Open scars


DeathtoStock_NotStock2

Photo Credit: Death to Stock Photos

I burned myself recently on the heating element of my oven…. yes, cooking accidents are my forte.  And that burn was a doozy.  And as I’ve watched it heal recently, I began to think about it.  I thought about how I hadn’t covered it with a bandaid, and I hadn’t even really doctored it.  I just kept it clean and watched the skin began to re-construct the layers that had been melted.

And then I thought about what a perfect metaphor and reminder it was of scars in general and the struggles we endure in this life.  And I thought…. What if we didn’t hide our scars?  So what if I wasn’t able to keep my left index finger from scarring.  A blemish- the horror of horrors! What if each time I saw it, I was reminded of that painful memory?  And what if I didn’t try to cover it up, make it heal prettier or sugar coat what really happened to that piece of skin? Why not leave the scars and the stories on myself of all the things I’ve experienced or lived through in this short life on earth.

And just like letting my skin scar, I thought a little more.  What if we were more open about our blemishes, struggles, failures and imperfections.  I know we claim pretty openly to be imperfect, but do we really believe that and own it?  Or do we still feel we are trying to reach some unattainable goal the world or culture has set for us? In a world fixated on perfections, fancy creams, liposuction, tanning beds, hair dyes and spanks, it’s rather hard to want to accept and be ok with the shortcomings, blemishes and limitations we all deep down realize we have.  And to that I say- stop it right now, self and world.  I’m human, and I struggle.  I know others have had their share of struggles too.  But what if it was ok.  Ok to not uphold some image of feminine fabulousness. Ok to be not ok at times.  Ok to not always know what the future holds.  Ok to show your imperfections to others.  Ok to not try to cover up every little so-called flaw on your face.  God loves this mess.  He blessed me and many others with creativity, time, talent and heart that wants to find joy in the world around me.  So it’s time I, and you, stopped listening to the voices of negativity that try to tell us to cover up things that aren’t perfectly perfect.  Accept the imperfections, work on the things you can and be really thankful for God’s grace as he fills in the broken pieces of your vessel 🙂

~leah

 

Advertisements

Touring in Tulsa


 

lakescountryTahlequah_@ merch_1
Campbell_1

I recently returned from such an incredible first tour in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.  I wanted to detail a little about our travels for that weekend of shows.  I would love to give a shout-out to the absolute greatest Airbnb hosts out in Tulsa.  If you’re ever in Tulsa, check out staying with Heather and her sweet family.  They were so supportive and kind to us.  Check out their listing here.

Our first day we set out West and drove through the Arkansas country.  Nikia Burns, my talented violinist, my best friend and jack-of-all-trades, Kayla Bogs made a fabulous team.   We arrived in town on a Thursday evening and got to catch the tail end of Jared Tyler’s show.  He recently played on the John Moreland album, so that’s pretty cool!  He also co-owns a violin shop in town called

Bright and early on Friday morning, we had the pleasure of playing Lakes Country 102.1 with Lou, Blake and Faith.  They were so welcoming, and we enjoyed playing live.  To hear the entire broadcast, visit this link.  It was fun to play on live radio for the first time- you really have to be able to think on your feet.  Hopefully they enjoyed the Paradise donuts we picked up on the way for them 🙂

We spent Friday in Tahlequah visiting the Cherokee Prison Museum, a local coffee shop and a music studio.  We invited people around town to our show for Saturday night at the Branch.  It was a great experience to actually meet people in the area and feel like we got a little taste of the local culture.  We especially loved the fabulous silver and turquoise rings we drooled over at the Cherokee gift shop later that day.  We headed back to Tulsa that evening to get ready for our gig at the Campbell Hotel in downtown Tulsa.  This is such a neat hotel, and they have recently renovated it and invite people from the community on a certain Saturday of the month.  A new friend, Scott Ayecock, from Folk Salad Radio, came out to hear us play live.  It was great meeting him and his wife and chatting about music.

