as written for Song Circle Music

When I got the email from Tina Shafer (New York Songwriter’s Circle founder) asking me to guest host the Circle at New York’s famous Bitter End, I was beyond honored. This is the thing… I’ve played the Bitter End a dozen times, and performed in both the New York and Philly Circles several times. What made this Circle so special to me was that I didn’t feel I did anything extraordinary to warrant such an invitation. For years, I was a fairly normal indie artist on one side of the fence. The people on the other side were those who choose contest winners, picked singers for publishing deals, got musicians on commercials.

Let me explain. It’s not that I don’t think I AM extraordinary. Clearly, I’m fabulous. But I didn’t win any contests, get any major record deal, or have anyone dance to a song of mine on So You Think You Can Dance. I was a finalist in the first year of the Songwriter’s Circle contest back in 2006, but I didn’t even get top three. Since then, I’ve just been a familiar face, popping up in a Circle every half year, stopping by the Bitter End on the occasional Monday night to say hi. Something about this led to being a part of the new version of the Songwriter’s Circle: Song Circle. I’ve been a very small part of helping the company in various ways, including sharing my thoughts on this crazy industry on their website’s blog. Now I can’t enter my tunes to their annual contest, but I am able to judge others’, if I want. Again, feeling mildly unworthy. Yeah, I write a lot of songs, I collaborate a fair amount, and I think I understand mainstream pop, acoustic and rock music more than the average Joe. Still, I doubt my extraordinariness… Maybe being on the other side of the fence is where I am supposed to be eventually, and transitioning there is tricky… I sometimes feel like I am just about to successfully climb over the top when my pants get caught up in the picket stakes making said fence. Awkward.

Before I arrived at the Bitter End to host my first Circle, I gave myself a pep talk…. Okay Cheryl, NO awkward. You’re here for a reason.

And this is what I realized- there is no fence. That’s what’s special about Song Circle. It’s made up of people like me, artists who tour and record and are passionate and working many angles of the industry, trying to “make it”, whatever that means to them. I am the fence. I’m an example of the Song Circle community as a whole- that without even winning a contest, by merely entering, I was given the opportunity to host a world-famous event. Extraordinary.

Cheryl (on left, standing, with other Song Circle artist 8/2/2010) graduated from Cornell University and is now a singer/songwriter and film and commercial composer. She’s recorded two records and is working on a third project, “One Up”, releasing monthly songs all year. Cheryl has been featured in Keyboard and Performer magazines, toured through America and Europe, performed on ABC, NBC and FOX news, spoken at SXSW, and has had her music placed on soap operas, PBS and MTV shows. More info at www.cbemusic.com.

Listen to Cheryl’s new music and click on 10 stars if you like it!!

  • Cheryl,

    I lucked into your blog today via Discmakers and found this and many of your newer posts inspiring. I am an acoustic indie songwriter like yourself. I just played my first BIG radio show – live studio audience and all – the other day. I wish I had read this article before that gig. I often struggle with the whole deserving success thing and the “awkwardness” can show through in my performance at times. It makes me feel much better knowing I’m not alone. And it’s comforting to know that when it comes to “success” there is no “there” there. We’re just regular folks who love what we do. Thanks for the reminder!
    Peace,
    J