Joining An International Dialogue on Grief

Talking about grief and loss may be uncomfortable for many, but grief affects each of us at some point or another. I wrote the song "Go On" to help a friend heal from the loss of her mother, and it was recorded and published in Canada in 2012. 

Friends offer up their kindness.                                                                                               

But all you hear is silence.                                                                                            

You're trapped within a world without.

This year, "Go On" was chosen as the theme song for The Grief Dialogues, a multimedia gathering of voices that offers a new conversation about dying, death and grief. The piece includes a short film, theatrical works and music and is slated for a full production in Seattle in September 2017.

You're standing two years later.                                                                                                     

Your life's been good on paper,                                                                                                       

But there are days you just can't breathe.

The song's message is that grief comes in waves, and we each grieve in our own way and our own time. And most importantly, any way you choose to process your emotions is completely fine. I'm honored that Elizabeth Coplan, founder of The Grief Dialogues and a published playwright, connected with the music and lyrics in "Go On" and invited me to be part of the piece. I'm also honored to be serving on the show's Advisory Council

Songs about grieving and loss are moving to the forefront, and perhaps the most prominent album of late is Liv On, combining the talents of singer-songwriters Olivia Newton-John, Beth Nielsen Chapman and my friend and collaborator Amy Sky

Listen to the song demo below, and visit the show's site to share your story.

Talking Story & Score with Top Librettists

Having lived in NY for 14 years, I knew my next move would need to be a city with a strong theatre scene. I found that in Seattle, where theatre — and musical theatre, in particular — is thriving. 

I had heard about the 5th Avenue Theatre's planned production of PAINT YOUR WAGON and was instantly intrigued by the idea of rewriting the book to a classic musical with a memorable score. While speaking to 5th Avenue Artistic Director David Armstrong, I got an idea to interview the production's librettist, Jon Marans, and pitched it later that day to The Dramatist Editor Joey Stocks via Twitter. Joey had the brilliant idea to make it a panel and bring Craig Lucas (AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA) on board. Then a colleague suggested I add GOOD NEWS! librettist Jeremy Desmon to the mix, and the panel was set. 

It was sheer joy talking shop with these brilliant writers and hearing their amusing and insightful anecdotes. Due to space, the magazine couldn't print the entire interview, but members of the Dramatists Guild can read the expanded version online. If you're not a member and you live in NYC, you can pick up a copy at Drama Book Shop; if you live in Boston, you can get it at Trident Booksellers and Cafe. You can also call the Guild to order a copy.

Chatting with some seriously funny storytellers.

Chatting with some seriously funny storytellers.

I, Broadway Lyricist

I'm thrilled to announce I have a new title to add to my bio: Broadway lyricist! A song for which I first wrote the lyrics in the BMI Workshop (and have rewritten many times since!) is in Broadway's new musical comedy IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU, playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theater.

Under the direction of David Hyde Pierce, the hilarious and heartwarming musical stars Tyne DalyHarriet HarrisSierra Boggess and Lisa Howard. The cast also features David BurtkaMontego GloverChip ZienJosh GrisettiAdam HellerMichael X. MartinAnne L. NathanNick Spangler and Edward Hibbert.

The show was written by composer Barbara Anselmi and lyricist/librettist Brian Hargrove. Four additional lyricists, including myself with the song "Perfect," have one song in the show: Jill Abramovitz ("What They Never Tell You"), Michael Cooper ("I Never Wanted This) and Will Randall ("It Shoulda Been You"). A fifth additional lyricist, Ernie Lijoi, has two songs in the show ("Beautiful" and "Love You Till the Day").

The song Anselmi and I wrote ("Perfect") is sung by the powerhouse voices of Howard and Boggess, who play sisters in the show. Watch them perform it on YouTube.

IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU was first conceived by Anselmi while enrolled in New York City's premier musical theatre training ground, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, She asked a dozen or so of us BMI lyricists to contribute a song to her second-year project about a wedding. The five songs she wrote with the show's additional lyricists lasted through years of development, and, I have to say, there is nothing quite like seeing a long-term project through to its beautiful completion.

And now that our work has been nominated for both Outer Critics Circle and Drama League awards, we're all award nominees!