Saturday was a great field trip day.  We had brunch at Dilly Diner downtown Tulsa which was so yum!  After that, we headed to the Woodie Guthrie Center which I highly recommend to anyone visiting Tulsa.  It was a great place for some pre-gig inspiration as we walked through the exhibit, read inspiring quotes and learned a little about the man behind the music.  After this, we headed to our sweet friends house, the Jarrett’s, to get ready for our gig that evening in Tahlequah.

On Saturday evening, despite the rain, we had the pleasure of playing at the Branch in Tahlequah.  It was a nice restaurant and some old friends as well as new-found friends from Tahlequah came out to hear us play.  It was so great to have the support from them.

The people were the nicest souls ever and Tulsa was so receptive to music and opened their hearts to us.  They were super generous and hospitable, and I feel so blessed to have spent my first tour dates in Oklahoma.  Thanks Oklahoma for all you did to make us feel welcome!

~lme

The start of some 30A Songwriters Fest reviews


View More: http://jackieo.pass.us/annalise

Hello all,

I’ve been asked to play the well-known 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida in January 2016. It’s so exciting!  So with 8-9 weeks before the festival begins, I’d like to do a review each week on some fellow 30A Songwriters that will be playing at the Festival this year!  Today’s review is Annalise Emerick, a talented songwriter who has made a name and niche for herself in the music scene.  With a voice as soft and sweet as honey and songwriting that calms the soul, Annalise Emerick has found her sound.  She has taken care to document the world around her, allowing outsiders some insight into the mind of a whimsical wanderer.

From her bio on her site, the inspiration for her music is evident. “Eternally a free spirit with an insatiable wanderlust, Emerick comes by it honestly. ‘We moved around a lot when I was a kid, so I feel like my life on the road was kind of inevitable,’ she laughs. ‘I’m always exploring the notion of home musically, emotionally, and geographically.’ The singer claims a scattering of cities as her muse, growing up in the rich musical heritage of both Seattle and Austin before eventually making her way to Nashville to attend Belmont University. In Music City she honed her craft, but it was several charmed summers as a camp counselor in Maine and New Hampshire that inspired her relocate to Boston and start her musical career…..Now, three years after the release of her first EP, fresh off of a first place win in the New England Songwriter’s Competition and a relocation back to Nashville, Emerick returns with Field Notes, a folk-inspired, markedly more mature turn for the singer that demonstrates just how much her endless days on the road and years of hard work have fostered her growth as an artist and performer.

Annalise and I share a bio fact that we have both lived in Austin.  We’ve never met, but I bet we would get along in the music world.  I’m flattered to get to play in the same songwriter lineup as Annalise.  I wish her the best as she performs and perhaps I’ll run into her around the 30A stretch.  Enjoy all of her music here!

I’ll leave you with some lyrics from her song, Born this Way, a country-esque tune with ragtime vibes in it:

Nothing comes easy

To a travelin girl

And I’ll fight my way

Through a desert storm

But that’s how I like it

And that’s how it will stay

Because I was born

This way

 

Happy listening friends 🙂

~leah marie

 

A good garment is not hard to find


leah-42

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.  And internet hunting.  And more thinking.  And I have happened upon a new passion/cause I am interested in.  It’s the segment of the fashion world that involves fair trade, sustainable and ethically conscious clothing.  We have spent a lot of time in this country (America) feeding ourselves the lie of consumerism.  It whispers I need more, more and more.  No, you do not, and you are weighing yourself down with so many possessions.  I’ve been learning more about socially conscious shoes, handmade goods and garments that have a more positive story than a factory with terrible working conditions in a developing country.  As someone who currently works in an HR role, I have come to understand a little bit more about the importance of worker’s rights and wages.  I am encouraged by the good in companies I have seen lately.  Therefore, I decided to compile a list of some of my findings and another blog that gives a list of ethical companies out there.  There are a chunk of them overseas, but American also has a hat in the ring as well.

Here are some companies I have found.  This is not a complete and full list by any means, but please check them out!

Clothing companies

Braintree Clothing

http://www.braintreeclothing.com/

One of my favorites in the clothing styles so far!

