THE DEE TALES
I grew up in a small town in the Hudson Valley, one of nine children in two families that evolved after my parents divorced and remarried. Coming of age in alternating homes with real parents and stepparents, siblings and half-siblings, I learned much about the power of relationships. Some can be dark and wounding; others give you light, comfort, and strength. My songs often reflect this contradictory reality. Composing them helps me embrace the fact that being a human in connection with others is both necessary and risky.
Music has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. We had a jukebox at dad’s house that played old 45’s, and when I stayed with him we’d listen to records every morning, dancing over breakfast. I would put my feet on top of his and he’d spin me around and over his head. As soon as I was old enough, I joined a local choir and worked hard to make my voice an instrument worthy of the ensemble. I loved being in the choir; it was the one place where I felt truly welcome and free to express myself. I wasn’t a shy kid, but an anxious one. And though I was never friendless, I often felt alone. I can understand now that my early sense of isolation was part of the collateral damage caused by a man, who secretly abused me throughout my childhood. Being victimized made me feel disconnected, not just from my peers—but from everyone. Even myself.
Making music was a bridge back. Whether I was performing in musical theater in middle school, taking lessons on my Daisy Rock guitar, or co-writing original tunes with my best after-school friend, the community around music became a much-needed haven for me. Not surprisingly, when I headed to college years later, I majored in music therapy. I did well, eager to learn as much as I could about music theory, practice, and composition. Class work also dared me to express myself, to identify buried emotions, and to release them in song.
But in 2016, just before graduation, my college studies ended abruptly. I had developed movement problems on the right side of my body and testing revealed that I had cysts in the parietal lobe of my brain. The treatment was essentially to do nothing. I spent months on the couch not knowing where my life was headed. With my spirit sinking, all I could do was write. Gradually my words became songs, and when my condition eventually improved, I started playing tunes at local open mics. (The track “Doctor” on my Soundcloud is the first song I wrote about being marooned on that couch.) I’ve been writing and performing ever since. I didn’t become a music therapist – I chose instead to be a music artist. But I believe honest songs have a healing power all their own.