1) How has your personal story impacted your music?
You have to have courage to get out in front of people who may or may not like you. Being a performing artist, you’re sharing a bit of your soul out there. People are going to like you or not like you. For the most part, I haven’t encountered many haters, but they exist. The main thing is that I know that I have the strength to do it if I can go through some of these things that I’ve been through. I’ve written songs that allude to those experiences and feelings of being in the darkness. I know that I’m a strong person having gone through all that.
2) When you left your career and went back to music during this abusive relationship what were your first steps?
I always wanted to be in the music business; I knew that was my calling. During my career, I kept singing and had started taking piano before ending my relationship. It was always my love. Everything changed on September 19, 2003 – that’s when my life began. That’s the day my abusive husband threatened me with a gun. After that, I started a whole new path and changed my life.
3) If you were to give advice to anyone in an abusive relationship what would that be?
Don’t be too proud to admit that you need help and/or have made a mistake by staying in this relationship. Reach out to whomever you can: parents, siblings, coworkers, friends. Realize that you cannot change him, and he will most likely NOT change nor improve his behavior, especially not while you are still in the relationship.
I hate saying “he”. Although women are statistically less likely to be physically abusive, they are more than capable of being verbally abusive, which NO ONE should ever tolerate. You need to believe that you are not alone and that life really can be better; no one deserves to be treated badly. It is NOT your fault.
Also, assuming you’re already married, don’t feel ashamed to be divorced. Being divorced is better than being beaten down (physically or mentally).
4) Your album “Incognito” is deeply influenced by your life experiences in an abusive marriage, was it a hard album to put together or healing?
I ultimately found the experience healing. However, it took me a while to get there. I have gone through a lot of therapy, and I still see a therapist. When in therapy, I am encouraged to reconnect with my true self or “inner child” – that inner child was conceived to be a musician. After all this time and everything I went through, I finally listened to her.
5) When you were a teenager what made you choose the trombone?
Everyone in my family was musical. My mom plays flute, my dad plays flute and trombone, and my grandma was a musician full time. She plays piano and sang – more classical. She got her degree in music. So I played trombone because my older sister played flute, and my second older sister, Kathleen, the one that I’m the most like, plays trombone. I wanted to be like Kathleen. Kathleen got yelled at the least. Kathleen got the best grades. Obviously, as a kid growing up in a dysfunctional family, I wanted to play the trombone because I’d be the most like Kathleen and maybe my dad would stay off my case.
6) What do you love most about your album “Incognito”?
I feel like I finally found my voice as an artist and as a songwriter. This album is really about my personal life and struggles. The inspiration for the album came from the agreed on direction for each song. This particular album is a collaboration. I wrote all the music. The inspiration – in the case of the lyrics – comes from T. Siering. They’re his lyrics, and his inspiration comes from different life experiences, imagined experiences, or things that are part of life.
He would tell me, “I think it should sound like this song or that artist.” I would listen to the artist and try to get a feel for the lyrics with that kind of energy. It’s somewhat engineered, somewhat inspired collaboration, but one thing I always inspired were the vocal lines.
There isn’t one particular era that I feel defines the vocals or music style of this album. One song was kind of a jazz influenced pop and the most recent era would be like Adele or the Black Keys.
7) How, in your opinion, has your life journey formed you as a new stronger, successful woman?
Finding the strength to leave my abusive husband gave me confidence and put me on a whole new path. I am my own person now and I am truly living my best life! My proudest accomplishment was leaving engineering. I left engineering, and I am making a living as a musician. I was making $102,000 a year, and the people that don’t believe me, I got the pay stubs to prove it! I’m starting to live my dreams – I left the cush-cush life, and I’m an artist. I am a much stronger person today because of what I have been through.
8) Despite the hardships you’ve faced in your life you have excelled and risen above, how does that feel?
Amazing! I am living my dream. Anything that’s worth doing is hard work, because if it were easy, everybody would do it. It’s a lot of work, and it’s hard. Blood, sweat, and tears is so freakin’ right. That’s the truth right there. It is a lot of hard work, and you can’t give up, you have to keep going. That’s what I’m doing. I don’t care if I’m “successful” or not according to what anyone else thinks, because there’s nothing else that I have to do with my life but this.