The Early Years
I grew up on a tree lined street in Eastchester, New York, the
youngest of four children. Both of my parents liked to sing, but
it was my mother, Ellen who was the most musical and artistic.
She had a wonderful voice and as a young woman had played guitar,
banjo and ukulele. After marriage and four children, the instruments
were put in the attic until my sister Susan brought them back
into the light, taking the guitar off to college with her and
leaving the banjo with me. But that old guitar had captured my
heart and on my sixteenth birthday, a new guitar from K-Mart started
me on my way. Two years and two guitars later I went off to the
University of Iowa majoring in art and earning my way by singing
in the college bars of Iowa City. After three years there and
a new Martin guitar I bought with monthly payments, I realized
that I wanted to be a singer. I wanted to leave college and move
to California, but at my parents’ urging I moved back east
to New York City and finished my art studies at the Fashion Institute
of Technology. After graduation in 1970, I got a good job in the
fashion industry, but I still knew I had to sing. With friends’
encouragement I began to perform in the coffeehouses of Greenwich
Village, the church basements of the upper west side, and I toured
in England and Europe. In 1976, I moved to Philadelphia, finally
deciding to be a professional singer, and gave up my day job.
My first album, The Water Lily, was released in 1977, on the Philo
label and I began to tour, being one of the few women performers
on the folk revival scene. The years that followed found me touring
throughout the United States and Canada as well as Australia and
The Recording Years Begin
The Water Lily met with much praise for the songs of turn-of-the-century
Australian folk poet Henry Lawson (four of the melodies are written
by me) and for Eric Bogle’s moving anti-war song “The
Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. It was recorded with my own
simple guitar, Abby Newton on cello and Jay Ungar on fiddle and
mandolin. (Re-released on CD in June, 1995, Philo-Rounder.) In
1980, my second album, Forgotten Dreams was released on the Flying
Fish label and focused on contemporary North American songwriters.
It had a more jazz-pop feeling reflected by co-producers Guy Van
Duser (guitar) and Billy Novick (sax and clarinet) and received
much attention from major publications. (Re-issued on CD in 1993,
on Flying Fish with two additional previously unreleased tracks.)
In 1982, I left Philadelphia and moved to the small rural community
of Pine Plains, New York, where I now live. I married that year
and released my third album, Seasons of Change, in 1983. It was
moving to the country that inspired that collection of songs and
the next one, Darkness into Light, released in 1987. Both albums
are on Flying Fish and are co-produced by Abby Newton and myself.
Returning to the folk style of my first album, I worked again
with Abby on cello and Jay on fiddle and mandolin. We were joined
by other Hudson Valley musicians including Artie Traum and Mark
Rust (guitars), Molly Mason (bass) and David Hornung (accordion).
All became integral parts of my recorded music along with engineer
Scott Petito of NRS Studios in Hurley, New York.
Second Childhood ~ Stardreamer: Nightsongs & Lullabies
I took some time off between those albums for what I consider
to be my most wondrous release: our daughter Suzanna was born
in April 1985. By the time she turned three, the group of lullabies
that we had been singing to her had blossomed into what I thought
might be an album I could share with other parents. The result
was Stardreamer: Nightsongs & Lullabies, released on Alacazam!
in the fall of 1988. In 1989, it was selected as an American Library
Association Notable Children’s Recording and received the
Parents’ Choice Gold Award and in 2005 it was awarded “Classic”
designation by Parents’ Choice. I will always be grateful
for the amazing success of this album which was made with my co-producer,
Abby Newton, as a gift for both of our daughters.
Branching Out ~ The Trio is Formed
Album number six had me joining musical hearts and harmonies
with good friends Anne Hills and Cindy Mangsen. We first sang
together when they added their glorious voices to my Darkness
Into Light album in 1987. The vocal combination was magical and
we soon realized that a trio album was the next logical step.
Our first “Trio” performances in the fall of
1989, led to our 1990 collaboration, Voices (Flying Fish) and
was produced by Abby Newton. It combines our varied styles and
interests in both contemporary and traditional folk music, highlighting
two original songs by Anne as well as Cindy’s multi instrumental
talents. Though we live in three different states (New York, Pennsylvania
and Vermont) we have toured together for seventeen years, whenever
our solo schedules permit.
