• * How has music inspired you? Your musical inspirations --

    I think of music as 'emotion pills'. Each piece of music captures a particular emotion, and when we want to visit that emotion then we take that in a way music hasn't inspired me so much as reflected emotions I had already, perhaps heightening them. On the other hand John Taverner says he makes music because it's the closest he can get to communicated with God, and I can relate to that.

    * Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?

    Yes, a few. Music always seems to mean much more when emotions are strong. I'm least interested in music when I'm at peace!

    * Any meaningful CD’s or songs?

    Depends what you meant by 'meaningful', I don't think music always has 'a meaning' literally but can still be very powerful. That said, although it's a little cheesy to name them, songs that have particularly struck a chord in me include:

             Blue Nile - Family Life

             David Sylvian - Black Water/Wanderlust/Orpheus

             Bjork - Unravel

             Ben Christophers - Sunday

             Boo Hewerdine - The Birds are Leaving

             Damien Rice - The Blower's Daughter

       * Discuss the creative or songwriting process--

Getting away from the world into dreamland and letting the ideas pop in. Sometimes it's touching something purer than our everyday existence, which can be very moving (see John Taverner quote). Once I'm in that mental place it's quite hard to swap back to the other side of the brain again.

* Discuss your feelings about the powerful or life-changing effects that music can have on a person --

Obviously the strength and purity of emotion encapsulated in a song can be very rousing, can take you on a very upsetting yet beautiful emotional rollercoaster; yet equally the right music can bring peace to a disturbed mind and joy to a sad one. I challenge anyone feeling sad to not be cheered by 'Don't get me wrong' by the Pretenders with the stereo on 11...

 Jon Cotton --Music production and string arranging 

Based in Birmingham in the UK, Gramophone came into being when past collaborators producer/arranger Jon Cotton and instrumentalist David Picking began work with New Zealand-born vocalist/lyricist Penny McConnell

 Gramophone link


Back in the 70s our Dad used to sing Bob Dylan, Joni, Simon and Garfield on the guitar to us in the living room in West Virginia . He was also a psychiatrist. I think he knew the healing powers of music. We grew up with meaningful music. There is a medical Centre in West Virginia named after him.  Then we lost him to Cancer - he was only 42. My sister and I moved to England. This was a bigger culture shock than you might think! - and after the loss of our Dad - I got into the music. For years I wrote songs - without the realisation that I was using music to heal the troubles in my life. When I put an album together of my songs it transpired that there was an order to them. Songs about loss, feeling like you don't quite fit and then more uplifting tracks, that celebrate life. Now I'm able to teach songwriting to kids who often come from very difficult backgrounds and I show them how to put their troubles into the lyrics and chords, so that they can, in a way, lay rest to the hard times and move on with their lives. There is also a technique where you make a tape of the sad songs that you like, then gradually add more uplifting tracks, untill you end with up beat inspirational songs. If you listen to this tape you start to see that we have more contraol over our moods than we may have previously thought - and that in the end happiness is a state of mind,

and that we all come to a point in our lives where we make a choice how we are going to be most of the time-happy or sad - and since life is so short - may as well choose to have a happiness as much as possible!

And if we can show other people our intrinsic musical side, then this has a domino effect, and can spread a warm, balanced feeling around - that will eventually come back to us. Music is a great healer

Yours Melodically,

Lynda Upthegrove


* How has music inspired you?

Music brings me back to the source of all creation and to what is real. I couldn't picture my life without it.

* Your musical inspirations--

There are so many. It started with the Beatles then continued with artists like Madonna, Led Zepplin, Stevie Wonder, Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, Tori Amos, India Arie.....I could go on and on.

* Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?

Music has always helped me through difficult times. I can always find a song that relates to whatever experience I'm having and it seems to help me through it.

* Any songs or CD’s that are meaningful to you?

Innervisions- Stevie Wonder
Fumbling Towards Ecstasy- Sarah McLachlan
Little Earthquakes- Tori Amos

*Discuss the creative or songwriting process --

It depends on whether I'm writing alone or with someone. By myself I usually come up with a chord progression first then find a melody that sticks within that. Once I have a rhythm for the melody I write lyrics.

* Discuss your feelings about the powerful or life-changing effects that music can have on a person --

I think music is the greatest gift we have been given, besides love. It's universal. It brings people together and breaks down barriers we create as human beings.

