Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's a New Day

How ironic that my first and last post on the Cher & Gene Klosner site was in 2007, the year Stardust was released, the year hubby's freelance work started to dry up, and life in Omaha was turning a little...well, wacky.

Hi. It's me, Cher - and I'm back in full swing, after a couple of rocky, odd years.

I really believe that we all have a purpose for being on this planet. And without getting all metaphysical on you, let's just say that I believe we all have an "inner voice" that speaks to us, and if we allow ourselves to listen, we can choose to follow it or choose to ignore it. My inner voice has been screaming at me for as far back as I can remember, leading and guiding me, but after high school I didn't know how to appease it. I didn't know where to go, musically. Music is such a wide - and tough - arena, but creating music is my one true passion. As a teen in the Midwest, nobody in my circles seemed to know where to go with a musical kid. My high school counselor advised me to "teach music" or "go into social work." My Mom told me that a degree in music would get me nowhere, and that I should study Engineering (the civil, electrical, petroleum kind of engineering), so I "would have something to fall back on." Or go into Nursing.

My brother, Gene, and I sang at over 600 weddings. We sang in clubs. We wrote songs. I went out on the road and sang with a band for a year. Gene went to college and joined the swing choir. I studied Engineering. Gene studied Business. We sang in more clubs. We wrote more songs. I got engaged to a really wonderful guy, and tried to just "fit in" and "be normal." But I was always restless. And after putting down a non-refundable deposit at the reception hall, that inner voice just reached out, grabbed me by the throat and slapped me upside the head, letting me know me I'm not following the path I am meant to follow.

I never became an engineer.

After selling all my belongings, and at the suggestion of a friend who played in a country band, I moved to Tennessee. Gene followed suit, and we began making our living in music "wearing many hats" as singer/songwriters, publishers, composers, roving artists, performing artists, arrangers, "marketeers", choir directors, all the while honing our songwriting skills...all because there is nothing else we could ever be happy doing. We were dirt poor, but we were happy. We lived in Nashville, on the road, out of vans and in hotels, then finally, after I married hubby Ben, we all settled in L.A. Ben and I had our boy, Benjamin. Being on the road with a baby in tow, however, wasn't what we wanted our new family life to be about, so when the opportunity for Ben to "work from home" presented itself, we returned to Omaha where our son would have a sense of roots. The day we moved out of L.A., I felt a small part of me die, but I buried it. For the good of my family.

Back in Omaha, we recorded, released and marketed Stardust, wrote and arranged a lot of new music, wrote and sang jingles, performed for several high-profile events that didn't pay a dime, sang at house concerts, and recorded more music. To make ends meet, Gene and I took on two extra jobs, directing music at a church and at a high school, and although we loved the people we were getting to know in the choirs, it wasn't filling my spirit. Ben was commuting from LA to Omaha on a weekly basis, after switching from The Simpsons to Family Guy and then back to The Simpsons. I was essentially a single parent, and our lives had become utter chaos.

One night, I was soaking in the bathtub reading "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. I suddenly and uncontrollably burst into tears. I realized that the inner voice that, in the past, had guided me in pursuit of my purpose had all but gone silent. In my pursuit of making a comfortable, "normal" home for my family in Omaha, I had lost my way. I had become "comfortably numb." (Thank you Pink Floyd.) I cried all night.

The next night, I allowed myself to listen. To be still, be quiet, and really listen for my inner voice. It was still there - and it was forcing me to remember what I had set out to do when I first left Omaha all those years before. It actually hurt to remember. But it became easier, as I began to imagine the possibility of moving back to L.A. I became restless again but I was really torn. I loved Omaha. My family, my house, my friends, my neighbors and my huge backyard - all in Omaha. I didn't want to move to all the traffic, the pollution, the lousy L.A. school system. But I couldn't stay. I hadn't signed up for single parenting, my son was unhappy at his school, and there weren't any animation studios opening up anytime soon in Omaha. And it was becoming clear that staying in Omaha directing choirs, or singing cover tunes in a church or a bar was a musical and spiritual compromise.

Thankfully, it all came to a screeching halt in November when we sold the house. There was no turning back. In December, Ben, Benjamin and I relocated to Los Angeles.

Fast forward to last night. I'm in a room with a dozen or more composers and songwriters for film and television, together for an evening of pizza, wine, face to face sharing, talking industry, talking shop and I realize we are all swimming together happily in the same aquarium. This is what I have been missing. The relationships, the camaraderie, the stories, the laughing, the interaction with like-minded people in the same field. Being in a city energized by creative people who make their living being who they were put on this earth to be. Being in a place where the value of music, and the composer, and songwriter is a given. Where it is understood that Music is a legitimate, serious business to serious musicians.

It is February 5, 2011. I am now back on track, moving steadily forward, on my journey as a singer/songwriter and composer for film and television. I'm a newbie to the field, and I will keep you posted on our progress. And for the first time in my life, I am not restless.

Regrets? Naaa. But I've learned a few life lessons.

What do I know for sure? Never Again will we sing for 80,000 people and "be fine" with not getting paid. And Never Again will I allow a high school principal to equate the value of what I do as a composer to that of a temp who sharpens pencils, without firmly decking her squarely across the jaw.

"We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams." Well put, Mr. O'Shaugnessy.

I'm home.

1 comment:

Katie Schenkelberg said...

Thank you for that bit of inspiration! Glad to hear you're happy and doing well :).. love youu lady!