singer | songwriter | pianist
I am a singer, songwriter and pianist who lives in San Francisco with my partner of 29 years, Eric, and our faithful dog Pluto. Born and raised in Scottsbluff, a rural farming town on the Oregon Trail in Western Nebraska, I'm still trying to sort through the anger and confusion that result when a creative non-conformist is dropped into the middle of a repressive midwestern corn field.
My saving grace has always been music. I started singing and playing piano at age 7, studied classical piano for 13 years and as a high school senior performed the Grieg Piano Concerto at the Omaha Symphony’s Young Artist Competition, where I was the only non-master degreed finalist.
Five minutes after college graduation, I drove my overloaded car to San Francisco and actually wept with joy as I crossed the Bay Bridge. After years of hard work building and operating a small business, I realized that my heart was still in music, so I began writing songs in earnest, resulting in my solo show “Songs for a Lost Boy”. Encouraged by its success, I decided to devote myself to music full time, selling my home and business and moving to Los Angeles.
After a year of sending out demos and appealing to anyone who would listen, I found work as a session singer in LA, gradually making my way into the “A” list of singers and working on movies including Jurassic Park, The Matrix, Peter Pan, HBO’s Angels in America, Van Helsing and I Robot, and television series including King of the Hill, ER, and Family Guy. I appeared on a television special that featured artists including Sarah McLachlan, Vince Gill, Chaka Khan and Natalie Cole. In 2003, I was thrilled to be selected to sing at the 75th Annual Academy Awards.
Doesn’t that sound glamorous? The truth is, it really didn’t pay the bills, so in my "spare" time I began renovating and re-selling homes before HGTV made “flipping” a household word. After 8 years in LA, we moved back to San Francisco, where I became a successful Realtor for 16 years.
At the height of my real estate success (and stress) in 2019, I began noticing troubling cognitive problems. Word-finding, spelling and typing became difficult and confusing after years as an exceptional wordsmith and typist. I was admired by colleagues for organizing complicated remodeling projects for my clients, but found myself struggling to complete simple tasks. Using familiar technology became vexing. I’ll never forget one evening in my office when I couldn’t figure out how to send an email – all of the icons seemed completely foreign to me.
An MRI of my brain showed Hydrocephalus (excess spinal fluid on the brain), and I immediately underwent brain surgery to install a shunt to regulate the fluid, which was expected to resolve the symptoms in a few months. After six months without improvement, I underwent a grueling nine-hour Neuro-Psychological evaluation, which showed significant deficits.
After 8 months of furthering decline, I felt certain something deeper was wrong. I fired my Neurosurgeon and found an amazing Neurologist at the Ray Dolby Brain Health Center who spent two hours doing a proper intake. He ordered a nuclear PET scan which shows brain function in real time. It revealed brain atrophy, volume loss and areas of the brain that didn’t “light up” as they should. Upon further evaluation and a subsequent spinal tap, I was diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in May of 2020. I was 57 years old.
I immediately quit my extremely stressful job and spent the rest of 2020 getting my finances in order and setting up a trust. My modest savings was placed with financial planners in an effort to make it last for as long as possible (which of course is not long enough).
I’m trying to live in the moment and enjoy each day, but I suck at it. I grieve every day for the diminishing power of my brain, which was my proudest possession. I am still functioning relatively well, and am strangely grateful to know I have a limited amount of time to live.
I built a recording studio downstairs and am trying to find my way back to writing original songs. I wanted to sing again without the burden of accompanying myself, and found a company that makes pro instrumental backing tracks that I can import to my recording system and then record my vocals over them. It has been so gratifying to find my voice again, and I’ve had a lot of fun singing, recording and producing these cover songs. I hope you enjoy them!