wonderful opportunities it affords me – especially as contrasted with many living situations and non-living situations in the past.

(4) Working with Karlie on the three-part harmonies on Sunday was a welcome reprieve from all this self-isolation. I was able to get a clearer perspective on how this project appears in the greater picture, to others who are involved, not just the way it often appears through my own somewhat tainted prism of perspective.

(5) Finally finished the fifteen minute “scratch track” that is to be provided to all singers, musicians and technical personnel on board the Oracle Project. I’d been absorbed in it for nearly two weeks now. Turns out to be 17:45 which appears to be the current duration of the Oracle Sequence. This includes all the many tempo changes and key changes, everything correct, exactly true to score. Once the singers and musicians complete their parts, the scratch track will gradually be replaced by a much more sophisticated soundtrack. So as of today–as of submitting the scratch track–the dynamics of the Oracle Project have changed. I’m grateful to be moving on into the next phase.

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On My Own

I won’t have the podcast about my Christian experience ready for a few more days. I’ve been getting feedback from a couple other people and it just doesn’t seem ready to post yet. Parts of it would be unintelligible to anyone who doesn’t know me well, and I need to make it simpler.

Why don’t you soak in my student Zazen’s rendition of “On My Own” from LES MISERABLES in the meantime.  This is from our lesson on Monday — so it’s highly informal.

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Gratitude List 1810

(1) Mercifully, I got my ride to Winko’s on the 2nd of the month this year (so I wouldn’t keep squandering my monthly grocery money at the nearby A&W.) Cupboards are all stocked up and shelter-positive. Furthermore, I made it all the way through the month last month on one trip to Winko’s.

(2) The Oracle Project appears to be taking form. The pastor at First Pres okayed 20 consecutive Sundays in the room housing the Great Green Piano, last night a Broadway singer-actor with a bio on Wikipedia expressed interest in singing the part of the male protagonist, three of the Kids from the previous workshops have hopped on board, and today we received an unexpected $500 donation.

(3) Thankful for Ashley Peterson. Period.

(4) It looks like my daughter and her boyfriend have landed a nice two bedroom on the Russian River, far away from the high crime district where they currently live in Oakland, California.

(5) Tomorrow is the day when I will be seeing a new doctor, strongly recommended by three members of my church. Hopefully I will have a regular personal physician for lab work, etc., and hopefully he will in some way realize that I have Severe ADHD, that this transcends any other diagnosis, and that we will together find treatment that works.

“Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”.
    — Thomas H. Palmer 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1808

(1) Seeing as it is 8 degrees Fahrenheit now, I find things such as meditation and a hot bath very useful in the absence of vigorous outdoor exercise.

(2) Very good singing lesson today.   My student and I both agreed it was very constructive.   I really enjoy the arrangement and only wish I had maybe three or four other students as well.

(3) Spontaneously came up with a fairly decent podcast that seems relevant to basic stuff that’s happening, here there and everywhere.

(4) Christmas was peaceful.  I basically just treated it like any other day, and tried not to think about all the fun other people were having that they probably weren’t having anyway.

(5)  The more I shelter, the more I notice I don’t feel like spending a lot of time online.  There’s something about doing stuff offline that is so much less anxiety-provoking.   Lots of possibilities, anyway, when one has a computer, lives alone, and has ideas.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1807

(1) It felt nice to get out for exercise after being “snowed in” for about a week.  It was especially good to feel the cold fresh air getting into my lungs — a welcome reprieve.

(2) Finally created the “big pitch” to be issued to the regular recipients of my irregular newsletter.  Sent it out right at solstice this morning (that is, 7:59am PST) and quickly got a one hundred dollar donation.  So now it says $300 has been donated by 4 donors when you click on the GoFundMe.  Off to a good start.

(3) Finally got all remaining Hyfrydol CDs into the mail.  Hopefully folks will still get them by Christmas.  Also, I got to talk with my friend Danielle twice today while doing errands, which was nice, her being in Georgia.

(4) A little recording made between me and my singing student confirms that my home Howard piano creates a fine sound for vocal accompaniment.  This was only a “practice take” but we can do a more refined take later.  The whole arrangement really blesses me.  

(5) Trudging in the snow, having to be extra careful even in snow boots, and feeling my fingers get all frozen over and having to thaw out over doppio in a downtown cafe, has made me very grateful for the nice warm abode in which I have been for several years so pleased to dwell.  Be it ever so humble, this is it.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1802

(1) Z’s singing lesson went well again & we also had a great conversation. I felt this rush of gratitude as soon as I started playing my standard vocal warm-ups. This is especially heartwarming considering that five or six years ago, I was fairly convinced I would never be able to use those skills again.

