In an effort to build a more friendly and welcoming community through our volunteer activities, Songwriters in Seattle would like you to get to know our volunteer leaders. This month we’d like to introduce active Board Member, and host of the monthly Songwriter Support Group, Audrey Goodman, in her own words:
As a small child, music creation wasn’t anything I aspired to. But I sure loved to sing – songs in school, songs on radio, and most particularly, songs I heard over and over from the Broadway shows my father had on the turntable. I fancied myself an Ethel Merman type, a famous Broadway star from 50’s – 60’s musicals such as “Annie Get your Gun” and “Gypsy” – no doubt identifying with the powerful, volatile nature of the characters she portrayed. Momma Rose, Annie Oakley, Auntie Mame – they all sang about life’s events at the top of their lungs. As a super shy kid who had trouble even conversing with anyone, blasting out that kind of song on a stage was for me! So I went around singing these songs to whoever would listen and got myself recruited into a children’s choir as, of course, the ‘belter singer’ kid at the age of seven.
The choir was part of a small, newly created Reform synagogue in Newton, Massachusetts of which my parents were founding members. Another founding member was an East Coast concert pianist who was also on faculty at the New England Conservatory in downtown Boston. She saw me perform in the choir and, incredibly, asked my mother if she could teach me piano. She saw how much I loved the complicated melodies and rhythms of the Yom Kippur repertoire and the emotional nature of my childish interpretations, and she felt certain that music instruction would provide an important channel for me. Was she ever right!
So the next seven years were filled with Conservatory level piano lessons and hours of weekly practice and recitals. My experiences with all of this were wonderful enough to know I adored the music, but grueling enough to know I would never want to do this as a grown up! And then, right at this particular juncture of adoration and frustration, came the most magical music I’d yet to hear, aside from Beethoven. Joni Mitchell… Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young… Jackson Browne; their melodies crept up and entirely took over my fantasies about music (and everything else for that matter). I was given a guitar for my 14th birthday and didn’t touch the piano again until well into my 20’s. It was now ALL about learning the songs of these artists on guitar – these sages of our ages who ‘got me’ from tip of brow down to the bottom of my soles (and soul).
I taught myself the chords, memorized the lyrics, went to all the shows and concerts, befriended and played with all the people my age I came into contact with who were as obsessed with it all as I was. It was mostly all I did at Bard College in my late teens. And, it was the continuing pursuit of all of this which brought me to the Left Coast at 20. I had been composing things for years, and had recently started writing songs. I knew I would never have the golden pipes of Joni, Judi, or Linda, but I wanted to see if others would pick up my songs, as I had a couple friends who had relocated to ‘So Cal’ who weren’t great performers, but were placing songs with publishers, and subsequently getting covers with well-known performers.
In Hollywood (circa 1980’s), music publishing companies used to host songwriter events where you could get your cassette demo-tape on a rolling wheel (like the Wheel of Music Fortune), or heard in various other ways, and I wanted in on that. So, long story short, I met another songwriter and connected big time. We wrote and got some covers on several creations over a 10 year marriage (as well as co-creating two wonderful kids). I also created my own small ASCAP publishing company, Mother Mode Music. Unfortunately, as far as music creation went, the raising of the kids became a death knell for my own music. As well, out of financial necessity, I focused on making money teaching music. When my marriage ended, I made a promise to myself that I’d relocate, ostensibly to reacquaint myself with myself as musician, after 20+ years of feeling a bit lost in the culture of Los Angeles. In 2013 my kids were launched on their own pursuits, and I re-launched, landing in the marvelous city of Seattle.
Once settled, I went onto good ol’ Meetup, in search of the local songwriters and music making peeps. I found bluegrass, and I also found Songwriters in Seattle. After joining and attending a few get togethers with other writers, song circles, learning events, songwriter showcases, I was SO darned inspired. I wrote more music my first year in Seattle than in the previous 20 years in LA! I felt that SiS was giving so much to my personal growth as writer; I had to do something to contribute back. So I started the monthly Songwriter Support Group event at my home. This hasn’t just been successful within the group, but also has given me tremendous fodder for growth in my own songwriting. The next logical step was to join the board, to help to further enthusiasm and activity within the organization, and to support my talented and delightful network of songwriting friends.
One of the things I love most about Songwriters in Seattle, which was never present in LA music circles, is the welcoming nature of it, as envisioned by its founder and board. Whether you’re a novice, or a polished performer, there is growth to give and growth to get. There are seasoned players who are quite generous of their time and experience to newer writers, there are those who are just starting to get ‘out there’ -generating audience and reputation, and there are those who aren’t sure what their goals are but know they’ve got something to say, something to sing, and are grateful for the encouragement and knowledge that SiS events and members provide as they hone their craft.
I will always feel like I have miles to go before I’ll claim to be at the peak of whatever talent I may have. Possibly you all can identify with this statement, wherever you’re at with your abilities. And possibly, it’s just this internal pressure which compels us to keep writing, improving, editing, and reworking our melodies and lyrics. The very best place I’ve found in this city to complement, train, and enhance this drive we all feel, is through the people and activities within Songwriters in Seattle. Thank you Chris Klimecky for starting this wonderful group. If we have no other remedy for the ills of the moment, we at least have each other, our shared community, and our music.