I have a lifelong passion and appreciation for nature and the sounds that can enhance its visual beauty. As a woman with a hectic lifestyle, I find that creating and listening to soothing music can help me regain balance and lead a more peaceful life.

 

My original intention for this new album was to create a musical walking tour of one of my favorite locations in North Carolina, the majestic Biltmore Estate. I love the hillside setting in Asheville, the history and grandeur of the mansion, and the lovely trails that provide hours of physical activity. I spent one particular visit recording sounds of the French Broad River, Canadian geese, various birds, bamboo leaves rustling in the breeze, and a gorgeous waterfall, and intended to use those sounds for multiple songs.

 

After submitting my first song, Serenity and the sound files to my friend, Michael Zeoli of Zoo Station Studios in Winston-Salem, NC, we made an unhappy discovery: we live in a very noisy society! A lot of the sound files had unwanted background noises such as dogs barking, people talking, airplanes flying overhead, and cars driving by. So, we used what we could for Serenity, and I went back to the drawing board.

 

After sharing my dilemma with friends and family, my idea expanded, like the many regions of North Carolina. To fully showcase and celebrate my home state’s wonderful diversity, I decided to broaden my scope to include sounds from across the three distinct parts of North Carolina: Mountain, Piedmont, and Coastal.

 

 

 

 

Softness at Pisgah Forest consists of sounds of babbling brooks and birds near Asheville in the Pisgah National Forest, a 500,000-acre forest with mile-high mountain peaks, rivers, and waterfalls.

 

Solitude in the Great Smokies takes you on a walk at dusk through the woods of and into a field, with crickets singing and other night sounds as the song progresses. Named for the blue mist they seem to create over the mountain peaks, the Smokies are part of the Blue Ridge Mountain range, and start about 60 miles west of Asheville and continue into Tennessee.   

 

 

 

My music and sounds in the Central Region take us to the Piedmont, Pilot Mountain, and the cities of Winston-Salem, Raleigh, and Durham.

 

Sanctuary in My Backyard was a delight to record, as it allows me to share with you the songs of the abundant birds that inhabit my woods and visit my birdfeeders in the Piedmont area from April through October. You can hear cardinals, the NC state bird, robins, titmice, Carolina wrens, and others.

 

Shalom in Old Salem was probably my favorite project, because of the people I met and worked with in this old Moravian settlement in Winston-Salem.  Susan Foster, the organist for Home Moravian Church, graciously recorded her versions of my song on their magnificent organ, which added depth to my simple tribute to such a lovely heritage. I recorded the sound of the Home Moravian clock tower tolling the hour, while tour guides in period clothing escorted streams of school children along the brick walkways. I also captured the sounds of a horse pulling a vintage carriage down Main Street, thanks to Camel Carriage Company.

 

Stillness at Pilot Mountain was recorded at a lovely Quaker church, Pine Hill Friends Meeting. This church rests in the valley of Pilot Mountain and projects twenty minutes of old hymns from its bell tower twice a day. My song contains portions of their hymns , including “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” I chose this location because my father served as interim pastor there for three years and my husband’s great-grandparents served as pastors for many years.

 

Surrender at Raleigh – The capital city of North Carolina is bustling with traffic and commerce, yet there are locations of calm serenity if you look for them. I was intrigued to discover that NC has many restored gristmills, including Yates Grist Mill, which was built in 1756 and is still operational. I recorded the sound of the water from the dam cascading over the wheel and into the creek bed, along with katydids chirping from the bank. There is also the faint sound of a train that I recorded from the backyard of my cousin’s home at Meredith College.

 

Symphonious at Duke Chapel – Duke University’s Chapel is a site to behold, and its 50-bell carillon creates a complex and beautiful auditory texture to the scene. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a one man, Mr. Hammond, operates the bells from the tower with a system of levers and organ stops. I took a recording of one of his bell songs and used it as an introduction to a composition I had previously written. I decided to end my album with just the sound of piano without the bells, as a token of my appreciation for his work and this majestic public instrument.

 

 

 

 

The Coastal Region contains two songs for two of my favorite locations in the state: Topsail Island near Wilmington and Beaufort.

 

Solace at Topsail features seagulls and ocean waves, and was designed to give you the experience of going to the North Carolina coast. Imagine lying on the sand and soaking in the sunshine, and being soothed into a calm state from the rhythmic crashing of the waves.

 

Stormy NC Coast places you safely at the coast during an approaching storm. You can hear wind chimes begin their song as the breeze picks up, thunder rumbling on the horizon, and the resulting rain shower. My family was happy when I finished recording the thunder, as lightning strikes were a little too close for comfort!