The show is loads of fun. You know the acronym LMAO? I have never in my life seen an audience roar with laughter the way IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU audiences do. And the next thing you know, they're choking back tears, because the show is also beautifully moving.

Go see it. You'll have a wonderful time!

For tickets, info, pics and buzz, visit itshouldabeenyou.com.

Impending Parenthood & Pinterest Projects

 

There's nothing like a deadline. And having a baby in a few days is certainly a formidable one!

Actually, it's more like I had a list of stuff I've always wanted to get to, so waiting around for baby to arrive has its advantages.

This week, I took to Pinterest to start some projects I've always envisioned but never found time to tackle.

Designing Song Lyric Excerpts

First up, I wanted to present my original song lyric excerpts in a fun and engaging way, and then link them to the songs themselves. Thus, my "Lyrics to Live by" board was created.

Lyric Excerpt from "Listening"
Lyric Excerpt from "Listening"

 

My hope is that people who are unfamiliar with my songs will be intrigued or moved by the excerpts and want to read all the lyrics, or even listen to the songs.

My design skills are limited, but it was a blast to express my artistry as a songwriter even further in this manner!

Compiling Clever UX Content Writing Examples

Always seeking to balance out the two aspects of my professional life, my next project was to take the folder of screenshots of content writing samples that have impressed or amused me over the course of the past year and link to their respective websites of origin. The result is my compilation of Clever UX Content Writing.

Even the most seemingly insignificant content on your website can go a long way in creating a fun experience for your users, members or visitors.

UX Copy Samples Pinterest Board
UX Copy Samples Pinterest Board

You'll smile and/or laugh at some of the silly, even snarky, ways companies interact with their customers. Like Groupon giving you a chance to inflict pain upon a staffer; it's all in good fun, and all to build a rapport to put you in a good mood and keep you coming back.

As both a writer and a customer of these sites, I admire the decisions to express themselves and their brands in engaging ways.

Take a look; what you see just might inspire you to do similar things with your site content!

What kind of boards will you create to stretch your artistic muscles or help others discover your work?

Happy pinning,

Carla

The Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference

Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference Next month, I'll be attending the Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference in Hollywood. As a songwriter looking to get my music placed in film and TV, this will be a terrific opportunity to learn from and network with the best music supervisors, editors and producers in the biz, plus have a blast with likeminded creatives. Christina Aguilera and L.A. Reid are keynotes, so it promises to be amazing.

I'll be tweeting from the event, using the conference hashtag #filmtvconf, so if you're attending or want to follow the action, let's connect. I've also started a Facebook group for NYC-area songwriters to share resources, info and tips, so if you're a songwriter in the Greater New York Area, give us a shout.

It's been 7 years since I've been in LA, so I'm also looking forward to seeing friends and family this trip!

Onward,

Carla

 

 

Sharing My Songs on SoundCloud ... Why You Should, Too!

Super excited to have finally hopped aboard the SoundCloud train! If you're a songwriter, musician, DJ, singer, voiceover artist, etc., you can use SoundCloud to house all your tracks, from mastered recordings to works-in-progress. And the best part is, SoundCloud provides you with a direct URL for each of your tracks! No more asking fans to go to your page and scroll down to a specific tune; you can now provide the direct link for each and every tune or file you share.

SoundCloud is also a social network: You can follow other artists and interact and share media! One of the coolest interactive features is that fans can add comments to ANY portion of the file. For example, say someone listened to my latest tune and dug the key change that happens at 3 minutes and 14 seconds in; that person could add a comment at 3:14 to say so! And I can do the same for any tunes I listen to uploaded by the people I follow.

I'm using SoundCloud to share my first major-label cut, "Go On" featuring EMI artist Amy Sky, and the rest of my tracks from my recent demo of songs for film & TV. Soon, I'll also use SoundCloud to share my newest tunes not yet recorded, so stay tuned! And as soon as "Go On" is available on iTunes (currently only available in Canada), I'll let you know!

Love and music,

Carla

 

Give to Live: Song for Donate Life Month Honors Local Hero's Legacy

Joe Acocella, the late town clerk of Harrison, N.Y., who passed away in 2011 at the age of 30 while awaiting a kidney transplant, was an inspiration to everyone he encountered. A double amputee, he never let the obstacles he faced affect his accomplishments, which included becoming the youngest member elected to the Harrison Board of Education and the youngest town clerk in New York state history.

