Brandon and I have never actually met face-to-face. We know each other because he used to write and produce songs for the Songs of Love Foundation, a nonprofit that produces original, personalized songs, when I was the music coordinator.
I finished working there in 2006, so it had been a minute, but Brandon and I have been connected on social media for a while, at that osmosis level where I have a very vague idea of what’s going on in his life and presumably vice versa.
It was in fact a social media post and comment of Brandon and one of his friends that led to me choosing to start this We The People project. If you missed it, you can read about it here.
We started the conversation by reminiscing about Songs of Love:
Yeah, it was tricky figuring out how to pronounce those kids’ names sometimes, kids of family members; a lot of them were foreigners or had foreign names. It was nerve-wracking calling the family, because as soon as I’d say I was calling about the kid, they’d freak out, thinking something had gone wrong. ‘No, no…I’m just the songwriter!’ …Man, I always tried to make those songs just as cheerful as could be, for what those kids and families were going through.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?
Working for a healthcare company, administering a Medicaid program. [Did Obamacare, or all the uncertainty about its future have any effect on the atmosphere at work right now?] …No, Obamacare didn’t affect it adversely, and right now there doesn’t seem to be too much uncertainty for my job.
ARE YOU STILL WRITING MUSIC THESE DAYS? WHAT ELSE ARE YOU UP TO?
I don’t have too much time to write music these days [raising 2 kids with his wife], but I do occasionally. In fact, I just put together a new computer, with Logic & a little studio. I’m working on an addition to the house – much needed. We’ve lived in the biggest tiny house for a long time. We’ll finally have enough bathrooms, and my kids are excited about having their own space.
ARE YOU DOING THE CONSTRUCTION YOURSELF? ARE YOU GONNA PUT YOUR KIDS TO WORK?
I’ll have framers help frame it, then after that I’ll insulate & add the sheetrock and do the floors. The kids aren’t quite big enough to be put to work, but they’ll help paint and pick out colors. They’re excited, we’re all excited.
AND, THE QUESTION I ASK EVERYONE, WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR AMERICA?
A place where anyone can be what they want to be if they work hard for it. And I think it is getting better; I lived in a trailer park and didn’t have that much growing up. And I’ve had an African American woman supervisor. So I think things are getting better, and you can get ahead if you work hard.
For my kids – to be what they want to be, sure. Right now, especially since the election, I’d be happy for them to get along with everyone. I want everyone to get along again.
Before we signed off, I asked if he wanted to write a song together, and he said “sure” – in that way artists have of having ideas they don’t know how they’ll do or how they’ll find time for it. Maybe I’ll write all or part of a song, and he can finish and/or record it. I asked what’s the best way to communicate something I write – sheet music, demo, chord chart? There are many different ways to communicate between musicians, as with people, and more than half of the task is figuring out what language the other person speaks and what that mode of communication is. Anyway, stay tuned for possible future collaboration…