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Special time for music in Nashville tonight! !

Tonight’s a big night in Nashville.  Hell, every night is these days, for the most part. Funny, I pick up stakes and move to Florida just as the town becomes the hottest thing this side of the Pacific!  But I digress.

Tonight will be huge in Music City USA. It’s the night four new inductees join the 192 existing members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.  And who might those newcomers be?

I’m writing here to celebrate Gretchen Peters.  I consider myself  musically illiterate (and those who know me would agree). So my judgment might not hold much weight. But I’ve been a huge fan of Gretchen’s work for more than a dozen years, thanks to my musician brother who turned me on to her.  He’s always been generous about sharing like that and has never steered me wrong before!

Back to Gretchen, though.  She’s kick-ass brilliant.  Seriously.  And not just about music.  The girl knows her classics and, even more important, is one of the most intellectually curious individuals I know!  And when it comes to her music… it’s exquisite.  And her voice…

If you ever get to hear an angel sing, well, you’ll swear it’s this girl.  Here’s an example of the whole package she offers.  It’s a song called Five Minutes from her Hello Cruel World album.  Though I love all her songs, I think this is my all-time favorite.  The lyrics, her voice, and the gentle keyboard accompaniment just make this song a beautifully wrapped gift to all who hear it!

I love the fact that Gretchen’s the only female in this year’s bunch of songwriters to be inducted. In fact, very few women are included in this elite crowd at all!  I may be wrong but it looks like less than a dozen women altogether, less than 10%. I googled (yes, using it as a verb) but could not find the exact number.  Those female inductees I recognize include:

Aside: Putting this list together gave me a “holy shit” moment!  I mean, I know Gretchen’s amazing, but when you consider the few peers…

I’ve been fortunate to see Gretchen perform many, many times over the years and each time, I’m struck anew by her glorious pipes.  And each time, her lyrics get to me.  They’re as rich as fine tapestries, woven together with threads of gold that only an artist as deep as the universe itself could pull them together. When I leave her performances, I’m absolutely spent and overwhelmed.  But in a wondrous way.

In performances where she shares the stage with husband, Barry Walsh, there’s a magic that audiences can’t help but enjoy. The twosome is adorable, punning and cracking the audience (and each other) up. But when they make music… sublime.  You saw it in the above link.  Here’s an example of their chemistry together in a far more light-hearted tune.

Gretchen at the mic with Barry Walsh on keyboards.
Gretchen at the mic with Barry Walsh on keyboards.

I really wish I could be there tonight, but things are hectic here in the Sunshine state.  So I penned this blog partly in homage and partly to immerse myself in the grandness of this lady of fabulousness.  If you’ve never had a chance to check her out, I urge you, do so. Find out where she’s playing and get there. You won’t regret it!

You can learn more about this chanteuse, buy her music, and catch her on tour by visiting her website.

Now that I’m done raving about Gretchen, tell me about your favorite songwriters. I may be musically illiterate, but I still like to listen!

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Of Weddings and Music

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This past weekend, my brother Barry Walsh, a fabulous keyboard player in his own right (who has a wonderful instrumental CD that’s great inspiration BTW), married his love of many years, Gretchen Peters.  That the two have always made incredible, beautiful music together is a given within Nashville and the Folk and Country Music Communities.  Gretchen has an amazing voice, crafts songs of such intelligence and power, and as importantly, Barry doesn’t just play along.  He listens, adds his interpretation, and accents each song perfectly.  I’m what you might call musically illiterate but even I get that when watching them.

And it’s not just on the auditory level that these two relate.  They are wonderfully matched in so many ways … both very smart and intellectually curious, quirky, and fun, and it is so great to see them together and obviously, this happy together. It’s been a bit of a journey for them but I can proudly say I knew from the very first that this day would come.

And this was a wedding noone that was there will ever forget, if only for the perfection of it.  The night before, a whole slew of us were bused out to Green’s Grocery in Leiper’s Fork.  It’s a lovely intimate venue that harkens back to the 30s and 40s in its simplicity. There, Barry played for Gretchen (and the lucky audience) a song he wrote for her and she answered with her song about him “The Way You Move Me.” As if that wasn’t enough, others played, including the dynamic Marshall Chapman, Gretchen’s fellow “Wine, Women & Song” partners Matraca Berg and Suzy Bogguss, Rodney Crowell and Jeff Hanna of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  Supporting them all night was Christine Bougie, a wonderful steel guitar player from Toronto.  I love that instrument anyway and her style was just wonderful.  We went home happy, full and sure they couldn’t ever top that night.

But they did.

Planned beautifully, the ceremony took place right after the 6 p.m. bells rang at Assumption Church in Nashville where we all stood in the churchyard below.  Unplanned but uncannily perfect was the appearance of an old invalid who rode by on his scooter, surveyed the goings-on, waved and went on his way.  My brother Barry waved back as fellow siblings nudged one another just knowing it was the ghost of our father who loved to play pranks on us while riding his own scooter before he passed away four years ago.  I’m sure it was him, giving Barry & Gretchen his blessing. To top off the emotion of them saying their vows, Rodney Crowell performed an acoustic version of a lovely song he written about life and family entitled “I know Love is All I Need.”  I’m told video taken from behind me of his performance shows one of my arms holding the video camera up and the other hand coming to my eyes with a tissue.  Frequently.  It was moving.

Then there was the first dance.  Gretchen has written with Bryan Adams for many years and formed a tight bond of friendship.  He made a promise to her, arranged his schedule, and was able to come in for it.  And he sang their first song.  It’s funny, my hubby and I married to one of his songs (Everything I do), my sister got engaged to that same song, and now, our brother was having Bryan peform their first dance (Heaven), live!  After this, there were more performances by those who’d been there the night before and other great musicians.  Our family got jammin’ when Rodney launched into Elvira accompanied by Jeff Hanna and a flock of singers joined in.  We stayed up there on the dance floor and joined hands to sing along with “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” and I swear, at that moment, I didn’t think anything could top this weekend.

But then there were the sky lanterns.  Two dozen of these wonderful things were lit by the wedding guests and sent skyward over the Nashville night sky.  Reading through tweets she follows the next day, Gretchen saw some neighbor observed the presence of several UFO’s above Germantown.  I enjoyed seeing the lanterns fly off but even more loved the warm glow that lit peoples faces as they were lighting the lanterns.   Ahhhh.  Just beautiful.  Every last minute of it. 

So with all excitement, I’ve done no painting at all lately.  Just haven’t had it in me.  But I am itching to get back to it.  So stay tuned!