I am writing this blog post on the first day of 2021 during a beautiful snow storm in a small town in Wisconsin. Wow, 2020 was quite the year. When Davey and I (aka The Boston Imposters) made the decision to leave Boston in 2019, we had no idea what the future held. In establishing our values, we decided that we wanted to be close to family and to re-dedicate to our music. We promptly recorded our first album (see previous blog post for more details), and attended our first FARM (Folk Area Regional Midwest) Conference. We met so many kindred spirits from all over the country and learned many valuable lessons about being professional independent folk artists. By January 2020, we released our album and were fully booked with gigs through May 2020. Davey quit his desk job and we were hopeful that we could make ends meet as music teachers and performers.
Of course, you all know what happened on March 14th, 2020. It was my 28th birthday...but also the whole world shut down. All of our gigs were canceled, and our music put on hold. It wasn't all bad...Davey started hunkering down and learning new skills like 3-finger-style banjo and oil painting, and my voice studio surprisingly grew substantially...but the boxes of 2020 albums we ordered are still in the closet. Davey and I are not good at social media, and not great at self-promoting but we did convince a couple of radio shows to play our music. We adopted a kitten brother who we named Béla after Béla Fleck for our lovely lady cat Veena. Some of our friends encouraged us to live stream on twitch, so my brother Colin built us a computer and my Dad bought us a nice video camera. We have religiously streamed on twitch every single Friday and Sunday for 8 or so months now (You can view our twitch stream here.). We have hosted 2 benefit concerts that were very successful. We did a vinyl recording project through Leesta Vall Recording Studio.
I could continue with a list of all of our accomplishments but in the end I begin to wonder...who cares? Davey and I think and talk a lot about what it means to be successful, and what it means to achieve the ultimate goal as a musician. In other words, to make it. There is a speech by Joyce DiDonato, a famous mezzo soprano opera singer, where she talks about this very topic. You can read the full thing HERE. She argues that there is no such thing as "making it," but that it is about the journey and not the destination.
The truth is that Davey and I know that our music is meaningful. People have shared with us stories of how it has affected their lives...but there are still many days where we can't help but feel that we will never "make it." If you see our list of accomplishments, or follow us on Facebook, it looks like we are doing a lot, but most days we feel invisible as musicians. We wonder if it was worth all of the debt we paid to get our undergrad and masters degrees in music. Now--when we really look deep in our hearts, we know it was 100% worth it. We know that our music changes people's lives. We know that it's not really about us, or our music. It's just this lie from our egos and what we have been taught that we see ourselves as either "successful" or "unsuccessful," not like the beautiful and rich human lives that we get to share. It's difficult to stay in the moment and to keep dreaming and much easier to bathe in our own pity.
Then there are days like today when the house is quiet, the snow is falling, and the cats are sleeping peacefully that I truly feel full and grateful. Davey and I have been so blessed throughout our lives and especially through this pandemic. We recently watched the new Pixar movie Soul, which resonated deeply (highly recommended if you haven't yet seen it). Life isn't about making a best selling album. It's about truly living and experiencing each moment and each feeling. Like I said before, we know that our feelings of not being enough are lies...but I wanted to share that we have them because I have a feeling that we aren't the only ones that feel this way.
I received a Christmas card from a dear friend of mine last week who shared that our Boston Imposters Album gave her comfort during a rough time. It reminded me how many messages we received when our album first came out of gratitude and appreciation.
One of my New Year's Resolutions is to reach out to the artists who have made a difference in my life, to write letters and tell them how their music made a difference in my life, just in case they need to hear it again.
Happy New Year! I am grateful for you...and for this beautiful snow.