Since his tireless work spanned many initiatives at a breakneck speed, it's a Herculean task to encapsulate Joey's short life. Many journalists and friends have done so in prose, and I was asked by the Acocella family to do so in song (listen to the song here), as a way to both honor his legacy and raise awareness for Donate Life, the organ donor registry initiative (and one of his near-and-dear causes). Joey was the recipient of a kidney transplant at age 18; ten years later, he found himself in need of another transplant to sustain his life.

Your future hangs on a wish You're a name on a list. You deserve another chance, You deserve more than this ...

THE WRITING PROCESS Already a registered organ donor, I was honored to also donate a song, which will be unveiled in a video about Joey's life at the Give to Live Fundraiser on April 26, scheduled to be an annual event to raise money for Donate Life and Joey's other beloved charities, such as animal rescue shelters and support for our troops.

For the song, I collaborated with NYC singer-songwriter Brenda Rudzinski. Together, we delved into the stories of those seeking a second chance at life from those who donate living organs and those who register to give organ, eye and tissue donations when they pass on. The research moved us deeply. We decided to focus on the importance of spreading the word, whether sharing it publicly or sharing with friends and family in a quiet way. Each helps the cause. You can listen to the song here.

Brenda also lent her beautiful voice to the tune, which was recorded by producer Adam Harley at Gnome Music Studio in Larchmont, N.Y. The gorgeous guitar parts were played by Justin Gild. My husband, Thomas Fisher, also contributed to the song's arrangement. This truly was a group effort.

The song was premiered on "Harrison Live" on WVOX on April 19, by Dennis Nardone and his co-host Tonny Guido. We are thrilled to honor Joey's incredible life as well as spread the word about a need that affects so many throughout the world. We hope that the song moves enough people to get those registry numbers up! Kleenex in hand, we look forward to seeing the song paired with the video at the fundraiser.

For more info on organ donation, visit the Donate Life site. To donate to Joey's charities, email joeysfoundation@gmail.com.

Hear the song and read the lyrics on SoundCloud.

And feel free to comment below. Joey was all about making the most noise, so let's help make some noise and carry on his good work!

Spread the word,

Carla

Shout it from the rooftops Make the message heard If you believe in second chances, Share life with the world. It only takes one person at a time who wants to give. Help spread the word and Give to Live ...

New Production of IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU Opens in Seattle

It's Opening Night!

The musical IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU, which started out in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop eight years ago, is now opening its second full production, at the Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington. The show is directed by Jon Kretzu.

The show is written by composer/creator Barbara Anselmi and lyricist/librettist Brian Hargrove, with a handful of additional lyricists on the show. Barbara and I wrote a song called “Perfect,” which has been rewritten almost in its entirety  for this production. After many meetings between Barbara, Brian, myself and the director of the show's world premiere, David Hyde Pierce, I think we've made the song serve the scene even better!

While I won't be able to attend the Seattle production, I'm told the cast is fabulous and that the preview last night went wonderfully! I also had a chance to see a musical at the Village Theatre over the holidays and I was super impressed with the production values and the level of talent. For more information or for tickets, visit the Village Theatre website.

The world premiere of IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU took place last fall at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J., a sold-out production starring Tyne Daly and helmed by Pierce.

Head over to YouTube to hear “Perfect” in its original form (as a solo sung by Mamie Parris). If you're a performer interested in singing the piece, please contact me to purchase the sheet music.

Break a leg, Village Theatre cast and crew!

Love and music,

Carla

Stay connected. Follow me on Twitter.

An Indigo Christmas

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is listening to Christmas music. As a songwriter, listening to these tunes, many of them written by the greatest songwriters of all time, fills me with joy, not just for the season, but for memories of Christmases past.

My sister-in-law surprised us (thanks, Sara!) with the delivery of "Holly Happy Days," the long-awaited Christmas album by the Indigo Girls. I was thrilled to receive it. In this digital-download world, I love it when an album release gives good reason to buy the physical CD  instead of merely downloading, because the packaging is just. that. cool.

