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An Interview With Tracy Kash

In our early days here at Daily Grommet, we had the pleasure of  being introduced to the music of  Tracy Kash. Tracy  (the 2009 Detroit Music Award winner for Outstanding Jazz Vocalist),  has just released her 3rd album Sound Truth. We have been watching this outstanding singer-songwriter and are thrilled to finally get the chance to share her story with you.

Who would you collaborate with if you could choose anyone – dead or alive?

Harry Nilsson and Maurice Ravel. They’ve both passed on so collaboration would be tricky – unless they have REALLY good cell service…Seriously, I’ve been listening to Harry Nilsson since I was a tiny little thing when “The Point”, an animated movie for which he scored the music was very popular (70’s). His influence and amazing sense of melody and humor never left me. I hear a lot of him in some of the music I write – some very Nilsson-esque melodies tend to creep into my tunes without me even realizing! I’d love to pick the brain of Maurice Ravel, one of my favorite classical composers. Not only is his beautifully lush writing an influence, but the man was a masterful arranger. Even his contemporaries called on him to arrange a large number of piano works for full orchestra. He had wonderful ears and, amazingly, a really good sense of various instruments’ natural qualities and capabilities and, consequently, always knew what would sound good on those instruments. Arranging is a much underrated skill – it’s more difficult to it well than most people realize.

How did you get started in music - what's your story?

I don’t remember ever NOT being a musician. My mother was a very fine pianist and taught piano for many years. Naturally, she was my first piano teacher starting when I was about 5. I was always a singer as was my sister. We would all harmonize in the car on family road trips – it was like being in a car with the Lennon Sisters. So much fun. As a result of having such a background, I was comfortable with crafting harmonies starting from a very young age. I started to play the flute when I was 11 so that I could play in the school band and orchestra. I studied flute/orchestral music and vocal jazz in college and grad school, then pursued a symphony career very seriously (see attached bio for details) After a while, I just sort of burned out on that scene. I needed a new direction with new music. I decided to start writing my own music starting in around 1999 and never looked back. I ended up in New York City working/gigging with several of my old music colleagues from my college days – truly outstanding musicians. They really supported me and sent me on my way as a performing songwriter.

What other interests do you pursue in life other than music? Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy?

I absolutely love to garden. I find it’s a great escape from everything. And the results – everything is so beautiful and fragrant! I feel the same way about cooking – I just get into this zone and just revel in creating something out of nothing. My husband recognizes this when it happens and likes to stay out of my way for fear of being trampled! I tend to be a bulldozer when I commit to any kind of creative project.
What is your favorite thing about social media? Do you twitter? Or is social media just something you have to do?

Oh I think social media is magnificent. I think it’s important to balance the time one spends using/manipulating it and that used for practice, songwriting, and other more creative ventures. You have to remember to keep up your craft – both songwriting and playing – there’s just no substitute for practice. I do tweet, thank you very much! The best thing about social media these days is how so many of its forms are being integrated to work in concert with each other. It’s a huge time saver for me to be able to update something in one spot, and have that information automatically fed into all the various sites where I have a page (ArtistData, Twitter, MySpace, etc.); I don’t have to update information at each site. It helps to keep the breadth of social media a little less intimidating.

Regarding your current album – what’s the story you want to leave behind?

My albums tend to be very autobiographical, more philosophically speaking than in the literal sense, though some lyrics are inspired by or based on actual events. When that’s the case, I think it’s important for artists to be honest about their own story. If you truly want to tell your story, then tell yours, not someone else’s. This album is very appropriately titled in that sense. Most importantly, I’ve had to learn to not punish myself for being what/who I am, thinking the way I think. It’s not wrong or right, it just is what it is! It’s taken me a while to learn that – I’m still working on it.

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