 

Fashion-able

https://livefashionable.com/

 

Red Earth Trading Company

https://redearthshop.com/

 

Barnabas Clothing

http://www.barnabasclothing.com/pages/join-team-barnabas

 

Good and Fair

http://www.goodandfairclothing.com/

 

Bibico

http://www.bibico.co.uk/

 

Everlane

https://www.everlane.com/

 

Shift On Nature

http://shifttonature.com.au/

 

Eileen Fisher

There are Eileen Fisher stores in Green Hills Mall in Nashville

http://www.eileenfisher.com/EileenFisher.jsp

 

Seamy- Denver-based awesome company

http://www.seamly.co/

 

PeopleTree

http://www.peopletree.co.uk/

 

First Rite:

http://firstriteclothing.com/webstore/

 

Apolis Global

http://www.apolisglobal.com/

 

Elizabeth Suzann

http://elizabethsuzann.com/collections/all-products

 

Zady

https://zady.com/women

 

Hackwith Design House

http://hackwithdesignhouse.com/all/

 

High end fashion/ more couture

Svilu

http://www.svilu.com/

 

Mina and Olya

http://www.papercutmag.com/articles/2014/04/19/behind-seams-mina-olya-find-sucess-sustainability

 

Amour Vert

http://www.amourvert.com/

 

Shoes

Nisolo- Peruvian made leather shoes based in Nashville

http://nisolo.com/

 

The root collective

http://www.therootcollective.com/

 

Accessories and scarves

A peace treay

http://apeacetreaty.com/

 

Matter Prints

http://matterprints.com/

 

Mitscoots- socks, etc.

http://mitscoots.com/collections/womens-casual-socks

 

Krochet Kids

https://www.krochetkids.org/products/womens/womens-bags/

 

No 41 (a non-profit close to my heart, since I am friends with their founder)

http://www.no41.org/

 

Freedom of Animals- bags, etc

http://freedomofanimals.com/

 

Sunglasses

http://wearpanda.com/collections/all

 

For more clothing companies,check out this blog list:

http://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/fair-trade-clothing

 

Feel free to share any more in the comment section, and let me know what you find in your own research! Happy ethical shopping 🙂

~lme

A word in context


leah-93

Photo Credit:  Maria Ellen Photography

Awhile ago, I had the pleasure of going to the Italian Fashion Exhibit at the Frist Center for the visual arts, and it was fabulous. So much detail, so many beads, so many layers of fabulous fabric beautifully hand-crafted as an art form. There was also a Jaume Plensa exhibit and one of his pieces, composed of letters, foreign words and all sorts of text really struck me.  In the plaque about the piece (and I’m probably not quoting verbatim), he mentioned something like this:

“One letter seems nothing but in association with others they could compose a word.  One word with another word could compose a text.  A text with another text.”  I thought about this in regards to being an artist.  As an artist, you are one.  But when you start connecting the dots from artist to artist and building community, you begin to be enriched.  Your medium of art becomes richer, more developed, more intense with emotion and relation to something outside your tiny world of self art.  The art then becomes a piece in a larger painting, and you can find your place of belonging in the realm of creativity.  The idea of individuality is great, but in relation to a larger picture, it has more context.  If you are an artist, think about yourself more as a word in context.  Here are some ways to think of art in terms of context:

1.  Don’t restrict your music to just being influenced by what you can give to it.  Let other artists influence it, help paint a stroke on the canvas and move it forward in a direction you might not have considered before.  Sometimes the growth comes from the interaction with others.

2.  Don’t try too grip tightly onto it like a helicopter parent.  Realize that music is an entity all it’s own that moves and breathes and has to become.  A song sometimes is something you can’t control.  You need to let it happen naturally.  I’ve heard people in the recording industry talk about it in terms of what is needed to “best serve the song.”  It’s like having a love for your music as if it were a child, and you would do well to let it have room to become.

3.   As an artist, consider that you are not merely an isolated creative force.  Rather, you are a force being acted on and acting on others every day as an inspiration and a muse.  And take it a step further, and don’t only let your career be focused on pushing your music into the atmosphere.  Don’t merely shout, but listen.  Connect with others, offer them help when they need it, volunteer with your other musical friends and build relationships instead of just trying to take something all the time.

