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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Just Like Lou

Alice Berry was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, at 59. This fiery Latina would always say, “Who is this Lou guy, and what does he have to do with me?” Well, those two had a

lot more in common than just a disease. They shared a spirit that lives through the ages. They both displayed an unrelenting dedication to what was important to them. Lou Gehrig won our hearts and inspired us through his humble love of a sport and courage to overcome the odds. The first ballplayer to have his number retired, number 4, was called the Iron horse because of his graceful strength in the game he loved. The world will never forget his famous speech made on the fourth of July at Yankee Stadium when he proclaimed himself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. That was his story; this is the story of my mother.

I remember back in high school. I was eighteen and trying to discover the person I wanted to be. Your typical hard-headed teen butting heads with my mother and demanding that I was the only one who knew what was best for my life. Yes, admittedly, I did everything a typical teen would do to hide the fact that I was a frightened child. Reluctant to go out into the real world, afraid of who I was and who I was to become. Mom and I fought like cats and dogs. Everyone would say we were too much alike. Our personalities clashed. We saw our faults in each other. However, Mom would say, “No, not the faults, I see everything I ever wanted to be in you only with more potential!”

She always encouraged us, kids, to put forth 110% in everything we did. “I’ll support you in anything you want to do as long as it makes you happy,” she would say with fire and honesty that only a Mother can have. Those were not just words she said: words she lived by never faltered in that truth. She stood by me while I made my journey of self-discovery. Encouraging me all the more as I decided to become a singer and songwriter.

Along the way, she’d picked me up when I’d fall. And, she directed me to make those right turns even when I insisted on going left. Her guidance was never wrong. Although frequently, I had to make a full circle to my ultimate destination, if only I had listened to her in the first place. Ah, the beauty of being young.

Over the years, I realized she wasn’t just my mother; she was my best friend. We are just alike: headstrong, determined dreamers that refuse to be defeated. No dream is too big or too small as long as it makes you happy. These are just a few things I have learned from the great wisdom she never gave herself credit for. I focus that wisdom on my creative energies, and it has made me the musician that I am today. Everyone tells me it’s a harsh industry; it’s a crazy dream that only a few chosen will reach. Mom’s response was, “Baby, your one of those chosen ones. You can be anything you want to be if you only try.” She was my number ONE fan! She loved every song I ever wrote, even the bad ones. She would tell me the more I’d write, the better I would get. Always eager for the next song, she would give me that extra push when I got lazy. Because of her, I believe in myself.

I recall countless lonely nights when I was on the road away from home. I’d call her in tears, tired and discouraged, missing home. I wanted to give up, feeling like it was a futile journey with no success in sight. Her stern but a straightforward response, “Ay mi hija, don’t let me hear you talk like that. Stay strong! Keep your focus. The only ones who make it are the ones who never give up. Your time will come. This is your year; I just feel it. I believe in you that has to count for something!” It counted for everything! I lived for those talks and kept trudging forward because she said I could do it, and I believed and trusted her. Fourteen years later, I’m still plugging away at it. Thanks to Mom’s constant and steady encouragement, I’m even making some headway. And, who knows, maybe this year will be my year as Mom would say…

One day, a friend of mine in Boston told me about the ALS Foundation and how they did a Walk to D’feet ALS every year and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. This was probably the first acknowledgment I had made of the fact that Mom was sick. Being the creative type, I spoke to the organization. I told them about being a singer, and they asked me to sing the National Anthem for the walk. I accepted the honor. Mom was so proud. She wasn’t able to be there, but she bragged to all her friends and family. I had a dedicated group who raised money for the event, and we walked in her name. That day, I met ALS patients that were far more progressed than my mother at the time. It was a slap of reality of what my mother was facing. She hid the pain so well. She never complained. Until that day, I guess I was in total denial that I was losing her. She was the one who needed someone to lean on to help her pull through. Instead, she gave the whole family strength and support. How ironic someone so feeble was supporting all of us.

She accepted her fate with dignity and strength, like no one I have ever known. If I could possess at least a third of her courage, I believe I could make any dream come true. She was a great role model, a friend and confidant, and an inspiration to so many. We lost her on the sixth of February, 2005. I say “we” because I never realized just how many lives she had touched until the day of her funeral. So many people traveled great distances to bid her farewell.

