Ahhh – Awww – Awe
Last night I attended a concert by Kristi Rickert Peterson, a brilliant pianist and performer, who presented a retrospective on the great Johnny Mercer. She is the creator of the twice-a-month piano bar where I enjoy performing, and she is the music mastermind for Unity Church of the Ozarks.
What a great subject to showcase her talent. Johnny Mercer was brilliant in his art, and In addition to writing hit after hit, was a co-founder of Capitol Records and founding President of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. He was known for mentoring the next generation of music makers in America.
Kristi interspersed stories of his tumultuous life and brilliant songwriting with brief renditions of his music. She performed some of his greats: Moon River, The Days of Wine and Roses, Jeepers Creepers, The Atchinson Topeka and the Santa Fe. My goodness, that barely scratches the surface – so many wonderful tunes!
Sitting in the audience, I realized I was not only listening to a story about an incredible artist, but I was also watching an artist do what artists do:
Ahhh – Artists connect the dots
Listening to music I’d heard all my life and hearing the story behind some of the tunes brought a new awareness to me. I was enlightened and entertained. It felt like I was swimming in cool clear water. Kristi magically wove the pieces together into a seamless musical experience.
Amanda Palmer in her book, The Art of Asking, described the creative process as gathering, connecting and sharing the dots. It doesn’t matter if it’s music, writing, painting or cooking, an artist takes all the pieces they’ve gathered and connects them together in a new way. Then they share it. So simple, yet we make it so hard. (But that’s another blog post!)
Awww – Artists open your heart
You can tell when a performer or artist is working from their inner spirit rather than for commercial gain or just seeking attention, right? It’s like listening to Billie Holiday sing the blues or gazing at the Pietá by Michaelangelo. In your body, you feel what they felt.
Art reaches you at an emotional level because the artist dug deep inside and touched their emotion to create it. Touching the divine is what makes great art great. You know it when you feel it.
Awe – Artists help you see beyond yourself
When I was listening to Kristi describe how Mercer and Judy Garland fell madly in love, and how insanely jealous his wife was, I saw his humanity in a new light. I felt his heartbreak when Garland could see their relationship going nowhere and dumped him. And oh the heartbroken songs he wrote… like One For My Baby, and One More For the Road.
I felt viscerally that we are all passionate and we all have to leave something beautiful behind in order to grow. Art can help us connect to our own humanity and to the world beyond.
Our mission in this lifetime is to discover our own special way of gathering, connecting and sharing the dots that are within our reach. You apply your own special sauce in whatever medium fits you best.
You don’t have to create a masterpiece, you don’t have to be perfect or talented, you only need to gather, connect and release the dots. That is your soul’s expression.
What will you create?