When I see others who seem to be just waltzing through with roses everywhere, I tend to get discouraged.  Some days I’m not sure what to do with these gifts I’ve been given.  Perhaps other artists’ paths are not as winding as mine have been.  But those uncertain times are those that build our faith and teach us to trust.  Maybe we must first be lost to then find ourselves.

~lme

 

Liberation through Limitation


leah-47

Photo Courtesy: Maria Ellen Photography

Limitation. What an unpleasant concept to us, creatives and more. We hate being limited by time, talents, energy and finances. We want everything now and to be able to do everything we want when we want to with unlimited funds (I mean, that’s realistic right?). But what if our limitations are really something that liberates us? And what if those limitations actually help us instead of hurting us like we think. Allow me to expound.

Limitation provides:

  1. Context– Limitation gives us a field or a boundary to work within.  It’s a good thing we aren’t able to do everything with our own two hands.  By learning where our skillset lies, we are able to focus, hone our craft and really find where we can excel and best serve. Limitation actually helps us narrow that search. Surely we can learn and grow, but some people have stronger aptitudes for certain areas.  I don’t personally consider myself a super strong instrumentalist, but I have other gifts in a different facet of music.  Once you begin to see where your skillset lies, you can begin to center on where you would experience a truer fit and ideal opportunities for yourself. The ability to say no to things that aren’t well-suited for us actually leaves openness in our schedules to say yes to things that are a better fit.
  2. Creativity– Limitation actually make us stretch our creativity. If I’m not proficient on an instrument, I may try to make that same sound using an instrument I do know how to play. Throughout that process, something innovative can be born. We learn by our limitations in time, talent and finances how to be effective where we are right now. So you can’t afford to fund a massive marketing campaign, so you roll up your sleeves and get to work making your own things, building connections and going out and networking in your area. Despite seeing limitations as hindrances, you might do better to see them as actual gifts.
  3. Cultivation of acceptance and community– Early on, we believe that we can do it all. Every super mom and wonder woman leading her team at work makes you think you can do it all (or you are lacking when you can’t). But let me tell you, it’s a big fat lie we’ve been fed. I’ve been told early on that there are trade-offs for everything, and I can see it very clearly now. You may think you are doing “it all,” but you cannot do everything to an effective level by cramming as much as possible into your day. You will choke out the moments of realization, creativity and joy. Some facet of your life will not be excelling. Now almost a year into my 30s, I’m learning how valuable it is to have a grasp on reality. I cannot expect myself to be at a level where I am not. accepting that you aren’t a rockstar at everything, you begin to employ the use of other talent, fostering community and building relationships. You develop a mutual respect for people and their skillset that is stronger where yours is weak. You are humbled by the fact that you do not “rock” at everything and are stronger as a team of people striving for one goal. You also learn to appreciate the level of talent you see in others and working with them is a pleasure.

So, go create, accept your limitations, but be willing to work to press them where you can. Also work toward a better version of yourself despite those limitations. Happy weekend 🙂

~lme

Simple Love lyrics


honeysuckle

Just thought I would share some lyrics from a song I co-wrote with my friend, Denny Burton, who is back in Canada for the summer.  This song touches on the simplicity that should be at the base of a real relationship.  It’s really very simple and we convolute it.  And ultimately loving someone, despite requiring work, shouldn’t be agonizing.  If people are meant to be in our lives, they will be naturally. Love shouldn’t be forced and shoved like cramming as much you can into a crowded suitcase. Hopefully this song will be gracing listeners with its presence on one of my upcoming recording projects! Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comment section below 🙂

Simple Love

Winter nights were growing cold

Lonely footprints in the snow

Faint light

Comin’ from my room

What once was fire in my soul

Are embers that I hardly hold

And I hope it changes soon

Yeah, I hope it changes soon

 

Summer in the valley

Winter in the Forest

Springtime in the mountains

And Autumn is the chorus

of my love, my love

For someone true

Oh simple love

I will wait for you

 