I have to say that life just isn’t the same without her in it. Everything has been a little out of sorts since that day. I want so badly to have her back and give her everything she ever gave to me. My number ONE fan…the only way I know how to hold her again and hear her soft, comforting voice is through a song. I hope I always make her proud.

I told my story to another musician. We collaborated to write this song for her, hoping someone else could find comfort in the words. Isn’t it just like Mom to continue to give encouragement? Like she uses to say, “Who is this Lou guy, and what does he have to do with me?” He personifies everything that she is because she was, “JUST LIKE LOU!”

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A Short Season

To Georg, with love!

Some people come into your life for a reason and some for a season. I always liked that saying because it is so honest. I had a friend, Georg Hegelmann he came into my life with drive and purpose. We had met through Russ Williams at a time I was working hard to win a competition. It was a grueling couple of months, and I got through it with the help of my friends. Georg, played my music, created commercials to advertise and request for votes; he and Wolfie were a massive part of my success. Georg would even vote to download the songs I had listed as rewards. He wouldn't let me send them; he said he was willing to work for it. I won December of 2014. We celebrated new years eve together on Fame Music Radio it was the start of strangers becoming dear friends. It was a packed house on The Pack Show and was one hell of a party!

The Pack Show aired every Friday night, and it became a ritual for me, the thing to do every week and Me and Mr. cheek Hegelmann would banter back and forth, and Wolfie would play mediator while Helen would be posting angry birds in my defense on Facebook. Every shot given to each other was presented with the utmost love and giggle behind the scenes. Georg was a shock jock, and he did his job well.

And then there was the behind the scenes, the part so many did not see, the love he gave, the laughter shared. The hours of us talking via Skype, fixing the world's problems if only people would listen...jejeje

And how could I ever forget, “Georg, turn the music down? I can't hear myself think?”

And his cheeky response, “It can't be loud, if I turn it down any lower it will be off!”

Still makes me giggle to this day.

More behind the scenes no one else saw was all the time's life had taken its toll, and we would chat for hours on instant messenger, and he would not stop until he knew he had cheered me up. He leaned on me a few times as well we got to know each other, and he was easy to talk to and a great listener with sound advice.

Not only was he a friend to me but he introduced me to so many other people that became close, genuine friends, still to this day, we remain connected. The family keeps growing and it all started from Georg and his partner in crime Russ, aka Wolfman!

A friend like that is one easily taken for granted, and God love him if I ever forgot to say thank you and I love you, please dear Lord tell him now. He left behind an entire community of grieving, broken hearts. This kind of fall for us is one that will hurt and leave a mark that may never go away. I want to believe it is all a bad dream, I will wake up and brush that one off. Chat with him and say, man, you would not believe what happened to me today!

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is I lost a dear friend. He was so many things to so many people. For me he will always be that cheeky Georg, that kept me on my toes, made me laugh, and now making me cry.

Georg you were put in my life for a sure reason, the sad truth is only for just a short season. Rest in Peace, will love you always!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

New Year, New Beginnings

Where do I start when reflecting on this past year. The highlight for me was finishing my 6th studio
Last performance of the 2017 UK Tour
recorded CD, SEESAW, with longtime friend and producer, Scott Neubert. I was very proud of this CD, and I took it out on the road for another UK tour. I spent five months bouncing from one corner of the UK to another, I performed over 50 dates, hit several radio stations, charted and met new friends and my UK family keeps growing bigger and bigger. Sharing the stage with Ruzz Evans and Dave Willmott and a few others I met along the way was an experience I will carry in my memories forever. A true honour playing with so many incredible musicians.

I was able to catch the attention of a publisher here in Nashville, Merf Music and they have been golden as far as working it for me and getting my songs heard and placed. Still working with APM out of LA and One Night Stand Music out of the UK. In recent months I was picked up by a management company, Dalyce Entertainment. Together we are working on exciting opportunities for 2018.

