By Robert Downes 10/26/09
Barbara Faith Jordan has been a bright light on the Northern Michigan acoustic music scene for nearly a decade, performing thoughtful songs with a message at coffeehouses, folk festivals and concert venues throughout the region.
Next week, friends and fans will hear the latest from Barbara when she releases her new CD, Passages at the City Opera House in Traverse City at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1. Here, Barbara talks about her new CD and musical journey:
NE: Is this your first CD?
Faith Jordan: No, I put my first CD out in 1997. Its no longer available, but was called Harvest and was a collection of original inspirational music.
NE: What direction did you take with your music on this album?
Faith Jordan: I mainly use a narrative, story-telling format to my songs and wanted this album to be reflective of the many different stories that people are living every day. There are songs about love, loss, hope, grief, faith, pain, fear, and humor. I was inspired by a website called www.musicforthesoul.org The founder of that site stated I believe firmly and passionately that music is a gift from God and has the power to speak healing straight to peoples hearts where words alone can often fail. My vision for the album was to deliver a quality message through each song with quality music and solid arrangements. I was grateful to find a co-producer, Joe Ayoub, that was both a great arranger and a great musician to help me with this.
I wanted the album to have a very eclectic feel to it in terms of genre and song content. One of the many things I enjoy about being an independent artist is not feeling constrained to stay within a certain style or genre. I like to use whatever style I think fits the lyrics. It was fun to sing a little jazz, a little country and even a little rock.
NE: When did you get your start as a musician and how long have you been a singer/songwriter?
Faith Jordan: I started singing soon after I could talk. As I got older, I would sit next to my parents stereo speakers, search through their record collection, pick out the ones that included liner lyrics, and sing with them for hours.
I was first introduced to how it felt to play music the Christmas I opened up a 15-key Magnus chord organ. I think I was about 10 years old. I turned on the power and my fingers never left the color coded keyboard until I had memorized Silent Night.
I wrote my first song when I was about 16. It was a song about peer pressure called Life is a Whirlpool. The first time I performed in public was for a high school folk concert. I was more comfortable writing and performing the songs for a few friends than getting up in front of a large audience. People who know me well, know thats how I still feel. Doing this concert will be a stretch for me, but I remind myself that I want to write songs that make a difference, and they cant make much of an impact if they just sit in my guitar case.
NE: Who are your musical influences?
Faith Jordan: Mainly female folk singers and groups that had great harmonies and meaningful lyrics, like Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Crosby, Stills & Nash and James Taylor.
NE: Who is in your band and how did it come together?
Faith Jordan: I played in various cover bands and duos over the past 20 years -- mainly in the Grand Rapids area -- so when I moved to Traverse City in 2001, I really didnt know many musicians.
When I decided to hold a CD release concert I wanted to play the songs in a way that reflected the impact of the album arrangements and the thought of playing with a full band really energized me. My preference is not to do a solo act. Al Jankowski -- who played on the CD and is very connected in the music community -- highly recommended some folks. We ended up with a great group of musicians who had the time and willingness to put into this project. Derrick Hall on keyboards has played with groups like The Temptations and War and is the owner of Vynl Productions, Cris Pico on drums is currently in the band East Bay Blue and is featured on his sister Miriams popular album City Dreams, Michael Racine, lead guitar player has played in jazz bands and college musical productions and Paul Recht on bass has been playing for over 30 years in the Chicagoland area and has been a long-time member of the original roots/folk project The River Brothers Band on Frozen Peach Records. Theyre not only great musicians; theyre great guys.
NE: What can the audience expect at your upcoming show?
Faith Jordan: I hope they hear songs that will touch them and maybe even change them in some way. I love it when people tell me a song I played made them laugh or cry or think about something theyve never considered before. I like to share some background behind the songs I write and even use a little media to enhance the message of the song. Im calling this format a keynote concert.
As people listen to songs about things like middle-aged love, shop-lifting, people who cant commit, lost love, homecoming queens, and caged birds that sing, I hope they find something of themselves there. Whatever it is, I hope it will move them, touch them, inspire them, make them laugh or just make them think.
NE: Any special plans for marketing your CD or touring?
Faith Jordan: For now, the main way Im marketing my CD is through my own personal website www.barbarafaithjordan.com, iTunes, CDBaby, and getting plays on internet radio like I have on our local NMC radio station 90.7 FM, and through concert appearances. Of course, like most songwriters, Id love to have one of my songs picked up by a major artist so the songs can really get out there. I dont mind traveling a bit, but dont have a desire to spend a lot of time on the road.
NE: Whats next for Barbara Faith Jordan?
Faith Jordan: My vision is to integrate quality music and a quality message into a heartfelt and healing experience for the listener. It integrates three of my major passions; teaching, inspiring and music. Id also love to use this format in retreats, keynote presentations, and inspirational talks in a way that helps people to heal and grow.
The most meaningful part of being a songwriter for me is when someone tells me that a song has touched them in a personal way. I knew one women who was very pregnant and not feeling very attractive tell me how good it was to be reminded by my song Inside Out that the kind of love her husband had for her was the kind that went deeper than how she looked. One of my favorite quotes about music is by Aldous Huxley: After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music. I want to use music to help people give voice to whats inside.
Barbara Faith Jordan and her band will be on WNMCs American Crossroads radio show on Thursday, October 29 at 6 p.m. in addition to her Nov. 1 show at the Opera House. Admission to the 5:30 p.m. show is $10.