(2) Heard from Keva whose show has closed now so we can get back to the album. For those of you have already bought it, we may be doing touch-ups on a couple of the earlier five tunes, as we gradually put the next five together. Grateful for Keva’s professionalism.

(3) Thankful for my gig at the nursing home, where I met a really interesting pastor / long distance runner who just agreed to have lunch with me next week.

(4) Check it out: Over 4500 views on “An Affair to Remember.” I even got a couple of downvotes! I must be moving up in the world. :)

(5) Shivering last night, I grabbed a second blanket and suddenly felt the same gratitude I used to feel when I needed another blanket when I was shivering outdoors. I always said “Thank you Lord” as soon as the second blanket made the shivers stop — and I said those words last night as well. Nothing like feeling God’s got you covered! (Let that sink in.)

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Keva Album Update

Here’s the situation on the album Keva & I are releasing.  You can hear the first song “Time Will Tell” without paying for it.  But you can only hear it three times for free.  To download it, you have to pay $3 USD for it.

If you download it, you will also receive full lyrics to each song, as well as a brief history of the songs — when they were written, who else has performed them, and so forth.

You can click on the thumbnail to get the entire album.   

Right now there are five tunes on it, all for $10.  Ultimately, there will be ten songs on it.  If you buy it now, you get all ten songs for the same ten bucks.  If you wait until all the songs are on it, you may have to pay more than ten bucks.

Finally, if you wish to pay more than $3/song and $10/album, feel free. Many of us are strapped these days, however, so I can understand if you don’t. But I hope you will kindly consider supporting this endeavor at this time.

New Album (Me & Keva)

If anyone wants to support us, click here and take it from there. For $10+ USD, you’re not only getting the five tunes currently on the album, you get the next five for free. Or $3+ per song.

I wrote all five of these songs in the 70’s except for “Daylight” whose music I wrote in 1982 with lyrics added in 2018. Histories of each song are included with the album, along with lyrics to all songs.

The next five songs will consist of stuff I wrote between 2013 and 2016 in Berkeley. It will be a month or more before they are released. So you’re getting a sneak preview.

I’ve removed all free versions from everywhere, except for one YouTube of “Time Will Tell” that’s been widely distributed and well-received.

Please consider supporting this endeavor at this time.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1793

(1) For the first time, I received a substantial donation to Eden in Babylon from a name I did not recognize. Maybe that’s a sign that things are looking up.

(2) This is the most consistent I’ve been with running since I moved to Idaho. I did 2 1/2 miles last night, 2 1/2 miles two nights before that, and 4 miles the previous morning. I’m sure I’ve lost significant weight, though have not yet been to a scale.

(3) Got another column published. I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to express my thoughts as to how some aspects of Christendom in contemporary American culture are extremely off-base.

(4) Am officially signing a W-4 and beginning my new job at the United Church next Sunday. Yesterday was Cody’s last day. I provided special music, and we had a ceremony afterwards in which Cody’s five years as their pianist was honored. The anxious fire that incessantly burns within me was once again soothed by the spirit of love and peace that prevails over this most accepting church.

(5) Zazen committed to a month’s worth of vocal coaching and I have my first official private music student since moving to Idaho. It’s wonderful how many new possibilities have opened up in my retirement, to permit me to do the work that I most love.

Hard work is painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love.
— Steve Pavlina

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1571

(1) Although I lost my wallet yesterday, I was impressed that when I went to cancel my debit card at the bank, they were able to issue a new one right on the spot. So I’ve already replaced one of the cards. I’m also appreciative of its being a small town, in this case. At least they know me at the bank and I didn’t have to go through a big to-do in order to verify my identity.

(2) Exercise has been going well except for that all the bicycling has my legs very heavy, thus making it harder to run. I did get up to four miles last Friday but have not run since. However, I’m grateful for the inherent message; to wit, I better start stretching. Just stretched my quads and already my legs feel more limber. Thank God for walking, bicycling, running & push-ups. I find it to be a great balance, though I have to go easy on the cycling (since it’s the laziest — it’s a little too easy to replace walking or running with it, on the spot, on the fly.)

