Discover more from Pass Along Songs
IWD - Erika Ordinary
An Appetite for Wonder
Livestream for March 8th: http://126.96.36.199:8112/stream
“Music has a way of transcending language, cultural, and religious barriers. I wish we could all be more like music and live in harmony. Pun intended.” - Erika Ordinary
Allow me to introduce you to Erika Ordinary - a remarkable young musician who is anything but ordinary. She is a singer-songwriter based out of Austin, Texas who performs original music as well as a wide array of cover songs while accompanying herself on guitar, ukulele, and looping pedal.
Those are the basic facts. Now for the fun stuff. I’m going to share the questions I asked and her answers since in addition to being a fine musician she is a good writer.
Q: What got you interested in music?
A: The story goes that I started singing in the cradle! My mother played the piano beautifully, which I found mesmerizing and thrilling, especially as a young child. My parents were into everything from Elvis, Willie Nelson, and girl groups like the Chordettes and Pointer Sisters, to classical music. We went to Broadway to see “Singing In The Rain” when I was 7 or 8. I was awestruck by the live orchestra and how they made it rain on stage! We were sitting close enough to get misted!
Q: How did you learn about music?
A: It was a privilege to grow up with a piano. I plunked out my first melody on it around the age of three or four after watching “The Wizard of Oz for the hundredth time. The song was "Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”
When I was five or six, my folks hired a rather surly piano teacher. I would watch his hands carefully when he demonstrated how to play a song. Then, I would mimic him like a cheeky little monkey, completely ignoring the sheet music in front of me. Needless to say, he found this very annoying and ended up putting a big piece of paper over my hands to force me to play by touch and read the music. I didn’t like that one bit!
When I entered elementary school, piano lessons stopped and I joined my church and school choirs. My next formal training wasn’t until college. It was during this time that my love of piano was reignited, my best friend and I formed our first band, and after singing as an alto my entire life, I was asked to sing soprano. The result was severe vocal damage, which taught me never to blindly trust my professors.
Since leaving college, I haven’t received any formal training. Instead, I’ve focused on teaching myself songs that caught my interest. My goal has been to play them well enough to accompany myself while singing. I also joined a few bands, sang at a LOT of open mics, and learned from other musicians. I went on some tours in my twenties and eventually moved to Austin. I’ve been performing solo and with groups ever since.
Q: How do you go about writing songs?
A: It really depends on the song! A rare few, like my song "Inhabited Planet" launched themselves fully formed from my skull, music, lyrics, everything, all pouring out at once. I wish this was the case all the time! Some have taken years of chewing over a musical riff before another part comes to me. One of my songs, "Ink," was written while I was standing at my fridge contemplating dinner. I started playing with the magnetic poetry, which ended up becoming the first verse of the song.
Q: Can you talk about women in music? Is there anything you’d like to change about how women are seen or treated in music?
A: The list of women I admire and who have influenced me is exhaustive. What I would like to see change is that women musicians are assumed to be competent. Most of the time when I wander into a music store, the men working there do not expect me to know a single thing. They are shocked when they discover that I can actually play instruments.
Women have been musicians since music was invented. It would be super great to not be infantilized and objectified anytime I need to buy some new strings or something. One story that really sticks out in my mind was the time this ridiculous guy at a somewhat bougie guitar store refuse to let me even touch an electric guitar because he didn't think I could handle it. I had to say a little prayer to the spirit of Sister Rosetta Tharpe because it's rude to shout at people.
Q: If you could play/collaborate with any female musician, who would it be?
A: When I moved to Austin I found out that one of my very favorite songwriters, Patty Griffin also lives here. I met one of her colleagues at an open mic, and that led to us meeting and eventually collaborating. But the twist is that it was not musically! She and I were the voices of crows in a stop motion animation short film created by that same colleague. So that's my small claim to fame, I was a crow with Patty Griffin!
So, was I right?! Erika is NOT ordinary, but she is fun, funny, and wonderfully talented. I can’t wait to hear her perform at 8:00 am PST on March 8th.
In the meantime, you can get a taste of her work by visiting: https://soundcloud.com/erikasings_atx
P.S. If you would like to make a donation to cover the costs of hosting the event and paying these amazing musicians, you can do so here: https://paypal.me/BraidedLives?country.x=US&locale.x=en_US
Braided Lives is my project and Joanne is my given name :-)
If you are interested in being a sponsor of the event, with your name mentioned and logo displayed, please email me at JenaBall@CritterKin.com