Produced by Michele Brourman
Arranged by Michele Brourman & Stephan Oberhoff
Recording and mix engineer: Stephan Oberhoff
Bass: Larry Tuttle
Guitar: Stephan Oberhoff
Piano: Michele Brourman
Photography & Graphic Design by: Isaac Bailey
Hair & Make Up: Edwin Peterson & Jay Milian for Just Salon Milburn, NJ
Park Road Records
Management: Park Road Management
Friends, Family, Fans & Kickstarter Who made this project possible
My Musical Mentors Whose lessons are always with me.
Michele Brourman Without your limitless talent, & gentle persistence this recording would not be.
Stephan Oberhoff The Teutonic wonder! You made it good and you made it fun.
Mario Raymondi & Edwin Peterson Who help me prove that Redheads have the most fun
Isaac Bailey Neither rain, nor sleet, nor threat of park police will keep you from getting the shot!
Amanda McBroom For luring me to LA.
Jason Graae, Glen Fretwell & Roy the Wonder Dog For being my L.A. family
Michelle Oates For unwavering support, sage advice & endless chocolate
Laurel Massé For friendship above & beyond
Ross & Ashton Bailey Who know all about me and love me anyway
Frances Terra Winters Your unconditional love, great courage and humor inspire me every day. This is for you.
Kathi & Kaipo Bridges
Joe De Furia
Jason Graae & Glen Fretwell
Michael Marero, LCDR USN
Alex Tang & Bob Bagnall
Kim & Finn Wentworth
Breathing is more than the title of the song that opens the album. It is the most essential part of singing. The breath I take at the beginning of a song is the one that matters the most. This intake of air shows me the way in, and centers my mind and body in the emotional space of the song. It’s just the tiniest of pauses but without it I feel unmoored, and as if I have forgotten something of great importance.
Life imitates music. I rush headlong into my day so determined to accomplish something that I forget to stop and breathe. Breathing reminds me to focus on what’s important and let go of the trivial. Someone, no one seems to know exactly who, once said “Breath is spirit. The act of breathing is living.” Without breath there can be neither song nor life.
The first time I saw Michele Brourman she was playing for Amanda McBroom at the Barns of Wolf Trap. Out onto the stage came this tiny woman who sat down at the piano and morphed into a seven foot tall pianistic goddess. At that moment I knew I had to work with her.
A few years later during a Sunday brunch on the Upper West Side of Manhattan I’m sitting at a table at Isabella’s sharing omelets and sweet potato fries with Laurel, Michele, and Amanda. Amanda looks across the table at me and says in her She Who Must Be Obeyed voice “You are going to come to LA and sing and Michele will play for you.” After a stunned second where I had to restrain myself from leaping into the air and shouting “YES! YES! YES!” I gathered my wits and said with all the sangfroid I could muster “Okay, I would like that very much”.
Michele does many things well. She composes, she plays, she arranges, produces and has flawless musical taste. It would be easy to be intimidated by her, but she’s also one of the warmest most supportive people I’ve ever met. As warm as she is she’s a tough taskmistress. She doesn’t coddle and she will push me until she’s gotten everything out of me that she knows I’m capable of and then some. Every singer should have a Michele in their corner.
I married into a very creative family. My mother in law is a doll maker and illustrator, my sisters in law, Heather and Laura are fabric and home décor designers, and my brother in law Isaac happens to be a wonderful photographer and graphic designer. And there are several other siblings, spouses, offspring, and assorted cousins all of whom possess oodles of creative talent both visual and musical. I knew when I started this project that Isaac was the man for the job of designing the packaging for the album. Not because we happen to be related. In fact, working with your in laws can cause you to seriously doubt your sanity, but because I knew his work and I knew he could give me the look I wanted.
The vision that I had of the artwork for the album was of a feeling of faded grandeur. I am entranced by the idea of beauty in decay. I was born in Louisiana, and raised between there, Mississippi, Alabama and Virginia. My very first memory is of my mother taking me on a tour of old plantations along the Natchez trace. Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Harper Lee number among my favorite writers, and it’s long been my secret dream to play Blanche Dubois in “A Streetcar Named Desire”. I love nothing better than a brooding sky on a humid day and the overgrown ruin of a once magnificent structure.
