Thank you so much to everyone that came to our CD Release last night. And thank you to my wonderful band - Vessela Stoyanova, Valerie Thompson, Molly Zenobia, Mary Bichner, Peter Moore, and Matt Graber. You made my dreams come true.
Below is the letter that I read before the set. I wrote it on Monday May 7th 2012, preparing to send it the next day. Maurice Sendak died Tuesday May 8th. We love you Maurice Sendak.
Monday May 7th, 2012
Dear Maurice Sendak,
I wonder how many letters like this you have to read, and if they all sound the same? Growing up with 2 artists for parents, I have been destined for a life that has been filled with the need to create. But sometimes I think it was actually you that ignited my imagination.
When I was two and a half my parents divorced. My mother and I left our house in Richmond, VA and we moved in with my grandmother in a condo outside of DC. It was there that a family friend gave me the book “Outside Over There”. As I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, the character of Ida resonated with me deeply. The parallels of having a father that you no longer lived with, and Ida’s father being away at see were not lost on me. And even as a child, being the eldest, I felt the burdens of responsibility to care for my mother and younger sisters, though no one forced that upon me.
I was also a budding musician, always making up songs on the piano and lying to everyone at school that I was related to Mozart. In Outside Over There, when Ida doesn’t pay attention that one time and instead gets distracted by her music, she is subsequently punished by having goblins come in and steal her sister away, replacing her with an ice changeling. I related to Ida all the more, for I too was distracted by music, and if I didn’t keep my eyes open, or love my sisters enough, maybe I would also have to go into Outside Over There and remedy my mistakes and failed responsibilities.
But this letter isn’t supposed to be about my life story. This letter is meant to present you with a song cycle I’ve been working on called Foolish Ida. It’s my thank you note to you for freeing my imagination. I sincerely hope you don’t hate it. For the past two years I’ve been writing songs imagining how Ida might of grown up and been affected by what happens to her in the book. The first 5 songs that I’ve sent aim to establish a little of her history but also show her fighting for her own identity and rebelling against the weight of responsibility, as many 20 year olds do. The 2nd set of songs, which I will send a little later, gets a bit heavier when she realizes that she can’t ever fully escape, and more importantly she doesn’t want to because it’s who she is.
I had wanted to send these both to you at one time, but making records always takes longer than you think, and in all your most recent interviews you keep giving louder and louder warnings about the end being near . I hope the end is further off than you lead us to believe.
I sincerely hope that you do not hate my interpretations. Or at the very least, I hope you can hear that this was made with care, and my deepest love for Outside Over There and Ida. Thank you for igniting my imagination.
With the greatest respect
(photo by Josh Skuby)