I’ve logged thousands of hours listening to NPR. If Diane Rehm or Terri Gross were to ask the questions here is how it might go:
Give us the quick curriculum vitae.
Born in NYC, raised on Long Island, youngest of three girls. My first memory is of sitting at our piano, and I’ve always been a singer. I had a wonderful music teacher, Mrs. Canipe, who noticed my interest in music when I was 9 and brought me in to sing with the chorus after school. This was a really big deal because it was for 4th, 5th and 6th graders, and I was only in 3rd grade. Our first program was the complete soundtrack to “The Sound of Music” and I’ve loved that music ever since. I used to ride my bike every night during the summer back to the elementary school and pretend I was Maria, singing to the empty ball fields and the woods beyond. Long Island is a beautiful place.
I attended Boston University on a partial scholarship for voice performance. I freaked out, couldn’t handle the competition and the huge egos. The other kids were so confident and loud and I couldn’t find my safe place. The best thing about my two years in Boston was that I got my first studio gig, doing backups for a pop song. I was hooked on recording after that. I changed my major to Sociology and Business, and then transferred to Arizona State University, because my parents had moved to Phoenix by then. I sang here and there but mostly with a local studio, doing jingles and rock operas. Ed Van Fleet was the composer and producer at that studio, and he was a pioneer in New Age music. I learned a great deal from Ed. I would hang out during all kinds of sessions, watching the engineer work the board, deal with the analog tape, see what it took to get just the right sound. I love the recording process.
I started a career in general business, because I was afraid to sing, and I really didn’t know what to do with music. So I worked in HR, marketing and other corporate positions, all the while singing in symphonic choirs or local groups. I was married, had my two sons, got divorced, moved here and there, was in an all-girl rock band called Software in Indianapolis, then moved to the Dallas area when I remarried. We’ve been here now for 16 years.
How did you get involved with Jewish music?
I was raised in a Conservative synagogue, so I only saw men up on the bimah, and only heard male cantors. Like most kids, I was bored by the services, but the music got my attention. I loved the modes, and I would wonder how the cantor knew all those melodies and prayers. When I was an adult and attended services at a Reform synagogue in Indianapolis, I heard a woman cantor for the first time. She’s still there, Cantor Janice Roger, a lovely voice and really nice person. I would leave services and mimic what I heard once I got in the car. It didn’t occur to me that I could be that person singing on the bimah until I met Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis when he came to my home synagogue in Texas. He welcomed me to sing and lead services with him, taught me a great deal about the service and pointed me to the repertoire. It felt good and right although I was really nervous the first several months.