Remembering Nina Simone


Today is Ms Simone’s birth date, and I think of her with great respect and admiration. She had a powerful contralto voice and superb mastery of the piano–one of those girl singer-pianists from my youth whose presence encouraged me to keep performing and keep studying no matter what. She dealt with her Bipolar as best she could for the times, and rather than dwell on her issues, Nina Simone instead ran with the torch of civil rights and freedom of person(s).  Thank you Nina for your gifts and for your perseverance.


Gwendolyn Overland

Gwendolyn Overland holds bachelor and graduate degrees in music performance from Southern Illinois University, a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Irvine, and a PhD. in theater from UCLA.

She also holds a Master of Arts degree in Psychology and is soon to receive a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Meridian University, Petaluma, CA.

Gwen teaches part-time at Rogue Community College. She leads expressive voice therapy workshops internationally and maintains a private voice studio. Gwen has also worked for Kolpia Counseling in both Medford and Ashland, On Track, Inc. in Medford, and as a Jackson County Mental Health Youth Suicide Interventionist, all in Oregon.

Ashland, Oregon is her home, where she lives with her husband, son and two pugs.

Happy Birthday Salutes

Every once in a while I enjoy surfing the web to discover who has a birthday on a particular day. I did that this morning and was giggling to myself as I saw not only Peter Gabriel but also the late Tennessee Ernie Ford. I believe I giggled because of the immense playfulness and artful exuberance of Peter Gabriel’s video and live performances and the rich baritone and silliness of Tennessee Ernie Ford, who always blesses my “little pea-pickin’ heart!”

Peter Gabriel’s compositions, like “In Your Eyes”, remind me of our global responsibilities as artists. And even though the challenges of today’s planet can sometimes seem daunting, Gabriel’s inspirational compositions and singing voice allow one to feel that anything is possible! It’s the same feeling I get when I hear Tennessee Ernie sing “Sixteen Tons.” The lyrics speak of the poor laborer who “owes his soul to the company store.” Probably a good analogy would be that of today’s 21st century American owing his or her soul to the bank mortgage or credit card balance—no matter how much you work or pay, you still owe. Yet, he sings with such richness and joy-filled positivity, one feels that they, too, can get a jump on things.

Happy Birthday to you guys! I am grateful for your social consciousness, big hearts, and superb musicianship!!

Become the truth to your voice

For years I have been enamored by foreign languages, even to the point of disregarding my own..
And lately my imagination has been swept up by one of the most exquisite languages of love—
Spanish. For me learning Spanish is about communication, but even more important, it is about
another layer of vocal expression—la poesía—the passionate combination of melodic sounds as
typified by the Spanish language. The soul speaks to us in dreams, images and poetry. To know
the truth of oneself is to listen to the poetry of one’s soul with the ears of a person in love with
mere phonation itself. Only then can one conviértete en la verdad de su voz!

I’m A Jazz Singer, She Replied

by James A. Emanuel

He dug what she said:                                                                                                             bright jellies, smooth marmalade                                                                                 spread on warm brown bread.

“Jazz” from drowsy lips                                                                                                 orchids lift to honeybees                                                                                       floating on long sips.

“Jazz”: quick fingerpops                                                                                               pancake on a griddle-top                                                                                                     of memories.          Stop.

“Jazz”: mysterious  as                                                                                                   nutmeg, missing fingers,                                                                                               gold,      Less serious.

“Jazz”: cool bannister.                                                                                                       Don’t need no stair.                                                                                                               Ways to climb                                                                                                                     when the sax is there.