(3) We recorded Urban Elegy at the church on Sunday and then proceeded to a cast party at an ice cream place. The Elegy is actually the 6th song in a supposedly 5-song demo soon to be posted, and the only one not done with studio equipment and engineering. Haven’t heard back from the Kids about it, but I’m working behind-on-scenes on a way to get a real studio version rendered (just in case they want to do it over again, for some reason). Anyway, I’m grateful for these Kids – for their devotion, and for the fun we had afterwards at the party.

(4) Managed to complete a column for the Understanding Prayer series on the religion-related news site I write for. Had me working on into Saturday — but I did take a chill day yesterday, for which I am grateful.

(5) I seem to be in pretty good spirits today, all things considered. I noticed as I rode my bike out for errands that it’s an unusually gorgeous day. I’m taking today to slowly redesign the web site in order mostly to promote my musical. Grateful for new high speed Spectrum Internet at the same monthly cost as the old DSL that wasn’t working too well; and grateful for a good coffee maker and good coffee. Life is good.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”   —  Thomas Edison

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1568

(1) Both sessions recording “Awake the Dawn” with full chorus went well on Tuesday and Wednesday nights respectively, though Wednesday’s was by far the most productive.   There was a positive spirit about the whole team, and the performance on the part of the Kids was outstanding.

(2) I’ve been engrossed in the first-in-a-lifetime task of creating a midi-convertible piano score based on exactly how I happened to play a certain piece (“Awake the Dawn”) on a certain night.   This is something needed by Dave, the new sound designer, and which I agreed to get done for him by Friday.  What’s nice is that, not only have I made substantial progress, but much of the experience of originally composing this piece years ago — of recreating the early pre-dawn moments, with the high female harmonies likened to the chirping of the night birds — is being rekindled.  So it’s a creative experience, as well as technically challenging.   This makes it much easier to stay grateful.

(3) PTSD therapy went well again this morning, though it continues to be very challenging.  I like the therapist.  She’s very dedicated, but also very light of heart, and easy to engage.

(4) Keva finished her job at the day school on Friday and has also decided to stay in the area and enroll at a nearby University.  I asked her about exploring the work-in-progress-album further and she responded excitedly that she is very eager to pursue this.   I’ve also thought of another older song of mine, “Time Will Tell,” to add to the four clips on the playlist, and also of a newer song I wrote in Berkeley that can be transformed for Keva’s voice.   This is a very meaningful musical connection — and it appears to be ongoing.

(5) Had a really nice time playing at a memorial service at the United Church on Saturday.  I was also paid in cash by the family (and paid well) but aside from that, it was a heartwarming occasion commemorating the life of one of the older theologians in town, a retired Disciples of Christ pastor with a Doctor in Divinity.  I stayed for fellowship afterwards, and once again sensed the feeling of everybody knowing me as “Andy,” though whoever they are, I have no idea.   Life in a small town can be warm.

“An arch consists of two weaknesses which, leaning on each other, become a strength.”  — Leonardo da Vinci

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Snippet from Sunday

I don’t usually do this sort of thing, but I want you guys to hear how these three female vocalists sound while SIGHT-READING the new introduction to my song “Ode to the Universe” from the 4th Draft EIB Vocal Score.  In no way had this been rehearsed prior to recording. Zazen, Keva and Karlie were reading their notes off the written score for the first time.  In fact, the three of them were singing together for the first time ever.

This thirty-second snippet reveals how the harmonic blend turned out — and well, you can hear it for yourself.   I’m getting a good feeling about this summer’s musical workshop — assuming we all survive the heat.

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Gratitude List 1556

1) Though we’re rapidly returning to real-life settings in these parts, I am thankful for the experience of Zoom and for the Zoom meetings I will continue to enjoy.  I imagine this would include my weekly Monday afternoon meeting with Kurt the linguistics expert.  Although it hasn’t happened yet, I always enjoy it, and usually learn new things.

(2) I’m thankful for all the professors I met in the two theology groups I discovered a while back.  On Thursday I met with Nick, a professor emeritus of philosophy who was the director of religious studies at the University here.  We had a wonderful conversation, in which he expressed his interest in my musical as well as theology.   I’m thankful he’d listened to Talking Shop Part Seven and Reaching for Your Hand, because he had useful observations as well as encouraging things to say.

(3) In the past year and a half, it seems that a niche has been prepared for me in the local journalism community.   I now count 22 columns I’ve had published in Spokane Faith and Values, where I’ve met numerous journalists with whom I am able to network.  Also thankful for all the local journalists I’ve met here in town, and at the University.