I was considered, again in four categories of the Grammys and did not get the nomination, and my fans picked me up and celebrated my music anyway. You cannot know what that meant to me.

As a member of The Recording Academy, I decided to become a district advocate and fight for copyright reform. I have been heartbroken at witnessing the injustices an artist is faced with in this changing age of technology. So many benefitting from our work except for the creators themselves. We made some strides but there is still much work to be done.

We share in the success, and you lift me up in my failures. Life is indeed a roller coaster of ups and downs. The lessons I've learned and blessings I have taken away on the journey feeds my muse and keeps me moving onwards and upwards. I could not do it alone, and I get by with the help of my friends.

Now another new and exciting year is upon us and I want to extend my love and best wishes for all of you. Looking forward to what 2018 has in store for us. The journey is boundless, and the love will see us through. Every year I make new goals and as I reach each one I get closer and closer to making all my dreams a reality. I could not get there without the support of my fans that quickly became friends and now family. This journey has been hard at times, but with so many seeing me through each challenge makes my blessings countless. 

I know I say it often and I hope it does not diminish the meaning, I cannot be me without all of you, Thank you for helping me keep my dreams alive!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Saying Goodbye to 2017 and Welcoming Another Year

Join Rebecca Hosking and Scott Neubert for a Christmas Celebration
an online concert from our living room to yours
The World is INVITED!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review by Actress and filmmaker, Penelope Read

Review of Words and Music, The Story Behind the Song
Penelope Read, actress and filmmaker
By Rebecca Hosking

As I read this, I felt as though   Rebecca was in the room with me, so conversational was her style, yet her eloquence pulled me up sharply with its aching honesty.  The ideas and images she writes about are so vivid, the metaphors so apt, that everything she says is easy to understand and inspires empathy. The overriding message of this story is one of positivity, in fact, much of Rebecca’s writing is inspirational.

I especially liked the idea that even the bad times can be made useful, by incorporating the feelings into a song! ‘As I trip over myself and try again’ (In Over My Head)  In ‘A Hard Dream To Sell’, Rebecca urges us to follow our dreams, even though it’s difficult to combine dream-chasing with reality.

I enjoyed  ‘Riding Shotgun’ – it is full of the courage it takes to launch off on your own.  It ties in well with A Hard Dream to Sell – we have to carry on with that dream-chasing and change it into reality.

My favourite of all is ‘Safe Haven’ – many of us have a happy place – our den, the garden, the beach, but the idea of a safe haven within oneself had never occurred to me. Rebecca has offered me ‘ a doorway into a corridor’. Brilliant metaphor!

This story behind the song is achingly honest, not least in ‘Trouble Comforting ‘ – perhaps we heal ourselves, in helping others. The idea of impermanence is reassuring – even the worst pain passes in time, even if we have to ‘stumble through it’!

I’m so glad I discovered both the songs and the story behind them.  Rebecca has made me think, inspired and comforted me.  I will remember her words.

Penelope Read - Actress and Filmmaker, Trained singer who took up acting in 2006.Experienced in TV, Film, Corporate events, Murder Mysteries, and commercials

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Reflections, thinking small to make big changes.

Reflection is a great tool for self-improvement in my humble opinion. We are all guilty of pointing fingers and complaining about what is wrong in the world when in most cases the things we complain about we do have the ability to change because quite often we are usually guilty of what we are vocalizing, ourselves.

It is easy to point out what is not working, but implementing change is not always as easy as it seems. I have said this before and will reiterate it here, our brains function on habitual routines. The best way to seek change is to set up a regular routine and before long it becomes a habit that is as natural as breathing. It is that simple but, we have to start somewhere. The hard part is creating the change before it becomes a habit.

If we are honest with ourselves we can hold a mirror up and ask truthfully is this annoyance caused by me? Reflection is a tricky thing. If someone hurts us or we feel slighted, are you reflecting what someone did to you on the wrong person? If a repeated action of deceit affects us in our lives it is easy to fall in that pattern and automatically assume everyone is going to do the same thing, before anything is done at all. Often times we, in fact, enforce the behavior by our attitude towards the innocent party, creating their defenses to react to your behavior. That person becomes the victim of your own reflection.