The CD front features a bow enclosure like a gift-wrapped box. After opening the bow, inside is a pocket with three decorated pieces of cardboard, made to look like hanging ball ornaments, each with an old-timey design on one side and the lyrics to an original tune by Emily and Amy on the other: "Your Holiday Song" "The Wonder Song" and "Mistletoe."

Each ornament has a top for inserting a hook and hanging them on your tree (which I happily did)! What a great way to showcase the lyrics to these tunes in an interactive way that stretches the brand and essentially enables fans to make the Indigo Girls part of their respective Christmases.

Brilliant. And soul-warming. And, oh yeah, the music is pretty great too. :)

What are your favorite CD package designs? Perhaps it was a piano-shaped box set? Tell me about it in the comments!

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Fa la la la la,

Carla

Mover, Shaker, Art-Maker? Consider Crowdfunding, with Tips on Day 26

I'm 26 days into my music fundraiser on RocketHub.com, and I'm 93% there, thanks to the kindness of friends, family, colleagues and supporters! Just 4 days to go, and I'm so excited to get these demos printed and pressed so I can start using them as my calling card.

I thought I'd mark this almost-there occasion by spreading the word about crowdfunding, for those out there who may not know what it is, and who may benefit greatly from it.

WHAT IS CROWDFUNDING? Crowdfunding is a form of fundraising popular among artists, musicians, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs that is generally carried out via the Internet. The process involves making your project's purpose, plans and outcomes known to a large audience (through social media, email and often the making of a video to let prospective funders know what your project is about), in the hopes that even small contributions will collectively add up to reaching your set fundraising goal in a finite amount of time. Many crowdfunders make it possible for people to donate as little as $1 to their projects, and set a time limit of anywhere from 30 to 90 days.

RocketHub.com is the crowdfunding platform I chose for my "Send a Hamilton to Harrison" CD project. One of the biggest reasons I chose this NYC-based dot-com is because unlike some competitors in the space, RocketHub enables you to keep whatever amount you raise, even if you don't reach your goal (minus the site's nominal fee). For me, this was an important consideration in today's economy, as some friends and family may not be able to contribute.

Another big distinction is that crowdfunding isn't charity; it's a two-way transaction. Donors — or as RocketHub calls them, fuelers — receive rewards in exchange for their donations, and the greater the donation, the greater the rewards.

A music-related project (like mine is), for example, may feature rewards that range from public recognition to copies of the work to dedications, customized compositions and at-home concerts.

START WITH PEOPLE YOU KNOW Most of the people who will contribute to your campaign will be people you know, as crowdfunding is about reaching out to your closest, most supportive network of friends and family first, then branching out through blogging, social media and email asks. However, there are fuelers out there who are frequent patrons of the arts or other projects and may be looking to support a project like yours, even though they don't know you personally. This is common among projects by music artists (like fellow songwritier Kerri Leigh, whose campaign to record her album reached an overwhelming 129% of its goal), as fans can connect with their music from all corners of the Internet.

CROWDFUNDING TIPS I'VE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY To see if RocketHub (or crowdfunding in general) is right for you, check out RocketHub's list of Crowdfunding Basics, and explore some of the projects currently underway. You can also head over to the RocketHub blog because I've shared some insight of my own experience in crowdfunding in the final paragraphs of an interview with RocketHub Co-Founder Vladimir Vukicevic. The RocketHub staff has been extremely supportive and helpful throughout this nearly 30-day adventure.

You just may find that RocketHub is right for your next project.

I welcome your comments and questions below.

Good luck!

Carla

Follow me and RocketHub on Twitter.

New Site, New Music: It Really Does Take a Village (and Sometimes Red Bull)

Wow, the past three weeks have been a whirlwind! After some all-nighters, daily Red Bull (Am I in college again?) and a little help from my friends, I'm happy to announce some exciting developments: First off, not only are you viewing Saidandsung.com's new look, but I also launched a fundraiser on RocketHub.com to get my latest song demo pressed! We made a silly video for the campaign — click below to get a glimpse of what this project is about, how you can help move it forward and how to get your hands on the music:

As of this post, I'm nearly 80 percent toward my goal and I've got just 8 days left to complete it — if you can, please consider sending a Hamilton my way to get your own copy of my tunes and other fun rewards!