Warmer weather’s blowin in

Chasin out what might have been

there’s time for something new

Love in boxes that I own

I’ve been told they’ll find a home

Don’t try

But I do

Don’t try

But I do

 

Summer in the valley

Winter in the Forest

Springtime in the mountains

And Autumn is the chorus

of my love, my love

For someone true

Oh simple love

I will wait for you

 

Oh simple love

Just take your time

I’ll be still

and let you find

Me

here

 

Summer in the valley

Winter in the Forest

Springtime in the mountains

And Autumn is the chorus

of my love, my love

For someone true

Oh simple love

I will wait for you

~lme

Sofar Sounds is Sofabulous!


show

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a fabulous new thing happening in cities all around the world.  It’s called Sofar Sounds, and it’s a really cool new concept.  It has a similar vibe to a house show, but the venues are rooms or spaces in different areas of a city.  They pick pop-up locations all over the city where you are, and they host a music concert in a room.  For example, last night, the show put on by Sofar Sounds Nashville was hosted at ClimbNashville East location.  It was great to be somewhere laid back, meet some new people and hear some new artists I had never heard before.  They have someone introduce each performer and talk to them a bit, the performers play 4 songs for a healthy taste of their music, and then they break and set up the next act.  It reminded me of one of the SXSW parties I had been to while living in Austin where they rotated several artists in and out for a day of music.  Last night, the artists were Sasha Daniel, HR_Lexy, and Little Raven.

It has this great vibe of being a fun, hip and exclusive evening without being snotty and “too cool for you.”  The people at the show seemed friendly and welcoming, and we were even chatting with the people who were running/volunteering at the show.  If you want a cool show vibe where you can actually hear the music and it not be about anything but the music, I think you should definitely check out Sofar Sounds.  You will enjoy yourself, get a taste of some new music and not feel drained from people trying to talk above the noise of downtown crazy establishments.  Thank you Sofar for creating something great, and check out a Sofar show in a city near you!

~lme

Slowing your roll and minimizing your social media presence


earl

An important facet of slow living is learning to properly cull. Taking a breather from all that we have can be helpful.  Take some time to be calm and ponder over some tea or coffee.  Think of it like a reset button. I myself have realized oftentimes that, like a drug addict needing a fix, I begin to live on the distractions, getting hyped by liking, sharing, and commenting on all that others say and think.  Sometimes we need an intervention- put the phone or the laptop down and walk away.  And I’ve realized that the reason I do that is because it’s somehow filling a void. When we feel like we are lacking in social engagements, friendships or just feeling lonely, there’s the phone- our modern-day pacifier to calm us down. We are scrolling addicts. I’m not saying it’s wrong that we seek a connection and have this need, but the way we are filling it may be displaced. Seeking relationship with people because I like that in a digital world doesn’t necessarily give me human connection.  It’s only a partial-version of a true connection with another person, even if it’s just to talk and listen. Our time is being sucked into a vortex until two hours later, I’m past my bedtime, not able to quiet my mind and not getting restful sleep yet again. I think we need to learn to say no, realize that we are becoming addicts and where we are lacking in our lives.  Here are some thoughts behind slowing your roll on social media a little.