With the great success of Stardreamer still continuing, in 1991
I began work on Daydreamer as a companion album and special fundraising
project. With Abby again as my co-producer, Anne and Cindy on
harmonies and the same core of outstanding musicians who have
joined me on previous albums, Daydreamer is a collection of songs
meant for everyone in the family from gradeschoolers to grandparents.
I wanted to draw attention to the needs of children as well as
make a contribution to a children’s organization. I asked
all the songwriters if they would be willing to contribute a portion
of their royalties to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s
Fund. Their generous contribution along with a matching amount
from my royalties, allows us to give UNICEF twenty two cents for
every album sold and UNICEF’s logo appears on the album.
I am very proud of Daydreamer and all those involved with this
recording who have worked so hard with me. Released on the Music
For Little People label in 1993, it was selected as a winner of
two awards: Parents Prize Gold Award and The National Parenting
Recent Recording & Beyond
My eighth album, Forever and Always, a collection of love songs
was released on the Flying Fish label in November 1994. The eleven
songs are written by some of my favorite writers including Anne
Hills, John McCutcheon, David Mallett, Cathy Fink and Bill Staines.
It was once again a privilege to be joined by many of the same
musicians on my earlier releases; Abby Newton (co-producer/cello),
Artie Traum (guitar), Scott Petito (engineer/fretless bass), David
Hornung (accordion), Jay Ungar (fiddle), Molly Mason (acoustic
bass), and Anne Hills, Cindy Mangsen and Bill Staines on harmony
vocals, and a joy to work with Donald Sosin (piano) and Steve
Gorn (bansuri bamboo flutes) for the first time. Forever and Always,
one of my most popular albums, contains several of my most requested
songs including “Follow That Road” (Anne Hills), “Ashokan
Farewell” (Jay Ungar & Grian MacGregor) and “I’ll
Love You Forever” (Allen Power).
Having toured for so many years as a solo artist, I always look
forward to performing with my friends Anne Hills and Cindy Mangsen
on our annual “Trio” tours as part of Herdman~Hills~Mangsen.
Our second CD, Voices of Winter (Gadfly Records, 1997) was produced
by the three of us from live concert recordings made during our
1996 tour. Our annual November to January “Voices of Winter”
tours have been a great success on every level and inspired our
third CD, At The Turning Of The Year, which was released in October
2000, on our own trio label, Hand & Heart Music. Over the
years we have been frequent guests on each other’s solo
CDs will be collaborating a fourth Trio CD in the near future.
Between the two Trio albums I recorded a third family CD, Moondreamer
(Redwing Music, 1998) which was selected for a 1998 Parents’
Choice Gold Award and in 2005 it was awarded “Classic”
designation by Parents’ Choice. Redwing Music was founded
by Jim Netter, formerly of Flying Fish Records, and I was honored
to have the first release on this new Chicago based label which
has now grown to include many wonderful artists including Anne
Hills, Cindy Mangsen, Steve Gillette, Michael Smith and Christine
In May 2003, I released my twelfth CD, The Road Home, on Redwing
Music. Produced by Anne Hills and Scott Petito, it’s a collection
of diverse journey songs by some of today’s finest writers
including Eliza Gilkyson, Anne Hills, Julie Gold, Linda Thompson
and the late Dave Carter. The Road Home was met with critical
acclaim and it was number 8 on Folkdj’s top 10 list of most
played CDs in 2003.
In the fall of 2003 I was invited to France to give a concert
at the American Cathedral in Paris. This was a “thank you”
concert sponsored by the American Aide Society to honor the generous
and wonderful French people who helped our American travelers
during the difficult time after 9/11. Over 6000 American travelers
were stranded in France when flights were cancelled worldwide
for 10 days. I invited my friend and outstanding guitarist Artie
Traum to join me in this evening of American contemporary and
traditional folk music which we were so honored to present.
I have continued to tour throughout the United States both as
a solo and trio performer. Currently, I am researching new songs
and preparing for recording this winter and spring with five projects
I am grateful for the gracious support and continued encouragement
of fans, venue promoters and their volunteers, radio deejays and
print media over the past thirty years, and I look forward to
the journey that still lies ahead.