Here's Where That Village Part Comes In It really does take a village for big projects to come to fruition. None of this progress would have been possible without the help of the following wonderful people (you may be able to use some of their services for your own projects):

+ S.W. Senek ... The playwright-director and EVP of Eagles Talent (and also a dear friend) conceived, directed, filmed and edited the RocketHub video, and whose son, Sheldon III, plays the role of The Last Hope. Plus, a special shout-out to Sheldon's wife, Krysta, who was so patient as we invaded her home for the shoot. And my goddaughter, Josephine, for being so darn adorable on set!

+ Tricia Okin ... This graphic designer/food blogger/woman-about-world was instrumental in giving me ideas for my video, and basically taught me not to be afraid to ask others for help.

+ Dyana Valentine ... The wily Muse and professional get-you-movin' solutions gal was the one who forced me to name a hard deadline for my Web site launch. And boy, there's nothing like a deadline! She also took the time to interview me about my music and get to the heart of why I'm doing this: because I want to help others embrace life experiences and give themselves permission to feel whatever they need to through my music.

+ Nick Norris ... This principal at identifiDesign not only gave my site a fresh new look, but he also jumped in at the 11th hour to fine-tune the site pre-launch and held my proverbial hand through the switchover!

+ Lauren R. Popek ... A designer with identifiDesign.com, Lauren created not only the cover art for my CD, but also my rebus-infused logo (the fact that I get excited by that reveals my inner nerd, but oh well). You can find more of Lauren's work on her own Web site.

+ Allen Mogol ... What can I say about my copywriting colleague and friend I recently voted Most Likely to Be a Business Coach Someday? Allen kept me focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, helped refine my ideas and gave those all-important Lombardi-esque pep talks that kept me sane!

+ Ted Allen ... My fellow songwriter also had a crowdfunding campaign for his upcoming album, so he consulted on the organization of my campaign and the content. His current album, "Nothing to See Here," is so likable and catchy, I highly recommend you take a listen!

+ Thomas Fisher ... Besides being my co-writer on some of the tunes — and my life partner! — Thomas was immediately on board with the video concept, and really dove into his portion of it. He's a talented performer as well, plus he provided the accompaniment and gorgeous harmonies for the "Send a Hamilton to Harrison" song; I couldn't have done it without him.

+ Adam Harley ... Besides being a recording engineer and producer with the best set of ears in these here parts, Adam is also a great videographer who can create attention-grabbing promotional videos for your business as well as local cable commercials that look anything but local.

+ Mark Buono ... Another skilled recording engineer, producer and wicked drummer, Mark worked his magic on my tunes, adding tracking that enhanced the production and even expertly replicating the acoustics for whenever I'd change up a lyric or an entire section!

+ Craig Wilson & Mat Leland ... These two musicians/songwriters/producers/engineer extraordinaires got the ball rolling on this demo years ago, when they tracked, produced and played on the first versions of these tunes at Haven Studios in NYC. Though the songs have developed over the years, I'm so grateful to Craig Wilson and Mat Leland for their work on this demo as well as for their collective belief in me as a writer.

+ Stephanie Harrison, Christina Lea, Brooke Campbell, Thomas Fisher & Fortune Creek ... The singers who brought their unique styles to these songs are all songwriters themselves, and I know that's why they were each able to give such heartfelt performances. I'm happy to suggest you visit their sites to hear their own work: Stephanie Harrison ("Prettied Up" and "The Clearing"), Christina Lea ("All I Could Do"), Brooke Campbell ("Listening" and "Go On") and Thomas Fisher (solo "Where We Begin" and "Rather Look at You" with Fortune Creek.

+ Randy Merrill ... A sound engineer at the renowned NYC mastering house Master Disk, Randy made my songs on this demo pop, and I mean in that sparkly kind of way. If you need mastering on your tunes, he's your go-to guy.

I've learned so much from all of these fine people, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their contributions to this effort. You know what would warm my heart even more? If some of you commented below to let me know that you also remember the TV show "Rags to Riches" — it will make me feel less geeky! (Watch the video above to get my drift.)

Onward,

Carla

P.S. Visit my Tunes page on this site to find out about my new musical that opens in New Jersey this month!