Fortunately, I had come to the right person. Paula is as unique as they come and knows how to have fun. She is one of the most joy-filled people I know. She exudes soul and grace. She’s also a hoot. We probably spend at least fifteen minutes of my weekly lesson just making each other laugh. She also inspires me to try different things and to stay attentive, to keep my eyes open to the beauty all around me. Her own creativity is boundless.
As my piano lessons progressed, I told Paula that I liked to sing. Not that I thought I could sing well, but that I simply liked to, and so we worked on songs that I could sing along with. After Thanksgiving, we decided it was time to learn a few Christmas carols. (I had visions of throwing holiday parties, my good-natured guests gathered around the piano with mugs of spiked egg nog, eyes misting, as I treated them to a soul-wrenching version of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Nevermind that mere months ago, I couldn’t even find middle C.)
As I was practicing at home on “Silent Night” one day, I landed on two wrong notes. But I liked the way they sounded together. Then I added some more notes and I liked how they sounded. I wondered if I could put the words to “Silent Night” to the new melody. Turns out I could. I shared what I had come up with the next week with Paula, and she was delighted. (She also teased me a little because of all the black notes I was using. Seems my piano composing is like my writing—a little on the darker, brooding side.) We worked on it some more, she recommending an occasional different key or two and providing back-up harmony, and in just a few lessons, we had it. Paula liked it so well, in fact, she thought I should record it.
Long story short, we did. And what fun that was! The studio we went to was Briarpatch in Louisville, KY, run by Fred Bogert, musician and producer extraordinaire. I’m so glad I got on his website after our little recording session. If I’d known Fred had run the famous Studio B and C in Nashville on Music Row, and had worked with the likes of LeeAnn Rhimes, Dolly Parton, and Conway Twitty, my knees would’ve been knocking in that sound booth more than they already were.
I’m including my rendition of “Silent Night” below. I hope you’ll take a listen, and I hope it’ll inspire you to do something daring, and I hope you’ll do it with your heart wide open and your eyes closed. And may your daring inspire someone else.
Listen to “Silent Night” (dedicated to Paula, with special thanks to Fred Bogert/Briarpatch Studio and all my friends who’ve inspired me with their creativity):
Paula Matthew’s website: http://paulacoopermatthews.com
Fred Bogert’s website (Briarpatch Studio): www.fredbogert.com