  1. We weren’t meant to process all of the information fed to us in our newsfeed.  I’m not sure we were meant to know that everyone who knows everyone that we know is having a baby, getting married and going to the Dominican Republic. It’s so much to process, and sometimes our brains might explode from having to consider everything that really does not have any bearing on our lives. Can it help us make informed decisions, pray for others and know a little more about the world around us? Yes. Is that always information that we actually take and act on? Not often- at least for myself.
  2. Viewing only a facet of others’ lives can lead to comparison and discontent on our part.  Negative thoughts, when fed, can in turn eat us to death- wow she looks great, and her husband is the best ever, her kids look perfect and nothing in her life has ever gone wrong I bet. This is part of the warped perception of believing everything we see online. We fail to realize that these people we argue with or judge or idolize are people just like us with daily frustrations just like us. Their lives are imperfect, they are flawed and they really don’t live a hip life 24/7.  Ask them how much prep time went into hair maintenance, clothing maintenance and making their face look as good as it does?  Possibly a decent amount of time that personally I’d prefer to spend elsewhere.
  3. We tend to waste a lot of time on things that don’t improve the quality of our lives. Distraction seems to be the norm in today’s culture, and by the end of the day we are mentally exhausted. If we spent the time we were scrolling online to actually sit and think about ways to improve our lives, taking care of our bodies or others, or minimizing unnecessary cares, we might be better off. Does it help me to be able to be “up” on the latest news of everyone’s life? Not really- when we meet in person- we don’t have much to say. And when people do talk to us- they reference all of the past posts we’ve had on facebook. We are basically all just living in the past or the future instead of the actual present.
  4. We are missing out on real living. While we’re looking down at our phones, seeing the fabulous lives others are living, we are missing tons of opportunities to be soaking up an amazing world around us. We are believing a culture that says if you aren’t on every single platform, you’ll be left behind (being a musician is a prime industry for that). You are being lied to. Put the phone down (preaching to myself here) and for one day don’t connect with a screen but with the world around you and try to be present. Try just living and being. There is so much that you are missing out on if you would only open your eyes.

Feel free to let me know what you think about all this processing of information in the Digital age.

~lme

Spoiler alert: No such thing as a “big break.”


broken_tree

Just like a breaking of a tree branch, artists have come to believe in this so-called concept of the big break.  Spoiler alert:  There is no such thing as a big break.  Need a tissue?  Tis true.  We musicians have been warped into thinking this mentality about the “big break” from shows like American Idol or America’s Got Talent.  We expect it to happen fast without all the uphill battles, sores upon our feet and weariness for the dream.  I think it’s time we stopped looking for our “big break,” and started looking for ways to work at our craft or spend our time more effectively as music business owners.  Why on earth have we spent so much time thinking that one door would solve our problems?  For the same reason people think that marriage will be the holy grail of perfection in their lives.  We need to start viewing things as new challenges and new opportunities to work and use our talents.

Another aspect of the “big break” is this.  It amazes me that “new bands” are seen by people and no one really knows the behind the scenes.  They think- wow this band just catapulted into stardom.  No, no, actually they didn’t.  Every huge band you know and love did not begin that way, and there is SO MUCH more that has gone into what people thought was their “big break.” Musicians sometimes are in multiple failed projects before settling into a really great one.  Years of sleeping on couches or working terrible jobs to fund their touring endeavors are never seen by the public.  Then there are the countless hours of doubt, worrying whether people like the music and even asking why they’re doing it in the first place.  The public never knows what goes behind the seemingly easy “big break” that actually isn’t big, but it is a break.

You know what the real big break is?  It’s a breaking of these things: Your pride (playing for an audience of 2), Your bad attitude (giving excuses for why you couldn’t or didn’t do something), Your unwillingness to work (willing to drive for a gig and lug your gear in the heat or rain or ice to play) and Your desire to take the easy option of giving up (and believe me, you’re gonna wanna give up).  The big break is breaking off all of those pieces of yourself as you continually reach farther and higher and push yourself to new goals and new heights.  Sure- an incredible opportunity may come your way, but without utilizing that and keeping the momentum from that, it won’t do you a bit of good.  The big break is not just a moment, a person or a venue you’ll play.  It’s a culmination of many moments, meeting many people and playing countless shows all around that begin to shape you, shave the laziness off of you and the bad attitudes that won’t help you work for your goals.  It’s being broken and vulnerable and real that is the honest “big break” for an artist.  Once you have let go of that one pill fixes all mentality in this cut throat music industry, you’ll begin to view things in a healthier way, pick up the tools in your toolset and get to work carving your own niche in the business.  Until then, you’re just a hotshot that wants others to notice how amazing you are, living for the fame and glory.  Let’s get up, get moving and get over ourselves.  There’s enough ego out there without more.  What do you guys think about the “big break” mentality?  Let me know in the comment section below 🙂

~lme