New Year, New Journey

Since just before the new year, I’ve been working hard on what will eventually be my first album released as a singer-songwriter.

I have no idea where to start, so I’m just going to start from the very beginning…

On the day I was born, my father accepted a position as a DJ at W4 Country 106.7 FM in Detroit.  He would work for the company for 13 years, ultimately leaving as their Creative Director.  In the meantime, my parents had me falling asleep at night to the classical station on the radio, and singing along to pop, oldies, country and The Beatles — they own their own category — during the day.  I gravitated toward drums, and began playing on my own toy kit at age 1 1/2 (I would destroy numerous toy kits until upgrading to a more professional kit at age 11).

For 13 years, country music put food on my family’s plate, and more.  I was able to attend all of the radio-sponsored concerts in the front rows and even have pictures taken with country’s biggest artists backstage!  The coolest moment, though — the moment that would inspire me to doggedly pursue a successful career as a performing musician — happened on my 5th birthday.

Every year in May, Detroit hosts an event known as the Downtown Hoedown — a major showcase of new upcoming artists and some very well recognized ones, too.  My 5th birthday happened to coincide with that year’s Hoedown, and my dad was to be one of the radio personalities to introduce a band.  When it came time to do so, my dad had me join him on stage; I immediately got stage fright.  He told the crowd that I was his son and that “today is his 5th birthday!”  The crowd began singing happy birthday, and I was so shocked that I just froze and looked around at everyone.  I could see men and women, boys and girls, teenagers and seniors, all smiling and singing together.  At the time, I didn’t understand why these strangers were all singing for me.  Was it a surprise party??  Did my dad know all of these people??

Before I knew it, the song was over.  My dad did a little warm-up introduction for the band, and then had me announce their name, “DERRINGER!!”  He said something into the mic (all I remember is “nalb dalb bee ze ball bob”…I was in a daze) and we walked off the stage.  When I stepped off the stage, something had changed.  I didn’t know what was happening, but I was feeling something I had never felt before.  I felt an elation and a joy unlike anything else.  I felt fragile.  I felt powerful.  I felt invincible.  I felt the human spirit.

I still feel the same feeling from time to time.  I feel it every time I perform on stage; every time I hear a song that stirs me; when I help artists make their music better for them; when rehearsal sounds just as good as any show I’ve ever played; when a fan tells me they love my music and can’t stop listening; when I’m finally first able to physically play the part I wrote in my head — especially on guitar.

Music connects us and affects us, physically and emotionally.  A song as simple as “Happy Birthday” can provide feelings of great joy and comfort, even if we’ve heard it 100 times a year.  It’s the intent and the feeling behind the people singing that’s communicated.  It’s not just the words being sung, but the reasons they are being sung that give the song and the singer impact on the listener.  Imagine 3,000 strangers singing “Happy Birthday” to you right now.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait.  …  Did you smile??  If you did, you’ve demonstrated the impact of music even further; you don’t even have to actually hear the song to receive its impact!  You can imagine a song and get the good feelings, anyway!

My new journey is centered around writing, producing, and performing songs based on my experiences in life.  Most people learn from either mentors or mistakes — and mentors just point out mistakes they’ve made so that you don’t make them yourself!  Through my music I yearn to educate, enlighten and ultimately help people in some way or another.  My goal is to communicate and provide to others that same combination feeling of elation, joyfulness, fragility, empowerment and invincibility.

My goal is to help others connect or reconnect with their spirit, as others’ music has done for me.

Thank you for reading this, and I hope to see you along the way.

:-J

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