(4) Keva and I met again on Sunday.  We dd a new recording of “Reaching for Your Hand” in which we used two iPhones spaced strategically in different spots near singer and piano.   I’m in the process of mixing it down for my SoundCloud.   We also did a video of a song I wrote called “I Am the Blues.”  On examining her work closely, I told Keva she should feel free to interpret my songs as she chooses.  She does have that power, that gift.

(5) I’ve been meeting one to one with people who are interested in reinstating a musical workshop for the summer.  It won’t be the same exact team, but I am encouraged by the genuine interest and enthusiasm I am finding in those with whom I meet.  It’s been wonderful to have slowly realized in recent months that I am not the only person who enjoys working on my musical.   It’s been wonderful overall to have gradually discovered that I am no longer isolated, no longer alone.

“I realized if you can change a classroom, you can change a community, and if you change enough communities you can change the world.”
   — Erin Gruwell

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Gratitude List 1555

(1) Though I’d felt tired and innervated for weeks, my energy level definitely increased throughout last week and on into the start of this week.  Walking into town, I easily turned left and scaled up a hill that often has intimidated me.  A roundabout route through campus was not only beautiful, but brisk.  Moreover, I notice I’m getting to bed early these days and waking up like clockwork at the same time every morning, very naturally.   Grateful for the gift of health.

(2) Wrote a column for the religious news site, first one since the five-week series.   Kurt had a chance to go through it with suggested edits, many of which I accepted, prior to turning it in yesterday.  (It’s about hidden meaning that may be found in the pandemic.)  Grateful for this writing gig, and for all the journalists I’ve met here who encourage me.

(3) Had a wonderful experience yesterday providing special music at the United Church, where Cody is the regular church pianist on staff.  He played the service with great sensitivity, and Pastor Jodie preached a provocative sermon.  I played my “very Irish” version of Be Thou My Vision, and it was a warm, spirited occasion.

(4) Keva’s delivery of Reaching for Your Hand is almost too good for me to listen to.  She was practically sight-reading off of a score on her smartphone — that’s how little we had practiced it – and yet she nailed it.  I knew she was good, but I didn’t know she was that good!   I gave her another song I wrote for female voice called “I Am the Blues” that we’re practicing to record on Sunday.

(5) Getting up at 4:30 every morning again has been good for my spiritual health.  My friend Danielle in Georgia leaves at 7:45 to drive to work, and so at 4:45am PST we often have a conversation.  Lately the conversations have been very encouraging, mostly about how to be forgiving, in an ongoing way, in human relationships, and how we can feel free to solve our problems knowing that we are forgiven, for we can see ourselves without shame.  It’s inspiring how both Danielle and I have been positively influenced by our respective churches over the past few years.    There is new life all around me, and I am grateful.

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
   –Martin Luther King, Jr.  

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Gratitude List 1554

(1) It’s been great getting to sit in the café lately, where a number of people have told me I look more relaxed and healthy than ever before. Funny too, because I haven’t been running and I think I’m fat. But if I transcend the personal perception of potbelly, I can be thankful for the compliment.

(2) Just sold a Pensive CD for $15 on the site. Thankful for my first sale.

(3) Looking forward to meeting with Kurt the retired linguistics professor this afternoon at 3:30 as usual on Zoom.  I continue to be grateful for the ongoing search for knowledge and purpose that I have found here on WordPress, as well as in my University community, among all the scholars whom I’ve been privileged to meet.

(4) Keva did an amazing job on both of those songs yesterday.   We’re planning to do another version of “Reaching for Your Hand” once she doesn’t have to read it off of her phone, but even so, it’s the best anyone I know has ever sung that song — out of many singers, over the years.  I’m grateful for Keva as well as for all the other young performing artists who recently have shown an interest in my work.

(5) Beautiful day, cool and breezy.   Nice running weather.  I may be a slouch but I am grateful I have two strong legs and two long lungs.   They’ve come in handy, here and there, throughout life.

“Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.”
— W.B. Yeats”

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“Turns Toward Dawn” (Studio Version)

“Turns Toward Dawn” — Studio Version. Recorded (along with five other songs) on Cooper Knutson’s last day, serving as the main character, Winston Greene, in our ongoing Eden in Babylon workshop. Cooper Knutson and Keva Shull, vocals. Andy Pope, piano. Sound design by Liam Robert Marchant. I am at this stage nothing but proud of everyone involved. The world has yet to hear a better “Turns Toward Dawn” than this.

