Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The story of the last 3 years...

So much has happened...

After touring for We are Wyoming we moved to Santa Rosa, an hour north of San Francisco. We focused on playing in the Bay Area for a while, converted our garage into a studio for me - the first time I've had a private space for music. Baby grand piano, red walls, computer and mics, it's bliss. Here Iwrote and wrote for the 3rd album...

We headed to Portland for Feb/March 2008 and recorded what will be the next album, staying with my sister and her big dog Theo. With John Askew recording and producing, it was a great time, fun and peaceful, playing tunes, talking, and eating up a storm. I've been playing with a great drummer, Max Diez from Audio Outsend, and Tad Wagner added amazing guitars, Heather Houseman on cello. The best thing about it was that I was pregnant with my first child, a mystical and beautiful feeling. He is woven through all of these sounds, with love and wonder.

We finished the album in good time, and took a few months off for my belly to grow. In the hot summer of 2008, I had a blast in my home studio recording songs for the winter season, sweating and imagining the cold and the dark. I like the songs in minor keys, the darker ones. I like bringing out the good memories of the season, the Christmas eve service in the little wooden church my family belonged to, no lights, just candles, no mics, just walls, people singing in the candlelight, I loved that part.

The Portland album was mastered and my baby was born the same week. It seemed like everything in my life, these amazing creations, would converge in space and time. Otto Charles was born August 22nd, 2008. And when he came out he wasn't breathing. After a great deal of whisking away and a few days of tests and wires, we found that an "event" occurred a few days before his birth, and his brain was really injured, and he wouldn't have long to live. Our hearts broke and broke and broke. Our baby, who we loved more with each second passing, would have a very short life. So we decided to make it the best possible, and we took him off the machines and took him home and spent every last moment holding him and singing to him. I became a mama, my husband an amazing father, our hearts grew so big to know this beautiful soul that came to us, our child. We had 3 days with him and when we couldn't stay awake any longer, when our eyes closed, he passed on in our arms at dawn.

This has changed everything. Becoming a mom is enough of a perspective shift, a huge change of order. Singing my son to sleep, singing to comfort him, singing to help him die, both destroyed me and made me find this place of pure love, of genuine being. I have never felt like I was really singing until that time. And now, still, I feel music as a source, a connection, that is in everything, and I don't need to try hard to do it, it is just in me, it just IS me. Big goals, numbers of albums sold, people at shows, are hard to care about. But music, I love more than ever. My son is such a big part of my heart, my life, everything I see now, and I hope to keep my heart soft for him, I hope to keep singing to him from that place that he showed me.

I am sad a lot. I find peace too. I realize that I will die and that life is here for me for now, what will I do? How will I be? I have 40 or 50 years to be here and what is this all about?

And so I have this beautiful album that I love, and I'm figuring out how best to release it. I hope to get it out in the next few months. I am excited for people to hear it, because it was an amazing time for me to make it, and such a sacred space was held for my baby and the music in the rooms it was made in. These songs mean so much now.

Those Christmas tunes are posted at for free download! The album is called Old Long Since/Winter Songs.

I hope you have a beautiful winter season. I hope the solstice and all the dark holds you within yourself in a peaceful way. Thank you for your wonderful support and for listening. It is an honor for me.

I'll be keeping this going about once a week - check back for more info... I've got lots to say about life and music and recording and the road.



Josephine Tournier Ingram said...

your new music/album is amazing! I hear in it love, beauty, heart, passion, peace, and otto's presence. thank you for sharing your gift with us.

we are looking forward to hearing your new christmas music! xoxo

Caleb's Momma said...

Otto is beautiful Jessica. What a gift. I cannot imagine the loss and pain you feel comingled with the joy of being mama to such a beautiful, amazing boy. May your heart stay soft as you hold a space for the miracle you held and will again hold one day.

Ignacio and Carolyn said...

Jessica & Ryan,

It's been awhile. I can't express how sad and sorry I am to hear about Otto. Your words in your blog honored him so beautifully. I just can't imagine. Too many things in life are meant to not be understood but it's clear Otto was need for a greater purpose. I hope your hearts heal in time...

Looking forward to the new album.

Love you guys,


Josefina said...

Dear Jessica & Ryan,
I don't know if you remember me....I'm Ignacio's sister. My brother just informed me about your loss. My heart goes out to you both. My mom passed away a few weeks ago...when there are no just breath.
Love, Josefina