We can also be the culprit of the things that annoy us the most, we see it easily because maybe we do it as well? It is not easy to be fully honest with yourself, no one likes to admit their own failures. However, it seems failures are the stepping stones to success. Trial and error is the process to finding the best fit, should we say? You cannot fix something if you do not understand what is broken. An analysis of truth must be reflected in the mirror, then change what you do not like about yourself to create a better you. Then others see and react and follow suit; you created the cycle for a positive change.

May seem confusing but it is human nature and no one is immune. However, we can use it to our advantage in a complementary way instead of negatively. Being the control freak that I am, I understand that we can not control the actions of others, but we can control how we react to them. Change starts with the individual, be the change you want to see and lead by example.

One voice can make a difference and soon habits start to form and changes trickle down to
more and more people before you know it, you are a cause of a movement. It all started with a habit you formed in combating something you did not like about yourself. Make that movement count, put more favorable energy out and we get it back 10 times fold. As easy as it is to argue with someone and demand them to think like you do, that can be replaced with an eager ear, waiting to listen, or a helping hand looking to help someone in need, or a simple handshake and smile, can create an entirely new outlook that is rewarding on so many levels.

I believe! All we can do is try, right? What is the worst that can happen? But the best case scenario is a better world for future generations. Changes happen globally when we start locally!

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Emotional Highs and Lows of a Touring Musician

Another new year is upon us and I was working on my ebook that is a reminiscence of my 2016 UK radio tour. I was on the road for 4 months with little to no down time at all; you'd be amazed at what can happen in a short period of time. The people I met, other musicians I had the honour to share the stage with and countless rare moments I experienced that will live in my memories forevermore. The ebook will have direct quotes from my journal and details about the moments lived and lessons learned. But while working on it, I was making discoveries about myself and the emotional toll a tour can take on a musician.

Going out on the road is a huge part of a musician's job. We do not have a career unless we have an audience that will buy our merchandise and come out to see us play. I started out as a songwriter and learned over the years there is a big difference between an artist and a writer.

I'm a songwriter first and foremost and having said that, being out on the road for an extended period of time taught me the real difference. The high is vastly different between the two and each have their unique just rewards. An artist feeds off the emotions the road provides. It builds and carries us to the sky, then coming home is an instant drop. The higher you are, the harder you fall.

I started touring and promoting my own music as an Indie artist, in recent years. As a songwriter, I
With Scott Neubert at Smith's in Atlanta, GA
was not having any luck getting my songs heard so I started promoting my own music as an artist. I released my first studio recorded CD, Love and Other Disasters in 2007, produced by Scott Neubert. It received countless accolades from across the globe. I also started getting my music placed in TV/films etc. It was a whole new world and I was making progress. My 4th release, A Few Broken Pieces, landed me a membership to the Recording Academy and I was considered for a Grammy in the category of best new country artist. These are the kind of steps that inspire you to keep moving forward and never give up on your dreams.

I started building a fan base in the UK and went out on a radio tour in August of 2016 hitting every single radio station that would play me, I did live in studio performances and interviews and also hit the open mic scene and played for exposure to build an even larger fan base. Any hard working, serious musician knows, there is no formula to success, no set path, you have to blaze your own trail by doing whatever it takes. In doing so your job becomes your lifeline, the people you meet become your crutches that prop you up and the lessons become your to do list, it is learned by trial and error and so you start repeating what proved to be working.

I got a small taste of life on the road, keep in mind there are musicians that spend an entire year on the road, my 4 months was a taste of a musician's reality and all the ups and downs that come along with the lifestyle. I used to read biographies of all my favorite musicians, mainly to learn what worked for them, best way to be a musician is learn what the greats did in order to make a living
Kevin Wrapson and Helen Bawden at
the Manchester airport
doing what you are trying to accomplish. I read countless stories of depression and mental illness and the instability that lurked in the minds of most of these stars, I often judged them and thought suck it up, you are doing what you love, why all the whining….However, now I get it, probably more than ever.