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A New Song

I waited patiently for the LORD;
He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me up from the pit of despair,
out of the miry clay;
He set my feet upon a rock,
and made my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
–Psalm 40:1-3

Gratitude List 1651

(1) Finally got that huge project concerning the time signature change out of the way.  Even got inspired in the process and heard some cool three part harmonies in my head that I was able to add to the score.   The result is a 12-page combined vocal, bass and guitar score to my song The Word from Beyond.  I’m not only proud of my work, I am relieved and thankful to have finished it.

(2) Really enjoyed the Coffee Talk on Saturday morning. I always enjoy hearing the perspectives of all the religious journalists, and often more so, the atheists who are clearly freethinkers and untainted by dogmatic doctrine.

(3) One of the Kids came over and helped me clean up the house.  Got a jump start anyway – still gotta do the bathroom.  She sang while she worked, too.  Nice to have supportive people in my life.

(4) I agreed with my editor-in-chief to a five-week series on a certain theme, to begin on the 17th and run for five consecutive Wednesdays.   Also, my Hobo, Homeless or Houseless piece will be published this Wednesday.   So I get six in a row — this could lead to something even better.

(5) I hope you enjoy this rehearsal version of The Urban Elegy that we did yesterday.  It’s a rough recording, but the essence of the song is there.   You can hear the Wendt Brothers harmonies as well as solos by Zazen and Keva, and four part harmonies throughout.   I’m proud of these young Artists.  We’re all proud — and I’m grateful.

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Take Two

Just a brief note to whom it may concern. We did a second take of my song “Secrets” with better sound equipment. I went ahead and replaced it on the previous post. But this is all just a tease because we’re posting a video tomorrow at 6pm PST. It’s a work-in-progress and something of a sidetrack. But I’m fairly sure it will have progressed a bit further by then. Stay tuned.

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Christmas Offerings from the Team

First I’d like you to hear a couple of the musicians I’m fortunate enough to have landed for our Eden in Babylon workshop.   That’s Liam Merchant on saxophone (he’s playing sax, flute, and keyboard synth in the EIB band).  Bobby Meador is the guitarist, as they do an intriguing version of “The House of the Rising Sun,” sung to the tune of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” 

On a more traditional note, here are the Wendt Brothers — Cody, Ian, and Tyler — with their charming Christmas Special.   Numerous carols are here displayed, evoking the signature Wendt harmonies and piano stylistics.  In addition, Cody narrates the Christmas Special with accounts of how these carols came into being.   

May the warmth of the season embrace us all, and God bless us — every one.   

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Turns Toward Dawn

Cooper Knutson and Keva Shull singing the song “Turns Toward Dawn” from the new musical Eden in Babylon at a rehearsal this past Tuesday afternoon.   I’m on the Baldwin GP-190 concert grand, and we used one “snowball” mike, situated approximately twelve feet away from the piano, with the two of them standing six feet apart on either end.   It’s raw and real — I hope you enjoy it.   

Andy Pope · Turns Toward Dawn

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The Ballad of Lester Hayton

These are the Wendt brothers, Cody and Ian, both of whom are now playing roles in my musical, Eden in Babylon. Cody wrote this song for a centennial memorial dedicated to Lester Hayton of Palouse, Washington, a city near me in the Palouse Region where I live. Hayton had served in France during World War I under the famous General John Pershing and went missing in action at the Battle of Chateau-Thierry. The ballad is moving and beautiful, and I am very lucky to have both of these musical brothers on my team.

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Keva’s Song

This morning I’d like to present a one minute audition video recently created by Keva Shull who is playing the female lead Taura in the current workshop of my musical Eden in Babylon. Keva had approached me earlier in the year when I’d offered to tutor Music Theory and Composition and Creative Writing of Fiction over Zoom as the pandemic first put us into quarantine.

It turned out that she had written a musical about the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. I naturally asked her how she chose me of all people, because I have written a musical about mental health conditions myself (my earlier musical, The Burden of Eden.)

Must have been meant to be. I eventually cast Keva in the leading role.  As you can see and hear today, I am very happy to have done so.

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Midnight Screams

I’ve not given you any music for a while, though I said I would.   Here’s Zazen Matossian singing “Midnight Screams”  from my musical Eden in Babylon.  We got the right groove on the song this time, though it could use some development.  Zazen is a junior at Moscow High School in Moscow, Idaho.   

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A little bit goes a long, long way.