In August 2020 I was sitting on our porch with Ingela drinking wine and I made a rather rash decision. I thought to my (tipsy) self, "Hey...why don't I reach out to Corin of Alpha and ask him if he wants to collaborate." I have "cold emailed" literally thousands of orchestras, opera companies, music festivals, concert series, etc. during my career. It doesn't always pay off, but as I learned from my brief career in telemarketing during graduate school - It is all about the numbers. The more people you reach out to, the better your odds are of making a sale, or in my case, securing a performance. It actually has led to a fair amount of contracts from organizations that don't know me and hadn't even heard me sing. I guess I have enough street cred to get by.
With my "liquid courage" propping me up, I wrote to my favorite musical artist, suggested a collaboration, and sent a clip of me singing a jazz standard (linked to below).
A week later I was in Taos, NM with Ingela and our friends Kristina and Hayden and Nicole and Randy. (Incidentally, Nicole lost her battle with cancer a few months later. I have such wonderful memories of spending time with her on this weekend and being her partner playing our favorite card game Hand and Foot. RIP Nicole!). While on this trip I received a response from Corin of Alpha via Instagram. His response was, "Hi, yes we should , I’ll send a track after the summer." Things actually moved faster than I thought. Within a few more days he had sent me an instrumental track with the instructions to write some words and a melody.
Now I am out of my area of expertise! I am an expert voice teacher. I am a pretty good singer. The last time I wrote lyrics was in high school though. The last time I wrote a piece of music was college! I asked him what inspired him to write this song, or for clarity about what it is about. He responded that the working title was "Race Packaged People." I found this a very poignant concept. To me it meant that society teaches us that the color of our skin separates us and keeps us from truly "seeing each other." It was an explosive time in the United States. George Floyd had been murdered earlier that year by a police officer. Numerous other African-Americans were being killed just because of the color of their skin. The Black Lives Matter movement was in the forefront of my mind. I wanted to show my love and support for my friends of color. I began experimenting with writing lyrics. The first few lines came very easily.
In your lanes Following imaginary pathways
Steps of pain
Separated sadness Lives of isolation
Packaged in madness
In the end, Corin went with the line Separated Sadness as the title of the track for the album.
However, I wanted to go past just the idea of race separating us. There are numerous issues that cause people to fear people who are different. This includes sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, socioeconomic status, etc. That led me to pen these words:
Fear based walls of color
Containers of class
Divisions of culture
Will shatter like glass
However, the real message of the song is the chorus:
Look more deeply
Break down the walls
See the other
Feel love for all
Here is an excerpt from the song.
It was a huge honor to co-write this song with Corin. It honestly was a dream come true and a real professional highlight. Here is a charming promotional video Corin created about another song we also ended up collaborating on. He seemed impressed that I was a university professor.
That is the story of how I manifested a collaboration with my favorite musical group. I hope you check it out. You can purchase the album (either digital download or double vinyl) here -https://alphaheaven.bandcamp.com/album/failure