Alana has been writing and performing in Los Angeles solo and with her band for the last 6 years. She recently finished recording and producing with the band her second EP- Illuminate


*How has music inspired me?

After I saw one of my favorite female artists preform live, I was so
inspired that I wanted to learn how to play guitar and sing
immediately. I asked for guitar for Christmas and I jumped right in.

*My musical inspirations.

Moving to a new city.

*Has music help me get though a difficult time in my life?

Yes, my early twenties.  I went though some really tough relationships, but fortunately every guy has inspired 2 or more songs.

*Any songs or CD’s which are meaningful to you?

I love Sheryl Crow's "Globe Sessions" and Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels
on a Gravel Road".

* Discuss the creative or song-writing process.

I pick up my guitar is listen to the sound of each chord. Sometimes a
chord will will remind me of someone and one day we spent together.
I'll write around that day.

*Discuss the powerful or life-changing effect music can have on a

Music can immediately change your mood. I think that's very powerful.
I love listening to my favorite songs when I'm down or when I need some

Singer-songwriter, Brittany Shane is among the most promising of the new generation of rock artists on the California scene today. Shane began her music career in Madison, WI, where she released her first two albums, “Out of the Everywhere” (1999) and “Moravian Star” (2000) and quickly earned a college following


How has music inspired you? / Your musical inspirations --

Playing, and especially singing, my songs feels like the most natural thing in the world to me. Music allows me to express myself and hearing a great song motivates and inspires me to write as well as I can and invest as much emotion into a song as I can. It is so exciting and rewarding when you get that feeling you have just written something really good and that others respond to it too.

My musical inspirations range from The Smiths to Massive Attack, to Bacharach/David. I have been inspired by many styles and genres, to me a great song is a great song, doesn¹t matter where it came from.

Kate Bush is a huge musical inspiration. As a teenager I wore out my dad¹s copy of The Kick Inside.. Her music is so unique and has such a magical quality, it was like nothing I¹d ever heard before.

Discovering an artist and seeing them playing live can really inspire me. A few years ago I saw Neal Casal play a solo acoustic show in a small club in my home city and to the few of us there who were really listening and appreciating to what we heard, he was a revelation. His songs were so wonderful, they made me want to write the best songs I¹d ever written the moment he had finished.

* Has music helped you through a difficult or traumatic time in your life?

During adolescence, when I was so insecure and lacking in confidence, the music I listened to provided an escape and an outlet for all the mixed up emotions I was going through.

* Any CDs or songs that are meaningful to you?

This Woman’s Work- Kate Bush - such a moving song
Northern Sky- Nick Drake -- another moving and beautiful song
Rain, Wind and Speed- Neal Casal  - this acoustic album is a huge influence on me
Comes a Time-Neil Young -  love the harmonies and organic feel of this album
Blue- Joni Mitchell -  I listen to this album more often than a lot of contemporary material, it¹s timeless and I particularly love the yearning River
Tapestry-Carole King - It’s too late, You¹ve got a friend, (You Make me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, Will you still love me tomorrow - how can there be so many classic songs on one album?

There are many other great songs and CDs that have either moved me or inspired me. I love understated, acoustic albums where the songs simply shine through and this is something I aimed to achieve on my debut album, Slipstream. The very introspective nature of singer-songwriters make it easy to relate to their words and the best, like the songs of Joni and Carole, manage to be both intimate and universal at the same time.

* Discuss the creative or songwriting process

For me songwriting is all about melody and emotion. When I write, it is the melody or phrase that comes first. This can come at the most odd times, when you’re doing something else, completely unrelated to music. The times I’ve intentionally set out to write and said right, I’m going to write a great song today and written anything of note have been few. When I've got a melody that I'm happy with I then start to develop the theme and play my guitar while singing the melody over and over. The lyrics usually come last. Sometimes its easy, some songs just seem to write themselves and come from nowhere like a gift. Others take some time for them to be right to me. I can be quite tough and critical on myself to get the best out of me but when everything comes together it's so rewarding and all worth it.

* Discuss the feelings about the powerful or life-changing effects that music can have on a person

I believe music can definitely have a powerful effect. Certain songs and voices have this amazing ability to pull feelings out of me: to move me to tears, to uplift me and can be a real comfort. I love the way songs have a way of immediately transporting me to a certain moment, person or place in my life.  

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