Zinnias

One morning, I woke up a songwriter.

I was 26 years old, and I had just completed my master’s degree in jazz performance. In my new, tiny apartment in my new home city of Los Angeles, I sat at the piano and songs started pouring out.

Some of them were not good, but some were. Most of them took a lot of re-writing, but a couple of them fell out of the sky, fully-finished. I had moved to LA to follow in Diana Krall’s footsteps as a jazz singer-pianist. As soon as I started writing songs, I found my authentic voice. I became me.

When I entered the LA scene as a singer-songwriter, I realized that my peers had started writing at least 10-15 years before I had. It intimidated me. It made me feel like I had missed the boat.

But I write songs for a living, now. For films, for TV shows, for myself and others.

Spending 10,000 hours becoming an expert is a wonderful and admirable pursuit. But there’s more than one recipe for success. I started my music training at age 7. All that time I spent analyzing music helped me learn to write songs from a place of form and structure. I was getting those hours under my belt without knowing it. I didn’t have to start at hour 1 at age 26.

But even if I hadn’t been playing music my entire life, I imagine I still would’ve wound up a songwriter. When you love music and writing and you immerse yourself in art, you’re filling your brain with great info. That info can be turned into creations of your own.

Paul Williams once told me he was taking a break from acting in a movie, on-set, when he picked up a guitar. He then wrote his first song. He was 27.

I believe in artists finding their voice through songwriting and creating original music.

Maybe there’s something you feel you’re called to do. Switch careers, volunteer, learn an entirely new skill, or become active in causes you’re passionate about…

If there’s something you want to do, but think you can’t, give it a shot. It might change your whole life. I don’t know where the calls come from in this life, but I do think we’re called to do things.  If you need encouragement to do the new and scary thing today, I support you.

Zinnias bloom in the late summer, and they’re gorgeous.

One of my all-time favorite photos – performing with Paul Williams in Las Vegas in 2016.

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