Here in the USA I would go on short tours, hit different regions, 10 days on the west coast, 10 days in the Midwest, etc. After, I would come home it would take a couple days to come off the initial high then I'd fall right back into my normal routine and plan for the next road trip and write new songs. I never felt anything other than a bit of fatigue and I bounced back pretty quickly.

This time was different for me. I packed my bags and grabbed my passport and journeyed to another country with the intention of staying as long as I could with a goal of promoting my latest CD, Safe Haven. I was already building a following in the UK and Lucky me, getting a fair amount of radio play, the tour was easy and I bounced across the country and circled it twice hitting each station that was playing me as well as being sent to new ones all over the radio community. I would promote live performances on the radio shows and started getting a nice draw in all the rooms I played, which got me more invites to play again and many brought me back as a featured artist.

This was it, it was happening, people were noticing and giving me positive feedback every single time. I cannot describe to you the sense of accomplishment as an artist to have a stranger buy your music and walk away genuinely happy as if they have just won a prize. As a songwriter, when that happens, you know you have done your job right. It is like an office worker getting a promotion or recognition for a job well done. There is not a lot of rewards or compensation for an indie artist, so these little natural highs are the gold that keeps us focused on our ultimate goals.

You win some and you lose some it is the nature of the beast, but when you get on a roll and everything is going right, you feel in your mind you are unstoppable and that is the best reward any musician could ever ask for throughout their creative career, in my humble opinion. It certainly gave me a new sense of self worth and a confidence I have never felt before.

Coming home and what happened to me mentally caught me off guard and not what I was expecting. I still have not adjusted to the normal. For 4 months my normal consisted of trains, planes, couch surfing, meeting new people, rewarding interactions that lead to new opportunities, every single day. Since I have been home the high has turned into a low. I had to remind myself of what was accomplished while I was away. Nothing felt grandiose anymore. Nothing held anything that felt
The Basement in Chelmsford, London UK
extra special. I think for me, when talking to family and trying to explain to them how empty I feel now, it becomes glaringly obvious, the reality that, yeah I felt special, but obviously it was not real, I'm nothing more than I was before I left. All those insecurities rush back to rear their ugly faces and stop us dead in our tracks.

I finally get it, I do not think I am alone in these feelings, I think most musicians no matter what level you are at, feel lonely after the crowd has gone home. Like a junky hooked on a drug, I now have a need to feed a crowd and be heard. As an artist making that connection with an audience feels almost as good as it did when I wrote the song.

My family is my songs, my life is my career, my self worth comes from my success and I feel my success is measured by how many people listen and give positive feedback. This is only the beginning for me and I want to give props to all the ones before me that taught me what it takes to make a dream, reality. I want to show respect to the ones I used to think were whiners. The road is not an easy journey to partake in, however the rewards are vast. Please forgive us when we are not ourselves or the person you are used to seeing. Artists are extremely emotional people that seek comfort in very unconventional ways. The world is seen in a different light and artists by default has a self centered nature that makes it hard to understand, that most people, simply do not understand us.

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be able to follow my heart and dreams. I am even more grateful that I have a group of people that love and respect me enough to follow me on this crazy journey we call the music business. The Hoskettes, have created a family that looks out for each other and that, especially in the times we are living now, is not an easy thing to accomplish. This Fan group has become a safe haven for me, a place I can go when I need to feel like I am a part of something.

The Uncommonground in Chicago, IL
I'm a pretty positive person and a firm believer of visualizing the success you want for yourself in order to create a reality. But those visions do not come to fruition without putting forth the effort and that work is never easy. Creative people are humans, like everyone else, we have good days and bad days and most of us have crippling insecurities which is the reason we crave your attention, it is our reminder that we do have something to offer, in a society that we usually do not quite fit into like others do.

Thank you for the blessings, I say this often and hope it does not diminish its meaning, but I cannot be me without all of you. Thank you for the attention and love you have shown me from the beginning and all the times you've picked me up during the in betweens from one failure to the next successful step. Thank you for always believing I could do it, when I did not think I could. Yeah the tour has ended and that feels very sad for me, but the smile comes back when I think of the possibilities 2017 holds.

Here's to another year and may success keep growing, onwards and upwards for all of us, no matter what your dream may be.