If you were to write an intro for “Spark” before it played on the radio, what would you want listeners to know about the song?
This song is meant to capture that unbridled connection one feels when someone new comes into their life. Initially, the song had different meanings for me when I wrote it than it does now, but I think it’s a song that can continue to take on new meanings for all types of contexts and relationships. It’s a song that reminds you to trust your gut when all reason might tell you otherwise.
6 Things You Don’t Know About Me:
A lot of people don’t know how beautiful and rural parts of New Jersey can be. Between the two, I would definitely have to say Westfall Winery. My father was good friends with the former owner of Westfall Winery, Mr. Mortimer. Before it became a Winery, it was a farm. Mr. Mortimer also had an entertainment background and taught kids theatre and gave acting lessons. I was involved in theatre there as a kid, and have wonderful memories of visiting the farm. It is an absolutely stunning property and very community oriented!
University of Delaware graduate, music composition & theater performance major. In high school, you were inspired to write music to help people out of life’s funks by Fred Astaire movies. What songs help you get out of life’s funks?
Well, the first Fred Astaire movie I saw was a movie called Swing Time. I believe it was the first time the song “The Way You Look Tonight” written by Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern, was debuted. Since its debut, that song has taken on a life of its own. Many acclaimed artists have covered that song over the years.
There was something about that original version that Fred Astaire sang that really spoke to me and inspired me to have purpose and ambition in my life. So, that song will always be special to me, and I continue to listen to it when I need inspiration out of life’s funks.
I will say the entirety of Live on Red Barn Radio I & II album by Tyler Childers is another collection of music that really helps me escape and reset.
Frank Sinatra’s “All The Way” is one of your favorite songs. What about the composition of this song makes it so special for you?
Ah, you said it. This song is very special to me. There is a 1958 live recording of this song by Frank Sinatra on the Live At The Sporting Club, Monte Carlo that is just otherworldly. He introduces the song before he sings it. I’ve listened to the recording so many times that I’ve memorized his whole introduction as well! It’s just him and the piano and it’s so purely intimate. Sinatra, in my opinion, was the best at incorporating passion into his singing. He’s so present through every single note and lyric he sings. He had a way of understanding the entire craft of a song that was written for him, and performing it the exact way it was meant to be performed. This song is such an incredible example of that.
First came to Nashville when you were on tour with the stage production of Cabaret. You went down to Broadway to listen to different performers. Was there one artist’s performance that still stands out to you?
I went into every bar on Broadway the first day I came into Nashville on tour. The fourth bar/restaurant I went into was Margaritaville. There was a woman singing with her acoustic guitar. She was very talented, and she asked the audience if anyone had a song request for her to perform. So, I asked her if she knew a couple songs, and she didn’t know any of my requests. She then asked if I was a musician, and I told her I was. So, she asked me if I wanted to fill in for her while she was on her break. And I did! I was so shocked that she asked and was quite nervous to play for a Nashville audience on my first day in town, but it was such a cool experience. I don’t remember her name, but whoever you are, thank you for your generosity. It definitely fueled my ambition to move to Nashville a few years later.
Performing at Aaron Schilb’s Nashville Tour Stop shows. Putting together a decade worth of songs, the highs and lows of adulthood, for your album Level 30. If you were to write a song about what you hope the future holds for the next ten years, how would the chorus go?
Oh man, this is a tough question! I’ve had a lot of people ask if I am going to write a sequel to Level 30 called Level 40. I’ve told them “We’ll see how I feel when I get there!”
I don’t know how I would phrase what I want for my future in a song just yet, but I know that I want to be more intentional about how I choose to spend my time and who I want to be surrounded by in my every day life. I want to help as many people as I can through my music, and allow myself to grow and be inspired by other people as well as doing the same for others.
Grandmother’s famous meatball recipe. What else would be on your menu for a gathering of family and friends?
Ha! Well, my grandmother had a lot of great Italian recipes. She used to marinate pork ribs in pasta sauce. It was to-die-for. I love making garlic bread, too, so it would definitely be a big Italian feast!
Can you share 12 songs that have influenced your life and career?
The Way You Look Tonight — Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields.
All the Way — Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn.
Coming Down — Tyler Childers.
I hadn’t written songs on my guitar for about a couple years while I was pursuing musical theatre. When I listened to this song by Tyler Childers, it inspired me to continue to work on my pop and folk writing again.
Say it To Me Now — Glen Hansard.
Inspired me to add raw, unadulterated passion to my writing and singing.
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) — Bruce Springsteen.
Inspired me to always curate and perform an energetic live performance.
Elephant — Jason Isbell.
Inspired me to write songs as honestly and vulnerable as possible.
Drive — Incubus.
This song and band always reminds me that not only can music be accessible, but it can be musically intricate and complex. It inspires me to never be complacent in my writing.
Indiana — Jon McLaughlin.
Inspired me to incorporate piano into my writing. Piano always expands the palate of writing and I was glad to explore that after listening to this song.
She’s Always a Woman — Billy Joel.
Inspires me to pursue being timeless in my writing and singing. This song always reminds me that I want my songs to remain relevant over time.
I’d Do Anything — Simple Plan.
Inspired me to create my first band in middle school. This song was on the first album I ever bought.
So Far Away — Carole King.
This song is on the album Tapestry and that was Carole King’s first solo album after writing songs for other people her whole life. This inspired me to make my own project and curate a collection of my own songs for my voice.
Nowhere Man — Beatles.
This song always struck me as one of the most underrated Beatles songs. It inspired me to incorporate background vocals into my arrangements. It also taught me that even the best songs you write may not always be everyone else’s favorite, but that’s never a reason not to perform or record those songs.