In the January edition of my author newsletter, Writing by Heart, I wrote about how music inspires my creative process and shared links to the specific songs that inspired Eli, Red, and Libby. To hear these songs AND read a free sample of LIFELINE, subscribe to my newsletter here.
This week I'll be wrapping up my focus on music as a lifeline. Next month, I'll be interviewing the founders of two art-related service organizations, Rock to the Future and Tea and Textiles. To find out about these amazing projects and how you can get involved, make sure to check back here in February.
Today, however, I’m so excited to have had the opportunity to sit down with my friend and local musician, Aurelle Genzlinger, to talk about her journey to finding her voice and the courage to share her sound with others.
AN: Thanks so much for joining me today, Aurelle.
AG: Thank you for having me!
AN: So when did you first know that you wanted to sing?
AG: I have loved to sing since I was little. I was part of a large family, and on Christmas Eve we used to have Christmas cookies and egg-nog, and we would sing Christmas Carols from our Tasha Tudor Christmas book. My dad loved it most, even though he can't really hold a tune. We also had an excellent music program at my elementary school, and choir quickly became a favorite subject for me. When I was ten, I asked my parents for a keyboard, knowing that we couldn't afford a piano (or fit one in our small home). They got me one, but it was super tiny; no way could I really learn to play on it (it only fit one hand). I went to my room and cried. I was one of seven children, so I had low expectations for getting things I wanted, and I knew even this had been a stretch for my parents. So I never braved asking for anything like it again.
But I still loved to sing, and I would sing along to the radio or my favorite tapes and CDs in the car with friends. In college, my boyfriend (now husband) and I would drive 7.5 hours a few times a year to and from school, and I would spend the entire time singing (usually Sarah McLachlan). However, it was also during this time that I decided I must not be very good, because no one ever said, "You're really good!" It wasn’t until later, in my thirties, that I realized my husband very rarely offers his opinion without being solicited, and I couldn't be THAT bad because how else could someone tolerate listening to Sarah McLachlan for that long? So I got a guitar, and I taught myself how to play. And it was about five years later that a good friend of mine convinced me to go to an open mic. And now, I can't imagine my life without getting to sing and play music.
AN: Well, I’ve heard you sing, and I will definitively say, “You’re really good!” But I love the idea of owning and pursuing your talent regardless of other people’s opinions. We create because we have to—but sharing it takes courage. Do you agree?
AG: Yes! Completely. It’s such an interesting process—learning to share it, knowing people will have opinions, but also knowing that being brave enough to share it is what gives other people permission to share their creativity. It gives them permission to try and stumble and risk….it makes it safer to be human.
AN: I’ve shared here that writing is a critical part of my existence, a lifeline for me. In what ways has music been a “lifeline” for you?
AG: For me, music is a space out beyond ideas of right and wrong. It's a space to play with sounds that resonate—that strike deep vibrations in my spirit and body. When one note or melody follows another just so, it's satisfying in a way that I don't know how to put into words. I love to sing harmonies, and when they match, they capture an energy that is, in essence, life. Even sad, painful songs are a release of sad and painful feelings; when I sing them, it's as if the universe has acknowledged and validated through tone and lyrics whatever state I'm in. Music has literally saved my life during some dark times, providing me a sense of connection to something greater than myself, during times when I have felt completely alone.
AN: That’s powerful. Do you think that resonates with your audience?
AG: When I think of human connection and my closest friends, that’s the word I think of: resonance. The people who are my soul family, the closest to me in spirit, are people who I resonate with. These are relationships with freedom of expression, safe from judgement, where we are held in love, and gently pushed to expand our world views. When I sing, the people who come back to hear me again, or who request I perform, often comment on the clear quality of my voice, or the sheer, satisfying enjoyment they get from listening. Based on this feedback, I believe that something about my voice, tone, song choice, and/or lyrics, resonates with something deep in their souls, connecting them with their "source" or "life energy.”
AN: Where can we hear you play?
AG: As much as music in constantly in my life, I have yet to make an album or record anything I'm even remotely proud of. So, you'll have to catch my rare performances at open mics and other small gigs. My hope is that within the next five years, I will have recorded a few songs that I've written.
AN: I wish you the best of luck in pursuit of that goal and on the continuation of your inspiring musical journey!
AG: Thank you so much; this has been fun!