Just up the road from my house in New Jersey are the remains of an old mental hospital. Many of the buildings have been torn down and the ones that remain have slid into a state of decline. I love this place, it reminds me of those places I knew growing up and I’ve always wanted to do a photo session there. When I told Isaac about it and about the feel I envisioned for the cover his eyes lit up and I knew for certain that I was in good hands. He intuitively knew what I wanted and was just as determined as I that we get it. Even the weather saw fit to cooperate with us. Most people would not be enthused about an outdoor shoot in alternately rainy, Windy and icy thirty- eight degree weather, but I thought it was perfect.
Breathing (Amanda McBroom / Michele Brourman)
So In Love (Cole Porter)
This track is what Michele B calls a guzinta: two songs sung in their entirety back to back so that one song guzinta the next. This is different from medley which is bits of many songs (often far too many, but usually at least three) strung together into some sort of cohesive whole. A guzinta is more like a two act play. Each song tells a different part of the same story that when put together becomes a seamless whole.
I’ve always thought of the Breathing and So in Love guzinta as a story of resistance and surrender. Breathing is the resistance; the pull of an obsessive all consuming desire. You may fight against it, but it is ultimately futile. “So in Love” lets go of any pretense of struggle, submitting to bone deep sensations of love and desire and yearning.
The honesty of the lyrics astounds me. There is no coyness, no flirtatiousness, only (to steal a line from another famous Amanda McBroom song) endless aching need. From Amanda’s “I breathe in and you are there as necessary as the air” to Cole’s “…taunt me, and hurt me, deceive me, desert me, I’m yours till I die” a soul is laid bare before you.
Once In a Blue Moon (Anne Caldwell / Jerome Kern)
Night Ride Home (Joni Mitchell)
My friend Laurel Massé brought me “Night Ride Home”. Being a typical chick singer, I lean toward the dark side. Give me a rip your guts out love ‘em and leave ‘em ballad and I’m ecstatic. Left to my own devices I’d sing fifteen ballads and a comic song. Laurel is very good at reminding of the satisfaction of singing a song of unrestrained joy.
I spent my high school years in a beach town and so I have always been certain that magical things can happen on a beach at night. Painting with lyrics, Joni Mitchell gives us the picture of the perfect night with the perfect person.
Michele B. suggested we make another guzinta by adding Anne Caldwell and Jerome Kern’s “Once in a Blue Moon”. Written sixty-five years before Night Ride its wistful tone and hopeful lyrics feel every bit as contemporary. Clothes, and cars and means of communication may change but the desire to connect with another person never does.
Sometimes More Is More (Michele Brourman)
I am not a minimalist. A girl who counts RuPaul & Dita Von Teese among her style icons cannot be depended upon to show up in an understated little black dress and sensible shoes. I’ve cultivated certain ebullience in my look and in my life. If four inch heels are good, six must be better. Why wear one bracelet when five makes a more satisfying sound? I’m a magpie who is easily distracted by color, pattern and shine.
If you want to live in an all white room with bare windows and a black leather chair go for it. I don’t judge. As for me, I need my books, and photos and curtains on the windows to keep the neighbors from viewing my clutter. My closet space runneth over and that’s just the way I like it.
Thanks be to Michele B for writing an anthem for those of us who love wretched excess and irrational exuberance and letting me be the first person to record it. Sometimes more IS more.
Mother’s Prayer (Melissa Manchester / Karen Taylor Good)
When spawn was only a few months old he figured out he could get from place to place by rolling over and over and over until he had reached whatever it was that he wanted. I imagine that for an infant who has so little control over the world this sudden freedom of movement was a revelation. For me it was a bittersweet moment. I was happy that he was reaching all the milestones that proved that he was a healthy child. On the other hand, I knew that rolling over leads to crawling which leads to walking which leads to running and so forth.
As he grew older and more independent (and being his mother’s child he was VERY independent) I had to let go and let him figure things out on his own. There have certainly been moments when I wanted to throw myself in front of the door and prevent him from ever leaving the house, but I know he has to learn to negotiate the world on his own terms. Besides, how can I turn his bedroom into a closet if he never leaves home?
I love my son, but I also like him, and I’m profoundly grateful for that gift. He may make some questionable hairstyle choices (really, the Mohawk did make him look like My Little Pony) and mock my ignorance of Zombie culture, but he has grown into an intelligent and kind human being who makes me very proud.
Michele B. was the one who suggested that I record Melissa Manchester’s “Mother’s Prayer”. Michele is also a mother of sons and we often compare notes on motherhood. Many of my performer friends are parents, and we talk about our children as much as we talk about our work. You’d be surprised how often the two areas overlap. Having children affects the way we view the world which, in turn, affects how we see our work. Melissa’s song is the perfect expression of the prayers we offer up to the universe when we send our children into the world.