Saturday, December 8, 2012

We Sing - a song & handkerchief

Hot off the press, and just in time for the holidays!  
A new song and a hand-crafted handkerchief to go with it.  
The handkerchief, designed by Lea Redmond of Leafcutter Designs, was inspired by my song, "We Sing".  Not only is the handkerchief a beautiful and useful object, but it is also a folding puzzle!   
Order one here.

Here are some things you can do with your handkerchief:
-solve the puzzle, then see if your friends can too
-blow your nose (save a tree: don't use tissues, use a hanky!)
-dry your tears (of laughter or sorrow)
-wear it around your neck (fasten with a safety pin.)

Here’s what you get when you order this item:
-a download code for the song “We Sing”
-a handsewn, silk-screened hankerchief / puzzle inspired by the song
-a lovely little box

Here are some more fun facts about this object:
-”We sing” is a love song!
-The handkerchief is made of 100% organic cotton.  It’s soft and it feels nice.
-I drew and screen-printed the design, and Lea and I sewed the edges.
-Blake Henderson recorded and engineered the song.  A bunch of wonderful bay area musicians sang and played on it.    

These make fantastic gifts for the holidays!  
Order by Dec. 15th if you'd like your song & handkerchief to arrive by Dec 25th.
Click here to order your song & handkerchief.

*Special thanks to Aubrey Trinniman and Blake Henderson for the photo help.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom

On this day, 61 years ago, my mom came into the world.  I am so grateful that I got to know her and love her for 26 years.  Though the sting of her absence is strong, so are the beautiful memories. 

Tonight, in her honor, I will eat homemade strawberry shortcake with dear friends.  Fresh flowers will surround us.  

She lived a beautiful life.
Here's to you, mom!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More Of You

Last month I recorded four jazz standards in a small studio in Oakland, CA, with Ezra Lipp on drums, Mike Sempert on piano, Daniel Fabricant on upright bass, and Blake Henderson engineering the session.  It was an amazing day.  The songs were chosen by, and recorded for 8 people who donated very generously to my Kickstarter project last year.

I've been listening to jazz vocalists ever since I was a small child (thank you mom and dad!)  Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Williams, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Michael Feinstein, Harry Connick Jr., Mose Allison, Diana Krall, Nat King Cole: their music has informed me as an artist and as a person, and has meant so much to me over the years.  It was a dream come true to record these songs with such fantastic musicians.

Have a listen to what we made.

Many heartfelt thanks to the following people who made this project possible:

Cathy Greek
Elaine Hathway
John Cotton
Todd Haemmerle
Maria Imparato
Howard Altar
Matt Gonzalez
Donna LoBiondo

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It is so: released today online

My new album, It is so, is available online today. You can find it here or here.

The San Francisco album release show is on Friday, September 23rd at the Community Music Center in the mission. All the details can be found here. If you're in the bay area, I hope you can make it.

This album is a tribute to the life and spirit of my mother, Karen Imparato Cotton, who passed away in 2009. It is also a tribute to all lives that have been taken too soon.

My hope is that this album will be of service to those who are grieving a loss of some kind in their own lives. In this spirit of service, It is so is being offered for donation rather than for sale, and half of what is raised will be donated to the organization that my mother worked for: The American Bird Conservancy, whose goal is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. The "suggested donation" for the album is $12, but please donate whatever amount you feel most comfortable with.

I am deeply grateful for the generosity of all of the people who funded this project via Kickstarter, whose names are listed in my previous posting.

If you hear the album, and you have any thoughts or reflections to share, I'd love to hear, so please be in touch.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thank you donors!

Because of your generosity, we were able to make a 9 song album that we are very proud of, and go on tour in the east where we raised over $300 for The American Bird Conservancy, and over $200 for the New England Anti-Vivisection Society! Also, because of you, I will be donating 40 hours of my time to walking dogs at Family Dog Rescue, and singing for patients at the UCSF Medical Center. Thank you:

