In late May 2011, on a women's spiritual retreat I was encouraged to sing my song, “Adonai Tzuri V’Goali” As the music flowed, the group began to sing along and get excited. One of my fellow musicians, Robbi Sherwin, from the group Sababa, was recording it on her iPhone. After we were done, she sent it to Scott Leader (also from Sababa), whose response was "Who sang that and why isn't it recorded yet?"

Scott, Robbi, Larry Bach and I recorded my “baby” over the next two weeks and entered it in the New Voices young songwriter competition sponsored by NewCAJE. Imagine my surprise when an email arrived saying “YOU WON!”

Not only had it won but it was now included on a CD with nine other new up-and-coming talents. The email also included an invitation to perform in-person at the NewCAJE conference in North Carolina in August, 2011.

At the conference, after a performance of a new art form made up of live music and improvisational story-telling, the six performers decided to jump into unknown waters and we founded an artists' collective called NuRootz. I discovered my inner musician and began writing more songs on the plane home from the conference; enough for an album!

With new-found confidence and excitement, I began planning an album and a brand-new career. That's when tragedy struck my family. My sister, Lauren, committed suicide.

Lauren struggled with mental illness for years but I didn't know how difficult her struggle was. Laying there in the hospital, on life support, my parents and I struggled to sing to Lauren, Debbie Friedman’s "Mi Shebeirach." I sang her my song - the one that seemed to wake everyone up at the conference - praying that it would do the same for Lauren.

It wasn’t to be. After five days, we learned that she would never wake again and we decided to let her rest. She’s buried in Rhode Island among our family she loved so much.

Ever since then, as I've been putting the pieces of my life back together, I have found that music is helping me heal in so many ways. Healing starts when I write it down. It continues as I sing it to someone, and the greatest gift is when even one person says, "Your words helped me heal, too."

May the music of my soul light up your days.

Only light can banish the darkness.


So there are Jews in El Paso, Texas?
Yes, actually, there are a bunch of us!  In fact, there are enough of us to have a thriving Jewish community that stretches back over a hundred years!  It is a wonderful group of folks who have supported, welcomed and encouraged my music from day 1.  I owe the El Paso Jewish community so much as a musician, parent and Jewish educator!

How do you write a new song using "old" words?
I take my inspiration from the imperative to "sing a new song" to Hashem (the Eternal One).  Once I learn the words to a prayer, I repeat them over and over in my head until a rhythm appears.  Then I follow the rhythm until a melody appears.  Once that happens, I try and get it all recorded before it flies out of my head again!  Many of the songs I've written (especially on my first album, Shapirit) feel like they've been "given" to me as a gift for opening my ears and heart and really listening to the music of the world.

When did you first start with learning, singing, writing and making music?
My best friend and I wrote some spoof lyrics when we were in middle school, but I guess Weird Al didn't think they were as funny as we thought they were.  Oh well!  My musical journey began in fifth grade when I picked up my first instrument, the cornet.  My middle school band teacher encouraged me to pursue every solo and tackle every challenge, and when I arrived in high school this perseverance served me well.  My high school band directors pushed me even further, and I even switched instruments (to french horn).  I didn't start writing my own original compositions until the summer of 2011 and then they just started pouring out of my brain!  I guess this is what I've been meant for, all along.

I'd love to answer more of your questions - send me an email and ask me anything.  I'll try and answer it honestly and update this section with new questions/answers!