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07.28.2010
Tricks of the Trade

I have been thrilled with the great response from fans to Sweet And Wild. I especially loved that I was able to do the deluxe version with Sweet And Mild - the acoustic version of the album. Music and writing are my life blood. I breathe it and it comes out of my pores. I am always writing, always thinking of melodies. Itís like a river flows in my head and if I open a channel for it to come out, it just pours out. It doesnít even feel like it comes from me. It feels like there are operas and novels and songs already written in my head and Iím just copying them down on paper as I see it in my mine. Like someone else already wrote them.

The craft for me has been learning to accurately record them - to find words that donít dilute the intense and unique vision that is in my head. Itís like trying to dress smoke before it deteriorates. I know I did my job well when I sing what I have written and the words and melody have the same effect on someone else as the original feeling had on me. It should give chills or bring tears to their eyes like it did to me when I first felt it. I try to use melody and my voice and the lyrics and the chords like tools with that goal: Making people feel something or see something in a new light that they may have taken for granted before.

That said, Iím always curious as to which songs people will identify with the most on an album. I almost didnít include ďTenĒ on this album and so far itís everyoneís favorite track. Goes to show Iím not always the best judge!

I feel so blessed to have such die hard fans after 15 years. This is a very hard business to have any kind of longevity in. But I have always cared about longevity and I have tried to make career and life decisions that lend themselves toward that goal.

I live in Texas because I think it keeps me grounded. I did not want to get distracted by fame or believe in my own hype. The worst thing for a writer is to become arrogant. When you think you know everything, you canít listen, and if you donít listen you donít learn, and if you arenít learning, you are starving the one thing a writer needs most. I push myself to learn all the time. I read a lot and watch the world around me so I can keep growing as a writer. Most songwriters quit writing well in their 20s. Yet most novelists are the opposite - they do their best work in their 50s and beyond. I think a lot of that has to do with the lifestyle of these two groups.

I take writing very seriously, and it has been a goal to be more than just a 'hit' artist, but to be one that produces great writing and who grows as a singer and writer. Thatís why I have pushed myself so hard to expand my boundaries. To write pop, country, rock. To explore dance, to write poems and short stories and fiction. I wonít let my creative life be stifled by genre or formula or any boundaries. Music and writing are my playground and I want to explore every inch of it so I can express my life authentically and honestly. So that when I look back on my life, I wonít feel I shrunk, but expanded according to the courage I faced it with. I donít think this means I will always be successful at it. But I will have the satisfaction of knowing I always tried my hardest.

A fun side effect of this adventure has been that my core fans have not only been with me every step of the way, faithfully going through live recordings of unreleased songs and intimately educating themselves with my entire body of 500 plus songs - but new fans have been folded into the mix with each new project I do. I have fans that only knew me through my 0304 album, who only discovered my first album later. And I now have country fans that may have known my name before, but are now getting to know me through my presence on country radio. I am honored the country community has let me in and taken the time to let me share my life with them. Itís been fun for me to talk about how I was raised in Alaska and where I live now in Texas. But the best part has been that country fans care about lyrics as much as I do! And authenticity is still a currency that is valued with pride.

xxj


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