Maria Imparato, Donna LoBiondo, Matt Gonzalez, Todd Haemmerle, Cathy Greek, Elaine Hathaway, John Cotton, Alexis Byrne, Marissa Vahlsing, Sarah Luick, Mary Ellen Kiehne, Blanche Vilade, Max Scher, Kathy Rose, Sushila & Robert Ravard, Jennifer Hayden, Sarah Ramey, Barbara Vahlsing, Kaitlyn Parsons, Shannon & Ross Evans, Lauren Sanders, JP Jesperson, Kira Dominguez-Hultgren, Jamie Fordyce, Sarah Foster, Candace Lundgren, Ali Budner, Bennett & Kjenstad, Gailen & Les Zody, Dan Sterenchuk, Rachel Golden, Janusz Leszczynski, Cherie Campbell, Vanessa Ta, Mary Jane Kiehne, Matt Trowbridge, Nancy Roth Remington, Blake Henderson, John Lower, Alan Vollweiler, Helene Roos, John Petrocelli, Joan LaCasse Ritz, Paula Zollner, Sarah Glazer Khedouri, Tiffany Cooper, Chris Maher, Greg Kemerer, Becca von Behren, Carolann Kinzel & Ezra Lipp, Chris Maceira, Michael Sieglen, Ako & Ed Swabb, Paul Ferney, Meredith Michaels, Briony Skerjance, Talis Apud, Grant Hultgren, Becca Frank, George Wallace, Tara Blau, Jane Fitzgerald, Megan Kelly, Amy Lee, Jonathan Kirchner & Kelly McFarling, Seth Endo, Francoise Teitelbaum, Jim Powell, India Penney, Alice Nissen, Jacob Berns, Kayte Brown, Kara von Behren, Alexis Brayton, Claire McConnell, Chloe Roth, Annie Bacon, Anne Kaufman, Nate Williams, Matthew Brudner, Tina Benson, Kristen Policy, Jessie Woletz, Liann Seiter, Judy Szczepaniak, Scott McDowell, Barbara Shamblin, Chris Kiehne, Zoe Clara Dutka, Bill Wetzel, Mat Strickland, Evelyn Boyd Schmidt, Anna Perlmutter, Laura Maguire, Kate Sherwood, Jake Friedman, Thom Wong, Staci DeGagne, Stephanie Orion, Jon Brody, Jean Pieper, Jefferson Linck, Heather Beatty Spring, Evan Rutledge, Levi Nies, Eve Hadley, Joshua Stacy, Sophie Pickens, Marlee Sayen, Ben Henretig, Bizzy Bender, Lindsay Clark, Barbara Murphy, Kristi Moos, Taylor King, LA Underground, Jennifer Yamanuha, Alana Stewart, Danny Alexander, Sianna Plavin, Penina Eilberg-Schwartz, Matt Miley, Alexis Barbalinardo, Jessica Geranium, Joey Chang, Christine Rabbath, Amber Feener, David Butler, Camille Robles, Emily Frost, Aaron Wieler, Zoe Rossing, Josey Baker, Neema Moraveji, Aire Redtree, Marietta Skeen, Jonathan DeCoste, Suzie Rose, Paul Freedman, Jonathan Axtell, Chris Sheppard, Jared Keane Feldman, Dave Snyder, Harriet Clark, Amy Benziger, Willa Mamet, Dick Perlmutter, Diane Crowley, Dust City Diner, Molly Bauckham, Kate, Zaria Forman, Lea Grant, Jennifer Day, Allison Cook, Nick Baker, Jess McNally, Ashley Hbert, Sarah Beh,, Patrice Williamson, Jill Kupferberg, Cathy, Deborah Carr, Laura Constantino, Nicholas McElroy, Andrew Brennan, Ayla Nereo, Daniel Steinbock, Rahmin Sarabi, Margaret Gallagher, StickLips, Kimtai, Nathan Blaz, Catherine Goldschmidt, Brian Berberich, Emily Boulton, Debbie & Drew Brennan, Michal Waldfogel, Joe Kille, Alison Hathaway, Natalya Podgorny, Ben Ewen-Campen, JJ Schultz, Anna Soloway, Sandy Sanders, Maria Budner, Lila Cruikshank, Thomas Curry, The Johal-Dominguez family, Elaine Wilson, Beth Fletcher Walden, Dorothea Palsho, Raj & Nina Johal, Howard & Nancy Alter, Dennis Coyle, Anthony Imparato.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


This morning I woke with the familiar ache of missing.

A line from a Hank Williams song brought me some comfort: "When my life here is over I'm going home."

That line was fresh in my mind because I've been listening to Chris Kiehne's new album, A Widower's Kind which is a collection of slightly-to-significantly modified Hank Williams songs. It's beautiful, and you can download it here, for free.

If you are missing someone, it may bring you some solace.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In pursuit of truth and healing

We've completed our 2nd east coast tour! We played 14 shows in 23 days, between Washington D.C. and Boston. A hearty thank you to Gabe and Anna for coming along, to everyone who came to hear us, who hosted us in their homes, and who shared bills with us.

I am sitting with some of the words I've received from people throughout the course of the tour -- re-reading emails, remembering conversations. My goal with this tour was to create space to encourage people to open doors in themselves that they don't normally open, because they are too painful or difficult or inconvenient or simply inaccessible most of the time. The reason that I feel compelled to create this space is because of the times in my life when I have felt this space created for me, and opened these doors in myself. These are the times that I've felt the most profound healing taking place, and these experiences have been very valuable for me. Opening these doors tends to be painful, and it also tends to be truthful, and good, and necessary. I see it as being connected to the deepest truths (I think others would describe this same phenomenon as being connected to "God" or "Spirit".) For me, it often coincides with feeling some of the deepest love I've ever felt.

In revisiting some of the words that people have shared with me, I am aware that this tour was successful: we reached people. Every night, with music as our medium, we reached people. Maybe it was one person, maybe two or three. I know this because people have been kind enough to tell me, either face to face or through email. But it happened every night. It is good to acknowledge this, because the tour wasn't easy -- it was a lot of work, and sometimes the crowd was smaller than we'd hoped, or less attentive. Sometimes I felt like I was sharing things that are too sacred, too personal, to just cast out into a room of mostly strangers. But all of those challenges and frustrations and vulnerabilities are dwarfed when I remember that for at least one person each night, we created that space, and a door was opened. That's all that I had hoped for.

And to all of you who've shared your stories with me, who have let me know how my music has effected you: thank you. Your words have affirmed me, and allowed me to feel good about what I've done with the last month of my life. (Believe me, I've second guessed it a lot.)

A couple of nights ago I was walking around Cambridge with a dear friend of mine, a biologist who is working towards his PhD at Harvard. I told him all about the tour, what was good and what was hard, and his perspective comforted me. Effectively he said that although you may be doing what you love, much of the time you will probably still think "What the hell am I doing? Why the hell am I doing this?" But that's okay. It's not going to make sense most of the time. That's just part of it. But sometimes, maybe rarely, it will make sense. And at those times it is mind-blowing and marvelous.

Here is a video from our tour (thanks to Quinn Miller-Bedell for filming.) We are performing in Zaria Forman's home/studio (see her beautiful drawing in the background.)

"Washington" by Sonya Cotton from Quinn Miller-Bedell on Vimeo.