in ellen's words
Whenever I see a piano, anywhere, I want to sit down and just slide in. It's an endless pool of sparkling, velvety water, enchanting in every way. I love almost every piano style, from Gershwin to Bach, to Thelonius Monk to Herbie Hancock, to Ben Folds to Sara Bareilles.
My life is a complex yet rewarding blend of music, family, friends, and work for a non-profit public health organization, which often takes me half way around the world. Projects and people's every day lives in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and West Africa have often been a source of inspiration for my songwriting, but the back woods of Maine offer up some pretty compelling stories as well.
I compose and write songs in pictures. I try to get deeply inside the experience I'm writing about - whether it's my own or something I've observed. I believe that music can help us understand each other and ourselves better. Film lets us do that too, but it's always the music inside the film that ultimately draws me in to the empathy or the fear or the joy.
I find that I often write songs about women. About their struggles, about their triumphs, about their sadness and their strength. Whether in West Africa, Southeast Asia or rural Maine, women share similar experiences - working hard outside and inside the home; trying to protect their children from AIDS, malaria, or the flu; trying to escape from poverty or domestic abuse; trying to manage a million details; trying to trust their own voices; trying to build a better, greener life for future generations.
My second album release "The Juggler" was largely inspired by women's stories, but men's stories feature prominently as well. Being a human being is a challenge and a gift - we're all just doing the best we can. Making this album was a great ride for me. Great players, a fantastic producer, an amazingly supportive husband. I hope it will be for you. I've never been very good at sticking to a genre, so you'll find a little americana, a little pop, a little country, a little world music, a little jazz, and some piano ballads, of course.
Thank you for inviting me into your local theaters, your cafes, your homes, into your cars and onto your iPhones. Thank you for listening.
- 2014, Winner, WildFlower Festival Songwriting Contest
- 2014, 2010 Kerrville New Folk Finalist
- 2013, 2010 Honorable Mention - Rocky Mountain Folks Festival songwriting competition
- 2010 Portland Music Festival - chosen for WCLZ's top ten solo performers in Maine contest
- Shared the stage with Dar Williams, Liz Longley, Robby Hecht, Beth Wood, Chris Williams, Mai Bloomfield, Connor Garvey, Vanessa Torres, Marie Moreshead, Anni Clark...
organizations I support
Hardy Girls - Healthy Women
Boston Initiative to Advance Human Rights (BITAHR)
Cradles to Crayons
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Alliance (MOFGA)
Ripple Effect - Project Korando
Five Town Communities that Care